On last week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, fans were treated to a hilarious improv acting challenge called “L.A.D.P. (Los Angeles Drag Patrol),” along with a sickening facekini-themed runway that saw queens like Nina West channeling drag legends like Leigh Bowery. After receiving negative critiques on their challenge performances and runway presentations, fan favorite Vanessa Vanjie Mateo and Haus of Edwards ingenue Plastique Tiara were sentenced to Lip Sync For Their Life.
The song choice: Fantasia Barrino’s 2006 R&B track “Hood Boy,” featuring a guest appearance by OutKast hitmaker Big Boi. Drag Race only dabbles in R&B and hip-hop once or twice each season, so the number is an exciting choice for fans of the genre. Here are five things about the song you might not know.
It marked a big career shift for Fantasia at the time
After winning the American Idol crown in 2004, Fantasia went on to release her debut album Free Yourself. The album leaned more towards pop than it did R&B, and its public reception suffered as a result, receiving mixed reviews. When she released “Hood Boy” as the lead single for her eponymously named sophomore album, it marked a clear change in sound than what fans had been used to—and they loved it.
The beat samples a popular Supremes song from 1967
With Motown horns and the cheery sound of Diana Ross’s voice, the first few seconds of “Hood Boy” give a clue as to where the inspiration for the song’s production came from. The beat, concocted by Canadian hip-hop production duo Tone Mason, is a 21st century take on the intro of The Supremes’ 1967 single “The Happening.” The song eventually climbed all the way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May of 1967. Original songwriters Lamont Dozier, Brian and Eddie Holland and Frank De Vol are all credited on “Hood Boy.”
Big Boi’s involvement gave fans a taste of his upcoming solo career
In 2006, OutKast released their sixth (and as of right now, final) album Idlewild, which served as the soundtrack for their movie of the same name. The film received mixed reviews (as did the album), and essentially signaled that it was time for André 3000 and Big Boi to pursue solo projects in earnest. After the release of Idlewild, and his feature on “Hood Boy,” Big Boi announced the following year that he was going to produce a full-fledged solo album and went on to release Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty in 2010.
Fantasia's change in sound worked for critics & fans, but not for album sales
Following the success of “Hood Boy” and the rest of the Fantasia album cycle, the star saw her numbers drop on her new sound. While Free Yourself received mixed reviews, the album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, was certified platinum, and her singles "Truth Is," "Baby Mama" and "Free Yourself" all made their way to the Hot 100. Comparatively, Fantasia peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard 200, only made it to gold, and only one of her singles, "When I See U," made it onto the Hot 100. After her hip-hop-inspired era had come to an end, Fantasia returned to her R&B/soul roots on 2010's Back to Me. Unlike Free Yourself, Back to Me was more positively received by critics and fans alike and earned the star her highest-charting album yet at the time.
This Drag Race lip sync is the second time a Mateo performs a Fantasia song—and wins
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo’s iconic nickname came from her drag mother’s inability to pronounce “banjee”; her mother, of course, is none other than Drag Race royalty Alexis Mateo. On season 3 of Drag Race, Mateo had to lip sync against fellow fan favorite Shangela, who, like Plastique Tiara, belongs to the Haus of Edwards, to “Even Angels,” the promotional single from Fantasia’s Back to Me. Last week, on the same stage that her mother dominated eight years ago, Miss Vanjie turned the party to “Hood Boy,” and showed that she carries on the Mateo legacy quite well.