Meet the Feminist Writer Beyoncé Samples on Her New Album

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a celebrated Nigerian author who examines race and class.

Beyoncé Knowles attends the J.Crew Spring 2012 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on Sept.13, 2011, in New York City.  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, speaks to The Associated Press during an interview on Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Lagos, Nigeria.
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The surprise release of Beyoncé's latest album, "Beyoncé," includes a number of songs and accompanying videos like "Pretty Hurts" and "***Flawless" that contain explicit feminist messaging and political subtext. While the album, Beyoncé's fifth, hasn't settled the debate over whether Beyoncé practices what she preaches, at the very least it has introduced the singer's fans to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an award-winning Nigerian author who has been making headlines in the literary community for years.[ READ: Beyonce's New Album Release Is a Surprise]Beyoncé sampled a TEDxTalk Adichie gave titled "We should all be feminists" for the bridge of her song "***Flawless." From the talk – which mostly focused on the status of women in Nigeria ("Because it is where I know and where my heart is," Adichie explains) – "***Flawless" pulls lines that can apply to women everywhere:
We teach girls to shrink themselvesTo make themselves smallerWe say to girls'You can have ambitionBut not too muchYou should aim to be successfulBut not too successfulOtherwise you will threaten the man'Because I am femaleI am expected to aspire to marriageI am expected to make my life choicesAlways keeping in mind thatMarriage is the most importantNow marriage can be a source ofJoy and love and mutual supportBut why do we teach to aspire to marriageAnd we don't teach boys the same?We raise girls to each other as competitorsNot for jobs or for accomplishmentsWhich I think can be a good thingBut for the attention of menWe teach girls that they cannot be sexual beingsIn the way that boys areFeminist: the person who believes in the socialPolitical, and economic equality of the sexesWhen Beyoncé leaked an early iteration of the song -- then called "Bow Down" -- online in March, some critics called its "bow down b-tches" chorus anti-feminist, with The Huffington Post's Sarah Dean calling the lyrics "egotistical, derogatory and offensive." The inclusion of Adichie's thoughtful, nuanced and compelling speech (it's also quite funny) on the "Beyoncé" version of "***Flawless" burnishes the song's feminist credentials — at least for some. However, being sampled for a Beyoncé jam isn't Adichie's greatest achievement – not by a long shot.Since her first novel, 2003's "Purple Hibiscus," Adichie has been well-regarded in the literary community. It won a Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book and was short-listed for the Orange Prize, a prestigious U.K. award for woman-authored fiction. Her second novel, "Half of a Yellow Sun," ultimately won the Orange Prize and many others. Her third and latest novel, "Americanah," hit book shelves to strong reviews this summer.[ ALSO: 'Homeland' Recap: Season 3 Finale]Adichie also has published a book of short stories, a play and poetry, and has been featured in The New Yorker, The Guardian and other publications. She was listed among The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" in 2010 and was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012.Born in Enugu, Nigeria, as the fifth of six children to parents who both worked at the University of Nigeria, Adichie was a successful student and at 19 moved to America to study at Drexel University and then Eastern Connecticut State University. She eventually got her masters at Johns Hopkins University, during which she wrote "Purple Hibiscus."Her experience of being a black African – versus an African-American - at an American university was the basis of "Americanah." As she explained to Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air," being black – but not African-American – in America meant "that one is not burdened by America's terrible racial history, and I think when people say to me, 'You're different. You're not angry,' in some ways it also feels that I'm being made complicit for something that I don't want to be complicit in."Her works also have explored the Nigerian-Biafran war, American conceptions of Africa and the Nigerian education system, among other topics.