Category Archives: Song lyrics = life instructions

A decade and a half, courtesy of a bunch of rappers in my record collection

Year recognize year, AKA

Watch me use the hell outta my master’s degree, AKA

Stuff like this is what I think about at work all day, AKA

A year, ten years from now, I’ll remember this;
not why, only that we were here like this, together. – Adrienne Rich.

Harold! Monch! Jeruuuu!

So cool and ol’ school like ‘8-4
The one your little mami windin’ up her waist for.

Mos Def, “Close Edge”

Fool, you know me, I’ve been down since ’85

Sellin dime for dime, doublin up my paper every time
I live the life of crime, ghetto life from day to day
Made me throw up both my hands, now get the fuck up out my –

Scarface, “Git Out My Face

I don’t bug out or chill or be acting ill
No tricks in ’86, it’s time to build.

Eric B & Rakim, “Eric B Is President”

’87! That was my favorite shit, god.
Polo shit…everything. Everything was lovely.

Wu, “Can It Be All So Simple”

I’m known to be the master in the MC field
No respect in ’87, ’88 you’ll kneel.

EPMD, “So What Cha Sayin’”

NINETEENEIGHTYNINE the number, another summer
sound of the Funky Drummer.

Public Enemy, “Fight the Power.” Duh on you if you thought anything other than this one was gonna be used to rep the year 1989.

1990, Chubb Rock jumps upon the scene
with a lean and a pocket full of green.

Chubb Rock, “Treat ‘Em Right.” Duhhhhhh, the sequel.

I grew up as a Christian so to Jah I give thanks

Collect my banks, listen to Shabba Ranks
I sing, and chat, I do all of that
It’s 1991 and I refuse to come wack.

A Tribe Called Quest, “Jazz (We’ve Got)”

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel and my name is Jeru
utilizing my tools in ’92
MC’s step up in mobs to defeat us
when we rock knots and got props like Norm Peterson.

Gang Starr (Jeru’s verse), “I’m the Man”

A one-to-three, he be home the end of ’93
I’m ready to get this paper, G, you with me?

Biggie, “Gimme the Loot”

At the block party everybody jocked (who me?)
It’s the MC sucka ni–as envy
I got my contract in 1993 and
I shall proceed.

The Roots, “Proceed”


(It was a draw between 2 heavyweights. Also: 93 til infinity/kill all that wack shit. ‘Course.)

’94, Big Gipp, Goodie Mo, Outkast, a vision from the past
Hootie hoo, my white owls are burnin kinda slow.

OutKast, “Git Up, Git Out”

1995, Elijah is alive
Louis Farrakhan, NOI.

Ice Cube, “Enemy”

Gimme a second, I swear
I will say about my rap career
Til ’96 came ni–as I’m here

Jay-Z, “December 4”

Rosco P, young G, I don’t speak I just squeeze
’97 P will make you drop to your knees.

The Clipse (Rosco P’s verse), “Chinese New Year”

What, you ain’t know about them country fried sessions?
Does that Likwit hit in ’97 answer all yo questions?

Nappy Roots, “Lac Dogs and Hogs.” Kentucky in ’03; let’s move there, you and me, you know, start a farm and a new life together, go to the batting cages and use our Louisville Sluggers, fueled by these kinds of glorious sounds:

An eye for an eye, you know my science of life

Is you man or mice, thugs or the cowardly type?
I kick the ’98 shit for your ears to list
Ni–a P where you headed it’s time to pass kids.

Mobb Deep, “Nighttime Vultures”

gettin mine in the
one nine nine. Nine.

Common + Sadat X, “1-9-9-9.” Rawkus (’91-02) forevvvvvs, how many times I gotta tell you.

I’m also preemptively including

You my pet, my poodle chicken noodle’s on the rise
Open your eyes and see my life
Rap moves on to the year 3000.
– Kool Keith.




Oh Word? (Prince Rakeem/Slav/’70s prog-rock edition)

Somebody at Slate read my mind and wanted to know why those kooky Slavs are so darn good at chess. More than half of the Top 20 players in the world come from Russia or another former Soviet Republic. Why, though? First of all, good question, Slate – and one that I’ve thought about but was too lazy to research. Thanks for doing all the legwork. Second of all, Saint Petersburg must be in Staten Isle. Clearly. Also, the etymology of the word chess excites me in a special way that I’m certain all my fellow lady English majors understand.

“13c., from O.Fr. esches, pl. of eschec (related to ‘check’), from the key move of the game. The original word for ‘chess’ is Skt. chaturanga, ‘four members of an army’ – elephants, horses, chariots, foot soldiers.” (OED)

Pictured on the left: the seven in the center of the eight-pointed sun.
Also, isn’t it weird neither RZA nor GZA had verses on Chessboxin? I mean, the 2 chess fanatics? What happened there? OH CLAN, your eternal mysteries captivate me.

Anyway, Russia has been so adept at chess over the years because the Soviets subsidized the game. Chess evolved from a much older Indian game and came to Russia through trade routes in Persia and India; it’s been popular in Russia for generations and became a national pastime in the early 1900s after the Bolsheviks took power (leftists love mind-fuckery, even in board games). The commander of the Soviet army under Lenin started state-sponsored chess, opening chess schools, hosting tournaments, and promoting the game as a vehicle for international dominance. They then, um, dominated. Internationally. Russians won lots of international chess titles over lots of years. So that was a pretty good plan.

The Soviets also saw chess as embodying their revolutionary ideals and intellectual talents that they held in high regard. Plus it was cheap, anyone could play it regardless of class, and to Soviet leaders, “its back-and-forth dynamic reflected the dialectical concept of history espoused by Marxism. Related to this crazy idea of people working together to get their needs met (??), the Russians developed a reputation for collective thinking when it came to the game. Players were sometimes told set aside personal victory, to lose on purpose in tournaments, in order to allow better players to advance. In 1972, at a match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, dozens of Soviet grandmasters huddled during breaks and debated what Spassky’s next action should be, which of course makes me think of Family Feud. Or a swordfight, where you must think first, before you move. Fischer, by contrast, only brought one assistant. (Because he was a jerk and a show-off. Go Americuh. PS, he went crazy. Holocaust-denying, paranoid crazy. Chess will fuck you up. Somebody keep an eye on RZA.)

And after all this, not one Grandmasters mention?? Slate, please see me after class.

Yes – “I’ve Seen All Good People.” Because it is epic, it is pretty, it is melodic, it is about chess, and it contains John Anderson’s ’70s vocal fierceness. Just too fantastic. And because I think I’ve reached my Wu tipping point this week (!) so I decided to go with some classic Dad-record-collection music. And because it contains the eternally true lyric-as-life instruction
Don’t surround yourself with yourself. I mean it. Don’t.


And just for fun, here we have a new clip of Rizzies in a denim suit talking in that way he talks, with that voice he has and that accent he has (why thank you, Crate Kings). The topic at hand is how much Prince Paul rules the fucking planet. In case you forgot.


Packin a .38 snub and a razor blade.

Why would I stand for disappointed looks
Fully grown but I’m all on tender hooks
Camera Obscura

This, from the most recent issue of Esquire, is as true as the sun coming up in the morning. Things between us shouldn’t be any other way. Also, have you heard my thoughts about feminism and Guilty Simpson?

Might I add that you can do whatever you want to her soft physical frame, and probably get her to do your laundry and make you a grilled cheese, if “Baby” is playing. And if it’s the summer of ’06. And if you play it from start to finish on the hi-fi and don’t cut out the beginning, since it’s the Stylistics that make the ladies feel all warm and trusting, like it’s OK to take our pants off when we’re around you. I am still struggling with how to reconcile my need to be treated with care and respect and to hear tender musical hooks while enjoying that She got a mouth like a vacuum part* and not apologizing for it. WHY DO I DO THE THINGS I DO, WHYY am I the way that I am, etc.

Feminism hasn’t kept up with advancements and complexities in hip hop lyrical content. Such is the dilemma of a grownup lady rap fan.

Girls stop when they see the clique ridin by, on jock
They ain’t invited unless they gon‘ drop.
OH GUILTAYY. I will not be dropping, but the thick, white, fluffy towels you keep at your place sure make a girl think about it for a minute.

Dilla feat. Madlib & Guilty Simpson –
Baby.I know we all have it, we’ve all memorized it, we all live it and breathe it. But let’s revisit it, because the days are getting shorter right now. People’s (ahem) checking accounts are dwindling. USC lost. And everyone’s right about Drake. He’s corny. So I’m putting my head under my pillow and not coming out until it’s August ’06.


*Honorable mention: Dilla’s sing-song part (Baby, take me home tonight/Baby, lay me downnnn) and the pretty and evocative every 5 minutes we untanglin em couplet. Nicely done, James. Just like with the ladies, the key to song construction is in the grip –

encompassing but not fierce.


Treat Her Like a Prostitute, or Treat Her Like a Lady?

Song lyrics will teach you about life, if you pay attention. I pay attention. So, you know, I don’t fear the reaper. I know that after laughter comes tears. You lack the minerals and vitamins, things fall apart, everything is everything. A lot of people won’t get no supper tonight. Premier’s got more beats than barns got hay, and that you do it to yourself, you do (and that’s what really hurts). Plus we all know what size rims David Banner has.

I feel confused, however, and I wonder how do you know how to act when you get conflicting instructions? Like when MC Ricky D and the Cornelius Brothers are battling it out in the field known as my record collection?

relationship tips pulled from 2 records in my collection, and the best MC Ricky D vs. Cornelius Brothers battle post you’ll see ALL DAY, promise.

Treat her like a prostitute, or treat her like a lady? OH DEAR, I feel confused, so very confused. Luckily I’m not a dude, so it’s not something I need to worry about. Good luck with this one, tough guy. Sorry for fucking with your whole program.

I know you’re shocked, but it turns out I side with the lanky British MC from the House of Def Jam.

Rappers have lady issues 90% of the time, and when you couple that with blindness in an eye and all kinds of immigration red tape, you’re bound to be a little cranky. But Ricky Walters has feelings, y’all.

There’s girlies out here that seem appealing
But they all come in your life and cold hurt your feelings
I’m telling you
As Rick is my name
I wouldn’t trust no girl unless she feels the same
Treat ’em like a prostitute
Don’t treat no girlie well until you’re sure of the scoop
‘Cause all they do is they hurt and trample

It’s your wife
You buy the tramp jewels and clothes
You get sentimental and bring home a rose
Give her everything ’cause you swear she’s worth it
All your friends tell you, “The bitch don’t deserve it”

I am almost legally obligated to take the “lady stance” here. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been called a bitch because a) I’m a big ol’ nerd and it’s hard to be a bitch and a nerd simultaneously, and b) I’m nice.

Love is blind, so there goes your wealth
Until one day, you see things for yourself
Came home from work early, Mr. Loverman
You had a card and some candy in your right hand
There’s the mailman, he was short yet stout
He went inside your house and didn’t come back out
Bust it
Just a friendly stop, come on, is it?
The mailman comes and he pays your wife a visit?
The thought alone makes your temperature boil
You say to yourself, she might still be loyal
You open up your door and stand in a trance
You see the mailman’s bag and the mailman’s pants
Came home to party
At work had a hard day
Look around your house and you say, “Where the hell are they?”
Run upstairs up to your bedroom
You look inside your room, you see something brewin’
Cover your mouth because you almost choke
You see the mailman’s dick way up your wife’s throat

Girls like pet names. Twinkles & Rover.

Now your girl, she don’t like to have sex a lot
And today she’s ready and she’s hot, hot, hot
As you open up the door she says, “Get on the floor”
She wants to try things she’s never tried before
She takes off your drawers and works you over
She calls you Twinkles
And you call her Rover
Next thing you know, the ho starts to ill
She says, “I love you, Harold” and your name is Will
That’s not the half ’til you start to ride her
Take off your rubber and there’s one more inside her
It’s not yours-who can it be?
I think it was a slick rapper, his name is M.C. Ricky

All my friends have to ask me
Something they didn’t understand
How I get all the women
In the palm of my hand
I told them

Treat her like a lady
Do the best you can do
You gotta treat her like a lady
And she’ll give in to you
Lord, you can see you know what I mean

This dude is a game player and only wants me to be treated like a lady so that I’ll, ahem, give in to him. Keep it movin, buddy.

Oh, you got to love her
And tease her
But most of all you got to please her
You got to hold her
And want her
And make her feel you’ll always need her
You know a woman
Is sentimental
And so easy to upset
So make her feel
That she’s for real, yeah
And she’ll give you happiness
Whoa-oh strange as it seems
You know you can’t treat a woman mean

(this seems strange?)

So my friend, there you have it I said it’s the easy, simple way If you fail to do this Don’t blame her if she looks my way ‘Cause I’m gonna Treat her like a lady So affectionately I’m gonna treat her like a lady And she’ll give in to me Lord, you can see…you know what I mean

2 Greats: Noncommittal sexytimes

Sometimes, I have found, people just want ass.

(“People” good girls such as myself, of course. Hi Mom!
People = Elliot Spitzer and Vince Neil)

Your problem is that you desire naked relations with people who you don’t care to spend time with otherwise, and my solution is this: make your proposal sound like either of these 2 songs.

If/when you pull a skinny girl with a master’s degree, hips, and a super vocabulary as a testament to how successful this technique is, you’ll have me to thank.


I ain’t got many friends left to talk to/No one’s around when I’m in trouble, sings Dude in Band Whose Girlfriend (Josie) is Out of Town. Aw, he needs a friend! To talk to! OH, and I almost forgot, to see naked. And to not hang out with after that, ever. Also, I think “your love” might not be code for “your couch” or “your phone” like we always thought.

Anyway, give in to the delicious, dirty, guilty pleasure ear candy of the song (the drums coming in just after minute 1, yessss, please and thank you and may I have some more) and it’ll teach you how to get a commitment-challenged special friendship. Initial steps include: Be able to come up with a riff at the beginning like that, a melody like that, and be able to harmonize with your boys like that. Reverse the earth’s rotation so that it’s 1986 and your outfit and hair and “come home with me” game are the coolest. Voila: ass.


Funkadelic – “Hit It and Quit It”


Be Bernie Worrell. If you’re going to heed one thing I have to say, if you’re going to follow just one piece of my advice, make it that one. Also, play keys. Moog, specifically. Be in a band with George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Bigfoot Brailey, Eddie Hazel. Have your synth loop be the backbone of “Mothership Connection” and “Flash Light” and basically therefore be directly responsible for the creation of Digital Underground and the musical tree known as Dr. Dre and all its associated branches. Do music things with Talking Heads, Mos Def, Les Claypool, and Prince Paul.

Some people say that this song’s title is about nothing flesh-related; it’s just George Clinton being cute. It’s really about hitting drums and it’s really about playing music, or perhaps moving one’s body to music. UH, except that hitting drums = sex, playing music = sex, and moving one’s body to music = sex. Every song is about sex. I mean, it is 1971 after all, let’s not forget.


“Sorry folks, park’s closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya.”


“Some women in the ’90s want more than satisfaction,” said
one of my record-collection boyfriends a while back, “They want keys, and G’s, and all those illy things.”

Nope, Tip! I’m a lady in the ’90s and I thought all I needed was a pony, about ten thousand more records, and a lunch date with Donald Dumile; however, I just discovered Thing I Am Really Feeling Right About Now/Thing I Need In Order To Survive, #59,317,

and that Thing is JetBlue’s “All You Can Jet” Pass

You buy it for $599, and you can fly anywhere JetBlue flies, as often as you want, between Sept. 8 and Oct. 8!


Look at our options, people! That’s 57 possible cities! I’m leavin on a jet plane/Don’t know when I’ll be back again, I know one thing I’ve got to do/Ramble on, I’m flyin high in the friendly sky like Marvin except sans heroin, ’cause I’m so JFK 2 LAX like Guru except minus the handcuffs.

Oh and also I’m movin through places, space and time! Got a lotta things I’ve got to do, but god willing I’m comin back to you!

Plus I didn’t even mention that We on award tour, with Muhammad my man! New York, NJ, NC, VA! and even Oaktown, L.A., San Fran, St. John! (oopsy. not St. John. Nassau or Barbados via JetBlue)
Truckster is not a luxurious enough form of travel for me and it’s been too long since I’ve visited Cousin Eddie, so this All You Can Jet deal is so necessary for my life!
JetBlue, you’re doing the lord’s work.

Since we’re all Jive kids and National Lampoon kids, we’re pretty much thinking Tribe and Lindsay Buckingham and Clark Griswold concurrently when anybody mentions touring/traveling/vacationing, right?


Roman Candle – “Why Modern Radio is A-OK.” Black Mountain – “Lucy Brown.”

“This one’s for North Carolinaaaaa” – Petey Pablo.

John Prineish lyrically. I’m in love with this.
And the singer…cadence-wise, he’s giving me a “Tangled Up In Blue” kind of thing. Plus they have a member named Logan. Add it all up and what you got is my sincere/heartfelt proclamation to Roman Candle:

You’re the Band of the Day in apt. 302!

Roman Candle – “Why Modern Radio is A-OK.”


It’s shocking, right? You look at them in the sun-dappled forest in that pic up there and you just about fall over when you hear they’re from North Carolina. Shocking. They’re from Chapel Hill, one of those places that annoys me because I don’t live there even though I should; I hate Duke and I like jangly guitars and sitting on porches and I read Harper’s and I’m well-versed in literary theory, stuff like that. I fully expect that I’ll be bumping into this crew at TJ’s someday like my buddies in Drummer and Drink Up Buttercup and Local Natives, and I’ll be able to finally tell them how they’ve made my latest “summertime, wearing a sundress, eating a nectarine, and thinking about heartbreak like it’s something only other people experience” white-girl song. Jesus, I bet this is fun to sing along with live.

And those lyrics, you guys! You better not ever, ever ask me why I created a
“Song lyrics = life instructions” tag on this here web log.

Now he didn’t know, but while he was in jail,
I’d had my heart broken by a woman to wondrous to tell
and we‘d fallen in love to half the songs that jukebox played.
So when he flattened his dollar on the side of the machine
and I saw “Comes a Time” come on the karaoke screen
I knew there was a couple things that I’d forgot to say:
Don’t play Neil Young,
Don’t play Van Morrison,
Just let some high school emo band start versing and chorusing
Because there’s no way it will break my heart as far as I can see
and that’s why modern radio is A-OK with me.

He said a pop song used to be a powerful thing,
you could turn on the AM and John Lennon would sing

or Frank Sinatra would be talking to all of the girls.

And you could think like a hawk or think like a dove

or think of a winter afternoon when you fell in love

and ten songs on a record sounded like a string of pearls…

PS – Did somebody say “white girl in a sundress, eating a nectarine” song? Here’s the Canadian version. You and I are totally doing this next time at karaoke if “Islands in the Stream” is out of your vocal range.

Black Mountain – “Lucy Brown”



Self-Esteem Saturday with Mr. Lee Dorsey and MC Eiht.

Never before have I felt so good just bein’ natural me
Minor hang ups & minor times, but deep inside I’m free
Let your hair down, get down with it
Who’s to say what’s right or wrong?

Everything I do gon be funky from now on.

Take cover, cause I blow up suckers like I’m atomic
Hittin harder than any, releasin rhymes like a bionic
Human, you’re assumin that I’ve run out of luck
But I clock big bucks, so I don’t give a fuck.

I mean business, so yo, don’t even try
And gyeah, the E is potent like some Chocolate Thai
Like a poet my poetry thumps
Stick in a tape and watch your system bump.

Oh and PS, ladies –

Ice Cube would like you to keep in mind that

you can do it
put your ass into it.