Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Lately I've come across several examples of inaccuracies in rap lyrics. I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't concerned. I ask you, if we can't rely on rapppers to provide us with pop culture smilies and metaphors then who can we rely on? To prevent the whole system from breaking down, I've decided to become a rap fact-checker.

We start with the most recent offender, Common. On the final track from his excellent 2005 album Be, It's Your World (Part 1 & 2), he compares his Chicago childhood to the television show Good Times. He says he was skinny like J.J. Nothing wrong there. But he goes on to mention "girls with Penny figures." Okay, Penny was played by Janet Jackson, but she was quite young on the show and at that time didn't have a figure to speak of. I'm fairly sure Common intended to refer to Thelma, who, ahem, certainly did have a figure worthy of notice.

Next we consider the Beastie Boys, who have a long history of executing flawless and hilarious pop culture references. Shazam, from 2004's To The Five Boroughs puts a tiny smudge on their track record with this line: "On a track so sick, it'll make you feel all queasy / Make you feel like Fred Sanford with, 'I'm comin' Weezy!'" I believe it's Mike D who delivers this line. Like Common, Mike is obviously confused about his '70s African-American sitcoms. Sanford And Son featured Fred Sanford, who during times of distress would fake a heart attack. He would call out to his dearly departed wife Elizabeth with the line: "I"m comin' 'Lizbeth!" Weezy, of course, was George Jefferson's wife on The Jeffersons.

Moving on from sitcoms to sports. On their 1998 collaboration Money Ain't A Thing Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupri trade boasts about their wealth, skills and appeal to women. It's all in good fun until J.D. gets a little overexcited, declaring that he's "the truth like A.I." Now we know he isn't referring to the 2001 Stephen Speilberg film, so you have to assume he means Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson. And we all know that Iverson's nickname is "The Answer." Paul Pierce, from the Boston Celtics, is "The Truth."

Finally, a lot of people bought Outkast's 2003 album Speakerboxxx / The Love Below, but how many of them knew that it contained inaccurate information?! The track Flip Flop Rock features both Jay-Z and Killer Mike as guests. The latter is the troublemaker here, when he states: "You can follow or lead like Commander Picard." This is where the geek alert goes off, I know, but any semi-faithful viewer of Star Trek: The Next Generation could tell you that Patrick Stewart's Picard was a Captain, NOT a Commander.

Whew! I feel much better having done my small part to rectify these mistakes. If you are worried about inaccuracies in your rap lyrics, please know that you are not alone. I will remain vigilant.

1 comment:

Richard said...

As a person obsessed with lyrics and their truth and meaning, allow me to commend you for this undertaking. I'm impressed!