“Hey Mama” by Black Eyed Peas

Sometimes it can be challenging to do an in-depth, individualized analysis of songs such as these, since they are so omnipresent in the music industry. For example, there probably isn’t a pop artist in existence who hasn’t made songs encouraging people to dance. 

And then when you narrow such an idea down into the confines of genres such as hip-hop and reggae, such admonishments are usually directed towards women and more specifically inspiring them to gyrate a particular body part, that being their “booty”. 

Such is the case with the overall theme, i.e. chorus, of Hey Mama, with “mama” being a slang term for sexy females on the dance floor.

But there are some peculiarities in this piece also. For instance, in the post-chorus, additional vocalist Tippa Irie tells the addressees that they should “shake that thing like we in the city of sin”. And well, let’s just say that’s a statement you don’t see everyday in a dance song. But apparently, what it would mean is something like they should dance sexily with no inhibition, i.e. with no regard of who may be looking at them. 

And as far as said addressee goes, she is physically attractive to the point that it has Tippa ‘feeling naughty’. So basically, he is using her desire to party to try to fulfill his own horny, gawking-inspired goals.

Verse 1

In the first verse, Will.i.am goes on to affirm the homeys in general, i.e. the crew that he rolls with, does possess “a naughty naughty style”. But he doesn’t use this passage to go there just yet. Rather its primary purpose appears to be biggin’ up the Black Eyed Peas, specifically in the sense of their longevity and success in the game. 

However, notable is that he concludes the verse with what some may deem as an insensitive or politically-incorrect statement, saying that the Peas ‘drop bombs like they in the Middle East’. Of course that statement is a metaphor for the group’s musical proficiency in a dance-like setting, actually one that is used quite commonly by rappers, though not always in such a context. 

Yet some people, i.e. the victims of such bombings and their sympathizers, may find it off-putting nonetheless. But that said, this song did come out around the time that the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan were jumping off anyway. So thoughts of the Middle East were part and parcel of the American collective consciousness at the time nonetheless.

Pre Chorus

Following the first verse is the first time the listener is treated to the pre-chorus of the song. And it is another passage which serves the primary purpose of exalting the Black Eyed Peas and more directly the vocalist at hand, Will.i.am. 

The crew is presented as being recognizable stars who ‘look hard without bodyguards’. Well, if there’s any group in the history of hip-hop that doesn’t look hard, it would perhaps be the Black Eyed Peas. But it’s not that Will.i.am and the gang are actually trying to threaten or intimidate anyone. Rather, all of this is just their roundabout way of saying that they’re the sh-t.

In fact Will.i.am goes on to verify the more peaceful disposition the Peas are known for in the second verse, when he asserts that his desire is to “squeeze tits”, not gun triggers. And what he and his are mainly concerned with is rockin’ the house. The vocalist also uses this stanza to point to his lovemaking skills, as well as his preference for ladies with “plump plump plumpas” – or as Sir Mix-a-Lot would say, big butts.

Pre-Chorus 2

The second pre-chorus, which follows this verse, is a bit different from the first in that this time around Fergie is introduced into the mix and is given a personalized shoutout in that regard. And as with the other vocalists, her goal is to encourage listeners to dance.

Bridge

Later comes the bridge, which is held down by Tippa Irie alongside Will.i.am. And this passage once again serves the purpose of biggin’ up the artists at hand by presenting the idea that they are in control of the game and will remain hot forever.

Tippa Irie

Tippa is then given the pleasure of conducting the third verse on his own. Being that he’s a reggae artist who apparently traces his parentage back to the Caribbean, it is rendered partially in patois and as such can be challenging to understand at certain points. 

But the general idea he appears to put forth, in addition to once again admiring dancing ladies, is that he and his homeys are blingin’ as well as perhaps carrying guns.

What “Hey Mama” is all about

So conclusively, Hey Mama is part dance song, part braggadocios tune. That is to say that on top of prompting listeners, especially ladies, to move their bodies, the Black Eyed Peas and Tippa Irie also use the opportunity to exalt their own greatness as musicians and trending artists in general.

Lyrics to Black Eyed Peas' "Hey Mama"

Who wrote “Hey Mama”?

This song was co-authored by Will Adams, Allan Pineda, Jaime Gomez and Anthony Henry. The song was produced by Will, a leading member of the group.

Was “Hey Mama” a single release?

Yes. It was single number three from the group’s “Elephunk” album. The song itself officially came out in January of 2004.

Chart Performance

  • US – 23
  • UK – 2
  • Norway – 6
  • New Zealand – 4
  • Hungary – 1
  • Germany – 5
  • Denmark – 8
  • Canada – 2
  • Belgium – 6
  • Australia – 2

Movies:

“Along Came Polly” and “Garfield” both American comedy films of 2004, featured the song, “Hey Mama”.

Sampling:

  • Lobo – “Meniny” (2007)
  • Sérgio Mendes and Black Eyed Peas – “Mas Que Nada” (2006 Version) (2006)

Awards

“Hey Mama” won the category, “Best Choreography in a Video” at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards.

Hey Mama

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