How “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls hides guidance for Black Muslims
I’m going to start off by asking that you just trust me on this one. I’ve taken some unorthodox stances on this blog, from arguing that Arthur is extremely racist to suggesting that sports might want to reconsider their stance on performance enhancing drugs. But this is the most ambitious claim of them all. All I ask is that you just have an open mind and learn from the journey without obsessing over the destination. In fact, that is, quite literally, what this article is about.
The closest I’ve ever experienced to Beatlemania was Spice Mania in the 90s. The Spice Girls were everywhere. They were on every radio station, every TV show (or movie, like Spice World) and every conceivable item you could slap a logo on. This all started with their debut, and most popular, hit, the effervescent “Wannabe.” The song is simply pop genius. This is due, in large part, to its cryptic, infectious line “I really, really, really, really want a zig-a-zig ah.” That line is what led me to write this article. What is a “zig-a-zig ah?” The answer led me to discover that “Wannabe” is one of the most confusing and, possibly, disturbing songs I’ve ever come across.
“Wannabe” is unnecessarily cryptic. Take the first 20 seconds of the song. In it, Scary and Ginger Spice use some variation on the phrase of the phrase “I want” 13 times before finally answering that they want a “zig-a-zig ah” without any explanation as to what that means. But it’s not just the bridge that’s confusing. The whole song is filled with conflicting statements that makes no clearer what a “zig-a-zig ah” could be. Take this line from verse 2:
I won’t be hasty, I’ll give you a try
If you really bug me, then I’ll say goodbye
These two lines literally say the opposite of each other. Dismissing someone on a whim could literally be the definition of hasty.
These multiple contradictory statements along with the vagueness around the meaning of “zig-a-zig ah” led me to start questioning the mental states of the women singing this song. These are serious red flags that appear within to first two minutes of a song. Imagine if you were dating one of the Spice Girls. If the first thing they said was they wanted “zig-a-zig ah” and then walked away when you couldn’t understand what that meant would you think that she could be considered mentally fit? Even more red flags are shown earlier in the first verse when they say:
If you want my future forget my past
I don’t know about you, but someone having someone I just met asking me to totally absolve them of what they did in the past is not a situation that puts me at ease. Obviously, forgiveness is an important, and even necessary, quality to have in a relationship but forgiveness should be earned over time, not expected at the onset. The Spice Girls are starting to scare me. What skeletons do they have in their closets?
I was starting to panic but then I realized that the mental state of five sexually-liberated, British women was not the mission I initially set off on. So I refocused on the word “zig-a-zig ah,” After struggling to find inspiration from within the song, I decided to look elsewhere. That is when I realized that the word looks strangely familiar to a phrase from a very unlikely source, the Supreme Alphabet.
The Supreme Alphabet is a system of finding deeper spiritual meaning using letters. It was created by Clarence 13X after he split from the Nation of Islam and founded the Five-Percent Nation. The Supreme Alphabet works by assigning spiritual concepts of black empowerment to the letters, thus deepening the meaning of any word. For instance, the in Supreme Alphabet D stands for Divine. E stands for Equality. F stands for Father. G stands for God. Thus, a simple word like man turns into, Master Allah Nation. A “man” is one that masters the teachings of Allah to build a strong nation. Deep stuff.
The most popular display of the Supreme alphabet can be seen in music with Wu-Tang Clan members RZA (Ruler, Zig-Zag-Zig, Allah), GZA (God, Zig-Zag-Zig, Allah) and was copied by the signer SZA (Self or Savior, Zig-Zag-Zig, Allah). Now I know what you’re thinking to yourself, what does Zig-Zag-Zig mean? That’s a great question and it sounds very similar to my previous question, what does “zig-a-zig ah” mean?
Zig -Zag Zig
Zig-Zag-Zig means Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding. Or better yet, the journey one must take to go from knowledge to wisdom to understanding. You see, the path to fully comprehended anything, whether it be a Spice Girls song or your own self, is never straight. There are detours, sidesteps and misunderstandings along the way. These are the “zigs and zags” along your path to enlightenment. The Z in the Supreme Alphabet teaches us that these imperfections are to be embraced and are ultimately critical to achieving the understanding you seek for.
The meaning of “zig-a-zig ah”
So, my understanding is that Wannabe and “zig-a-zig ah” are a coded message for the Black Muslim concept of Zig-Zag-Zig. It would certainly explain why Scary Spice (only Black member of the group) is the only one that says the phrase in the song. While equating zig-zag-zig with “zig-a-zig ah” sounds crazy, just look at the journey I took in this article. I started off obsessed with what it this seemingly nonsense word meant. After getting got confused and frustrated with trying to logically interpret it within the context of the song, I took a different route. I allowed myself to zig and zag, eventually leading me into the world of Black Muslim spirituality. There, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of life and meaning from a phrase that was once, just nonsense to me. It was weird. It was unorthodox. But it was effective nonetheless.
So thank you for going along with me on this journey and trusting that I had a logical ending. And with this lesson, I leave you with one more piece of advice to follow once as you do your own personal zigging and zagging. Always share the lessons you learn with others, so that they might find their own “zig-a-zig ah.” It’s like a group of sexually, liberated British women once told me, “You have got to give. Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is.”