Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Horrible Rap Metaphors

Rap. Hip hop. I fell in love with it at an early age. The pop culture references, the story telling, the wordplay; it was all a revelation to a young man fascinated with language.

There is a lot of knowledge to be gained from listening to some rap songs. And then there are the following songs. In most cases, it's not even the entire song, just one line, one attempt at a clever metaphor that is so stupid, so glaringly asinine, that the English language itself cries out in pain. Here are a few historically bad lines in rap:

LL Cool J: Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings

Offending line: "Pink cookies in a plastic bag getting crushed by buildings."

Ok, this is one of those cases where the entire song is an embarrassment.

The title, which is unfortunately the chorus as well, is possibly the dumbest metaphor for sex uttered by an adult human being since written language was invented. Possibly language itself. Do I have to explain why this is such an awful line? Has anyone besides James Todd Smith referred to sex this way? Why? Do you hate sex, Mr. Cool J? You are responsible for the first rap love ballad ever, and you spout this nonsense?!

The verses aren't much better. They break down into that awful rap trope of using rappers' names or song titles as similes/metaphors:

She was Chubb-y and
ready to Rock
Naughty By Nature and
part of my private stock and
ridin in the relax
frame of mind and
Hammer timin.

*closes laptop, stares into oblivion for a few minutes to contemplate life*

Ouch. At one point the beat drops out and there's the sound effect of a toilet flushing. Yeah. This song is bad.

And it's not even LL's worst transgression in music! That honor will forever-and-a-day belong to his duet with Brad Paisley. They concocted their own metaphor, "Accidental Racist", meant to explain subconscious racism and ultimately cure race relations in America, but instead spawning endless, hilarious internet memes and a new euphemism for a colossally dumb idea. To illustrate:

"Hey remember when I decided to drive drunk on a motorcycle and I fractured both of my legs? That was dumb."

"Yeah, totally, that was like your 'accidental racist' moment, bro." 

"Whoa, man, it wasn't that dumb." 


So yeah, "Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings" isn't the stupidest thing LL has ever done, but it's pretty damn stupid.

Foxy Brown: Oh Yeah

Offending line: "Y'all only nice around mics like Pippen."

Now when most people think of Foxy Brown and horrible lines, they think of her entire career...OH SNAP!

Seriously though, most point to her head-scratching fuzzy math in "Affirmative Action" as her worst verse. Granted, that verse is awful, but that wasn't necessarily a bad metaphor, just bad math. On the other hand, her line from Oh Yeah is literally what Men's Rights Activists point to when they argue women shouldn't be sports writers or analysts.

At first, it actually seems clever. If you don't think about it too much, you might nod your head and forget it. That's your best bet, because when you think about it, you start to wonder how Foxy ever managed to land a multimillion dollar record deal and your head starts to throb painfully and uncontrollably.

Let's break this down. She's invoking the common trope of dissing a metaphorical "wack rapper," the "you/yall" she addresses. She claims these wack rappers are only good when they are around mics. Ok. Well, that's the one thing they need to be good around, no? That's like, their whole purpose. Also, comparing your competition to Scottie Pippen? That's...high praise. Sure, he wasn't as good without Jordan, so the "only nice around mics/Mikes" sorta makes sense. But Pippen is in the Hall of Fame and considered one of the 50 best players ever. How is that a diss? Foxy is all sorts of confused and doesn't realize she's complimenting her competition.

In fact, the whole verse reflects a highly confused individual:

I'm like Marion Jones (a cheater? on steroids?) 
what, who the fuck wan' race?
Listen, never trippin', never catch Brown slippin'
Fuck, y'all only nice around mics like Pippen
Shit, to all my thugs that's Blood'n or Crip'n
I'm still shittin' (didn't need to know that) 
still lowridin' and switch-hittin' (so the rumors of her bisexuality are true or...?)

I just don't understand why her career fizzled out.

(Side note: In the song Buck 80, rapper C-Rayz Walz says, "I'm nice around the mic like the Wizard players." Now that works! I feel like he heard Foxy's line and vowed to improve it.)

Drake ft. Nicki Minaj: Make Me Proud

I don't mean to pick on female rappers, but this is what equality gets you, ladies

Offending line: (Nicki Minaj) "I'm a star. Sheriff badge."

Yes. I get it. We all get it. The tsunamis caused by the wind from an entire nation sucking its teeth then sighing in disgust the moment the line was uttered destroyed an entire continent (sorry Antarctica). This is just criminally dumb. It was also one of the first lines in the short lived (yet somehow seemingly endless) run of "hashtag rap", a simpler time when the "like" or "as" was too hard for rappers to fit in their rhyme schemes.

The worst part about this line is the smugness in which she says it, as if she had just spit the hottest line of the year. You can almost hear her do the "mic drop" hand gesture. In fact, if you listen close, you can hear the microphone sobbing, upset that it contributed to such stupidity being broadcast to the masses.

Eminem: Space Bound

Offending line: "I'm a space bound rocket ship and your heart's in the moon."

I've never been a huge Eminem fan, but he's had some undeniably classic songs and verses. I may not have purchased his albums or bumped his songs on my own time, but I always respected his skill and artistry. That said, I don't know what the hell he's been doing the past decade or so. Stadium Jams. Rehab Commercials. Love Ballads. And the above line, which serves as the song's chorus. It's apparently sung by some alien-frog high on mescaline, but I attribute this mess to Marshall.

Seriously, read the line again: "'I'm a space bound rocket ship and your heart's in the moon." That's a junior high school love letter somebody found. That's worse than anything from any of the boy bands he's brutally dissed throughout his career. You can't go around calling Justin Timberlake a fag and then make this song. #RealTalk Slim.

It gets worse. Here's a segment of the 2nd verse:

I'll do whatever it takes
When I'm with you I get the shakes
My body aches when I ain't
With you I have zero strength
There's no limit on how far I would go
No boundaries, no lengths

Wow. I swear I didn't kidnap a 13 year old boy, place him in front of a tv showing scenes from Who's the Boss with Alyssa Milano, then force him to write down the first thing that came to his head. Those lines were written by a fully grown man, released by a major record label, and acted out on video.

Eminem, do us all a favor and go back on drugs, for the love of Lord Byron.

Drake ft Lil Wayne: The Motto (Remix)

Offending line: "Almost drowned in her pussy so I swam to her butt."

I'm not even sure this is a metaphor. I'll give Lil Wayne one thing about this line, though. It's certainly vivid.

I could discuss a million Lil Wayne metaphors, like the one about "beating the pussy up like Emmit Till," but it's hard to ridicule Lil Wayne since part of his appeal is his inherent ridiculousness. Many (most) of his metaphors are purposefully outlandish or bizarre or just plain goofy. I get that. Sometimes I even enjoy it (although I like the fake Lil Wayne metaphors better).

But there are undeniably bad lines, too, and this line stands out among a long career of failed punchlines. It's not clever. It's not over the top absurd. It's just dumb. The velocity of listeners' heads shaking when this line comes on can't be measured with current technology. This whole verse is Lil Wayne in his period of peak awfulness. Hell, in this very same verse he says:

"I'm twisted: door knob" (more hashtag rap!)


"Nigga, money talks, and Mr. Ed." (?!??!?).

This song is in the history books for most rotten garbage on a single record. Not only did this song start the "YOLO" craze (fucking Drake) it also featured everyone's favorite reptilian rap pedophile, Tyga, who actually thought it was a good idea to stand in a professional recording booth and say:

"Sorta like a donkey, act a ass nigga hee-haw."

I'll let that one sink in. Sink in and poison everything it touches.

Jamie XX ft Young Thug and Popcaan: I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)

Song of the Summer, 2015. You heard it here first. Give me a cookie.

Offending line: "Ride in that pussy like a stroller." (I think? It's Young Thug so it's hard to be sure.)

Every time I think I have this line figured out, the meaning evaporates into a fine mist of Sprite and codeine molecules. In fact, that is the case with all of Young Thug's music. Only when the realization sets in that there is no meaning anymore can one reach the heights of bliss in which Thugger's squeaks and chirps resonate.

Thugger jumped on the "ridiculous to the point of hilarious" wave that Lil Wayne popularized and he boogieboarded into a whole new solar system.

Genius and stupidity don't exist on a linear spectrum, it's circular. Once you have gone so far in one direction, you end up at the opposite side. Genius, like time, is a flat circle. Young Thug Rap Game Rust Cohle.  He goes speeding past the point of utmost stupidity, flies past genius, and continues on an infinite loop, never settling in one spot, ultimately erasing the very concepts of "time" or "genius" or even "coherent lyrics." Young Thug Rap Game Cooper from Interstellar, floating outside of time and space and meaning itself. All that exists in his world is ecstasy and pleasure. Young Thug Rap Game Matthew McConaughey.

When he starts pounding his chest and grunting and babbling his utter nonsense, all those within range know...there's gonna be good times.

See, that was the title of the song. I fit it into my own metaphor. I'm at least on the same level as 1993 LL Cool J.

Sign 'em.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed. 

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