The Grammy winner dedicated a portion of her concert in Paris on Friday to Turner, who died Wednesday at age 83. Beyoncé took a beat between songs during the “Renaissance” tour to educate her audience about the woman who inspired her to become a star.
“If you’re a fan of mine, you’re a fan of Tina Turner,” Beyoncé told the crowd. “’Cause I wouldn’t be on this stage without Tina Turner. So I want you guys to just scream so she can feel your love. I feel so blessed that I was alive to witness her brilliance.”
While the sold-out crowd applauded Beyoncé’s Turner tribute, some on social media were reminded of a controversial lyric from her 2013 song “Drunk in Love.” The Grammy-winning hit features her husband, Jay-Z, referring to Turner’s abusive marriage with Ike Turner. “I’m Ike Turner, turn up, baby, no, I don’t play, ‘Now eat the cake, Anna Mae,’ said, ‘Eat the cake, Anna Mae!’” Jay-Z raps on the song.
“A reminder that Jay-Z and Beyoncé on ‘Drunk in Love’ say these words, mocking Tina Turner (Anna Mae) being beaten up by Ike Turner, & ref the moment he pushed her face into her celebration cake to abuse her,” one person tweeted about Jay-Z’s verse.
Turner, whose real name was Anna Mae Bullock, became a common punchline for rappers throughout the 1990s. From the Notorious B.I.G. to Eminem, references to Ike Turner’s physical abuse riddled popular hip-hop songs for more than a decade.
“Reflecting on Tina’s legacy, I’ve always been surprised + disappointed how her being a domestic violence survivor somehow always turned into a joke, esp. in rap music,” another person tweeted. “That’s one reason I don’t play Drunk in Love often, because of Jay-Z’s verse.”
When Turner learned about the song referencing her, she replied simply, “Yeah, I’m not surprised,” according to a 2019 New York Times profile.
Beyoncé herself, however, has never publicly uttered a flippant word about Turner. Beyoncé performed the icon’s “Proud Mary” when Turner was honored at the 2005 Kennedy Center Honors. In 2008, they sang the song together at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards.
“I love you endlessly,” Beyoncé reportedly posted on her website earlier this week. “I am so grateful for your inspiration and all the ways you have paved the way. You are strength and resilience. We are all fortunate to have witnessed your kindness and beautiful spirit that will forever remain.”