Friday, 12 September 2008

It's a Rap!

As a poet I've always been intrigued by rap music, though have often struggled to find great artistic/literary merit in much of it. However these two tracks - Coolio's 'Gangster's Paradise' and Miss Dynamite's 'It Takes More' stand head and shoulders above the rest. I reproduce the lyrics below each one so you can sing along. Gangster's Paradise is a track which part revels in 'da hood', part questions its tendancy to hurt itself more than anyone else.

In It Takes More, (aided by an extraordinarily Austrian vibe) Miss Dynamite challenges her black 'brothers' to be known for more than drugs, crime and pimping and points out that it takes more than that 'to impress a girl' like her!

Somewhat ironic that my two favourite rap tracks are those questioning the very roots that gave rise to them! The silver lining of the bad-ass culture I guess.



As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I take a look at my life and realize there's nothing left
Cause I've been blastin and laughing so long that
Even my mama thinks that my mind is gone

But I ain't never crossed a man that didn't deserve it
May be treated like a punk, you know that's unheard of
You better watch how you talking, and where you walking
Or you and your homies might be lined in chalk

I really hate to trip, but I gotta lope
As they croak I see myself in the pistol smoke, fool
I'm the kinda G that little homies wanna be
Like on my knees in the night
Sayin' prayers in the street light

been spending most our lives
Living in a Gangsta's Paradise
been spending most our lives
Living in a Gangsta's Paradise
keep spending most our lives
Living in a Gangsta's Paradise
keep spending most our lives
Living in a Gangsta's Paradise

Forgot the situation, they got me facin
I can't live a normal life, I was raised by the strip
So I gotta be down with the hood team
Too much television watching got me chasing dreams

I'm an educated fool, with money on my mind
Got my ten in my hand and a gleam in my eye
I'm a loped-out gangsta, set-trippin banger
And my homies is down, so don't arouse my anger, fool

Death ain't nothing but a heart beat away
I'm livin life do-or-die ah, what can I say?
I'm twenty-three now will I live to see twenty-four?
The way things are goin I don't know

Tell me why are we -- so blind to see
That the ones we hurt -- are you and me

been spending most their lives
Living in the Gangsta's Paradise
been spending most their lives
Living in the Gangsta's Paradise
keep spending most our lives
Living in the Gangsta's Paradise
keep spending most our lives
Living in the Gangsta's Paradise

Power and the money, money and the power
Minute after minute, hour after hour
Everybody's running, but half of them ain't lookin
What's goin on in the kitchen, but I don't know what's cookin

They say I got to learn, but nobody's here to teach me
If they can't understand it, how can they reach me?
I guess they can't -- I guess they won't
I guess they front that's why I know my life is out of luck, fool

been spending most their lives
Living in the Gangsta's Paradise
been spending most their lives
Living in the Gangsta's Paradise
we keep spending most our lives
Living in the Gangsta's Paradise
we keep spending most our lives
Living in the Gangsta's Paradise

Tell me why are we -- so blind to see
That the ones we hurt -- are you and me
Tell me why are we -- so blind to see
That the ones we hurt -- are you and me

Tell me why are we -- so blind to see
That the ones we hurt -- are you and me
Tell me why are we -- so blind to see
That the ones we hurt -- are you and me

click here for Miss Dynamite video - rebellious to the last - she's not proving very embeddable!

The things that you promote
Fighting, violence
Like you don't want to grow old
You talking so much sex
But you na tell the youths about AIDS
You na tell them of consequence, no
Your talking like you a G
But you killer killing your own
You're just a racist man's fossey
Tell me who wants to know
What when who where
Or how you lose control

Certainly not me
Certainly not me
'Cos baby personally
I like to be challenged mentally
I've heard it all before
Gangsta's pimps and whores
Quality is born
A girl like me is born

It takes more (it takes more)
To amuse a girl like me
So much more (much more)
To confuse a girl like me
They've got you (got you)
'Cos while you braggin'
About your badness you're just
Avoiding, adding to the real sh*t
That's happenin' to us

Now who gives a damn
About the ice on your hand
If it's not too complex
Tell me how many Africans died
For the bagettes on your Rolex
So what you pushing a nice car
Don't you know there's no such thing as superstars
We leave this world alone
So who gives a about the things you own

Certainly not me
Certainly not me
'Cos baby personally
I like to be challenged mentally
Content's insignificant
And it don't help to pay my rent
It's pure negativity
That you impose on me

It takes more (it takes more)
To amuse a girl like me
So much more (much more)
To confuse a girl like me
They've got you (got you)
'Cos while you braggin'
About your badness you're just
Avoiding, adding to the real sh*t
That's happenin' to us

Now I can sit
And chat a spit about how I sex
But my business is my business I got self respect
I can talk 'bout how my press could pimp man's dough
Get the keys to his ride and his home
But I looked it up and that would make me a ho'
Little sisters now I really got to let you know
Real women ain't sexin' for no man's dough
Real women work hard to make their dough
And we can all chat 'bout gats and blacks
On blacks and force the hypes and all the stereotypes
We used to watching that ain't what I'm here for
Show them to think higher and aspire to be more

It takes more (it takes more)
To amuse a girl like me
So much more (much more)
To confuse a girl like me
They've got you (got you)
'Cos while you braggin'
About your badness you're just
Avoiding, adding to the real sh*t
That's happenin' to us

It takes more (it takes more)
To amuse a girl like me
So much more (much more)
To confuse a girl like me
They've got you (got you)
'Cos while you braggin'
About your badness you're just
Avoiding, adding to the real sh*t
That's happenin' to us

10 comments:

Brother Tobias said...

I've not been a fan of rap, but then I wasn't of punk. At first. They seem to mature, these genres. Anyway, you've just increased my cred with my musical daughter (who's been showing an eclectic penchant for rap lately). As I was playing your Coolio link she burst in and said, "This is my favourite track - It's on my IPod. What are you playing it for?".
"Oh, you know," I said, modestly.
"You're weird," she said.

Donnnnn said...

What used to get me was how they stole, I mean sampled, the melodies, Gangsta's Paradise/ Stevie Wonder's Pastime Paradise..MC Hammmer's Can't Touch This/Rick James's Supafreak Rapper's Delight/We Are Family etc etc

My all time fave is Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, The Message..the Grandaddy of all! Check it out on youtube.

Are you sure that your favorite song on Coolio's album isn't Fantastic Voyage, Momma I'm In Love Wid A Gangsta, or Keep Your Hands Off My Muthaf*ckin Nutsack?
HA!

KAZ said...

Oh Yes - I love'Gangster's Paradise'.
Didn't it sample some Stevie Wonder?

It was also used to good effect in that Michelle Pfeiffer film - 'Dangerous Minds'.

KAZ said...

I synchronised with Donn - who is obviously an expert.

Steve said...

I think this proves that not all rap is self aggrandizing preening... which when you think about it is obvious: it would be like saying that all pop music is inconsequential relationship obsessed drivel... there's going to be good and bad in every genre. The trick is to dig deep for the real gold. A couple of good nuggets here...!

Wisewebwoman said...

Not much of a fan of rap but this gave me pause, Laura. Some really good lines!
XO
WWW

Oliver said...

Yes, I like these tracks.

But I have to admit that my favourite recent rap lyric is:

'London bloke, he bespoke befo' he spoke'

from that Estelle hit.

MC O

Reluctant Blogger said...

When it's written down it's fine - I hate listening to it.

I'm such a boring old trout, aren't I?

Luckily my sons don't seem to be into rap either.

The Sagittarian said...

RB - I'm with you on this one, I like reading the stuff but don't ask me to listen. Each to their own.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

BT - what a truly heartwarming story. Did your daughter realise that her favourite track actually dates from 1995? Which just goes to show how good it is I guess if teenagers still think it's cool!

Donnnnn - well ain't everything a derivative of some kind these days? Though can't see a similarity between Coolio's GP and MC Hammer's Can't Touch Me, myself. However I will check out the other tracks you recommend.

Kaz - yes it was used to good effect in 'Dangerous Minds'

Thank you Steve - who needs the gold-plated bling when you can dig out the real nuggets?

WWW - Not being a natural rap fan either, that's what inspired me to do a posting about rap with substance!

Oliver - thanks for dropping by & thanks for the recommendation, which I will check out.

RB and Sagittarian - I can be equally narrow-minded - I assure you! Only the clever/tuneful stuff makes it past my prejudices!