Baby Boy (Beyoncé song)

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"Baby Boy"
A woman is standing with her arms open, meanwhile smiling and looking back. She wears a short light-blue shirt, a blue skirt and a rosary on her neck.
Single by Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul
from the album Dangerously in Love
B-side "Summertime (Remix)"
Released August 3, 2003
Format CD single, 12"
Recorded 2003; South Beach Studios, Miami, Florida[1]
Genre R&B, dancehall
Length 4:04
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Beyoncé Knowles, Scott Storch, Sean Paul Henriques, Robert Waller, Shawn Carter
Producer(s) Scott Storch, Beyoncé Knowles
Beyoncé singles chronology
"Fighting Temptation"
(2003)
"Baby Boy"
(2003)
"Me, Myself and I"
(2003)
Sean Paul singles chronology
"Breathe"
(2003)
"Baby Boy"
(2003)
"I'm Still in Love with You"
(2004)

"Baby Boy" is a song recorded by American recording artist Beyoncé, featuring Jamaican reggae singer Sean Paul. It was composed by Knowles, Paul, Scott Storch, Robert Waller and Jay-Z for her 2003 debut studio album Dangerously in Love. Containing a lyrical interpolation of "No Fear" by hip hop group O.G.C, "Baby Boy" is an R&B and dancehall song with Arabic music influences; its lyrics detail a woman's fantasies. The song was considered to be a sequel to Knowles' 2002 collaboration with Jay-Z on "'03 Bonnie & Clyde".

Columbia Records released "Baby Boy", the second single from Dangerously in Love, to United States radios on August 3, 2003. It was well received by music critics, who complimented the Indian, Middle Eastern music and dancehall styles in the song, as well as Knowles' collaboration with Paul. "Baby Boy" topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine consecutive weeks, and was Knowles' longest-running solo number-one single until 2007. It reached the top ten in many countries, and was certified platinum in Australia and the US.

The song's music video was directed by Jake Nava and mostly shows Knowles dancing in various locations. "Baby Boy" has remained a staple of Knowles' concert set list. The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) recognized it as one of the most performed songs of 2005. During the same year, US singer-songwriter Jennifer Armour filed a copyright infringement lawsuit claiming that Knowles had used the primary musical hook from her song "Got a Little Bit of Love for You". The suit was dismissed.

Background and writing[edit]

In 2002, Knowles went to Miami, Florida, in the United States, to work with American record producer Scott Storch for her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love.[1] She and Storch wrote "Baby Boy", with contributions from American songwriter Robert Waller and Knowles' then-boyfriend, hip hop artist Jay-Z.[1] The song also contains a lyrical interpolation of "No Fear" by hip hop group O.G.C. used towards the ending of the song: "We steppin' in hotter this year".[2]

Once the track was supposedly done, Knowles had the idea that it would be "perfect" if Jamaican reggae artist Sean Paul contributed a vocal track.[2] Knowles contacted Paul about a possible collaboration for "Baby Boy".[3][4] Sean Paul agreed, and flew in from Jamaica to join the recording sessions of the song.[2] He contributed a toast verse, and they finished recording "Baby Boy" in March 2003, during the later stages of the album's recording.[3]

Music and theme[edit]

"Baby Boy" is a hybrid of R&B and dancehall with influences of reggae, house and Arabic music.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Baby Boy" is a midtempo contemporary R&B and dancehall song[5][6] with reggae, house and Arabian music influences.[7][8][9] It was composed using common time in the key of C minor, and set in moderate groove of 92 beats per minute.[5] Storch's knowledge on Indian and Middle Eastern music contributes to its Eastern influences.[10] Neil Drumming of Entertainment Weekly noted that "'Baby Boy' goes full-tilt Bollywood 'n da hood, with Sean Paul ripping a pulsing tabla raga".[11] Knowles' vocals are accompanied by clicky and castanet-sounding beats,[12] synthesized handclaps and slaps.[13] According to Roger Friedman of Fox News Channel, "Baby Boy" is based on the 1995 reggae song "Here Comes the Hotstepper", performed by Jamaican singer Ini Kamoze.[14]

"Baby Boy" is considered to be a sequel in ways to "'03 Bonnie & Clyde"; a 2002 Jay-Z song featuring Knowles.[3] The lyrics detail a woman's fantasies, and in keeping with the album's overall theme, Knowles' deemed them as personal to her.[4] Paul remarked, "She's telling me about her fantasies and picturing me and her going here and there, all over the world ... I'm answering back, like, 'I'm wit it'."[3] The lyrics are constructed in the toast–chorus–verse form; Sean Paul performs the toasting while Knowles sings all other verses and choruses. The pattern is repeated twice; a further chorus and verse follow, resolving at the toasting and final verse.[2]

Release and reception[edit]

Two men and a woman are looking forward. Both men are wearing military-style clothing, while the woman is holding a microphone. She wears gypsy-style clothing. In the background, many musical instruments are visible.
Knowles singing "Baby Boy" during The Beyoncé Experience in 2007, flanked by two dancers

"Baby Boy" was released as the second single from the debut studio album, Dangerously in Love. It was added to United States contemporary hit radios and rhythmic contemporary radios playlists on August 3, 2003.[15][16] The song was released in maxi single in Canada on October 7, 2003,[17] and as a CD single in Germany[18] and in the US on October 13, and October 14, 2003 respectively.[19] "Baby Boy" was included in the revamped version of Paul's second album, Dutty Rock (2003).[20]

"Baby Boy" was generally well received by critics. Rolling Stone magazine reviewer Anthony DeCurtis wrote that Knowles sounded as if she was "having fun" on the song,[21] while Stephen Thomas Erlewine of the online music guide service Allmusic described Knowles' vocals as "assured and sexy".[22] Mark Anthony Neal of the international webzine PopMatters, regarded "Baby Boy" as one of the "high-profile collaborations" on Dangerously in Love.[23] Lisa Verrico of the daily British newspaper The Times described the song a "Latino-tinged collaboration ... Paul does a reggae rap in the middle, but it's when he chats while Beyoncé half raps that the pair have real chemistry".[12] Yancey Strickler of the Flak magazine wrote that "'Baby Boy''s diwali stutter is enhanced by Sean Paul's dancehall monotone".[24]

James Anthony of the British newspaper The Guardian commented that the track "bridges the gap between the genres of R&B and dancehall".[25] Los Angeles Times writer Natalie Nichols wrote that "the ... house-spiced 'Baby Boy' successfully meld[s] [Knowles'] breathy cooing with hip, interesting production."[6] British record label EMI was honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) during the 2005 Pop Music Awards as Publisher of the Year for publishing "Baby Boy", among other songs.[26] Scott Storch earned Songwriter of the Year at the same event.[26]

Chart performance[edit]

"Baby Boy" attained a positioning on the commercial charts before its physical release in the US. The track led to a higher Billboard 200 chart placing for Dangerously in Love, and helped the album to attain multi-platinum certification in the US.[27] The single debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, the official singles chart of America, at number fifty-seven, while "Crazy in Love" was still in the top spot.[28] "Baby Boy" dominated the US airplays, and ultimately reaching the top of the Hot 100.[29][30][31] It reached the chart's top spot eight weeks after its debut, and stayed there for nine consecutive weeks.[31][32] The single stayed number one for a week longer than "Crazy in Love" had, becoming Knowles' longest-charting number-one single. The feat was not broken until Knowles' 2006 single "Irreplaceable", from her second album B'Day (2006), which spent ten weeks at the top spot in late 2006 to early 2007 due to heavy radio play.[33] "Baby Boy" stayed on the Hot 100 for twenty-nine weeks,[34] and was certified platinum on June 6, 2006, by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[35] "Baby Boy" achieved success on Billboard crossover and mainstream radio charts, appearing on the Top 40 Tracks, Rhythmic Top 40 and Top 40 Mainstream, as well as on the Hot 100 Airplay, Hot Dance Airplay and Hot Dance Music/Club Play.[36][37][38][30] As at October 6, 2010, "Baby Boy" had sold 6,000 physical units in the US.[39]

Internationally, "Baby Boy" performed just as well, peaking inside the top ten on most charts. The single debuted at number two in the United Kingdom, becoming the chart's highest debut and "Baby Boy"'s highest entry internationally.[40] Though it spent eleven weeks on the chart, it failed to top it (being held off by "Where Is the Love?" by The Black Eyed Peas).[40] In most European countries, the single entered the top ten. In Australia and New Zealand, "Baby Boy" peaked at number three and two, respectively.[41][42] It was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association for shipment in excess of 70,000 units.[43]

Music video[edit]

A panoramic image of a woman in two different situations. On the left side she is dancing with some people behind her. She is wearing a dark-blue outfit and turquoise shoes. On the other hand, on the image of the right, she is dancing alone and holds a microphone with her hand. She wears dark clothes while she holds her hands in front of her chest.
Knowles performing a routine similar to the one featured in the music video (left) to "Baby Boy"

The music video for "Baby Boy" was filmed by English director Jake Nava, who also shot Knowles' "Crazy in Love" video. It was recorded in Miami, Florida on August 7–8, 2003. Parts of the video were captured in a house with different style rooms: one in a Japanese style and one in an old English style.[44]

Scenes featuring Knowles and Paul are shown separately. The video begins with Paul sitting on a throne while toasting; Knowles is leaning against a wall and dancing. In the following scene, Knowles is seen on a bed tossing herself. Paul is shown with several women who are lying on the floor caressing each other. Knowles walks towards the beach; she spots a man, and the two touch and flirt. At a party, Knowles dances with a man. Water floods the floor as she sings "the dance floor becomes the sea". The original track is interrupted towards the end with an Arabic instrumental, designed for the music video. This section showcases Knowles vigorously dancing on the sand.

Sal Cinquemani of the online publication Slant Magazine, described the video as a "baby-oil-logged follow-up" to "Crazy in Love"'s "bootylicous video".[45] In 2013, John Boone and Jennifer Cady of E! Online placed the video at number nine on their list of Knowles' ten best music videos, praising the extended belly-dancing breakdown.[46] "Baby Boy" premiered on MTV's program Total Request Live on August 25, 2003 at number ten and reached the top spot.[47][48] It stayed on the show for forty-one days, the same chart run "Me, Myself and I" earned.[47]

Live performances[edit]

An image showing five women wearing black outfits in front of a screen
Knowles performing "Baby Boy" during The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, 2013

Knowles first performed "Baby Boy" live at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards;[49] she sang it in a medley with the pre-recorded vocals of Paul.[50] Knowles later sang "Baby Boy" with Paul at the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards.[51] "Baby Boy" has been included on the set list for most of Knowles' concert tours. It served as opening song of her Dangerously in Love World Tour that began in late 2003. During her performance of the song on the tour, she was initially suspended from the ceiling of the arena that was gradually lowered to a red lounger—a prop she also used during the 2003 MTV VMAs.[52] The footage taken in London's Wembley Arena in the UK was included on the Live at Wembley concert DVD. Knowles also performed "Baby Boy" with her former group Destiny's Child's farewell tour Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It, and it was included on the Destiny's Child: Live in Atlanta concert DVD.[53]

"Baby Boy" was a part of Knowles' set list on The Beyoncé Experience in Los Angeles and I Am... World Tour.[54] On August 5, 2007, Knowles performed the song at the Madison Square Garden in Manhattan;[55][56] wearing a belly-dancer-type outfit, she descended the staircase holding an umbrella and was met by three guys wearing fatigues.[56] A short section of the reggae classic "Murder She Wrote" was incorporated into "Baby Boy".[56] Jon Pareles of The New York Times praised the performance, writing that Knowles "needs no distractions from her singing, which can be airy or brassy, tearful or vicious, rapid-fire with staccato syllables or sustained in curlicued melismas. But she was in constant motion, strutting in costumes".[55] She performed in a similar arrangement at the Los Angeles' Staples Center on September 2, 2007. She was dressed in a belly dancing outfit, and the performance was executed with several male backup dancers and live instrumentation.[57] Knowles re-produced the dance she executed in the song's music video.[53] When Knowles performed "Baby Boy" in Sunrise, Florida on June 29, 2009, she was wearing a glittery gold leotard. When her performance began, she was suspended in the air, and then lowered to the B-Stage to where she sang "Baby Boy" with an excerpt from Dawn Penn's "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)". Animated graphics of turntables, faders and other club equipment were projected behind the dancers and musicians.[58] Knowles was accompanied by two drummers, two keyboardists, a percussionist, a horn section, three imposing backup vocalists called the Mamas and a lead guitarist, Bibi McGill.[59] "Baby Boy" was included on her live albums The Beyoncé Experience Live (2007),[60] and the deluxe edition of I Am... World Tour (2010).[61] At the 2005 ASCAP Pop Music Awards, "Baby Boy" alongside with Knowles' two other songs – "Me, Myself and I" and "Naughty Girl" – were recognized as three of the most performed songs of 2004.[62]

"Baby Boy" was performed by Knowles in a pink fringe dress at a concert at Palais Nikaïa in Nice, France, on June 20, 2011,[63] and at the Glastonbury Festival on June 26, 2011, where she brought out British trip-hop singer Tricky to guest on the song.[64] In May, 2012, Knowles performed the song during her Revel Presents: Beyoncé Live revue in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States' entertainment resort, hotel, casino and spa, Revel.[65][66][67] Jim Farber of the Daily News wrote, "The first, and last parts of the show stressed the steeliest Beyoncé, told in bold songs... [like] dancehall-inflected 'Baby Boy.'"[68] On February 3, 2013, Knowles performed the song during the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show.[69]

Copyright infringement lawsuit[edit]

In 2005, US singer-songwriter Jennifer Armour filed a copyright infringement lawsuit, claiming that Knowles had used some lyrics and the musical hook from her song "Got a Little Bit of Love for You".[70][71][72] In 2003, Armour's former label manager had submitted a demo recordings to record labels, including Knowles' Columbia Records and Sean Paul's Atlantic Records.[73][74] According to the district court, an Expert witness (Chair, Dept. of Music Theory & Composition, Shepherd School of Music, Rice University) determined the songs to be "substantially similar" (a requirement for an infringement finding). With regard to the musical hook, the Expert stated in his report, "When the aural comparisons of the two songs are presented in the key of C Minor (for easy comparison) and presented back-to-back, in A–B–A–B fashion, even the least musically inclined listener should immediately determine that the two songs are strikingly similar; I daresay that many listeners may even perceive them as being the same song! And again, transposing a song for this purpose does not alter any fundamental qualities or characteristics of the song but merely assists the ability of those unfamiliar with the technicalities of music in making a comparison." The district court judge nonetheless ruled that she, herself, could not hear the similarities between the two songs and dismissed the case, denying the motion for the songs or case to be heard by a jury.[72]

On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling, but ruled with different reasoning. It held that there was no infringement based on Knowles' claim that Armour's demo tape was received shortly after the writing of Knowles' song had been substantially completed. However, the court did not address the issue of substantial similarity.[74][75]

Formats and track listing[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Chart precession and succession[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Frontin'" by Pharrell featuring Jay-Z[102]
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs number-one single[103]
September 27, 2003 – October 25, 2003
Succeeded by
"Stand Up" by Ludacris featuring Shawnna[104]
Preceded by
"Shake Ya Tailfeather" by Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee[105]
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single[106]
October 4, 2003 – November 29, 2003
Preceded by
"Just the Way You Are" by Milky[107]
Billboard Hot Dance Airplay number-one single[108]
November 15, 2003
Succeeded by
"Something Happened on the Way to Heaven" by Deborah Cox[109]

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    • "Gloria Estefan celebrates a career milestone selling 70 million records!". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 115 (41): 57. October 11, 2003. ISSN 0006-2510. 
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    • "Billboard: The International Newsweekly Of Music, Video And Home Entertainment". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 115 (42): 60. October 18, 2003. ISSN 0006-2510. 
    • "Billboard: The International Newsweekly Of Music, Video And Home Entertainment". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 115 (43): 74. October 25, 2003. ISSN 0006-2510. 
    • "Yes 35. Once upon a time: Rock moved to the front of the stage. Music became epic. 35 years later... YES are keeping it that way". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 115 (44): 96. November 1, 2003. ISSN 0006-2510. 
    • "Billboard: The International Newsweekly Of Music, Video And Home Entertainment". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 115 (45): 60. November 8, 2003. ISSN 0006-2510. 
    • "From Mexico: Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizárraga. A 65 Year Legacy". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 115 (46): 82. November 15, 2003. ISSN 0006-2510. 
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