Hey Mama

Album: Listen (2014)
Charted: 9 8

Songfacts®:

  • This island-flavored EDM tune finds David Guetta linking up again with Nicki Minaj. The Frenchman and New York femcee previously worked together on the hit tunes "Turn Me On" and "Where Them Girls At."
  • Minaj sings and raps here about being a perfect partner for her beau:

    I'll do the cooking, yes I'll do the cleaning
    Plus I keep the na-na, real sweet, for your eating
    Yes you be the boss, and yes I be respecting
    Whatever that you tell me, cause it's game you be spitting


    Minaj told Complex magazine during an interview around the time of this song's release that she hopes she "will have walked down the aisle" by the time of her fifth album. Not only that, the Queens MC added she will "at least be on baby number one," by then, "possibly baby number two."
  • The bedrock of the song is a sample of "Rosie," a song by C.B. "88" Cook recorded by the folk archivist Alan Lomax in 1948 at Parchman Farm state prison. Songwriter Esther Dean first showed Guetta the clip on YouTube. "When Esther played me that sample, I was like: 'Oh my God, I love this so much,'" Guetta explained to The Guardian newspaper. "I fell so in love that I became obsessed with it and wanted it to be the chorus."

    After tinkering with its structure, Guetta realized the sample worked best as an opening to the track, supporting a different chorus he concocted.
  • Afrojack and Ester Dean helped Guetta with the Caribbean-inflected production that accompanies native Trinidadian Nicki Minaj's rapping and singing.
  • The "Beating my drum like, dum di di day..." section comes courtesy of Bebe Rexha, who wrote it and provided the vocals. The Staten Island native previously featured on EDM group Cash Cash's 2013 hit single "Take Me Home" and developed a reputation as a song "fixer" - someone who could add the missing piece. Guetta asked her to come by the studio to see what she could do with this track, and in minutes she came up with the hook. Rexha didn't think much of it, but the song became a big hit.

    Just one problem: she wasn't credited as a featured artist on the song along with Minaj and Afrojack (she was officially featured on another Listen cut "Yesterday"). Rexha was told that adding her name would make it bloated, but when it became clear that listeners were mistaking her vocals for Minaj's, she lobbied for feature status and got it.

    When word got out about her work on "Hey Mama," it impelled her career as both a songwriter and singer. Soon after, she worked on G-Eazy's "Me, Myself & I" and Iggy Azalea's "Team."
  • The Hannah Lux Davis-directed video was shot in a lakebed in El Mirage, California. We see David Guetta and Afrojack drag race in dune buggies, as well as the French DJ and. his posse of traveling companions stumble upon some kind of hologram machine in the desert. The contraption gives life to a Nicki Minaj projection, who appears with her iconic pink hair. Minaj filmed her part in Europe, where she was touring.

    The intention of the video was to fuse the worlds of the dystopian Mad Max movies and the communal festival Burning Man. "I'm always really inspired by music festivals and the fashion that follows with that," director Hannah Lux Davis said to Billboard magazine of the avant-garde futuristic attire seen in the clip. "And Burning Man was something that felt like the energy of the song."
  • Speaking with MTV UK, Guetta admitted that Minaj's dedication to her work can prove a little grating. "Nicki, she's such a perfectionist it's incredible. Like she really, she drove me a little crazy," he said.

    "At the end the result is incredible because like she would really call me with little details but at the end if you add this detail plus this one plus this one, it does change the record," Guetta added. "And I think this record is going to be very, very big."
  • The song plays during the trailer of the 2016 comedy movie Bad Moms.

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