Deep Cuts: Britney Spears, “What U Sippin’ On”
Boozy, flirty and fun… Looking back at an unreleased gem from the “Blackout” era.
Britney Spears, our Holy Spearit, is the gift that keeps on giving, even when she’s not releasing music. Aside from her nine studio albums and various remixes and compilations, the internet is a goldmine of B-sides, demos and other various unreleased tracks that for one reason or another never saw the light of day in any official capacity.
This is true most notably for 2007’s “Blackout,” which remains one of Brit’s most iconic and chaotic releases. That era saw a flood of leaks leading up to the release of “Blackout,” fueled not only by a thriving online community of fans, but also because Britney was quite literally the hottest topic during that tumultuous time of her life. Britney fans and the general public alike were clamoring for literally any tidbit of news about her, and people were certainly thirsty for any new musical material from her, curious to see if the magic was still there.
The “Blackout” leak was huge, and while most of the tracks made it onto the final album (a few were relegated to bonus tracks or regional exclusives), there are some very notable exceptions. One of those standouts is a sexy midtempo jam called “What U Sippin’ On. (feat. AC).” The song’s title itself is actually a point of contention; it leaked in an unfinished form, so its title is mostly based on whatever someone named it while sharing it to the wider world. Then you have the truly chaotic nature in which the leaks spread across the web, with every intrepid Britney fan adding their own album art and renaming tracks as they saw fit. I came across the .mp3 file with the name “What U Sippin’ On,” but it also has been called simply “Sippin’ On” in just as many places, and it even has been rumored to have been recorded for “In The Zone,” with AC’s verses added later when it was being considered for “Blackout.” All that is to say… Who, other than Britney and her team, know the true story behind this track? Then again — does it matter?
It’s easy to see why the track ultimately wasn’t included on “Blackout”: Its midtempo vibe was probably too slow to keep pace with the rest of the album’s high-energy dance and electropop. It’s fun, but it’s on a totally different level than tracks like “Toy Soldier” and “Get Naked (I Got a Plan)”. Then there’s that K-Fed reference… the schoolgirl skirt reference. Those probably didn’t play too well with her team’s PR machine — not to mention the references to drinking that played just a little too well with the album’s title. But it’s still a solid bop in its own right, and it’s intoxicating to consider what it might have sounded like if Britney had released a whole album of similar tracks. It’s slinky, it’s sexy, and it’s just plain fun. Britney is rocking her best sex kitten voice as she sings about a boozy fling and plays coy about what’s in her cup. It’s a weak metaphor, if it’s even meant as one, but no matter; we’re here to drink and have a good time, and the bar is open. Paired with tracks like “Breathe On Me,” “Touch of My Hand,” and later tracks like “Make Me…”, this unreleased gem claims a spot within Britney’s pantheon of largely underappreciated midtempo tracks.
It’s crazy, she still on top a the biz
I’m wit Brit, while KFed watchin’ the kids
Then there’s rapper AC, whose mere presence is unexpected and whose verses are just plain iconic. If you thought “Piece of Me” and “Why Should I Be Sad?” are self-referential, well, they’ve got nothing on this track. Looking back now, through the lens of Britney’s recovery from mental health issues and (allegedly) a drinking problem, the lyrics are certainly problematic:
Got my baby in the whip, she could ride on my lap
Put that one finger up mommy, guzzle some more
Tell ’em the only issues you got is the covers you on
But the wordplay at work here is just great as AC acknowledges over and over again Brit’s status as a paparazzi plaything, culminating in a declaration that the only issue’s she’s got are the magazine covers she’s on. Cheesy or not, it’s still a great pun. Britney doesn’t include rappers on her tracks very often, so at least we can say that AC made his verses count.
This era in Britney’s life and career is full of “what ifs.” What if she hadn’t had a meltdown? What if her own father wasn’t in control of her entire life? What if the paparazzi and TMZ culture hadn’t existed? Hell… What would we know about this period if internet leaks hadn’t become a 21st-century phenomenon?
Obviously, we’ll forever be stuck pondering those “what ifs”… but we can at least take joy in the fact that even in the chaos of it all, Britney still managed to rise above the whirlwind of shit in her life and bless us with an album that, by and large, is considered one of her all-time bests by fans and critics alike. It’s so good, in fact, that even the tracks that didn’t make the cut are still iconic.
“What U Sippin’ On,” regardless of what it’s called in your ancient iTunes library, deserves a spot in every Britney fan’s list of all-time favorite unreleased tracks, even while songs like “State of Grace” and “Rebellion” tend to get most of the love.
I’ve said my piece. Now you tell yours! What are your favorite unreleased Britney tracks? (There are a lot of them)