Renaissance–or at least, act I of it–has predictably made a splash with the Bey Hive and beyond, but the album is not without its controversies. One issue that arose after its release on Friday is a particular lyric on the track “Heated” that was deemed by listeners as ableist, and which the singer now says she will replace.
The song, which lists Drake among its co-writers, features the lyric: “Spazzin’ on that ass, spaz on that ass” in the outro. Disability activists have explained the offensiveness of the word, derived from the medical term “spastic,” which references uncontrollable muscle spasms that can characterize conditions like cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological disorders. In a statement shared with Variety on Monday, the artist’s team said, “The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced.”
Beyoncé is not the only pop star to have landed herself in this situation this year. Lizzo’s song “Grrrls,” from her most recent album Special, featured the lyric, “Hold my bag, bitch, hold my bag/Do you see this shit? I’m a spaz.” After facing backlash over the term, she replaced the line with the new lyric, “Do you see this shit? Hold me back.”
The Grammy winner said she was “proud” to debut the lyric change, which was “the result of me listening and taking action.” In a statement posted to Twitter at the time, Lizzo wrote, “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had so many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).”
The lyric in question is not the only issue that has been raised with the album–a controversial Kelis credit is still provoking debate–but hopefully, with the forthcoming change, fans will be able to embrace Renaissance more fully.