Baby Got Back
|"Baby Got Back"|
|Single by Sir Mix-a-Lot|
|from the album Mack Daddy|
|B-side||"Cake Boy"/"You Can't Slip"|
|Released||May 7, 1992|
|Sir Mix-a-Lot singles chronology|
"Baby Got Back" is a 1992 hip hop song written and recorded by American rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot, which appeared on his album Mack Daddy. The song samples the 1986 Detroit techno single "Technicolor" by Channel One.
At the time of its original release, the song caused controversy with its outspoken and blatantly sexual lyrics about women, as well as specific references to the female buttocks which some people found objectionable. The song's music video was briefly banned by MTV.
The song debuted at number 75 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated April 11, 1992 and hit number one twelve weeks later. The single spent five weeks at the top of the chart.
The first verse begins with "I like big butts and I cannot lie" and most of the song is about the rapper's attraction to women with large buttocks. The second and third verse challenge mainstream norms of beauty: "I ain't talkin' 'bout Playboy. Cause silicone parts are made for toys." and "So Cosmo says you're fat. Well I ain't down with that!"
The song came from a meeting between Sir Mix-a-Lot and Amylia Dorsey who saw little representation of full figured women in media. The idea came from the 1980s Budweiser commercial featuring very thin, valley girl-esque models with different skin colors. They decided to dedicate a song to the very opposite, featuring curvy women of color. Mix and Dorsey sought to, "Broaden the definition of beauty."
Sir Mix-a-Lot commented in a 1992 interview: "The song doesn't just say I like large butts, you know? The song is talking about women who damn near kill themselves to try to look like these beanpole models that you see in Vogue magazine." He explains that most women respond positively to the song's message, especially black women: "They all say, 'About time.'"
In the song's prelude there is a conversation between two (presumably) thin, exclusively white (despite of Budweiser commercial) Valley girls, similar to girl talk in Frank Zappa's "Valley Girl". One girl named Linda (dubbed by Amylia Dorsey) remarks to her friend, "Oh, my, God Becky, look at her butt! It is so big. She's just so black!", at which point Sir Mix-a-Lot begins rapping of his love for big-bottomed girls.
Larry Flick from Billboard wrote, "First offering from rapper's major-label debut, "Mack Daddy", cheekily rhapsodizes about the joys of women with prominent backsides. Cute rhymes and slammin' beats add up to a potential smash at several formats." In 2020, Cleveland.com ranked "Baby Got Back" as number 24 in their list of the best Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 song of the 1990s. They described it as "the novelty song that never went away", adding, "You could put this on at a wedding today and women will recite the opening word for word before the rap breaks in and everyone (and I mean everyone) joins in. Sir Mix-a-Lot was never shy about playing up the songs "playful" nature, rapping on top of a giant butt in the video." James Bernard from Entertainment Weekly commented that the song "alternates deftly between a critique of the Cosmo/Playboy narrow-minded — and narrow-hipped — standard of female beauty and a bawdy appreciation of, er, generous rear ends."
|1.||"Baby Got Back" (album version)||4:21|
|3.||"You Can't Slip"||5:05|
|4.||"Baby Got Back" (Tekno-Metal Edit)||4:20|
|5.||"Baby Got Back" (Hard B.W.B. Hip Hop Mix)||4:35|
|6.||"Baby Got Back" (Hurricane Mix)||5:04|
Chart performance and awards
Sir Mix-a-Lot's best known song, "Baby Got Back" reached number 1 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks in the summer of 1992, and won a 1993 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. In the years following the song's release on the album Mack Daddy, it has continued to appear in many movies, television shows, and commercials, as detailed below. It was number 6 on VH1's Greatest Songs of the '90s, and number 1 on VH1's Greatest One Hit Wonders of the '90s.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000|
|United States (RIAA)||2× Platinum||2,000,000^|
|United States (RIAA)
* Sales figures based on certification alone.
In popular culture
In the third-season episode "Chirlaxx" of the stop-motion animated sketch comedy series Robot Chicken, Sir Mix-a-Lot guest starred as himself in a sketch titled "Table Be Round", which sees him performing the titular song - a parody of "Baby Got Back" - for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, as response to their difficulty of communication with one another when seated at their elongated table, also replacing it with the Round Table.
In the comedy film American Pie Presents: Band Camp, this song is part of its soundtrack.
The song plays during the credit sequence of the video game Fat Princess while the player is attacking the staff with a scythe.
Jonathan Coulton cover/Glee cover
Jonathan Coulton released a cover of "Baby Got Back" during his Thing a Week project in October 2005, with the song being released as part of the first Thing A Week compilation album the next year.
In late January 2013, a preview of the television show Glee included a cover of "Baby Got Back" that would be part of an upcoming episode. Many, including Coulton, noted that the backing music was extremely similar to his recorded version; Coulton reported that he had not been contacted by the Fox Broadcasting Network about this song, but at the time could only suppose that the Glee version was similar to his own. Coulton had tried to contact Fox for additional details prior to the episode's airing. The episode with the song, "Sadie Hawkins", aired unchanged on January 24, 2013; further analysis of the aired version showed the Glee cover appeared to use Coulton's original musical arrangement as it included Coulton's original melody and a changed line in Coulton's version ("Johnny C's in trouble" instead of the original "Mix-a-Lot's in trouble"). Coulton's agents were later contacted by Fox, claiming, in his words, "they're within their legal rights to do this, and that [Coulton] should be happy for the exposure", even though Coulton is not credited within the episode. Coulton has been exploring legal options; while musical covers do not have copyright legal protection in the United States, Coulton may have legal rights if the Glee version is found to have used his audio track or original composition directly. Coulton has since released his cover of "Baby Got Back" to iTunes, what he calls "a cover of Glee's cover of my cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's song", with proceeds going to charity. Coulton's experience has led other artists who believe that Glee used their cover arrangements as backing within the show to step forward with similar claims.
In a 2000 interview, Sir Mix-a-Lot reflected: "There's always butt songs. Hell, I got the idea sitting up here listening to old Parliament records: Motor Booty Affair. Black men like butts. That's the bottom line." The song is part of a tradition of 1970s–90s African-American music celebrating the female posterior, including "Da Butt", "Rump Shaker", and "Shake Your Groove Thing".
In 2014, Trinidadian-American rapper Nicki Minaj sampled the basis and some verses of "Baby Got Back" for her hit "Anaconda", from the album The Pinkprint. The song has been viewed by some as a diss track, in answer to "Baby Got Back". Whereas Sir Mix-a-Lot focuses on a woman's body and the pleasure it gives him, Minaj raps from the perspective of the unnamed woman, and shows how she uses her callipygian physique to profit and empower herself.
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