The Rolling Stones

Hey Negrita

Composed by Keith Richards / Mick Jagger

Song Review by

Riding one of those vicious Rolling Stones guitar licks and lyrical content that positions "Hey Negrita" next to songs such as "Bitch" and "Brown Sugar," this song from the Stones' Black and Blue (1976) straddles Latin, reggae, and funk musical styles. Mick Jagger had been spending a lot of time in New York City and absorbing new elements of dance music, specifically Latin forms. Billy Preston plays a very percussive Afro-Cuban-sounding piano part over the "Hey Negrita" riff, performed and apparently written by Ron Wood, the Faces guitar player who was informally auditioning for the empty second guitar player position in the Stones, a job that was destined to be his. The track is also propelled by the Latin percussion of Ollie Brown, a player who would go on to tour with the band. Jagger again chooses not to shy away from controversy, stirred up previously in songs like the aforementioned Sticky Fingers tracks. "Negrita," a Spanish term translating as "little black girl," was a pet name he had coined for his wife at the time, Bianca, a Latina. The song, however, is undeniably sexy, and Jagger is playing with the stereotypical Central and South American approaches to the battle of the sexes: "Just a momentita, not so fast/I need money for my sweet ass/I say, 'Listen I'm a poor man, my pay is low/Here's one last dollar and then we go'/'One last dollar?'/She say 'I've got my pride/I'm going to cut you balls, boy/I'm going to tan your hide.'" Mostly, though, the lyrics are meant to stay out of the way of the groove and are an excuse to throw in some fresh-sounding Spanish phrases. But the song did little to avoid the controversy the Stones continued to stoke, also promoting Black and Blue with billboards with the sado-masochistic image of a woman tied up on a chair with bruises covering her body. Perhaps this was the inspiration for the famous scene in satirical rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, where the record company representative, played by Fran Drescher, has to explain why a woman "on all fours, greased and naked, with a dog collar around her neck, sniffing a glove" was considered sexist. The difference between fact and fiction, though, is that Tap seemed clueless, while the Stones were anything but -- calculating is more like it. Black and Blue was a record with problems symptomatic of the band in general in the mid-'70s. Jagger termed it a "general malaise," noting that they were using too many drugs, carried away with their own popularity, and not paying as much attention to the music as they should have been. Indeed, songs like "Hey Negrita" sound like glorified jams more than well-crafted songs. Still, while the album has too many weak spots, there are some splendid moments such as this edgy, funky number and the ballads "Fool to Cry" and "Memory Motel."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Black and Blue 1976 Capitol / Universal / Universal Music 5:00
Beggar's Banquet/Black & Blue 1999 Rolling Stones Records
LP Sleeve Box Set 2005 Toshiba EMI
The  Rolling Stones Box Set 2009 Promotone 4:59
Crossfire Hurricane [Video] 2013 Eagle Rock
blue highlight denotes editor's pick