Drunk in Love
Beyoncé in the music video for "Drunk in Love." (Photo courtesy of urbanislandz.com)

by Joseph Mastando

“We be all night. Love.”

Familiar with the tune? Chances are its been blasting in your car for the last month aside “XO,” “Flawless,” and “Partition” or maybe I’m just speaking from personal experience.

It’s a fun song, “Drunk in Love.” Its upbeat tune and catchy hook steal your soul the moment you hear the almost Middle Eastern vocal riff at its opening, but after Beyoncé’s provocative Grammy performance, many are discussing its controversial lyrics.

Women’s rights advocates have been up in arms about some of the words spat out during the song’s bridge as spoken by Beyoncé’s husband and featured artist Jay-Z. My insularity led me to only think about one thing when hearing the line in question: Chris Brown and Rihanna’s ever-so-poetic “Cake.” Turns out I wasn’t too far off.

After referring to himself as “Ike Turner,” Jay-Z claims, “I don’t play,” then instructs, “Eat the cake, Anna Mae.” Anyone relatively familiar with Ike and Tina Turner’s tumultuous relationship would automatically cringe at the allusions of domestic abuse lurking behind the song’s upbeat melody. Those more indulged in their history, especially those exposed to the 1993 film What’s Love Got to do with it? immediately recall the scene when, in a diner, Tina, referred to by her birth name of Anna Mae, refuses to eat a slice of cake offered by Ike. For not listening, Ike, high on drugs, shoves the cake in Tina’s face. As she falls to the ground, her friend steps in between them to prevent Ike from continuing the abuse, but she too feels the wrath of Ike as he slaps her across the face.

Whether sensationalized for the film or an accurate portrayal of their relationship, an allusion to the scene speaks of nothing more or less than domestic abuse.

What’s even more disturbing? During their Grammy performance, Beyoncé can be seen shouting, “Eat the cake” in her microphone as her husband raps the same lyrics.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z  performing “Drunk in Love” at the 2014 Grammy Awards. (Original video property of CBS and the Recording Academy)

In her YouTube documentary “Self-Titled,” Beyoncé discusses the process of writing “Drunk in Love.” “It was so great ‘cause it wasn’t about any ego,” she states. “We weren’t trying to make a hit record, we were just having fun.” Whether a disturbing case of irony or a blatant disregard for her husband’s lyrics, the statement does not correlate with the lyrical allusions of abuse and suffering.

Many have expressed their shame of the newfound lyrical meaning on social media, but others have taken a more serious approach. According to Madnewsuk.com British radio station Bang Radio has banned the song from its airwaves.

“We believe in the unity of women and music and in no way condone violence, domestic or otherwise,” stated Bang Media CEO Jennifer Ogole in a written statement regarding the manner. “Therefore, the decision has been made to wipe the stated lyrics from the song.”

While many are still left intoxicated by the song and will continue to shout “serfboart” in any social situation, phonetic pronunciation and all, others have sobered up from the controversy and now see Beyoncé with a little less of her signature class.

Let’s just hope that Beyoncé releases a statement regarding the incident soon and, more importantly, that this is no indication of what goes on behind the closed doors of pop’s most powerful couple.