What It Actually Means To Be “Bad & Boujee”

Photo: Prince Williams/Getty.
Donald Glover took home two Golden Globes last night for his FX show Atlanta. The series is an ode to the city’s rap scene — ground zero for the trap music that floods our streaming services and urban strip clubs. Atlanta is the hometown of so many of the artists and producers that bring trap music to life. Naturally, when Glover accepted his award for Best Television Comedy, he thanked Atlanta for being dope. But the true gem of his acceptance speech was the shout-out to trap trio Migos and their single “Bad and Boujee.” Glover called the track “the greatest song ever.” I still haven’t found the lie. “Bad and Boujee” is an amazing song. If you don’t immediately turn up when you hear “Raindrops. Drop top…” I’m not sure that I trust you. Before Glover’s nod helped push it to No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, “Bad and Boujee” was already creeping up the charts. But when pieces of Black culture become a “thing” in pop culture, a lot can get lost in translation. Let’s never forget when Rihanna’s wrap was called a pixie cut, or when people thought “bae” was an acronym. So before you change your Instagram or Twitter bio to: "Bad & Boujee" — hear me out.
“Bad” means good. Like a "badass" or "bad bitch." Being bad should be on your 2017 vision board if it’s not already. Now that we have that out of the way, “Boujee” is a bit more complex. Also stylized as bougie, the word is derived from “bourgeois,” an elite demographic defined by a need for luxury and material items. Bougie is true to that definition in a lot of ways. Black bougie folks often pride themselves on going to the best schools and only engaging in activities associated with affluence and elegance. In the most simplistic terms, bougie is the material opposite of “ghetto.” What makes Migos' song so magical is its insistence on embracing a “bougie” that relies on the group's already assumed exclusion from the world of the bourgeoisie. With their Atlanta dialects and multi-color locs, Migos isn't exactly a fixture at the posh country club. But the guys practice refinement in other ways. In the music video, you’ll notice that the “Bad and Boujee” girls don’t smile or dance. They take selfies and drink champagne with their microwaveable ramen. This is the paradox that Migos has built its entire brand on. The lure of a girl that’s “Bad and Boujee” is exclusivity. When a woman is unavailable to the advances of men, unfriendly, and generally unapproachable, she can be labeled bougie. Her standards, unrealistic or not, signify that the members of Migos themselves are insiders in the world of luxury, even as they remain true to their humbler roots. Boujee is about both affluence and attitude. Even their alternate spelling is a demand to define luxe on their own terms. I will forever love them for that. I’m the anti-bougie. I typically tend to make bougie folks uncomfortable, much to my amusement. But I have a whole slew of friends who are or aspire to be. Most of them are also super bad. Only a couple of them would date any members of Migos, but I still dedicate the track to them every time.

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