As part of my effort to get some shit that I set out to do done, I spent an hour with the rap channel. My hope was to uncover whether the radio/MTV edit gets in the way of my appreciation of the music or if it makes no difference.
Unfortunately, for this experiment, I know very little about rap, and if it isn’t on one of the MTVs, I don’t know it.
Also, I’m totally unaware of beefs between folks, so I’m probably missing out on much of what’s going on in some of the songs, anyway.
Here are the songs I heard and my immediate thoughts.
Knuck If You Buck–Crime Mob & Lil Scrappy. How does one get a “Lil”? I don’t like the high-pitched tones, like a music box gone wrong.
N.Y. State of Mind–Nas. It’s weird that the background remains the same, but that it builds up anticipation. How does something stay in place and still make you feel like you’re going some place? “Sleep is the cousin of death,” Nas says, but Dream, of course, is her brother…
Checkmate–Jadakiss. “A bunch of lovesongs…” Is he knocking 50 Cent?
Mo’ Ghetto–Thirstin Howl III. “I wrote graffiti on my own apartment door.” Maybe it’s just my TV, but the verses are quick and smart, while the chorus doesn’t have enough weight. It goes all smooth when you expect it to be angry. “This motherfucker curses even when he’s praying.”
Stand up–Ludacris. I already loved him. I love how much he loves how words do and might sound.
I Tried–Geto Boys. I don’t know that I like rap songs about love and loss and breast cancer.
Conversation–Mannie Fresh and Tateeze. This is the kind of “conversation” I wished I’d had with boys in Jr. High. Is she saying “smurf with it?” Shit, these kids today–if they don’t bleep stuff out, I don’t know if it’s dirty.
Pop Shots–Ol’ Dirty Bastard. There’s someone in the background of this song “singing” “That’s my pop.” It’s really bad. But ODB raps like that cranky old man who corners you after church in that he manages to sound like he’s given this speech 100 times, while it also feels totally spontaneous.
Piggybank–50 Cent. Are Jadakiss and I the only two people who don’t get why 50 Cent is so popular? I guess he has a distinctive voice; I’ll give him that.
Step Yo Game Up–Snoop Dogg and Lil Jon. Shit. I had no idea Lil Jon ever said more than “yeah” and here he is giving me the angriest seduction instructions I’ve ever heard.
Can’t Deny It–Fabolous and Nate Dogg. Wow. This is a much different song uncensored. And I think I’ve heard this hook on someone’s cell phone. I’m bopping around to it.
Down and Out–Cam’ron and Kanye West. Ugh. That high pitched crap I can’t stand. I hope he doesn’t use that weird, high, kid voice.
White Tees–Dem Franchize Boyz. One of the “piano” notes comes just behind the beat and it’s giving me a headache. The other two rhythms don’t fit together either, but it’s not as noticeable. How is this song not coming apart at the seams? Are there lyrics? I can’t pay attention to them; I’m entranced by the discord in the rest of the song. This is probably musical genius, but it hurts me.
What They Do–T.I. and B.G. Awesome hook. The song builds to each verse and the delivery is cool. But isn’t the chorus the same as that song with the squeaky bed springs? Still, I like it.
Superthug–Noreaga. Okay, I really don’t like the video game-like synth part. Very short lines and I’m a Whitman girl, so you can bet I’m not digging it. But he wraps lines nicely, letting you hear the end of the line in the middle of his sentences.
Feel It in the Air–Beanie Sigel and Melissa. This song makes me feel how I felt the whole two months I was in New York City–very isolated, like bad, bad things might happen and no one would notice. I think that’s the mood he’s trying to evoke.
Still, obviously, an hour isn’t enough time to generate an informed opinion. But I think that the “radio edit” is damn stupid.
I don’t know how bleeping words out “protects” anyone from the words, when you can’t help but know what the artist intends.
Are there really people who listen to rap and are also offended by derogatory terms for African Americans and women? Because, maybe they need to rethink their love of rap, if they need MTV or the radio to keep half the song away from their delicate sensibilities.