No Trivia

"Ego": Beyonce’s Deconstructive Dick Joke


“If I Were a Boy”, a slow burning double-standard jam. “Single Ladies”, a fucking infectious empowerment song that’s also really about getting married and that square stuff. “Diva”, an “A Milli” rip-off. “Halo”, a big ballad about the right kind of comfort in a relationship that happens to trump Animal Collective’s “My Girls” in sentiment (word to Maltese Rubble on that point). And “Ego”, a celebration of her (and through that your) dude’s swagger that’s also a dick joke that’s also an artful balance of upholding pop expectations and going pretty crazy with them.

These songs really stick around for a while, through their initial ubiquity and then, their staying power and finally, their twisty-turny conceptual edges. They defy up-to-the-minute blogging and quick analysis. They’re growers. Obvious and not so obvious, really stupid and the sort of thing to sit down with and unpack. That’s to say, “Ego” is way more interesting a month or so after its release than it was when it first bombarded the radio because a song that’s ostensibly a dick joke has been pounded into the ears of even the most casual listeners so much, they’ve probably “figured” it out.

Kanye explicitly acknowledged the obvious on the remix, but “Ego” is teasing you bluntness, a parody of pop music’s double-entendres–the “joke” here is that her man’s ego being “too wide” and not “fit[ting]” only works if you’re talking about his penis. And that’s pretty funny. The same way “to the left, to the left” wasn’t directions for a dance move but a demand to get the fuck out is funny. But it’s more than funny, it’s sort of daring and very real and unglamourous, not only celebrating the size of a dude’s dick but acknowledging the elasticity (or lack thereof) of her (or a) vagina. Weird stuff.

Towards the end of the song though, the lyrics switch-up and Beyonce begins describing her ego and how it is also, “too big”, “too wide” and “won’t fit”; she’s in effect, “wearing” the dick which is interesting and well, gender-CRAZY. This is the same understated, gender-flipping weirdness found when The-Dream (a big part of Beyonce’s recent successes) mimics the orgasm sounds of the girl he’s with or “misogynist” Cam’ron dedicates a “verse to the everyday working woman” and raps it in her voice, inhabiting her worries and fears.

Production-wise, “Ego” is cut from the early 90s slow jam cloth but part of that sound stems from Prince–especially the rigid funk of the horns, the dash of 70s soul–and “Ego” is very much in the tradition of Prince’s hyper-explicit not-even metaphors and gender-bending/complicating work-outs. This is all pretty standard stuff in a lot of ways, but it’s oddly and subtly transgressive for popular radio and worth applauding because Beyonce really doesn’t need to metaphorically graft a dick onto herself to compare herself to her man and his ego.

Sure, in one way, she’s upholding expectations (though in a real bizarre way), sorta “making” herself male or connecting power to male-ness, but she’s also complicating gender expectations, announcing she too has a big “ego” and connecting it to her feminine “legs” and “thighs”–maintaining an expert balance between neither gender, as well as praising her man’s “ego” that never makes her second to him and even, claiming that ego for herself in the subject-change hook for the final verse.

Not every joint can be “Single Ladies” and Beyonce knows this. There’s a sort of implicit rule it seems, that if you’re a big-time artist with some artistic pretensions and a bajillion fans at the same time, you just don’t make super-solid, awesomely one-note albums. You bounce and weave around prevailing trends, invent some new ones, and make sure to bop the foreheads of every person in every sub-market, and keep it moving all in the name of “range”, “diversity”, and pop-corporate synergy. That Beyonce found a place for something as curious as “Ego” in her every-song-is-a-hit arsenal is pretty extraordinary.

Written by Brandon

June 22nd, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Beyonce

2 Responses to '"Ego": Beyonce’s Deconstructive Dick Joke'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to '"Ego": Beyonce’s Deconstructive Dick Joke'.

  1. Hi all. I came across your blog site use of yahoo. This is a genuinely nicely written report. I will be sure to search for them are available time for get more information of your strategies. We appreciate you the particular article. Let me surely return.

    mathematische Suchmaschinenoptimierung

    22 Jun 13 at 2:13 am

  2. Interesting commentary. But let’s face it, when 99% of the population hear the song, they’re thinking Jay Z is packed. So unless she’s completely un-selfaware, she’s proud to send that message.
    Or was she going for irony? Is her husband actually a little fella? In that case, the song is brilliant.


    11 Sep 13 at 9:38 am

Leave a Reply