Someday someone is going to write a brilliant book about the commonalities of rap and country music–the stress on authenticity, the violence, the hypermasculinity, ect.–and I will read it and I will say “Oh, so that’s what’s going on.”
Because, for me, it’s not enough to say “Well, they emerged from similar circumstances etc. etc. etc.” No, I just don’t believe you have this many people saying such similar things for so long only because of some common origin. No, there’s some truth there that isn’t being heard, I think, so it has to keep coming back.
Anyway, I’ll admit, I haven’t been one for Lil Wayne, but I still got to the end of this article and then the end of this song and, yeah, that’s what I listen for, that point when an artist grabs your chin and turns your face towards something you wouldn’t otherwise see.
In that last verse, he tells his own story, turning to address his mother, Cita, directly. “I love you, Cita,” he says. He then asks her, “‘Member when your pussy second husband tried to beat ya?” He recalls grabbing a meat cleaver from the kitchen and facing off against the man.
The music–which has been essentially a mix of sustained chords, piano arpeggio and a fiery guitar break after each chorus—now builds in intensity. The piano part is now matched by a counterpoint John Carpenter may have written, while layers of keys like strings and even theramin swell toward explosion. He recalls that face off—”He ain’t give a fuck/I didn’t give a fuck neither.”
And then the heart of it—
“He could see the devil, see the devil in my features
You could smell the ether
You can see Cita, you could see the Cita, see the Cita in my features
And she don’t play neither.”
Call me crazy, but it’s hard for me to not hear the echo of “Mama Tried” in there, like that thing–between a bad man and the mother he loves–is so strong it calls out to you across decades and genres, keeps slipping out of men’s mouths, trying to be heard.