Q&A: Sir Mix-a-Lot Talks "Baby Got Back," Big Butts, and Big Women
In 1992, the Seattle rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot mounted a deeply dented half-peach hill and boasted proudly, defiantly, ravenously: I Like. Big. Butts! And I cannot lie! Nearly 20 years later, "Baby Got Back" still reigns as the big-booty anthem of the 20th century. Although the archetype of feminine pulchritude lyrically sculpted by the Billboard chart-topper was one with an "itty bitty" waist planted atop a "real thick and juicy" backside, the double-Platinum classic has since been adopted as a fat-people psalm, something that Guys Who Like Fat Chicks could "nod solemnly in solidarity with," as one 28-year-old Fat Admirer interviewed for this week's feature story put it.
The 48-year-old gearhead--born Anthony Ray--didn't intend this, though he's certainly not mad at it. As the Grammy winner explained over his cell phone from Grange, Atlanta, where he'd been for a convention, he was talking more about women shaped like J. Lo "at her peak" than Nell Carter. After the jump, hip-hop's most famous ass man elaborates.
"Baby Got Back" came out almost 20 years ago.
Yeah, 20 years next year. Thinking about doing something for that. I don't know what it's going to be, but I'm really considering doing something.
It is one of the first pop songs that ever really talked about big women.
It's not the first, but it's the first to ever put it in that context. I was doing a video and I remember a director asked me what kind of girls I wanted for the video. I said, "Curvy, blah blah blah." So he got in this debate with me about what beautiful is. His perspective of "curvy" women was sluts, only good for sex. And I was like, "Where are you getting this from?" I realized it was coming from us, it was coming from my own culture. By culture, I don't mean African-Americans, I mean rap.
I realized, "Jesus Christ, what are we causing here?" That's when I said that I wanted to do a song about this from a little different perspective. I still wanted to make it fun and sexy, but at the same time I wanted to let the world know that we think these women are beautiful, not just objects.
I'm writing a story about young guys who like fat women, who prefer fat women, and your song keeps coming up.
That's funny because that's not what the song is talking about. It cracks me up. I've seen girls that look like me and been like, "Ohhhhh, I'm Baby's got Back!" And I'm like, "No, no, no, no." It wasn't "Baby Got Back and Center, and Middle, and Front." You know?
Do you get a lot of that? A lot of fat women have taken the song as their anthem.
That's fine. But if somebody asked me what I had in mind when I did it, it would definitely be someone like Shakira. J. Lo at her peak. That is exactly what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the dumbbell shape. The coke bottle.
I have friends of mine--like white friends of mine--that say, "White guys just don't like that." And I say, "There was a time that you did"-- that's why Marilyn Monroe is considered beautiful. There was a time when you liked curves, and a woman looking like a woman and not a heroin addict. Now, if a girl is anything over 15 pounds we think she's fat, which is funny.
What's the white-guy response to "Baby Got Back?"
Obviously, more white people like the song than black. Black people kind of view "Baby Got Back" as like, "Oh, yeah, we already knew that." It's not even an issue to them. They wouldn't even think to sing about it. Whereas white guys are kind of like, "Yeah, finally!"
I go to LA Fitness now, and the first thing that I notice is that every girl who comes in is like, "I want to build this up" and they're always pointing at their ass. Think about that? Going back to the '80s, you would never have a white girl being like, "I really want to pump this up." They usually wanted to get rid of it, which, I never understood that.
In black culture, it seems far more common to see a big woman in a sexual way.
That's where women get confused, when they say "big women." See, Shakira's not big. That's what black guys are singing about. People confuse it with Nell Carter--and it's like, "No no no. That's not what we are talking about! We are talking about a 22-inch waist with 35-inch, 38-inch ass." That's what we're talking about. And they are usually in shape, they usually have six-packs. They usually are really buff, and they work out, and they have beautiful, round butts.
So then, do you ever get too much love from fat women?
It doesn't bother me. I just like to make sure people have a good understanding as to what I'm talking about. A lot of people have tried to stretch it into something else. I mean, Beyonce, another example. And I don't think anybody would call Beyonce a big woman.
It's not that you don't love a girl that's heavy-set, that's not what I'm saying. I just think that some people confuse the ideal. I get into that a lot, when [people are] like, "Well, isn't that what you like?" And I'm like, "Dude, I can fall in love with any woman. But if we're being strictly shallow here, I'd have to say it's the coke bottle."