"Can't Hold Us Down" is a song by Christina Aguilera featuring Lil' Kim, taken from Aguilera's fourth studio album, Stripped. It was released on 8 April 2003 by RCA Records as the fourth single from the album. The song was written by Aguilera, Matt Morris, and Scott Storch, and was solely produced by Storch. An R&B and hip hop song with elements from dancehall, "Can't Hold Us Down" promotes feminism and criticizes gender-related double standard. Media outlets suggested that its lyrics were about Eminem and Fred Durs.
"Can't Hold Us Down" received mixed reviews from music critics, who were ambivalent towards its production and composition. However, the track was nominated a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 2004 Grammy Awards. The song experienced moderate success commercially, peaked at number 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and charted within the top ten of several countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom. The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) eventually certified the single a gold certification.
Christina was dissatisfied with being marketed as what her then-manager Steve Kurtz desired rather than her own wish. In late 2000, Aguilera hired Irving Azoff as her new manager and announced that her forthcoming album would have more musical and lyrical depth. She named the album Stripped, explaining that the term represented "a new beginning, a re-introduction of [herself] as a new artist". Hip hop producer Scott Storch wrote and produced several tracks for the album, including "Can't Hold Us Down". Additional writing credits for the song were provided by Aguilera and Matt Morris.
The music video for "Can't Hold Us Down" was directed by David LaChapelle, who previously directed the music video for Stripped's controversial lead single "Dirrty" (2002). It was filmed in a Los Angeles soundstage that depicted a 1980s Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City. LaChapelle described the video's concept as his "ode to the '80s". As the video begins, Aguilera is chatting with a group of women. She wears a pink tank top, very short pair of shorts, a mauve baseball cap embroidered with the words "Lady C", a sleeveless sport jacket and white long socks. Her eyes are darkened with mascara, her nose has a gold piercing, and her hair is dyed black. The video features a "non-white" "ethnic-like" body of Aguilera, which resembles residents of a ghetto.
When Aguilera stands up and starts walking, a black man suddenly grabs her buttocks, makes Aguilera stops and causes an argument. As she continues to sing, the nearby women in the neighborhood join her, while the male residents join the man, and form their respective sides in the street, mostly black or Latin people.They, the hip hop artists, performed their own dance skills against each other. At the bridge, Lil' Kim appears in a bikini, a sheer black blouse and dances on her high heels. The argument ends with Aguilera spraying the men with a water hose, which she holds between her legs and parodies the male penis.
The AV Club was not impressed with LaChapelle's direction, wrote that "once David LaChapelle’s video gets factored in, the medium swallows the message". Diane Railton and Paul Watson, authors of the book Music Video and the Politics of Representation noted that Aguilera becomes a black woman in the music video, though she was originally white. They further described the clip's content as "a range of issues concerning the represent of gender and race".
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