This song is about women with big butts, and the men who love them. Mix-a-Lot got the idea when he was watching the Super Bowl on TV. A Budweiser beer commercial came on with models who were way too skinny for his taste.
In the October 28, 2016 edition of the Tacoma Weekly, Sir Mix-A-Lot talked about the deeper meaning behind this song. "It was a lot more serious than a lot of people thought it was," he said. "The song is really talking about the lack of acceptance by Hollywood of the African-American body. I'm talking Serena Williams kind of curves. Back in that era, what they did with women of color was they either played prostitutes or maids. They were usually seriously overweight. They picked the worst example they could find cosmetically, and they'd throw that in front of us. I wanted to talk about it, and that's what 'Baby Got Back' is really about. Now, because the body is not only accepted, it's expected, I'm not sure that the song would make the same impact it did in '92."
This started a trend of rap "booty" songs. Wreckx-N-Effect had a hit soon after with "Rump Shaker
," and rappers have been singing the praises of "the bubble" ever since.
The video was directed by Adam Bernstein, who also did "Hey Ladies
" for Beastie Boys and "Love Shack
" for The B-52's - if you wanted a video filled with irreverent fun around this time, he was your man.
According to Bernstein, casting the video was one of the strangest experiences of his professional life. Since it was the butts they were interested in, he and his crew took photos of the applicants' fundaments, which they sent to Sir Mix-A-Lot for evaluation.
The outrageous video was briefly banned by MTV. This added to the song's popularity, as Mix-a-Lot played up the controversy. Years later, many rap videos featured dancers with big, healthy butts. The dancers in modern hip-hop videos usually have bigger rumps than those in "Baby Got Back," since in 1992, it was a lot harder to find models with a juicy bubble.
This song opens with two Valley Girls disparaging a black woman with a big butt. It was the first successful Valley Girl integration since the Frank Zappa song "Valley Girl
This brought Sir Mix-a-Lot national fame; previously he was locally popular in Seattle. After trying to follow up with other butt-related songs, he fell into obscurity as a performer, but did have another hit as a songwriter: he wrote the Pussycat Dolls hit "Don't Cha
" with Cee-Lo Green. Despite having just this one hit, he is still a big part of rap history - his old mixer is on display at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.
Speaking with TMZ
in 2014, Sir Mix-A-Lot said that Jennifer Lopez was the inspiration for the song, particularly during her time on In Living Color
as one of the show's Fly Girl dancers.
Cameron Diaz dances to this in the movie Charlie's Angels. It has also been used in the movies Happy Feet, Jackass: The Movie, Shrek and Shark Tale.
A young and nervous Ytossie from the reality TV show Temptation Island I was one of the bootie-shaking performers in the video for this song.
Mix-a-Lot wasn't the first to use the phrase "Silicone Sisters" to refer to surgically enhanced women - Bruce Springsteen used it in his first single, "Blinded By The Light
The sketch comedy show In Living Color
did a parody of this by "Trail Mix-a-Lot" called "Baby Got Snacks." In this version, the front man (Jamie Foxx) raps about being into obese women.
A cover of the song was sung in the Glee episode 'Sadie Hawkins,' which aired on January 24, 2013 in the US. The Fox TV show's version was borrowed from an interpretation by singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton, who was more than a little miffed not to be acknowledged. "It sounds like it actually uses the audio from my recording - not the vocals obviously, but the instruments sound EXTREMELY similar," he wrote on his blog.
Coulon added: "They got in touch with my peeps to basically say that they're within their legal rights to do this, and that I should be happy for the exposure (even though they do not credit me, and have not even publicly acknowledged that it's my version - so you know, it's kind of SECRET exposure)."
In 2005, this was used in back-to-school commercials for Target with the lyrics changed to "Baby Got Backpack."
This song has been covered by Throwdown, a heavy metal band, and by Agent Felix, a pop-punk band.
Sir Mix-A-Lot kept performing this song decades after it was released. In the '10s, he developed a 10-minute version that he would perform "if the crowd is into it."