Talk Dirty – Jason Derulo
One of the most popular songs for many Turkish radio channels lately is Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty”, also featuring 2 Chainz. However, there is an important issue to take from this song regarding cultural appropriation. That being the melody sampled from the piece “Hermetico” by Balkan Beat Box, which is the clarinet solo that is repeated often in the chorus of Talk Dirty.
Balkan Beat Box is a band that aims to create music in the popular technique while using Middle Eastern, Balkan and Mediterranean melodies in their songs. They have released several albums since they entered the industry in 2005, and have many original pieces. “Hermetico” is one that can be found in their second album, called “Nu Med”. This song, although first released in 2007, was recently popularised by “Talk Dirty”, the song in the focus of this post.
This song is rather easy to interpret through the lyrics. Although further on in the song, the meaning does get rather more explicit, the lyrics are summed up quite well within the chorus alone: “Been around the world, don’t speak the language / But your booty don’t need explaining / All I really need to understand is / When you talk dirty to me”. Without having to think about it, the tone of the lyrics is quite obvious. The music video further emphasises this idea, which basically consists of women shaking their “booties”, men all over them, and further actions based on this premise. Therefore it is easy to state that this is a very sexual song.
There might be a fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation, but there are some situations when this line is blatant. Calling the sexualisation of a cultural element “appreciation” is completely unacceptable. What this song manages to commit is a form of cultural appropriation where it creates a sexual leitmotif from a cultural melody.