Halle Bailey’s boyfriend and rapper, DDG, recently released a new song, "Famous", and the lyrics reveal his discomfort with his girlfriend’s celebrity lifestyle.
The song features a series of lines that indicate he’s not happy with Halle’s interactions with Jonah Hauer-King, who stars alongside her as Prince Eric, during the press tour for The Little Mermaid.
The lines include lyrics that read, "Why is y'all holdin' hands in the photo? / You know I'm insecure, that's a no-no," and, "Filmin' a movie now you kissing dudes / You know I love you a lot / I don't give a f-ck if that sh-t for promo / I don't wanna see this sh-t no more.”
Then, the chorus goes: "Fall in love, I hate that sh-t / Knockin' me off my grind, I can't f-ck with relationships / I ain't even got enough time in a day for me to chase a bitch / I don't even ask for much, I ask you to do the basic sh-t / Hardest thing I did was fall in love with a famous bitch."
It’s a wildly different narrative than the one Halle has given in interviews about their relationship. During the press tour for The Little Mermaid, she told PEOPLE she considers DDG her real-life Prince Charming, and described young love like theirs as an opportunity to find yourself.
"I think the best thing about young love is that you're able to continue to find yourself through this journey of loving somebody else," she told the outlet. "And you're discovering new parts of yourself and maybe things that you didn't notice before about your heart."
She went on to say that things change when you find love:
"I feel like things change when love gets more involved in your life. I have definitely discovered more within myself as a woman…It's a really cool thing to go through, but a transformative experience."
Naturally, Halle’s fans flocked to Twitter to share their thoughts on DDG’s revelations, with so many people comparing him to the father of Keke Palmer’s son, Darius Jackson, who I wrote about here, and even Jonah Hill. This Twitter user suggested DDG and Halle’s relationship was giving Bobby and Whitney.
That same Twitter user went on to say that DDG has tried to sabotage Halle’s career, particularly surrounding the release of The Little Mermaid, pointing to the time he leaked this video to his YouTube channel, in which Halle is seen and heard cursing with friends.
As the user points out, leaking that video at one of the most important periods in her career so far was absolutely calculated. As the star of Disney movie that was a big draw for kids, it was imperative for Halle to maintain a certain reputation. As a woman of colour, that pressure was even more intense and she had already been the target of extreme online abuse from racist trolls, which I discussed here. Giving anyone any reason to view her in a negative light only fuelled that fire, which we see in the comment section of the video, with supporters urging her to “keep personal moments private”, adding that they hoped DDG wasn’t the one to leak it. It was a personal moment, she thought she was safe enough for it to be kept private, so why did her own partner leak it?
Others pointed out how hypocritical it was for him to go on and on about his insecurities, meanwhile, in several of his music videos, it’s commonplace for half-naked women to be twerking around him for the same reason Halle and Jonah kissed during the press tour – it’s work. They are selling a dream of a fairytale ending to kids across the world, and he is selling the “rapper’s dream” of ass and titties at his disposal.
Perhaps the answer to the question of why DDG would leak that video lies in a study that was conducted back in 2013 that still rings true a decade later. The study asked over 30 couples to take a test that would measure their intelligence. The tests weren’t actually graded, but each participant was told that their partner scored in either the top or bottom 12% of all university students. Interestingly enough, men whose female partners “scored” in the top 12% scored lower on a self-esteem test than those with partners who presented a ranking in the bottom 12%. Essentially, when men's female partners were shown to have high intelligence, the men felt worse about themselves.
Another component of the study was having 284 male participants recall a time when their partner was successful in a specific area, maybe intellectually, socially, or professionally. Immediately after, they took an implicit self-esteem test and the results showed that regardless of the type of success a woman had, their male partners felt bad after thinking about the accomplishment. This was especially true when their partner had succeeded in an area where the respondent had failed. Think about that.
One of the things that concerns me most in all of this is the lyric in which he says, “Why is y'all holdin' hands in the photo? You know I'm insecure, that's a no-no.”
It concerns me because it goes back to this piece I wrote in January. In it, I dissected a conversation Emily Ratajkowski had on her podcast about men being emasculated by powerful women, despite their claims that they like and prefer independent women.
EmRata made a point about having “built” her life around what men want. She described one of the motivating factors for her to go on and become as successful as she did was because it made her more appealing to men. In this case, though, the expectation seems to be that women will also build their lives around the insecurities of their male partners, becoming smaller and more meek to appease him, as we saw with Darius’ expectations of Keke and her clothing choices.
Darius expected that upon becoming a mother, Keke would change the way she dressed and presented herself to society, labelling himself as the “man of the house”, saying “this is my family and my representation. I have standards and morals to what I believe.”
But what about Keke’s standards and morals? What about her beliefs? What about her, period? How does a conversation about how a woman is dressing become only about him, his morals and his beliefs? There’s a glaring omission there – and sadly, that plays out in so many other ways in heterosexual relationships.
That same glaring omission shows up when DDG is laying out his expectations. It’s not to say that these conversations haven’t been had in private. But in this song, which has already racked up over one million views on YouTube, some of which has to do with the publicity surrounding the lyrics, there is no mention of what Halle might want, or what she has agreed to. His expectation seems to be that she will forego doing her literal job to promote the biggest production of her career to date to cater to his insecurities.
What would DDG’s implicit self-esteem test score have been during the release of The Little Mermaid. Or what would Darius’ implicit self-esteem test score be while watching the video of the beautiful and ever-talented mother of his child be serenaded by handsome Usher?
But there’s another reason all of this is so concerning – and it’s much more sinister. It’s because of the explicit ties between jealousy and domestic violence. In this May 2023 study that analyzes love, jealousy, satisfaction and violence in young couples, specifically, violence is defined as “the attempt to dominate and control the other party, either physically, psychologically or sexually.” Contrary to popular belief, violence is not just physical, taking the form of hitting, slapping or punching your partner, it is the mere attempt to dominate and control the other party.
When Darius publicly shamed the mother of his child over her outfit choice, it was an attempt at control. When Jonah Hill demanded that his partner (at the time) follow his rules, which he wrongfully categorized as “boundaries”, it was about control. And when DDG made a song about his insecurities and suggested that his girlfriend forego critical components of her job as an actress, it was absolutely and categorically about control.
This is why the movement to decenter men is taking off. All of the content being shared by women (and even some men) urging women to disregard the expectations of men in their daily lives is to avert the pressure applied to fall in line – it’s to avert the attempts to control what women do and say, how we dress, how we interact with men and even how we work – often applied by our male partners.
Halle mentioned finding herself in the journey of loving someone else. She also, quite accurately, asserts that “things change” when you are in love. But my hope is that Halle realizes that while “things” may change, she as a person does not have to. She is rich. She is famous. She is stunning. And she is very much the prize. But part of being the prize means facing pressure, most often from men, to shrink so that they feel better about themselves, as illustrated in the study I cited. She shouldn’t feel pressured to shrink herself so that he may feel more equal. Because any man that refers to his partner as “some famous bitch” is no Prince Charming.