The Real Meaning Behind Jesy Nelson And Nicki Minaj's 'Boyz'

There comes a time in every pop group's life when one of them leaves to pursue a career as a solo artist. Justin Timberlake was the first to leave *NSYNC when he started "growing out of it," per Entertainment Tonight. Zayn Malik was the first to leave One Direction. And believe it or not, Cheat Sheet reports that Ringo Starr was actually the first one to leave The Beatles.

Now, that bittersweet moment has come for fans of the British girl group Little Mix. The group's Jesy Nelson is turning away from pop and moving toward rap in her debut solo single "Boyz," featuring fellow rapper (and occasional Brit) Nicki Minaj. This wasn't their first time working together either — she appeared with Nelson — when she was still in Little Mix — for the song "Woman Like Me" in 2018. "Boyz" also samples Diddy's "Bad Boy 4 Life," with the rapper even making an appearance in the video.

So, what is this song really about? Let's take a look.

Jesy Nelson makes it clear that she wants a 'bad boy'

Staying true to the Diddy sample, the thesis, if you will, of Jesy Nelson's "Boyz" is simple: She wants a bad boy for life. "Love a little bitter in the sweet," she raps in the first verse, per Genius. "Bad boy, my recipe." She continues this sentiment in the refrain: "Ooh, I like them tattoos and them gold teeth / Type to make me feel like I'm a baddie," she raps. "I like the fire you're bringin' out of me / Baby, somethin' 'bout him got me weak in the knees."

She then elaborates that she wants the kind of man of whom her mother would not approve. "My mama won't see what I see in ya," she professes, "But I don't want it if it ain't bad enough." If that wasn't enough to convince you what kind of man Nelson wants, she repeats it in the chorus ad nauseam. "I like a bad boy / You know I like a bad, bad boy." She continues, "I like a bad boy, you can't stop me / I love bad boys for life."

While it may seem like Nelson is pulling a 2013 Miley Cyrus by attempting to shed her good-girl image, she insists her solo work better represents who she really is. "My passion is R&B and hip-hop from the '90s and early 2000s. That's what I grew up on," she told Vulture. "It's the music I've always wanted to make, so it feels quite liberating."

Jesy Nelson and Nicki Minaj are self-proclaimed 'bad b***hes'

Jesy Nelson lists off more qualities of her ideal man in the second verse of "Boyz." "Got a little attitude, but I think he's kinda cute. So hood, so good, so damn taboo," she raps, per Genius. Nelson hits us again with the refrain, pre-chorus, and chorus before turning it over to Nicki Minaj.

Minaj raps that she and Nelson deserve a bad boy because they, too, are "bad b***hes." She continues to emphasize her "bad b***h" qualities throughout the verse. "Lucky charms on my anklets, no cereal," she raps, referencing having an ankle monitor while on house arrest. "I don't know why I got these dudes actin' zesty," Minaj concludes, "But I only want a bad boy as my bestie," an interesting take considering her husband's legal troubles.

Per The Sun, Minaj's husband Kenneth Petty served time in prison for manslaughter and attempted rape of a 16-year-old, and spent another seven years in jail for manslaughter in 2006. He was arrested again in 2020 for failing to register as a sex offender. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Petty could face 10 years in prison. As for Nelson's love life, she previously dated actor Sean Sagar and "Love Island" star Chris Hughes, per Capital FM, so getting herself an actual bad boy would be uncharted territory.