Sir Mix-a-Lot on the Origins of His "Accidentally" Empowering "Baby Got Back"

If we know anything about Sir Mix-a-Lot, we know he can't lie. The rapper and producer was responsible for "Baby Got Back," a remarkably honest testament to the power of the booty. It's imagery was so powerful, in fact, that MTV would only play it in the middle of the night.

The message of the song is fairly straight-forward: Sir Mix-a-Lot likes derrière. There's a subtext, however, that some less keen eyes may have missed, says Sir Mix-a-Lot (née Anthony Ray), and it all started with a Budweiser commercial.

"Back then you had a Budweiser ad campaign with Spuds MacKenzie, and you had the Budweiser girls. Cute but you know basically all hair, you know what I mean? They were basically like stop signs, you know, that's the shape," Sir Mix-a-Lot says. "That's when I realized, you know what, there is a—I wouldn't even say an alternative—there's another beautiful that for some reason is not being talked about much, and I wanted to talk about it, so I said, How do I write this track, and kind of diss the norm, in a funny way?"

"I didn't want women to look at Cosmo as the goal," Sir Mix-a-Lot continues. "I wanted to shift what the goal was. Don't look at Cosmo and say, I've got to get that physique, so they'll put me in pictures. Don't worry about them! Baby, you are beautiful, you are gorgeous, you can do what you want to do. To hell with them. So it's kind of an empowering song by accident, and every line of song was written with that in mind."

Ultimately, Sir Mix-a-Lot says, he wanted to challenge authority and conventional forms of attractiveness, especially pertaining to the African American community. "At that time, the majority of the black women you saw on television were maids, servants, they played hookers or they would assimilate to another culture, and I didn't like that. It bothered me a lot, but who am I? I didn't want to preach either. So when I wrote 'Baby Got Back,' I wanted to make sure I said those things without offending anybody, but the people that needed to hear it got it immediately," Sir Mix-a-Lot says, before adding, "and it worked well enough to sell millions of records."
Published 07/05/2016
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