Posts Tagged With: rap

Macklemore

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

I don’t have a car, so I don’t listen to the radio, and my computer is so out of date that YouTube doesn’t even work, so I can’t listen to music on there.  The point is, songs are way out-of-date by the time I somehow get to hear them.  I stumbled across Macklemore and Ryan Lewis a couple of months ago and I’ve been somewhat obsessed ever since.

I guess the biggest hit song by Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty) and Ryan Lewis (who does most of the producing, I think) was Thrift Shop, which is a satire about the recent trend in rap music to simply boast about how much money you have and how much you paid for things (one of my favorite parts of the song is when Macklemore says that paying $50 for a t-shirt, just because it’s Gucci, is getting swindled and pimped).  The song just won Best Rap Song of the Year at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards.

Macklemore Meme

The team is independent (as Macklemore makes quite clear in his song “Can’t Hold Us”) so they don’t have a record label.  As they explained to Stephen Colbert (video here), they did “rent out” (instead of “selling out”) by paying the Warner Group to get them radio air time.  The duo knew that their music would do the rest for itself.

Anywho, enough of me blabbing on about them.  I just wanted to share three of their videos – because while the lyrics and messages of the songs are great (against selling out and materialism in Thrift Shop, for acceptance of gay and lesbian folks in Same Love, and for being independent in Can’t Hold Us), the videos are even more awesome.  Especially Thrift Shop – I love it!

Thrift Shop

Thrift Shop lyrics: 

Hey Macklemore, can we go thrift shopping?

What, what, what, what… (x7)
Oh!
Oh!

I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I-I-I’m huntin’
Lookin for a come up
This is fucking awesome

Now, walk into the club like, “what up I got a big cock”
Nah, I’m so pumped I bought some shit from a thrift shop
Ice in the fringe is so damn frosty
The people like “Damn, that’s a cold ass honkey!”
Rollin’ in hella deep, headed to the mezzanine
Dressed in all pink, ‘cept my gator shoes those are green
Draped in a leopard mink, girls standin’ next to me
Probably shoulda washed this, smells like R. Kelly’s sheets
(Pissssssssss)
But shit it was ninety-nine cents! (bag it)
Copin’ it washin’ it
Bout to go and get some compliments; passin’ off on those moccasins
Someone else has been walkin’ in but me and grungie fuck ’em in
I am stuntin’ and flossin’ and
Savin my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain, bitch
I’mma take your grandpa’s style, I’mma take your grandpa’s style,
No for real ask your grandpa can I have his hand-me-downs (Thank you)
Velour jump suit and some house slippers
Dookie brown leather jacket that I found diggin’
They had a broken keyboard; I bought a broken keyboard
I bought a skeet blanket, then I bought a kneeboard
Hello, hello, my ace man my mello
John Wayne ain’t got nothin’ on my fringe game (Hell no!)
I can take some pro wings, make ’em cool, sell those
The sneaker heads will be like
“Ahhh he got the velcro”

I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I-I-I’m huntin’
Lookin’ for a come up
This is fucking awesome

I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I-I-I’m huntin’
Lookin’ for a come up
This is fucking awesome

Whatcha know bout rockin’ a wolf on your noggin
Whatcha knowin about wearin’ a fur fox skin
I’m diggin’, I’m diggin’, I’m searching right through that luggage
One man’s trash that’s another man’s come up
Thank your grand dad for donating that plaid button
Up shirt cause right now I’m up in her skirt
I’m at the Goodwill you can find me in the (Uptons)
I’m not, I’m not stuck on searching in that section (Uptons)
Your Grammy, your auntie, your momma, you mammy
I’ll take those flannel zebra jammies secondhand and rock that mothafucka
The built in onesie with the socks on the mothafucka
I hit the party and they stopped in that mothafucka
They be like “oh that’s gucci that’s hella tight”
I’m like “Yo! That’s fifty dollars for a t-shirt”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a t-shirt that’s just some ignorant bitch (sheeeeit)
I call that getting swindled and pimped (sheeeeit)
I call that getting tricked by a business
That shirt’s hella dough
And havin the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t
Peep game come take a look through my telescope
Tryin’a get girls with my brand man you hella won’t
Man you hella won’t
(Goodwill… Poppin’ Tags… Yeah! )

I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I-I-I’m huntin’
Lookin’ for a come up
This is fucking awesome

I’ll wear your granddads clothes,
I look incredible
I’m in this big ass coat
From the thrift shop down the road

I wear your granddads clothes,
I look incredible
I’m in this big ass coat
From the thrift shop down the road

I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I-I-I’m huntin’
Lookin’ for a come up
This is fucking awesome

Hahaha
Is that your grandma’s coat?

My favorite shot of the whole video:

Macklemore Boss

Same Love

Same Love lyrics:

When I was in the 3rd grade
I thought that I was gay
Cause I could draw, my uncle was
And I kept my room straight
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like, “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-K”
Trippin’, yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she
A bunch of stereotypes all in my head
I remember doing the math like
“Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A pre-conceived idea of what it all meant
For those who like the same sex, had the characteristics
The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition
Playing God
Ahh nah, here we go
America the brave
Still fears, what, we don’t know
And God loves all His children
Is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written
35 hundred years ago
I don’t know

[Hook: Mary Lambert]
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm [x4]

[Verse 2: Macklemore]
If I was gay
I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately
“Man that’s gay”
Gets dropped on the daily
We’ve become so numb to what we’re sayin’
Our culture founded from oppression
Yeah, we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots
Behind the keys of a message board
A word routed in hate
Yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender and skin color
Complexion of your pigment
The same fight that lead people to walk-outs and sit-ins
It’s human rights for everybody
There is no difference
Live on! And be yourself!
When I was in church
They taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service
Those words aren’t anointed
And that Holy Water
That you soak in
Is then poisoned
When everyone else
Is more comfortable
Remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans
That have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same
But that’s not important
No freedom ’til we’re equal
Damn right I support it
I don’t know

[Hook: Mary Lambert]
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm [x4]

[Verse 3: Macklemore]
We press play
Don’t press pause
Progress, march on!
With a veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
‘Till the day
That my uncles can be united by law
Kids are walkin’ around the hallway
Plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful
Someone would rather die
Than be who they are
And a certificate on paper
Isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law’s gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever god you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

[Hook: Mary Lambert]
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm [x4]

[Outro: Mary Lambert]
Love is patient, love is kind
Love is patient (not cryin’ on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays) [x5]

Mackie

And this video and song are just fun: 

Can’t Hold Us

Can’t Hold Us lyrics:

Return of the Mack, get up! what it is, what it does, what it is, what it isn’t
Looking for a better way to get up out of bed
Instead of getting on the Internet and checking a new hit me
Get up! fresh out pimp strut walking, little bit of humble, little bit of cautious
Somewhere between like rocky and Cosby sweatergang nope nope y’all can’t copy
Yup. Bad, moonwalking, this here, is our party, my posse’s been on Broadway,
And we did it, our way.
Grown music, I she’d my skin and put my bones into everything I record to it
And yet I’m on~
Let that stage light go and shine on down, got that Bob Barker suit game and plinko in my style.
Money, stay on my craft and stick around for those pounds,
But I do that to pass the torch and put on for my town
Trust me. On my I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T shit hustler,
Chasing dreams since I was 14 with the four track bussing halfway cross that city with the backpack, fat cat, crushingLabels out here,
Nah they can’t tell me nothing
We give that to the people,
Spread it across the country
Labels out here,
Nah they can’t tell me nothing
We give it to the people,
Spread it across the country

Here we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us
Here we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

Nah, can I kick it? thank you. yeah I’m so damn grateful.
I grew up, really wanted gold fronts
But that’s what you get when Wu tang raised you
Y’all can’t stop me, go hard like I got an 808 in my heart beat
And I’m eating at the beat like you gave a little speed to a great white shark on shark week
Raw. Tell me go up. Gone!
Deuces goodbye. I got a world to see, and my girl she wanna see Rome,
Caesar make you a believer. nah I never ever did it for a throne.
That validation comes from giving it back to the people. nah sing a song and it goes like
Raise those hands, this is our party
We came here to live life like nobody was watching
I got my city right behind me
If I fall, they got me. Learn from that failure gain humility and then we keep marching ourselves

Here we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us
Here we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

[X4]
Na na na na na na na na
And all my people say

Ma-ckle-more

Here we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us
Here we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

Macklemore

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Categories: Entertainment | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

I Wanna Be a Baller!

“Kids and their darned, loud rock music!”  That’s what my parents’ generation heard as they were jamming out on their walkmans and boom boxes.  Now, the same folks who grew up going to big hair bands’ concerts are remarking about “Kids these days and their filthy rap music!”  And who knows what kind of music my generation will be complaining about once we have kids.

The complaints against both rock and rap are pretty much the same: the music itself is loud and obtrusive and the lyrics are simply destroying every last shred of traditional values that humanity ever had, effectively stealing the innocence of our children.

I have to admit, for the longest time, I never really paid attention to any lyrics.  Ever.  I grew up listening to country music.  As I got older, I remember going through an “oldies” stage:  Little Richard, the Beach Boys, Elvis, Tina Turner.  Then I remember in high school loving alternative rock, and of course I liked to get in car, turn up the bass, and listen to rap music really loud (maybe because that was the music we weren’t “supposed to be listening to”).  And of course, there’s always the ever-present pop, which I do enjoy for what it is: mindless entertainment that can now be churned out by anyone with a computer.

However, I never really paid attention to what was being said; I simply enjoyed the beats and the music.  And then one day I caught myself listening to the lyrics.  And because I love to write, and I love how language can be used – tamed, mastered, or set free – I suddenly realized that song lyrics could be pretty awesome.  Because it wasn’t just about finding some rhyming words for a beat, but it was about dancing with the words (pardon the pun) in order to get a message across.

I guess song lyrics are the only type of poetry that I enjoy (sorry, Frost).  Maybe it’s because songs can fit so many moods, and hey, let’s not forget that the lyrics come with (hopefully) good music!  I can listen to my favorite band any time of the day, and I do love classical and foreign music when I’m reading or studying (so that I’m not distracted by the lyrics).  Pop can be fun, but it does have its (limited) time and place.  And as Sir Elton John tells us, sad songs have their place too, because “it’s times like these when all need to heed the radio, because from the lips of some old singer, people share the troubles we already know.”

But lately, I have become completely fascinated with rap and hip-hop lyrics.  I was only half-way kidding recently when I told someone that I wanted to drop German history and start doing the history of rap, its culture, music and lyrics.

Now, before I go any further, let me go ahead and say:  I have not really researched this topic.  Everything that follows is simply my opinion, which stems from my interest in rap.  The conclusions are mine, and I’m probably wrong about a lot of things.  If you know where I’m wrong, let me know.  Or, what’s probably more likely, I’m just a little white kid who has completely missed the mark on most everything.  Either way, these are my ponderings after all…

I wasn’t around when rap got started, but I’ve listened to some of the more popular remnants of the original stuff.  And it seems like, back then, it was more about actually crafting the English language, using slang and local words and putting it to a beat to tell a story.  And that message could be about most anything I guess.  Today it seems like rap – or at least what I call “pop rap,” the famous stuff that everybody, including ironically rednecks – is more about listing how many cars you have and talking about how much money you have.  Either way, I still enjoy rap lyrics…well, at least “pop rap” lyrics.  Ludacris may not be mastering the language the same way Walt Whitman did, but I still consider it a form of poetry.  And I’m (superficially?) fascinated with the vocabulary – how it’s tweaked (or twerked) and used.

Instead of just blabbing on and on, I want to provide a few examples that just might show (especially to any older readers, whose ears just can’t take all the ‘loud thumping!’) how interesting it can be.  My personal favorite is the whole phenomenon around “making it rain.”  Let’s go:

In 2006, the rapper Fat Joe put out a track (featuring Lil Wayne) called “Make it Rain.”  The main part of the chorus goes, “Gotta handful’a stacks; better grab an umbrella; I make it rain…”  The whole thing boils down to the fact that he has SO much money, he can throw stacks of bills into the air and let it rain down.  The single was a hit, rising pretty high on the charts, and the phrase “makin’ it rain” caught on.  And actually, the precipitation theme is still pretty prevalent today.

One thing I like about rap artists is that they often collaborate with each other (featuring each other in their songs) and they quote lines from other songs in their own.  For example, in 2002 Lil Jon released the single “Get Low.”  The song, which is about partying hard “from the window to the wall, til the sweat drops down my”….uh, testicles, became wildly famous (breaking into the top ten on the charts).   Nearly a decade later, the phrase is still being used by other rap artists, like Ludacris (from Enrique Iglesias’s “Tonight”): “From the window, to the wall, gotta give you my all; winter or the summertime, when I get you on those springs, I’m gonna make you fall!

Like I said, ‘making it rain’ hasn’t gone without use from subsequent rappers, singers, and kids across the nation.  In 2007, Rihanna released one of her most successful singles, “Umbrella.”  The rain metaphor can’t be lost – she doesn’t need a man to make it rain; the multi-millionaire star can handle that on her own.  In fact, in her song, she offers protection and support to her man: “Now that it’s raining more than ever, know that we’ll still have each other, you can stand under my umbrella.”  A lot of Rihanna’s songs seem to be about her being able to hold her own in the world.  In essence, the empowerment of women.

Another song that really plays up the rain metaphor is “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame (2011).  There are about three or four rappers featured in the song, so I don’t know who is saying what exactly, but the lyrics show that the message is all about showing off how much money they have:  “DJ, this is my favorite song, so Imma make it thunda’storm.”  And then, singing to a girl, “Those n*ggas tippin’ good, but girl I can make it flood cause I walk around with pockets that are bigger than my bus… ‘Rain Rain go away,’ that’s what all my haters say…My pockets stuck on overload, my rain never evaporates.”  In that one, I just love how they even incorporated the ‘rain rain go away’ nursery rhyme into the song.  I don’t necessarily endorse the message of blowing all your money on cars, jewelry, alcohol and strippers…and then bragging about it, but hey, they way they brag is interesting.

It seems to be that message, though – alcohol, partying, casual sex, lavish lifestyle – that’s the reason that rap is often condemned.  And to me personally, it seemed that a lot of the people that were condemning rap music, were ones that grew up listening to rock n’ roll.  So what is it that makes rock n’ roll – sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, remember – cool, but rap condemnable?

In 2007, Dem Shop Boyz addressed Rap’s heathen predecessor in their single “Party Like a Rockstar.”  The song starts off with a (mocking?) “T-t-toally Duuude!” and then asks, “Now, who started this?”  The song goes on to exemplify the partying life of a star and constantly alludes to many of Rock’s greats: “Do it like Ozzy!” “New pair of kicks so you can walk this way like Aerosmith.” However, not only do the Shop Boyz refer to famous rockers and their lavish lifestyles, they claim to one up the rockers. “Heavy metal” is referred to as only being in the rappers’ pockets ($$$).  And: “Yeah, we da ShopBoyz, nobody coulda did it better; we on fire, da black Red Hot Chili Peppers…We rock hard.”  And then, “I’m obscene, plus I’m ghetto, I’ll have your QUEEN in stilettos.”

The rappers seem to think they take the new “Rockstar” mantle quite well, making everyone party hard:  “I got that gangsta, hood star, pop star, screamin “Totally dude!”… “I ride in fast cars, and plus my chick’s hott…black shades around my face lookin rockstarish.”  And ultimately, fame and fortune are placed on the altar:  “I’m gonna be the Grinch, Shrek, all I like is green.  I am Bruce Bling-steen…MicK Jagger with my swagga!”  And then they wrap it all up with: “Da Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame need another couple names:  Shop Boyz, Lil Wayne, and Chamilitary Man…”

And of course, there is my favorite song, Lil Troy’s “I Wanna Be a Baller.”  Ballin’ is another tweak of vocabulary that I think is awesome.  It stems from playing basketball (b-ballin’), and especially being good and performing showy tricks while doing so.  But now, ballin’ means living the good life.  According to Urbandictionary.com (which is an awesome website to look up any slang word or saying that you may not know), “ballin’” is “to live a rich, upper-class life after growing up a poor, or ghetto, lower class life.  Or, to perform illegal or shady actions to make and/or keep money.”  So, ballin’ is a way to move up out of poverty and out of the ghetto.  Lil Troy says, “I wanna be a baller, a shot caller.” And in his 2009 single “I Look Good,” Chalie Boy lets everyone know that “Ballin’ is a drug that I don’t mind abusing!

I find it a little confusing that the same people that condemn such greed often have no problem with CEOs, or their heirs, having several multi-million dollar homes, jets, fleets of cars, etc.  Is the difference that the fat cat CEOs don’t rap about the thirst for money, instead they just yearn for it just as greedily, but calmly in a suit and tie?   I don’t know.

And it’s not that rap music is the only type promoting questionable values either.  Plenty of country songs, for example, are about jealous spouses killing the other (Garth Brooks’s 1992 “Papa Loved Mama”), or driving while drinking (Jason Aldean’s 2011 “Dirt Road Anthem”).

And not all rap songs are about violence, drugs, and money, believe it or not.  Take a look at “Live Your Life” (by T.I., 2008, featuring Rihanna – however don’t take a look at T.I. who was arrested on weapons charges).  The song starts out with a special shout out to all the soldier fighting in Iraq.  He’s addressing all of the new generation of rap stars: “Stop looking at what you ain’t got and start bein’ thankful for what you do got.”  He then hands out some chastisement for those who forgot their roots: “I brought back to the hood, all you ever did was take away.”  He continues:

I got love for the game, but, hey, I’m not in love with all of it;  Could do without the fame, and rappers nowadays are comedy; the hootin’ and the hollerin,’ back and forth with the arguin: where you from, who you know, what you makin, what kinda car you in.  Seems as though you lost sight of what’s important when you depositin the checks into yo bank account and you up out of poverty.  Your values is a disarray, prioritizin horribly, unhappy with the riches, cause you’re piss poor morally.  Ignorin all prior advice and forewarnin, and we’re mighty full of ourselves all of a sudden, aren’t we?

 In the 2006 remix of “Walk It Out” by Unk, André 3000 (who, like dem Franchize Boyz, Shop Boyz, the Ying Yang Twins, Lil Jon, Ludacris, T.I. and many others, is from Atlanta) raps, “Your white T, well to me, look like a nightgown.  Make yo mama proud, take that thing two sizes down.  Then you’ll look like the man you are, or what you could be…I couldn’t give a damn bout your car.”

Anyways, I’m done.  As you’ve surely noticed, I could go on and on about many different topics.  But I don’t want you to fall asleep at the keyboard.  I just wanted to share my interest in rap lyrics.  Many people dismiss it all as simply “talking,” but, I do think that it takes talent to be able to rap.  Of course, there is the kind that is simply done with computerized voice changers where the verses and choruses just repeat themselves over and over.  But that’s the same with any genre.  And it really is difficult to decide what is “good” and “bad” music since it’s all in the ear of the beholder.

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