The celebration of the backside of the Black female form — from Saartjie Baartman in 1810 to Fergie in 2010 — is a fascination of cultural values that has been amalgamated in mainstream music for fifty years.  In the 1960’s, the celebratory code phrase for the pleasing female “big butt” was “big legged” and I suppose there’s some anatomical sense to be made from that rising frustration:  If you have big legs, then your butt has to be even bigger to better negotiate your sense of balance.  In the late 1960’s, Blues sensation Albert King immortalized the “Big Legged Woman” in his ovaric song, “Born Under a Bad Sign.”

Wine and women is all I crave
A big legged woman is
Gonna carry me to my grave
Born under a bad sign
I been down since I begin to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck,
I wouldn’t have no luck at all

Here is Albert singing “Born Under a Bad Sign” in 1981. He died a decade later. His “Big Legged Woman” comes to him in death and tends his body for burial:

Around the same time Albert King immortalized his sexy — “Big Legged” — savior, Freddie King, another Blues sensation who died of a heart attack in 1976 at the age of 42, directly celebrated his backside admiration in a song called, “Big Legged Woman.”

I love the tip, i love the top,
I love you better than a hog loves slop
‘Cause you’re a big legged woman,
With a short short miniskirt
Promise me darlin’,
You’ll never make me feel like dirt

Here is Freddie King in curiously odd concert singing, “Big Legged Woman” to a mostly White audience in 1966.  His singing is great.  His audience seems confused:

As we leap 30 years forward into the 1990’s, we are musically met by Sir-Mix-a-Lot and his unfathomable rap sensation that still strikes a chord today with, “Baby Got Back” where he doesn’t hint at salvation or celebration from his big legged woman — but rather flat-out hardcore sex centered around the touchstone icon of her large backside:

I like big butts and I can not lie
You other brothers can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung

In a sad twist from admiration to exploitation to hip-hop self-immolation to sell records, we are rounded out in our cultural history of the female backside by Fergie’s seminal sexual flaunting of her humps:

[Will.i.am]
Whatcha gonna do with all that junk
All that junk inside your trunk
[Fergie]
I’ma get get get get you drunk
Get you love drunk off my hump
My hump my hump my hump my hump my hump
My hump my hump my hump my lovely little lumps

What do you make of this musical progression from “Big Legged” to “Big Butts” to “My Humps?”

Is this the natural and expected deflowering of our sexual cultural icons as the idea of a woman is boiled down to body parts where even Helen Keller isn’t safe today?

Have men had the same sort of sardonic treatment from women in The Blues, Rap and Hip-Hop and can we draw a similar line from “The Package” to “The Love Muscle” to “That Hangin’ Thang” — and if we cannot — why hasn’t there been a similar exploitation of the male anatomy in song and where is the righteous gender outrage at the infidelity of it all?

14 Comments

  1. Hi David,
    I listened to the song when you posted in your “favourites”, I enjoyed the voice but not the lyrics. Then I thought – “…may be because I didnt grew up with it…”…
    I absolutely despise these female anatomy centric lyrics and can’t think of coming up with equally vivid description of a male anatomy because I think women are not as visual as their male counterpart and we know the sale value of a female anatomy is much higher.

  2. I was born in the land of “The Flat Butts” — so this whole genetic obsession with “Big Bums” is, frankly, beyond me — but I do find it a curious cultural value and I always try to take away something good from things I do not comprehend at first.
    I know women who have tremendous rear ends who are incredibly proud of what they have and there are always a certain species of man that follow those women around as if tethered by the nose.
    The fact that the idolization of “The Big Back” is so deep in mainstream music — see Jerry Lee Lewis’ entirely differently lyrics for his “Big Legged Woman”…


    …and also Queen’s highly offensive “Fat Bottom Girls” that was a major hit…


    …and I am still lost and culturally foundering!