"Formation" Lyrics: Meaning Behind Beyoncé's New Black Power Anthem
Beyoncé surprise-released a pro-black trap anthem, "Formation," on Saturday, the eve of her 2016 Super Bowl halftime performance with Coldplay, calling on black women to unite while marking her return to the music limelight. The song comes just after the musician's husband Jay Z's music streaming service announced it would be donating $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter and other racial equality-focused social justice groups and movements.
"Formation" is available for streaming and download exclusively on Tidal, with a music video also on YouTube. Throughout the song, Bey serves up lyrics that embrace her blackness and southern stereotypes while further aligning herself with the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the song's introduction, Beyoncé makes a nod to her haters, who continue to insinuate she and Jay Z are part of a larger Illuminati conspiracy theory, as well as her friend Riccardo Tisci, who has provided a custom Givenchy dress for her to attend the annual Met Gala each year since 2012:
"Y'all haters corny with that illuminati mess / Paparazzi catch my fly and my cocky fresh / I'm so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin') / I'm so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces."
It's once the beat picks up and the tempo begins to rise when the singer digs into her family roots, describing her mother's heritage as Louisiana Creole and her father as an African-American man from Alabama. There is a diverse and politicized racial landscape in Louisiana, where Creoles, or descendants of French settlers, are typically considered distinct from black, even if a person has African ancestry.
The musician and fashion icon also begins reclaiming stereotypes like "bamma," a term to describe someone lacking in style or flare, typically from the south:
"My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana / You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bamma / I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros / I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils / Earned all this money but they never take the country out me / I got hot sauce in my bag, swag."
Then, in an ode to powerful black women around the world, Bey lines up with a group of dancers and begins the song's chorus:
"I see it I want it / I stunt, yeah, little hornet / I grind 'til I own it / I twirl on them haters / Albino Alligators / El Camino with the seat low sipping Cuervo with no chaser / Sometimes I go off, I go hard / Get what's mine, take what's mine / I'm a star, I'm a star / Cause I slay, slay, I slay, hey, I slay, okay / I slay."
Though the song is largely a social justice anthem, Beyoncé does find time fit in a few controversial lines, including one where she admits to bringing Jay Z to Red Lobster after a good session under the sheets:
"When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster (cause I slay) / If he hit it right I might take him on a flight on my chopper (cause I slay) / Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J's, let him shop up (cause I slay)."
Watch "Formation" below: