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Lizzo Gave an Epic History Lesson With a ‘Twerk Talk’

Lizzo attends the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center on March 14, 2021 in Los Angeles
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Lizzo is an expert on many things: getting perfect eyebrows, winning Grammys, body positivity, trolling Chris Evans and twerking. With the latter, the “Boys” singer is offering up her vast knowledge on the history of the dance via a TED Talk (or should we say Twerk Talk?) and fans can see a snippet of her wisdom before the full video drops this fall.

The three-time Grammy winner discussed the origins of twerking at the TEDMonterey “The Case for Optimism” conference, where she got candid about her most famous body part and how she became a twerking icon.


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“My ass has been the topic of conversation. My ass has been in magazines. Rihanna gave my ass a standing ovation. Yes, my booty,” she began. “My least favorite part of my body. How did this happen? Twerking. Through the movement of twerking I’ve discovered my ass is my greatest asset. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to TED Twerk,” she finished before beginning to twerk.

Related: Chet Hanks shoots his shot with Lizzo, and misses

While the “Tempo” rapper cracked a few jokes about the power of ass-shaking, according to the TED Talks site, her talk dives into the historical significance of twerking, and its relevance to Black culture. She touches on its roots in religious worship and marriage, and how twerking evolved through the transatlantic slave trade, popping up in the early days of blues, jazz and more recently, rap and hip-hop. Thanks to Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, twerking is everywhere, but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been co-opted by non-Black performers (remember Miley Cyrus at the MTV VMAs in 2013?)

I’m not trying to gatekeep, but I’m definitely trying to let you know who built the damn gate.

This is in part, why Lizzo is focusing on shining a light on the lesser-known side of the twerk: “I want to add to the classical etymology of this dance. Because it matters,” she said. “From TikTok trends to songs and humor, we see so much erasure of what Black people have created,” she added. “I’m not trying to gatekeep, but I’m definitely trying to let you know who built the damn gate.”

While we don’t have a set date for when the full video will be released, Lizzo will likely to continue sharing all of her twerking tips and tricks on Instagram while we wait. And if history tells us anything, her upcoming single “Rumours” will likely have a music video that’s twerkalicious.


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