Lizzo Validates Her Decision to Alter “Grrrls” Lyric

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Lizzo is giving further explanation in relation to the lyric change she made in her song “Grrrls.” After receiving complaints from fans over an ableist word in the original version, she re-released the song in June. The term “spaz,” which refers to a kind of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia, is offensive and was used in the original song. Lizzo responded to the criticism on June 13 with a message that was posted on her social media profiles.

“It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song ‘GRRRLS,'” she wrote. “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally). I’m proud to say there’s a new version of GRRRLS with a lyric change. This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”

In her cover story for Vanity Fair, which was released on October 11th, Lizzo further discussed her choice to release a new version of “Grrrls” months later.

“I’d never heard it used as a slur against disabled people, never ever,” she explained. “The music I make is in the business of feeling good and being authentic to me. Using a slur is unauthentic to me, but I did not know it was a slur. It’s a word I’ve heard a lot, especially in rap songs, and with my Black friends and in my Black circles: it means to go off, turn up. I used [it as a] verb, not as a noun or adjective. I used it in the way that it’s used in the Black community. The internet brought it to my attention, but that wouldn’t [have been enough] to make me change something.”

Regarding the criticism she faced, Lizzo said: “Nina Simone changed lyrics — is she not an artist? Language changes generationally; Nina Simone said you cannot be an artist and not reflect the times. So am I not being an artist and reflecting the times and learning, listening to people, and making a conscious change in the way we treat language, and help people in the way we treat people in the future?”

In Lizzo’s updated rendition of “Grrrls,” she substitutes the word  “hold me back.” for her previously contentious lyric.

Many of her original critics were appeased by the modification, including Hannah Diviney, a disability rights activist whose first criticism of Lizzo’s usage of the phrase went viral on Twitter.

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