Tag Archives: music

Bad Rap for Good People

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.

Denim floppy hat + mom’s overall shorts + bandage over my split chin stitches = Left Eye? It really all came down to the black under-eye paint, that I decided to put under my RIGHT EYE.

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.

The “White Tee“/ “Black Tee” song combo, by Dem Franchize Boyz/Crime Mob/ Gucci Man… It’s really unclear who wrote these songs. 

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 –

He does not have an “LOL :)” look on his face.

“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, 

BWCE

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The Worst Case Scenario Playlist

I’m going to reveal my utter chickishness when it comes to this post, but oh well.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. If you were hoping for a date and there’s no one to be found, you’re probably out of luck. If you were hoping for a couple friends to keep you company but all of them have other plans, you’re probably out of luck there too. That is of course unless you’re in a romcom… Then you can expect that at some point during the day someone is going to make a huge romantic gesture, or you’re going to make out with you best friend under fireworks, or something like that happens in Valentine’s Day. I got totally bored in the middle of it and ordered a bunch of food from Papa John’s.

So you’ve reached the end of the road and tomorrow you’re going to sit at home, drinking wine and watching TV, maybe you’ll even feel sorry for yourself for awhile. I say, step it up a notch. In my newfound spirit of loving everything Valentine’s Day, I think you should celebrate a shitty Valentine’s Day too. Consider it a good chance to feel, and what’s better for inspiring feeling than music?

Here’s what I suggest you do tomorrow: Go to work all dressed up. Pretend you’ve got something fancy to do, because having something fancy to do is always a good excuse to leave work early. On the way home, pick up your favorite snacks and something to drink as well as something that you can take shots of. If you follow my playlist, there will be a drinking game involved. Get your ass home early, put on your favorite pajamas, and begin the Best/Worst Valentine’s night of your life.

Stage 1 – You are still very sober

“Wide Awake” by Katy Perry.
I’m not all that big of a Katy Perry fan, but OMG this song is so good, right? It sounds hopeful, but it’s so sad. There are few songs in this word that make me go, “I wish I’d just gotten dumped because this shit would be so cathartic,” but this song is one of those.

“Leave” by JoJo.
I’d save this for later, because it’s kinda cheezy, but you’re not going to be able to belt those high notes when you’re drunk. Being cheated on has never been my reason for getting out of a long term relationship, but 14-yr-old JoJo sings this so passionately that it makes me able to turn, “Because you were kinda boring,” into, “YOU RUINED MY SOUL YOU BASTARD.”

“Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit.
I didn’t curse until I was probably 18 but I remember listening to this song on my whatever came before an iPod MP3 player in the 9th grade and mouthing the curse words that I imagined Fred Durst was singing (I had the edited version) because I just felt like he got me. You still do, Fred Durst. You still do.

Stage 2 – Ok, let’s play some drinking games

“Irreplaceable” by Beyonce.
Every time Beyonce says, “To the left, To the left,” take a shot.

“Cry Me A River” by Justin Timberlake.
Every time Justin sings, “Cry me, Cry me,” in falsetto in the background, take a shot. For a little schadenfreude, you can watch the music video and then Google pictures of Britney Spears during her mental breakdown years.

“So What?” by P!nk.
Ok, so if you were playing properly you’re definitely drunk by now. Take a shot of water every time P!nk says, “So what?”

“Wide Awake” by Katy Perry.
No drinking game here, I just wanna talk about how great this song is again.

Stage 3 – You’re drunk. Time to remind yourself of how awesome you are

“I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred.
You’ll probably only get through one minute of this, but it’ll be worth it.

“Stronger” by Britney Spears.
I would not recommend trying the chair dance right now. Or ever.

“Still Not A Player” by Big Pun.
I don’t know what this song has to do with Valentine’s Day. I just really like it.

Stage 4 – You’re drunk enough that you’re ready to cry

“We Found Love” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” mashup
You’re going to have to make your own, but it will be worth it. Open two separate YouTube windows and pull up the two songs. Watch the intro to “We Found Love” and then right before the song starts, pause the video and watch “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Make sure to skip Taylor’s intro, that is basically a knock-off of Rihanna’s. The song starts 2 minutes in.

“You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel.
I think the first time I heard this song when I was in the 3rd grade, I learned what sadness truly was. Of course, 8 year old Tiffany thought about all of her dead pets and missing them, but it still got me every time.

“Wide Awake” by Katy Perry.
It’s totally about Russell Brand, right?

“Lovin’s for Fools” by Bon Iver.
Ohmygoditssosad.

Stage 5 – Success! It’s almost bedtime. You’ve survived!

Order yourself something delicious off of Seamless and watch a couple episodes of How I Met Your Mother. That always makes me feel better.

Peace, love and I’m gonna go listen to “Wide Awake” on repeat, 

BWCE

 

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I hate you, Karmin.

“Oooh, you are SO jealous of them.”

It was May, Chris and I were sitting at Spitzer’s in the Lower East Side at happy hour when Karmin, the YouTube rapping sensation turned pop group with a major record deal walked in to conduct an interview before their show across the street. We’d first discovered Karmin a year before when their cover of Look at Me Now went viral in early 2011.

I have this obnoxious, knee-jerk reaction to seeing a musician that I think went to my college –

“Berkleeeee!!!! They definitely went to Berklee. Those harmonies are so jazz school. That modulation right there… I think that’s a hybrid chord.” I haven’t played music in years but my inner music school douchebag is alive and well, ready to regurgitate any term I still remember.

I was right. They did go to Berklee and graduated a year before me. I  was surprised by the fact that I’d never heard of them while I was at Berklee – there was always a certain buzz around the Berklee elite, it seemed that the well-known students there had the school’s seal of approval and were bound for fame while the rest of us could only hope for a good cover band gig. I felt a sense of pride in the fact that someone who could do such a good Weezy cover went to my college, but seeing someone who forged their own path make it filled me with self-hatred for not trying harder. I checked out their original songs, looking for any scrap of ammunition against the notion that I’d hastily thrown again a really great opportunity. Their original songs were awful – just so cheesy. I took a big deep sigh of relief. Karmin had one viral video, but they sucked and would never get big. Order was restored to my world and I completely forgot about the duo.

That was until May 2012, as I sat there watching the lead singer, with her characteristically coiffed hair and terrifyingly expressive face participate in an interview while I gave her death glares from behind my glass of wine.

“You are SOOO jealous.”
“NO. It’s. not. that… It’sjustthatIfindit REALLLLY ironic that my biggest celebrity sighting in new York is someone who went to MY college and I probably passed in the hallway ALL the time and I never even knew who she was. That’s all. I’m not jealous.”

I went home, drank a six pack of cider and stayed up until 3 AM watching videos of that time John Mayer spoke to us in the Berklee auditorium while I cried.

Envying a stranger’s success is bizarre. I have several friends from school who are entering the stage where their music careers are taking off and I’m not jealous of them. I think it’s because I saw them working so hard and know how much they deserve it. When it comes to Karmin though, it’s like I was walking along, completely content in my life decisions and BAM! there was another person who reminded me of a dream I used to have. I’m overrun with psycho-jealousy. Psycho-jealousy, if you’ve never heard of it, is a particularly acute and poisonous form of jealousy. I’d estimate its negative effects on my pscyhe are somewhere along the lines of 513% more negative than regular jealousy.

Here’s a graph to describe what my Karmin-psycho-jealousy has done to me:

I have no real point to make here, other than that I wouldn’t advise becoming obsessively jealous of anyone, and if said person happens to have a youtube account, probably don’t spend a lot of your time watching their youtube videos and sending them to your friends to be like LOOK AT HOW TERRIBLE THIS PERSON IS AREN’T THEY AWFUL?!?! because it only causes that jealousy to grow and take deeper root inside your soul until you start to feel as though you’re actively being followed by a rap/pop duo that seriously does not know who you are.

In other news, writing this post caused me to watch so many Karmin music videos in the process of writing it that I think I’m starting to like them…

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