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Get Ur Freak On

Dear AC,

We're having a debate over the meaning of the expression: get UR freak on. Any information or opinions you have would be appreciated. Thanks.

Brian.

Dear Brian,

Since your question is about the name of a Missy Elliot song, let's start there. Both versions of the song use Get Ur Freak On as an invitation to dance. In the original, Elliot invites people to dance by singing, "Now people gather round, now people jump around." In the remix with Nelly Furtado, she is even more direct:

Everybody gettin freak-deaky want dance,
Grab your partners tightly by the ass and want dance…
Get ur freak on

This is similar to the use of freak out in the 1978 disco hit by Chic.

Have you heard about the new dance craze?
Listen to us, I'm sure you'll be amazed…
Aaahh Freak out!
Le Freak, C'est Chic

However, it should be noted that freak also has a sexual meaning, which is no doubt on Elliot's mind as she urges the dancers to grab some ass. As an example, remember the 1975 song Lady Marmalade (On her black satin sheets is where he started to freak…) which Elliot remade in 2001 for the movie Moulin Rouge. As an adjective, freaking has also been used as a more polite way to say fucking since the 1920s.

Additionally, the use of freak as a noun to mean a person who enjoys deviant sex is common in music, including the recent Macy Gray song Sex o Matic Venus Freak, and the classic Super Freak from Rick James (1981):

She's a very kinky girl
The kind you don't take home to mother…
She's a super freak, super freak
She's super-freaky, yow

So what's Get Ur Freak On about? I'd say the song is mostly about dancing, but if you're at a club and someone asks if you'd like to get your freak on, you should probably consider both meanings before you answer.

Your pal,

A. C. Kemp

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