Friday, October 25, 2013

Great Moments in Rap History

I was a fan of Jeru the Damaja in the 90s, but hey, weren't we all? As Americans?

Anyhoo, in 1996, Jeru released "Wrath of the Math," a solid album thanks largely to the production of DJ Premier, although Jeru could hold his own lyrically. Kind of. He liked to (using this particular track as an example) use scientific terms like ferromagnetic, and drop names of random historical figures like Gwong Jan Lin, although I always questioned the broadness of his knowledge base on such subjects. (i.e.) It was more likely they simply made for more interesting verse than rhyming Rolex with Lexus, which doesn't even rhyme.

One track on the album was called "Whatever." It was about: whatever. Here is today's great moment in rap history:

Freak on the mic, but not sexual
Call me unalike cause my rhymes are never homo
Make you sad, like when Cher left Sonny Bono

Fire burn Giuliani, Pataki and Cuomo

Let's break it down.

Freak on the mic, but not sexual

"Regardless of how well I am rapping, I will not stick this microphone up my butt." - Jeru the Damaja

Call me unalike cause my rhymes are never homo

Okay, so Jeru wasn't the first and won't be the last rapper to drop a homophobic line. Following up his promise to not stick a microphone up his butt with the proclamation that his "raps are not gay" - whatever that means - probably falls somewhere near the bottom of the offensiveness totem pole, if only for sheer predictability. But what follows that is of great interest.

Make you sad, like when Cher left Sonny Bono

When the history books are written, I hope they pay special attention to the time Jeru the Damaja boasted of his raps not being gay, and then - literally in the very next line - referenced one of the greatest gay icons in American pop culture. Here are some observations:

How many of Jeru the Damaja's fans were genuinely sad when Cher left Sonny Bono, which happened in 1975? (And yes, I had to Google "what year did Cher leave Sonny." I am at work.) This is something I have legitimately pondered for the purposes of this blog post, and my conclusion is: zero people.

Also, why was this sad? If we believe Cher's assertion that Sonny (RIP) was not a great husband and a womanizer, then shouldn't we be happy for Cher and her newly liberated life? Or was it sad in the sense of lost idealism, like when a short male entertainer marries a tall female entertainer and everyone assumes they're going to make it work? I am confused.

Lost in all this - "Make you sad" ... is that boasting? Braggadocio? Like, yo, I am the saddest rapper out there, no one can match my sadness. I will make you seriously depressed and what not, with the sadness I induce. TANGENT: This is one of my biggest issues with rap, when it's impossible to accept the premise, and the ensuing metaphor (or simile) becomes just a metaphor for metaphor's sake. To wit: There is a Redman line off a track on the New Jersey Drive soundtrack from the mid 90s where he claims to "throw more balls than Dan Marino." And it's like okay, yeah, Dan Marino throws a lot of balls, because he is a quarterback. But how does that relate to you, Redman, throwing balls? What does "throw balls" mean? Is that slang? It is no slang I have ever heard. Do you throw testicles? That is gross, Redman. You are gross.

Fire Burn Giuliani, Pataki and Cuomo

Oh okay.

To recap:

"I am not gay.
"My raps are not gay.
"That was sad when Cher left Sonny.
"I hope the entire New York establishment dies in a fire."

This has been "Great Moments in Rap History."

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