Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rap vs. Hippies

The color of my hair doesn't represent the musical tastes one would think I stick too. Hell, most of the music I listen to would lead you to thinking that all I listen to is neo-hippie-esque tunes. Back in the day (am I even old enough to say that?) I used to detest rap. I thought all it was was a bunch of untalented people getting on a mic and spitting out rhymes that not only had no meanings, but really had no point to them at all. I'm talking about the Lil' Jon's and their Get Low, the Sir-Mix-Alot's and their Baby Got Backs and House of Pain was teaching us to just Jump Around. Run DMC not only ruined on of my favorite songs from my favorite artists, but Aerosmith helped them out. Hell, Marshal Mathers was just sitting up there telling us his name was who? Rap, to me, was just a desecration on the music industry. They stole beats from great songs and basically butchered the entire masterpiece. These songs contrasted with the ones I was raised on and grew to love. I enthralled myself with songs with meaning and the artists had respect for what they put onto the paper. I'm talking Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin to today's artists like DMB, Phish, Pearl Jam, and Jack Johnson.

But as I've grown as a person, my musical musings have also grown (though I still think country can take a big dirt nap). I also notice that my niativy from before has sparked new light onto the people I once praised. So here is a top 6 list for the ages (I tried top 10, but I’m a bit tired right now), of not only rap songs I love (and have true meaning) but are contrasted with artists I defended to the end about their musical importance in the world, and the songs they have written that just do not make sense.

6. The Fugees - Fu-Gee-La
Wyclef Jean starts this off with vocals that not only make you nod your head, but listen to the words brings to the table. The Fugees alone are one of the, if not, best rap groups that has ever approached a stage. Lauren Hill's sweet voice reigns over the chorus, but she makes sure she doesn't seem like the little girl in the background and she puts her own raps onto the table that keep you going. This song is not the normal song people think about when they hear the Fugees, but it's one of my favorite.

Line of the Song:
Just because your buff, don't play tuff
Cause I'll reverse the earth and turn your flesh back to dust.

6. Dave Matthews Band - Hunger For The Great Light
DMB used to be my favorite band of all time. They still kind of are, though I hold other current bands at the same level of them. Dave, himself, used to be a lyrical master. Even on the subject of naughty sex and love, he has pulled out some amazing songs including Crash Into Me, Say Goodbye and Rapunzel. These songs subtly and poetically play around with the subject of love, lust, and sex. Hunger's lyrics are one step around from "I want to put my penis your vagina and thrust in and out till I'm done." It not only lacks the great lyrics, but musically it is terrible. Carter Beauford sits in the pocket the entire time, Leroi Moore's saxophone is in the background and Boyd Tinsley's violin is nowhere to be seen. Nope, this song is one DMB fans like to forget about many times over.

Line of the Song:
I wanna be your HUNGRY
I wanna see you open wide
And when I go down for you
I wanna blow your mind

5. Talib Kweli - Get By
Backed with Nina Simone classic Sinnerman, Kweli not only puts clever rhymes to amazing music, but does it without sugar coating the lyrics. This song not only keeps my foot bouncing with the bass drum, but enthralls my mind in all the lyrics to the point where when my mind can't keep up, I just look them up on google and read them as if I were reading a new Frost or Whitman. Now, I'm not compairing Kweli to Walt, but his lyrics, in a way, have the same effect on me when I just read them. This is one of those songs.

Line of the Song:
Some people get breast enhancements and penis enlargers
Saturday sinners Sunday morning at the feet of the Father
They need somethin to rely on, we get high on all types of drug
When, all you really need is love

5. Eric Clapton - Cocaine
Now this song is not a Clapton original, but I had to put this song on there because 1. his version is the more popular version and 2. if this were a rap song, I would probably cast it off as "oh they are just talking about drugs and it's a terrible message," cause, well, thats what it really is. When I think of Clapton, I don't think of his lyrics, I think of his wailing solo's. Layla is one of the musical masterpieces of the century. But this song simply is about using cocaine. No way around it.

Line of the Song:
If you wanna hang out youve got to take her out; cocaine.
If you wanna get down, down on the ground; cocaine.
She dont lie, she dont lie, she dont lie; cocaine.

4. Kanye West - Roses
This song is Kanye at his best. The song goes through the struggle about when his grandmother was sick and died. Now, I know Ye has gone slightly off his rocker in the last few months, thinking he's the greatest thing to hit people since Oxygen, but this track off Late Registration is lyrically one of the best he's ever put out. And I put Kanye on this list because he does have songs that are like the ones I used to hate, like New Workout Plan, where he basically raps about how girls need to work out and suck his dong (I will admit I love listening to that song). But the somber tone to Roses just makes you sit back and think because not only does he put his heart out on the line, but there becomes a time in your own life that you wish there was something extra you could do to save someone you love.

Line of the Song:
My mama say, they say she could pass away any day
Hey chick what these doctors know anyway?
Let me see the X-rays
I ain't no expert, I'm just hurt

4. The Beatles - Love Me Do
The Beatles are great and they are in my top 5 bands of all time. But they were kinda corny at times. This song is the first that came to mind when I was thinking of corny Beatles songs. I think it is inevitable that they push out at least one or two corny songs about love when that is basically all they wrote about before they started hitting the hash and George was over in India learning sitar. But this song is basically a repetitive song both lyrically and musically that could have been written by a fourth grade poetry class.

Line of the Song:

Love, love me do.
You know I love you,
I'll always be true,
So please, love me do.
Whoa, love me do.

3. Mos Def - Umi Says
This isn't really a rap song to me, it's much more jazz than it is rap. Mighty Mos doesn't even really rap and more sings, but Mos is very much a rapper and this song off of Black on Both Sides radiates through my ears anytime it comes on. It's one of those songs I listen to every time I got into the city by myself to walk around. I can I just look around at all the people rushing around me and it makes me slow down and just observe, realize I don't need to keep up with them and go at my own pace. I think I may be the only one to pick Umi Says as my favorite Mos Def song, though I may be wrong. I've only talked to one or two people about Mos, and they both like Rock 'N' Roll more. But that's what is great about Mos. He's got a great amount of depth in his music.

Line of the Song:
Tomorrow may never come
For and me
Life is not promised
Tomorrow may never appear
You better hold this very moment very close to you
Very close to you

3. Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire

Though this song is interpreted (by Wikipedia) as a criticism of the Baby Boomer generation, I see this as Billy bored and looking through a history text book (or, again, Wikipedia if the internet was around in 89). This song to me is just a play off REM’s It’s The End of The World As We Know It, which came out a year earlier. Everyone doesn’t know the words to it and looks confused while mumbling the verse, but drunkenly rejoice and sing your heart out when the chorus comes up. Nope, Joel could have been more creative on this one.

Line of the Song:

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

2. Lupe Fiasco – Daydreamin’

Listening to this song without a second listen, you would think this songs is just about trick, hoes, bitties, and titties, cocaine and smoking. But my interpretation of the songs is that he is telling a story about how many of the people around him got by through day to day life. It really turns around after he tells a girl to “put your titties closer to the 22’s” but goes on to talk about a baby sleeping and how innocent he is. One could argue against this song, but, again, it’s all how you interpret the song, and to me I see Lupe putting much more into this song that it initially gives credit to. That and it is backed by the beautiful voice of Jill Scott who gives the song it’s soothing sound.

Line of the Song:

But not too loud cause the baby's sleepin
I wonder if it knows what the world is keepin
Up both sleeves while he lay there dreamin

2.. Red Hot Chili Peppers – I Like Dirt

RHCP are not know for their great lyrics, though they do have great jems. The fact that I am putting them on this list is because 1. they have many many songs that don’t really make sense/have much meaning and 2. I listen to them a lot. Most of my playlists usually have at least one RHCP song on it. They put down many songs that just get you moving and at other times they have some of the most wonderful and reflective songs. Look at tracks like If, Wet Sand, Under The Bridge and Soul to Squeeze. But I Like Dirt is, well, weird. It has a funky beat and the lyrics are just awkward. And when you get done listening to Californication, it’s usually the song that sticks in your head while you’re walking through the hall to make copies and you spit out a “I like dirt” slip out as you pass the girl you’ve been subtly hitting on for the past few weeks and embarrass yourself. So, maybe I’m a bit biased about this song, but it’s one that I’ve always finished listening to and gone WTF?

Line of the Song:

Some come up and some come young
Live to love and give good tongue
Sit down get down in the sun
Rocket to the women is on the one
I like dirt

1. Jay-Z – Pray

I’m a Hova newbie and only have a few of his 13 albums. This one is off his latest, American Gangster, a concept album inspired by the movie of the same title and about his days as a hustler. This song, the second on the album, first if you don’t count the first song, which is an intro full of sound bites from the movie, really serves as a pump up song, even though it is smooth and rich full of violins and clever beats. It leads you up to what is Hova’s true come back to the game, unlike his album Kingdom Come, that was, well terrible. I know there are better Sean Carter songs out there to fit what I am trying to do here, but this one is the one that sticks out in my mind the most. Enjoy it.

Line of the Song:

I’m trying to beat life

Cause I can’t cheat death

1.. Pearl Jam – Lukin

Surprisingly, it took me a really long time to find a Pearl Jam song that fit this category. I was confused to how long it took me to find one namely because most of the time you can’t really tell what Eddie Vedder is saying. But once you figure out the enigma that is Vedder’s delivery, you’ll see that he and the band are great at putting down meaningful songs. This live favorite though, is, well, just weird. You can in no way tell what he is really saying and if you were drunk (which most fans are when they attend shows) there is no way you can keep up with steady Eddie on this sub two minute tune. I wish it took me that long to find the song.

Line of the Song:

Drive down the street can't find my keys to my own fucking home
I take a walk so i can curse my ass for being dumb

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