What’s with Beyoncé and Ciara getting so manly all of a sudden? In B’s new video for “Upgrade You,” she plays her beau, Jay-Z. Likewise, Ciara’s new clip for “Like a Boy” opens with the singer dressed as a boy and declaring, “2007. Ladies, I think it’s time to switch roles.”
MTV News breaks down how the gorgeous gangstas made the transition:
Video: Beyoncé’s “Upgrade You”
Testosterone Tutorials: B’s inspiration was obviously Jay-Z. Although Young Hova appears in the video, Beyoncé took the liberty of imitating her man in some parts — and she has him down pat, all the way to the lip curl. “He didn’t coach me,” B insisted. “I had it down already, I’d seen him perform so many times, you know, I had it down.” For the record, B was so embarrassed playing Jay in front of him that she made Hovie leave the room.
Gear: She’s known for shaking her derrière in House of Dereon dresses, but for this clip, all she needs is a classic white dress shirt, dookie gold rope, jeans and — word to Jam Master Jay — white Adidas. “It was great not wearing the heels,” Beyoncé said.
Celebrity Look-Alikes: Even though Jay is her muse, B’s long hair pulled back in a ponytail, with the big glasses, kind of resembles Young Lloyd. Get it, shawty!
Swag Points – 8: It’s difficult for the manly B to compete with all the eye candy she offers as a woman in the video, especially that Rapunzel hair-weave ponytail — that’s a good look … better yet, a ’hood look — but as a dude, she gets about an 8 for swagger. The two big earrings cause her to lose some points, but appearing as a female who’s dancing for her male counterpart brings it back up. Besides, she does have those Hov hand mannerisms.
Pretty Thug Style: She’s no Andrea Dice Clay, but Beyoncé took her part as a male so seriously that she got into character and adopted a guy’s demeanor as well as harsher verbal language around the set. “I could slouch, I could be a little more tough, a little more aggressive, and I had an excuse to say whatever I wanted,” Beyoncé said. “I didn’t have to be so prissy. It was fun having the male mannerisms.”
What You Didn’t Know: B has become identified as the ultimate girlie girl at her shows, and on red carpets and album covers. But out of the public eye, she says she’s not entirely like that. “I really am a little bit of a tomboy,” she said. “I feel like the way I work, the way I treat my job, and the way I focus is kind of masculine — even though women are very focused. But I don’t let things get in the way, I’m not emotional when it comes to my work, and, I mean, I’ll do anything — I’ll jump off a building. I don’t mind getting dirty.”
Video: Ciara’s “Like a Boy”
Testosterone Tutorials: Whereas Beyoncé only had to look a few inches to the left — at Jay-Z — to study how to look like a rap stud, Ciara did her research in front of the TV. “I studied videos like Jay-Z’s,” she began. “I watched how Jay does this thing with his hand. I looked at some of Tupac’s old videos for his mannerisms, because I loved ’Pac. [I also looked at] 50 Cent, 50 does this thing with his arm. … T.I. … Just to see how they move and how they rock. We got some papers from magazines and looked how they rocked their clothes.”
Gear: CiCi actually has two primary male outfits. In one, she rocks jeans, a tank top, skull hat and Jordans. In another, she has on a full-on suit with white Air Force Ones. “Getting ready for this video was a process,” Ciara said. “Just picking out the outfits alone, trying to figure out what the balance would be like — me dressing up like a boy and the girlie-girlie side. When I put that suit on, it made me feel real smooth. I couldn’t shave my hair off for the video, but it was a lot of fun having cornrows.”
Celebrity Look-Alikes: As the thug, Ciara has the tatted-up Allen Iverson look, but her thin frame and long hair also kinda recall Snoop Dogg. The cornrows and dancing in a suit make her look a bit like Omarion with a hint of Michael Jackson in “Smooth Criminal.”
Swag Points – 9: She took it all the way back to the fourth grade and straight-up mushed-up Reggie Bush in the video. “I had to do that just a couple of times from a few different angles,” Ciara said. “We just needed one good hit for the video.” Normally that would be worth 10 points alone, but she lays her pimp hand down and is dressed in her natural female person for that portion of the video, so she gets nada for that. As a dude, though, CiCi has the “I’ll Suge Knight you” look on her face while sitting in the chair. Plus she has ice — a pinky ring and diamonds on her chain — so that has to count for something.
Girl Gone Wild: It’s not the most shocking thing to see Ciara in baggy jeans and a wife-beater, but she says “Like a Boy” finally gave her a chance to take the manly look all the way. “I’m a tomboy at heart, but I don’t [usually] go full-out like I did in this video,” she said. “I also wanted to take it a little bit further, saying, ’Yo, I can rock it like this too.’ We had one day on the set where everybody had to dress up like a boy. To see some of the girls that were super-girlie come in dressed like boys was super-funny. We went through several changes to make sure it didn’t look animated. There was a part where I had to pull my pants up from the middle area, the crotch, and I said, ’I see now … why guys are always pulling or grabbing [there].’ … When you go all the way there with [that look] … the attitude oozes out of you more.”
What You Didn’t Know: OK, you know that CiCi rocks a bunch of fake tats on her body for her turn as a male, but do you know they all have special meanings? “The one on the top part of my hand said, ’Need Love,’ ” she said. “The side part of my right hand I had ’Like a Boy,’ then on my arm I had ’Fear No Man but God.’ On the tattoo above that one, I had an angel, it said, ’Sucker for Love.’ Then on my other arm I had caricature of a tomboy, this girl with the hat to the back, and it said, ’Princess.’ So it symbolized me. Then there was another tattoo that said, ’Rest in Peace, Baby Angel Astin.’ That was my niece that passed away … not too far after birth. I had a ’C’ with a crown on it on my neck. On my left hand I had the letter ’A,’ which stands for ’Atlanta.’ It had ’Decatur’ [Georgia] under it. On top of it, it had ’Zone Three.’ Zone Three is Riverdale. I have the keys to the city. My parents still live in Riverdale but I was raised in Decatur coming up.”