My love affair with rap began at a pretty young age; it started the first time I heard TLC’s “Waterfalls.” On the album version of the song, there’s a rap that Left Eye does that I immediately became obsessed with. I’d recite the lyrics off the tape cassette insert along with her rap until I’d learned the entire thing. I listened to every TLC song I could get my hands on at eight years old and paid particular attention to any of the rap-py bits.
I bought the TLC CrazySexyCool video tape and tried to learn all the dances and for Halloween of 1996, I dressed up like Left Eye. When I look back at my childhood, I can’t decide if my parents let me run with these type of ideas because they were trying to “encourage my individuality and self-confidence,” or if they knew that the shit I came up with would be hilarious later in my life. While I’m pretty sure it was the former, 90’s touchy-feely stuff, I am appreciative of it for the latter and will forever be indebted to them for the photo evidence.
The socks and sandals are another story entirely.
BUT THE BEST THING, YOU GUYS, was that I had a lisp as a little kid.
Me: “Trisck or Treat!!”
Old lady neighbor: “Aw! How cute! Are you Blossom?”
Me: “No! I’m Lissssa Left Eye Lopetss from TLTSEE. I like their album CrazyTsssetssky Cool!”
Old lady: (hands me candy, looks cautiously at my mother) …And what are you little boy?
Little brother: I’m Spidewuh-man!
We both had speech impediments as kids. My poor mother.
My lifelong love for rap solidified the summer after 8th grade, around the time rap infiltrated Top 40s radio. My family was living outside of the country, but we’d come back to Georgia every summer and I’d hang out with my friends and re-Americanize myself. I’d go back to Brazil each fall with new music and more sparkly hair clips shaped like butterflies. The summer after 8th grade, the top 40 included “The Real Slim Shady,” “Forgot About Dre,” “Party Up,” and “Country Grammer,” among so many other gems. Our Youth Pastors warned us about the perils of listening to “the rap,” and how sexual lyrics and dirty words were the perfect way for Satan to gain a foothold in our mind. A lot of kids used the excuse that they didn’t listen to the lyrics, but I felt extra guilty – I wasn’t just listen to the lyrics… I was studying them. I memorized them line by line so I could rap along with Mystikal and DMX. Luckily, I’d gotten rid of the lisp by then.
In spite of my guilt, I taped every rap song off the radio and brought the casette back with me to Brazil. I’d listen to it late at night when I was sure my parents (who probably couldn’t have cared less) were asleep. When it comes down to it, rap was my first rebellion. I was a really lame teenager.
I do not judge my rap. I am not some 90’s hip hop lover, and I’d like to think that by now all of you understand how much I love shitty things more than good things. I like some of the worst rap ever, and I’m damn proud of it. So after much ado, here’s a list of some old favorites I’ve been revisiting today.
I have several things I need to mention:
- The low-fi awesomeness of the “White Tee” video and its intro.
- The slight change in the beat of “Black Tee,” so that it sounds more menacing.
- Can we talk for a second about how amazing the premise of these songs is? These songs are basically just lists of things you can do while wearing a certain color of extra large t-shirt.
“Holidae Inn” by Chingy.
In one of my music business courses, we read this article about the downfall of the recording industry and how a lot of it had to do with labels trying to recreate existing artists rather than developing new, individual talent. Chingy is the rap version of that. Someone in the rap industry was like, “Hey, you know who people really like? Nelly. He’s definitely gonna be around forever. Let’s get another Nelly.”
They lyrics to this song are some of the most recycled rap lyrics ever… And yet, I can’t stop listening. It’s delightful. Also, if you need any more proof that Chingy was forced to emulate Nelly, check out his 2006 lesser-known hit with JD, “Dem Jeans.” The only remaining Nellyisms come at 1:44 when he yells, “Ohhhh! Hayyyyy!” from a car.
“Wait” by the Ying Yang Twins.
Does this actually fall under the umbrella of bad songs? I’m not sure. I love this song and pretty much everything Ying Yang has ever done, but I think one of the best awesomely bad parts of this song is how sexual the song is versus how disgusting both members of Ying Yang are, and YET, they decide to be the featured quite prominently in the music video. At the very least, the chicks in this video aren’t super hot either, so it seems a little more realistic that one of them (is it Ying or Yang?) can get away with getting his terrifying lips that close to her ears.
I think they look better with the bucket hats.
“Unleash the Dragon” by Sisqo
“It’s a new millenium, it’s a brand new day.” Enough said.
“LOL Smiley Face” by Trey Songz.
This is the song that inspired this post, because I’m ashamed of how much I love this song. IT’S SO BAD. LIKE, SO BAD. Let’s talk about the lyrics for a second:
Shorty just text me,
Says she want to sex me
Lol smiley face, lol smiley face
Shorty sent a twitpic,
Saying come and get this
Lol smiley face, lol smiley face
Actually, I’ve been staring at this block of lyrics trying to think of some astute observation for about 30 minutes now and I’ve got nothing. I have listened to “LOL Smiley Face” at least five times, and have watched fan dances (which all claim to be “official”) and read a YouTube commenter fight about what it means to be African. I think I just lost the will to live. Like right now. Anyway, I’d highly recommend reading the lyrics to “LOL Smiley Face” and if you have some jokes please make them in my comments section.
After listening to this song on repeat this is the only thing happening in my brain right now –
“LOL Smiley Face” broke my brain, I’m going to go lie down now.
Peace, love and I also love everything Soulja Boy has ever done,