On Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” (1999)

A young and solitary young man in search of company could find worse direction than Juvenile’s 1999 apostrophe “Back That Azz Up.” On close inspection of its verses, the young male will become aware of what’s often overlooked in popular exegeses: the lyrics’ honest admission of male vulnerability. He will find a hard, square look at his predicament. “I’m looking kind of lonely,” Manny Fresh states, “Feeling horny.” Juvenile adds, with candor and without shame, “I’m sweatin’ in the drawers.”

But the solitary lonely/horny male should also note that the song doesn’t end there, wallowing in self pity and moistened drawers. “Back That Azz Up” pivots outward, and addresses the object of its desire. “Girl,” Juvenile says, “you workin with some ass.” The song flowers into an exhortation of bracing directness: Juvenile, making decisive action, and without ceremony, beckons the “azz” to approach, as one might the driver of a U-Haul or other such delivery vehicle, and here the song’s non-explicit radio version phrases it best: “Youse a big fine woman—won’t you back that thang up?”

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