6 Rap Lyrics That Went Over People’s Heads
I recently attended a Hip Hop debate at the Barbican, which I felt was inappropriately titled “Hip Hop on Trial: Hip-Hop Doesn’t Enhance Society, It Degrades It.
Being a massive fan of the culture, it took alot for me to be open minded and take seriously what seemed a poor case being put forward against Hip-hop by attorney Eamon Courtney.
Watch the video HERE (4:17-8:40)
I must say I was very impressed with how the two professors (James Patterson and Tricia Rose) articulated their responses and I could find myself agreeing with most of their statements, even though they were on the opposite sides of the argument. What I found disturbing was that over 45 minutes was spent disputing the use of three words in hip-hop
… and whether or not rap was poetry. What was pleasing was that James Paterson was able to mention the five elements of Hiphop and highlight the forgotten element of knowledge.
You see, it is very difficult to critique something you do not understand. So to truly have an appreciation for rap or constructively criticise it, you need to understand the socio-cultural foundations of the culture. I mean I am no expert, but by living in a community which shares many similarities to the origin of hip-hop, I have almost developed an understanding and can begin to appreciate the language, innovation and artistry as well as constructively criticise the cultures negative impacts. But if anyone is to make that critical analysis it should be someone with some level of knowledge of the culture, not an attorney who happens to have overheard a few Ludacris lyrics.
Rap legend KRS One made a statement that was something in the lines of,
“…if you dont understand the double entendres and double meaning of lyrics, then maybe this hip hop thing is not for you…”
Someone later made a statement stating that 70% of rap music was bought by middle class suburban consumers and that Hip Hop was doing itself a disservice by not articulating itself in an appropriate manner, instead using slang and hidden messages which means nothing to the consumer.
Such a statement would suggest that the use of slang and metaphors within hip hop songs are avoided in commercial songs, so middle class “educated” consumers can understand. Sounds like an oxymoron to some, but the fact that a high school dropout like Jay-Z feels that he has to “dumb” down his lyrics so the public can understand him, would suggest that there is some truth to KRS One’s statement.
Off of the back of that specific argument I decided to write 6 rap lyrics, which might have gone over peoples heads, and in hope that within the bravado, violence and glorification of wealth you can all see that there is actually a conscious state amongst rappers which allows them to reflect on the impact of their actions. Which is something that Professor Rose demanded that (Paraphrase) “…we must love Hip Hop and also be able to criticise it…”
Prerequisite: “Don’t fear no rappers, they are all weirdos De Niros in practice/and don’t believe everything your earlobe captures/ It is mostly backwards. Unless it happens to be as accurate as me/ and everything said in song you happen to see/ Then just believe half of what you see/ and none of what you hear even if it is spat by me…” - Jay-Z
6. Do You Wanna Ride – JayZ
I start with Jay-Z because Shaun Bailey pinpointed him as the biggest role model for black youths and how he would question him on why he talks about selling drugs and violence. I think Shaun Bailey undermines the ability for young people to look at Jay-Z’s life and take from it alot of positivity. Being a self-made multi-millionaire businessman holds more weight than a low percentage of his rap lyrics which may glorify the wrong things. But quite alot of them do the opposite, none more other than his second verse on Do You Wanna.
In this song Jay-Z talks about how Hip hop made him realise that he can come make more money from rapping than selling drugs. Going on to tell a story of how such a decision now has him doing business deals with big corporations like Coca Cola, Why didn’t anyone put forward these lyrics when Shaun Bailey made his statement?
“…Comin up though we thought slingin raw (drugs)/
Was the end all be all of bein rich didn’t we/
Little did I know my mo’ potent delivery (Lyrics)/
Would deliver me, kingpin of the inkpen/
Monster of the double entendre, Coke is still my sponsor
Heh, the Cola (Coca Cola) , yeah Hova still gettin it in with soda (*)
Diet, no sir, I ain’t lose no weight (Drugs / Reputation)/” - Jay-Z
QUOTE: “If we have power to degrade an entire society, then we also have the power to uplift it.” - KRS-One
Since we are in the subject of Jay-Z and drug dealing, I thought I will stick to this topic to show the different viewpoints in Hip-hop about Drug dealing.
For contrast I thought I will pick out UK rapper G Frsh, to not only show a different viewpoint to Jay-Z but the clever wordplay that he uses to convey his message.
5. F64 – G Frsh
“…Sitting with Cheese (money) , surrounded by rats (traitors)/
I am far from broke, but I am strapped (armed) for cash, want to eat Ps (money), swallow my mash (gun)” – G Frsh
To some this might be seen as glorifying the life of being a drug dealer, but for those that can read between the line it shows the paranoia of being in such a position. When you have money, people starts to plot, so it is not all smooth sailing. But lets not overlook the double entendres here. Cheese and rats, Peas and Mash are all clever wordplay and it paints a not so pretty story for drug dealing.
“…way before F64 (F*ck Nintendo 64), I said I ain’t got time for games no more…man already know I am Zelda with the metal (gun), so when I marry o’s (drugs), I go and make Niten dough (money)…cop some Vuitton, become Louis G (Luigi)…now I do music I play on my PC/ But like the Princess I cant sleep on a beat/ cah I make a note (money) off an offbeat (poor supply), I call it Autotune” – G Frsh
Clever wordplay once again, and keep in mind he says “now I do music..”, as in this is his way out of the life of crime.
“…Old money, I spend 08 P* (OAP – Old Aged Pensioners)…” – G Frsh
Just another one for you to ponder on.
4. Hola Hovito – Jay Z
With the drug dealers lifestyle comes the aspiration for wealth and lavish living. Michael E Dyson made a valid point to state that is is not something that is directly influenced by Hiphop.
“There’s no one-to-one correlation between a hip-hop lyric & a subsequent material condition that leads to criminality.” — Michael E. Dyson
We see it in Sports and with celebrities, people are being sold a materialistic dream everyday.
Jay-Z speaks about how growing up his hero was Michael Jordan, and many times refers to himself to the “MJ of rap”. In the same breath he continues to speak about the correlation between the rap game and the “crack game”, as he so puts it.
*Ball = Spend **Sam Bowie was an American Basketball player picked ahead on Michael Jordan in the 1984 drafts, Making Jordan 3rd pick after Bowie and Olajuwon. Bowie went on to have a terrible career whilst Jordan went on to be the greatest of all time. *** Jay-Z always referred to his albums as drugs or Pick ups (picks) from the connect. His 3rd album was Jay-Z’ best selling album and kicked off his popularity. **** Rappers talk about their drugs making the addicts sick (vomit) due to it high potency, so they come back for more. Sick is also slang for “great”. ***** Fadeaway is a basket ball shot technique made famous by Michael Jordan.
“I Ball* for Real, ya’ll Niggas is Sam Bowie**/
and with the third pick*** I made the earth sick***/
MJ, him Jay, Fade away***** Perfect” – Jay-Z
Clever how he ends his line by painting a visual reference to justify as to why he is indeed the Michael Jordan of rap, as if the wordplay which preceded them was not enough evidence. If you take MJ, take away the M, you have him Jay (Jay-Z), and when you take away the J, it “fades away perfect”. Poetry in motion if you ask me.
QUOTE: “To question whether rap is poetry is parochial and idiotic.” – James Peterson
Click page 2 below to see the final 3 of the 6 Rap Lyrics That Went Over People’s Heads
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