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Beyonce's song 'Flawless' features writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

December 13, 2013|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Beyonce performs during the halftime show of the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Beyonce performs during the halftime show of the Super Bowl in New Orleans. (Mark Humphrey / Associated…)

Superstar Beyonce did two astonishing things Thursday night: Release a complete album without any promotion or advance notice, and sample Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Adichie, who lives part of the year in the U.S., is the author of the acclaimed 2013 novel "Americanah," a smart and surprisingly funny take on race and gender in contemporary society. In 2008, she was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, after the publication of "Half a Yellow Sun," a historical novel set during Nigeria's bloody Biafran war.

Adichie appears on Beyonce's track "Flawless." She isn't in the short video sample of the song that's online; according to Rap Genius, the video is of the third verse, while Adichie's sample makes up most of the second.

The sample is from a talk Adichie gave at TEDxEuston in London earlier this year titled, "We Should All Be Feminists." What appears in "Flawless" pulls from different parts of her speech:

We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls
"You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man"
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach to aspire to marriage
And we don't teach boys the same?
We raise girls to each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes

Adichie is also the author of the novel "Purple Hibiscus" and the short-story collection "The Thing Around Your Neck."

Beyonce's self-titled new release, which has videos for every track and is being called a "visual album," is available exclusively on iTunes.

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