Beyoncé returned from a six-year hiatus in spectacular fashion with her new album, Renaissance, but the inclusion of an ableist slur in “Heated” left many fans disappointed. In response to the backlash, she has promised to remove the lyric from the song.
On the outro of the track, Beyoncé sings, “Yadda, yadda, yadda, bom, bom, ka, ka/ Spazzin’ on that ass, spaz on that ass.” Spaz is often used as a derogatory slur for people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” representatives for Beyoncé wrote in a statement issued to Variety. As of publishing, the song is still in original form on Apple Music, Spotify, TIDAL, and Amazon Music — though its lyric video has been pulled from YouTube.
The decision follows Lizzo’s removal of the same slur from her single “Girls” in June after writer and disability advocate Hannah Diviney called her out. After hearing about “Heated,” Diviney wrote an essay that was published in The Guardian.
“Beyoncé’s commitment to storytelling musically and visually is unparalleled, as is her power to have the world paying attention to the narratives, struggles and nuanced lived experience of being a Black woman — a world I can only ever understand as an ally, and have no desire to overshadow,” she wrote. “But that doesn’t excuse her use of ableist language — language that gets used and ignored all too often.”
Read our review of Rennaisance here. “Heated” wasn’t the only track from the album to draw controversy. Prior to its release, Kelis called out Beyoncé for interpolating her song “Milkshake” on “Energy” without permission.
So @Beyonce used the word 'spaz' in her new song Heated. Feels like a slap in the face to me, the disabled community & the progress we tried to make with Lizzo. Guess I'll just keep telling the whole industry to 'do better' until ableist slurs disappear from music 💔Advertisement
— Hannah Diviney (@hannah_diviney) July 30, 2022