Estelle • “Make Her Say (Beat It Up)” • BMG Rights Management • US Release Date: April 15, 2014
Something has clearly happened to my girl Estelle. Even that statement is an understatement. Estelle’s new single “Make Her Say (Beat It Up)” is nothing short of shocking and I do mean NOTHING short. Estelle has fooled around (no pun intended) with being risqué on songs such as “Wait A Minute (Just A Touch)” (Shine), but nothing to the extent of “Make Her Say”. “Make Her Say”, like the majority of contemporary R&B these days, relies on its explicitness. Perhaps what’s more shocking about this is that a female rather than a male leads the blunt, hypersexual approach. There is a clear double standard with sex’s inclusion in music with female artists compared to men. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but the accusatory finger is more often going to be given to the female as opposed to the male.
One might wonder why a somewhat refined diva such as Estelle needs to ‘get down’ the way she does on “Make Her Say”. Sure, her second stateside album All of Me failed to garner the same attention as Shine did. That said, it can’t be overlooked that All of Me had a mega hit on its hands with “American Boy”, featuring Kanye West. Perhaps Estelle wanted to develop a different persona, try to better find commercial footing and a niche in the U.S. particularly. One of the issues with All of Me was its distinctiveness. With a can’t miss single like “Make Her Say”, not to mention further assist by its R-rated (maybe NC-17 rated) cover, Estelle certainly draws attention to herself that little else of her past work could.
For as sick as the minimalist production is on “Make Her Say”, even the horniest listener has to be a bit skeptical – really! Yes, everyone relates to sex, and I have no doubt many women may even relate to Estelle’s narrative here, even if it’s in kinder-gentler fashion. That said why does Estelle need to be so brash and bold about her anatomy? Wouldn’t more subtle, yet clever lyrics ultimately be more effective in the long run? I mean there is no middle ground to be had when you can drop lyrics like “make my p***y say” or “beat the p***y up!” without a hitch. Maybe it’s being judgmental and a bit sexist, as mentioned above, but is it so much to ask for a contemporary R&B song – particularly from a female – that more cleverly tackles coitus?
I give Estelle props for the shock value; it definitely grabbed my attention and I’m sure many others. Still, while I enjoy a feistier Estelle, I’m just not sure that a song about her “D-flat major” (Chopin sex reference) feels right. Well maybe the sound and the vibe do, but it’s so outrageous it’s uncomfortable, even for the ‘pros at this’.