Beyoncé says she will remove an ableist slur from her new album, “Renaissance,” after facing online backlash and criticism from disability campaigners.
The 40-year-old singer received rave reviews when she debuted her dance-inspired seventh studio album on Friday, but she came under fire over the weekend when fans noticed the inclusion of a derogatory term in the song “Heated.”
On the track, co-written by Drake, Beyoncé sings the line: “Spazzin’ on that ass, spazz on that ass.”
Although the word “spaz” is often used colloquially to describe “freaking out” or “going crazy,” it is derived from the word “spastic,” which is considered demeaning to people with spastic cerebral palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) the disorder affects a person’s ability to control their muscles, especially in their arms and legs.
“So @Beyonce used the word ‘sp**’ in her new song ‘Heated’. Feels like a slap in the face to me, the disabled community and the progress we tried to make with Lizzo,” disability advocate Hannah Diviney wrote on Twitter.
“Guess I’ll just keep telling the whole industry to ‘do better’ until ableist slurs disappear from music.”
Another commentator tweeted: “Screw you @Beyonce. You should be a role model, not making money from the lazy use of derogatory language. Shame on you.”
Representatives for Beyoncé confirmed on Monday that the lyric would be removed, telling CNN in a statement that “the word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced.”
Fans had waited with bated breath for “Renaissance” after the singer dropped the first single, “Break My Soul,” in June. It was her first full-length album since 2016’s “Lemonade.”
Opening up about her creative process on Instagram, Beyoncé told fans: “Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world.”
She said her “intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration. “
The singer’s decision to edit “Heated” comes weeks after fellow entertainer Lizzo announced a new version of her song “GRRRLS” following complaints about her use of the same term from the disabled community.