The Literary Genesis of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back"
by Rusty W.
Almost everyone is aware of
the rap classic "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot. It has been
called mere novelty, it has been called vulgar and offensive, and it has
even been called a feminist anthem. What most don't know, however,
is that the song "Baby Got Back" is a modern translation of a much older
piece of prose poetry, most of which is still lost, but some of which
was discovered by literary scholars in the mid-1980s, only a few years
before rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot (previously author of more underground songs
such as "Buttermilk Biscuits" and "Square Dance Rap") took it upon
himself to rework the poem into a radio hit.
When the original piece of
literature was discovered, it of course was pored over by certain
scholars, but the general public didn't think much of it (those few who
saw it), and so -- like so many literary texts -- this one remains more
or less known by only those few who study it. Anthony Ray (Sir
Mix-a-Lot's actual name), for those who don't know, is somewhat of a
literary buff himself and heard through a professor friend of an old
piece of writing with this perfect-for-him subject matter: a meditation
on the preference toward large female behinds.
The author of the original
work remains unknown, and most (including myself) agree that it was
probably the work of multiple authors, most likely written over the
course of the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. There is
also evidence to suggest that the work was much longer, that the three
parts here is only a small portion of a large number of variations on
this simple (and repetitive) theme.
The full existing text is
presented on the left in black, with the Sir Mix-a-Lot version in an
aligning position on the right in red. I have provided notes where
I feel necessary, under the lyrics in small black italics, though most
of the work speaks for itself. You'll note, I'm sure, that Anthony
Ray quite literally translated the sentiments expressed below with very
little modification of meaning.
Being the First
If one were to express one's
feelings about the quality, shape, and – to be blunt – size of
the area of anatomy belonging to those of the fairer sex, an
area that I will forthwith call to question, and if that
aforementioned "one" were indeed myself, then I would have to
hastily bring it to any curious party's attention that this
desired area of discussion, the hindquarters to speak it
quickly, could – and yes should – be likened closer to a
giraffe than a lap dog, closer to a behemoth than a deer tick.
On this matter, no utterance of falsehood shall ever pass my
I like big butts and
I cannot lie.
division headings were added at a much later date by unknown
persons collecting the disparate texts into one. Most
likely, this wasn't the first one of its kind written. We
keep the headers here for separation of sections and unity of
the pieces together.
If you call yourself my brethren,
then, my kin, you as well as I realize that it your duty as
honest gentlemen to come forth and pledge your oath on this
wise; furthermore, recognizing that should a kind woman bearing
this excess of flesh traverse your threshold (all the more so if
the waistline is so tiny as to be out of proportion to the
subject matter of this parley), and if it should by chance
happen that your eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks – indeed, any speck
that may lie between pate and neck – should come near the
circular orb, then, my mother's sons, you recognize that the
blood in your veins would course in such a way as to allow for
the procreative acts to be carried out in any right time as you
see fit, for your manhood would be as a farmer's crop rising to
meet the brightness and roundness of the orange sun.
You other brothers
And when a girl walks in with an itty-bitty waist
And a round thing in your face you get sprung.
One might peradventure you would be
like to "pull up tough," as the moderns speak it, when it does
not escape your notice that even the undergarments of this
maiden are made of durable materials that nevertheless heave and
burst with the power of the stuff within. I, myself, feel
compelled ever more toward this entity; my eyes cannot turn
Wanna pull up tough,
Cause you noticed that butt was stuffed
Deep in the "G" she's wearing.
I'm hooked and I can't stop staring.
Scholars are unclear on the meaning
of the phrase "pull up tough," as was Mix-a-Lot who simply used
it here without explaining it. No doubt it was a passing
fad phrase of the day.
So I turn from my brothers and
toward you yourself, my petal, when I prattle upon your ears and
allow my wishes to be known unto you: namely, that I would adore
the sweet opportunity to be by your side, and – furthermore – to
produce some work of art, some image or likeness, that might
remind me of you when you are far from my loving sight.
Oh, baby, I wanna
get with ya,
And take your picture.
What ho, my brothers! Do you warn me
against my true love? Hear how they tell me not to dive further
into your waters, though they must realize the vanity of their
pleading; for it is truth as divine as from the gods that your
extremities pitches me into a fit of fleshly desires.
My homeboys tried to
But that butt you got makes me so horny.
I advance, and lo I touch her very
skin, so utterly soft beneath my course fingertips. Can this be?
Do you now wish to accompany me in my carriage, with me as
driver and you as the angel by my side? Do this, and more! Use
me for whatever purposes your heart would have me! I am but a
mere servant, and you are the master for as long as the world
does turn! And this I do, that I throw myself upon the mercy of
your whim, for I have recognized that you are uncommon among
women and that you have no equal upon this earth.
Oooh, rub her smooth
You say you wanna get in my Benz?
Well, use me, use me,
Cause you ain't that average groupie.
To those who hear me, I will tell
you now that I saw my love once while practicing in the art of
dance; I knew in that moment that I would have no time for the
longwinded courtship that other women would have me commit, but
that her celestial yet bestial body – so tender and ripe with
the drenching of her perspiration, with the wetness of her
readiness to come unto me – was as powerful to me as any
man-made engine your best scientists could produce with the
unleashed greatness of their skills.
I seen her dancing.
To hell with romancing.
She sweat, wet, got it going like a Turbo Vette.
I have read upon the pages written
by learned men and ladies of regard that in order to be esteemed
highly, concerning our subject, that one must maintain a
flatness of presentation. Of these accusations, I am most weary.
Were any of these ministers to preach such a doctrine to those
brethren congregated here today, they would be cast out as
blasphemers and false prophets, and a cry would go up all the
louder proclaiming in a mighty voice the magnitude of girth we
do so long for.
I'm tired of
Saying flat butts are the thing.
Take the average black man and ask him that.
She gotta pack much back.
Therefore, men among me, answer this
question I present before you: concerning your wives, your
lovers, your mistresses, any of the fairest who might lie beside
you at night: does she possess these qualities of which I speak?
I can hear that you answer me positively. And since this is your
answer, I would advise all within the sound of my voice to
request unto your damsels to make their behind parts like unto a
quiver, that you may witness the bounty that is yours to behold
and to adore. For what bounty does my love possess!
So, fellas, fellas,
Does your girlfriend got the butt?
Tell her to shake it, shake it,
Shake that healthy butt.
Baby got back
I would now remind you of what I
have told you: the roundness of them, the largess of them, that
these things please me, so much so that when I find myself
called upon to sing, that a nature comes upon me like unto an
animal and I cannot control those base impulses within my being.
Know this, and know, dearest, that I consider it scandalous, a
blemish upon me, that I wish to do what I will now tell you I
wish to do. But to do it, I do verily wish.
I like 'em round,
And when I'm throwing a gig,
I just can't help myself.
I'm acting like an animal.
Now here's my scandal.
The second part may or may not be by the same author. He
maintains a similar voice, but there are subtle changes in tone
and additions in the variation, such as giving the writer the
profession of a singer, a fact that he assumes the reader will
take for granted, suggesting earlier text between this and the
It would please me for you to join
me at my residence, for there in the warmth of my chambers I
could place you downward upon my bed, your face turned away from
me so that I may behold the glory that does emanate when you are
in such a position. When these things have come to pass, I would
do no less than place the fullness of myself in a place of which
I dare not speak, and – having done so – thrust myself mightily:
once! and immediately twice in succession!
I wanna get you
And uh! double up, uh! uh!
But haste, let us turn quickly not
to what I desire, but what I do not. Have you seen such women as
those who favor artificiality over true beauty? These vixens do
offend not only my eyes but nature itself, forcing such stuff
into their holy vessels as would only be fit for a small child's
doll. And it is as dolls that they themselves become. As for
myself, I do not want the thinness of a doll, but the thickness
and juiciness of a ripe plum ready to be picked: and you may see
how these two things do differ in every way. So let us then find
this thing! I am troubled, and a man in trouble, and a man who
goes down to his very knees to beg but for merely a piece of
that bubbly fruit.
I ain't talking
Cause silicone parts are made for toys.
I want 'em real thick and juicy,
So find that juicy double.
Mix-a-Lot's in trouble,
Begging for a piece of that bubble.
But haste again, I turn to those who
would sell their songs though the means of poor women who would
be knocked upon by their men, who strut about as if selling
their bodies like common whores. Such a woman is not for me, but
only those who could bring themselves to be my equal, even in
So, I'm looking at
Knocking these bimbos, walking like hos.
You can have them bimbos.
I'll keep my women like Flo-Jo.
So to you, my sisters who find
yourself belonging to such a race that I could truly call my kin
and also who holds the high standard of which I have been
speaking: to you I say sweetly: I would count it among my
highest honors to pass hours with you. I would neither speak ill
to you nor bring the back of my hand upon your cheek. However,
it would be remiss of me if I did not prepare you for what love
making adventure I would have you take with me. For if you have
loved before, have you loved for an hour? Have you loved for
two? I would begin my love with you at eventide, and this
selfsame love would continue long until the chirping birds upon
the branches do wake us in the morning, when we may then go out
into the world and behold the new sun.
A word to the thick
I wanna get with ya.
I won't cuss or hit ya.
But I gotta be straight when I say I wanna
Oooh! till the break of dawn.
Indeed, my lover's favors are many.
It causes me to think of savage idiots who do not value love.
No, they will not appreciate the words I have written today. I
know this is true when I say that those simpletons will take the
lady when the time is favorable for him and him alone, and upon
taking her will do nothing to please her, yet only satisfy his
own lustful needs, thereupon casting the vessel aside, in favor
of what frivolous pursuit he may then have, whether it is making
sport with the other townsmen or simply finding himself solitary
and lost in drink.
Baby got it going
A lot of simps won't like this song,
Cause them punks like to hit it and quit it,
Such a man is not me. I only begin
what I can properly finish, and – though I have admitted to you
my weaknesses – know now that those weaknesses to not cause me
to dismiss the needs of my lover. Indeed, my weakness becomes my
very strength! You will find me at such weak moments becoming
the strongest and most powerful of men, great of potency, quick
of moment, with plentiful means by which to extend that portion
of yourself such as might be filled in a time that this seeming
paradox of weak and might bring about.
And I'd rather stay
Cause I'm long, and I'm strong,
And I'm down to get the friction on.
Therefore, any person within
womankind who would be pleased to be ride with me atop my
gallant steed, I beseech you now to do as I say. Turn your face
from me, if only for a moment, so that you may present to me
those assets which I might (if you are among the fortunate) find
blessed or (for I am a fair man) adequate. For if I do find it
so, I dare say that even those males who are not among my kin
would feel the call to exalt their voices upon high so that
these beauties might hear them and be recognized. For, as it has
been written, your bounty is great!
So ladies, ladies,
Do you wanna roll in my Mercedes?
Then turn around, stick it out.
Even white boys got to shout.
Baby got back.
Being the Third
I have spoken of those men folk not
of my kin who discover themselves aligned with me concerning our
intercourse. But what of their women? These men have
counterparts who carry themselves in carriages we of my ilk
would not deem suitable: and, touching this, I am playing at
words, for not only are the wheels and steel upon which they
drive out of fashion with my company, but also are the bodies
within the carriages; for though they might carry motors in
their "hoods" (if you are following my punning), whether placed
their by the gods or by the men of medicine, they do not of a
certainty hold any motors, nay any means of mobilization, within
their "trunks," having spent their days jumping up and down in
the silly exercises found to their peers to be cosmopolitan,
perhaps championed by a spokeswoman who, to our ears, speaks an
So your girlfriend
rolls a Honda,
Playing workout tapes by Fonda.
But Fonda ain't got a motor
In the back of her Honda.
It is almost unanimously agreed that
the third part is written by a different, much more modern
author. The presentation is not as "wordy," and is instead
more playful and less romantic, speaking to a multitude of women
rather than one lover.
To these women I would speak clearly
so that they understand my meaning, though I might be inclined
to use somewhat of a poet's speech for various parts of my
phraseology in order to disguise the uncouth words that I would
be forced to use in uttering such conciseness. Therefore, my
mighty manhood might be likened to a snake, a large snake,
though not a poisonous snake, for that would speak ill of the
snake itself; rather, the snake would be so grand in size and
prowess that it would be able to kill any easily who would
threaten his territory, and the killing would be carried out by
strangulation and suffocation within its coils. And this snake
would, I would tell the woman, have no desire in her whatsoever:
unless she possesses that of which I have been speaking
for so long now.
My anaconda don't
Unless you got buns, hon.
To my own stripe of woman, I would
tell her that if she wishes to be as the foolish women and
perform actions on their bodies that might cause them to lose
some of its mass, then she may do so on the condition that their
extremities be left intact.
You can do side
bends or sit-ups,
But please don't lose that butt.
I have spoken in length of the men
who would despise the blessing which the gods have blessed you
with, more precious than the finest metals, and it would not
bring wonder to me if I should learn of how one of these same
men might dispose of you in an unseemly fashion, as unwanted
garbage thrown onto the side of the road. I would say to you
then that it is a blessing for you that he has done so, though
you would not recognize it at the time, for during your time of
discard, I would seize the opportunity to claim what he has
given up in foolishness.
Some brothers wanna
play that hard roll
And tell you that the butt ain't gold.
So, they toss it and leave it,
And I pull up quick to retrieve it.
Do the masses claim that you are
unseemly? Do these qualities of which I speak displease the
world? Ignore these claims, for these claims are not mine. Your
frame is delicate where it needs be delicate, and your frame is
plentiful where it needs be plentiful, and the unity of the two
opposites do create upon you the desirable curves of rolling
hills, and when I lay my eyes upon you, my mind drifts where it
may and inevitably falls upon what I may do to you and this
curving pasture of good green land, and I long to hide myself
So Cosmo says
Well, I ain't down with that,
Cause your waist is small
And your curves are kicking,
And I'm thinking about sticking.
To those women whose silhouettes
might fool me into thinking you are nothing but a post upon
which a farmer's beans might curl, you are not in such a high
favor as you esteem yourself to be. Present me instead with one
of my own, for then I cannot fail but to offer her my full
attentions. She has eaten the ambrosia which sustains her and
provides her with the perfect curving shell.
To the beanpole
dames in the magazines,
You ain't it, Miss Thang.
Give me a sister, can't resist her.
Red beans and rice didn't miss her.
There was once a certain imbecile
who saw a particular woman in my company and was sore against
me, for she was once in his company. But I knew of his folly,
how he had won her favor and become over zealous with power,
choosing to beat his lover with mighty beatings. It was for this
very reason that I usurped the man's authority and took the
woman to be my own, for which she showed me much appreciation.
tried to dis,
Cause his girls were on my list.
He had game, but he chose to hit em,
And I pull up quick to get with 'em.
In closing, my dearest ladies, if
you fit the criteria of which I have spoken and you wish to join
me in these various modes of lovemaking, providing me with your
own thoughts upon these matters, you only but need to call for
me and I will be there. For I know that of which it has been
written: baby got back!
So, ladies, if the
butt is round,
And you wanna Triple X throwdown,
And kick them nasty thoughts.
Baby got back.
two stanzas seem to be written by yet another author, and
perhaps two different authors altogether. The last line of
each section ends with the same refrain, the first two using the
word "bounty." This section, notably, used the expression
"baby got back," which Sir Mix-a-Lot lifted directly for his
Dr. Rusty W. Spell