I had a hard time paying attention in grade school. I was too young to be an astronaut but I could space cadet with the best of em. The morning bell would ring and within minutes I’d be off in own planet, a world where little boys weren’t forced to sit still for seven hours a day and aliens had giant tits.
I was a weird kid.
Sometimes the teacher would catch me mid-space. She’d get mad at me for not paying attention. I’d try to get mad too so that my madness could out mad her madness into submission. “I am too paying attention,” I’d argue as I’d hurriedly flip my math book to a page on fractions while the rest of the class looked up state capitals for geography.
The worst though is when she’d call on me. She’d call on me during grammar. It was always during grammar. For some reason I could never just say “I don’t know” as an answer to question because in my lil’ head not having an answer for a question seemed rude.
I was a polite kid.
So I’d always just tell her what sounded right to me.
“… and now who can tell us what an onomatopoeia is? Let’s see.. wulu how about you..? wulu.. WULU!”
“Huh? Yeah. Me?”
“Do what an onomatopoeia is?”
“Ugh.. Oh.. yeah! My mom buys em at the grocery all time but I don’t really like em. I prefer cantaloupe.”
My class laughed. My teacher laughed. I was confused. And embarrassed. But then I pretended to laugh too because being apart of a joke is more fun than being it’s object. This episode in my life was surely traumatic but I’m grateful for it because it introduced me to my favorite rhetorical device.
Onomatopoeia is a funny ass word for funny ass words (like ‘clank’ and ‘boom’) that phonetically resemble sounds associated with the objects and actions they’re referring. Being a medium most dependent upon the successful conversion of message through rhythmic, linguistic manipulation, rapping musics are lyrically chalk full of em. They’re the easiest to
get stuck in your head forever spot when when placed prominently on a song’s hook like the ‘WOOP WOOP’ in KRS-One’s “Sound Of the Police” or the ‘BRRRRRRRRRR’ of Baby’s “What Happened To That Boy.”
When buried within the depths of a verse it’s usage is often self-referential and oddly self-congratulatory on that ‘wink wink see what I just did there’ type tip. For example, on “Sweatpants” Childish Gambino raps “Waking up broke, man, wouldn’t wanna be ya/ Friends with the dope man, help a nigga re-up/ Bring a girlfriend, man, trouble when I see her/ “Err-err-err-err”: onomatopoeia.” Now no hate zone. What Glover does here is clever times infinity but at the same time this has to do down as the nerdiest way to say you’re gonna fuck someone else’s bitch in the history of hip-hop. But at at least he uses the term correctly. Unlike Bun B..
Some rappers practically adopted/trademark onomatopoeias to the point where it’s impossible to hear a sound and not associate it with an artist. I straight up felt like Pavlov’s dog when Drake sampled Rick Ross’s ‘UGGH’ on “No Tellin” and no Rozay verse followed. Can you imagine an existence without Pusha T and his ‘EGHCK’ or a Gucci Mann with no ‘BURR’? I can’t.
Of all the ways rappers embrace the onomatopoeia my favorite implementer of the device is Kanye West. Hands down. Ever other story published about the man waxes exclusively on either his excessive amount of creativity or his excessive amount assholery but no one ever talks about his sense of humor. He’s funny as shit, especially when speaking on subjects he’s passionate about.
Speaking strictly lyrically, the reason I appreciate what Kanye does is because he uses the simplicity of onomatopoeias to to heighten his rap’s contextual absurdity by juxtaposing them against technically complicated wordplay.
Live Fast Die Young
Drivin’ me crazy, rock the beat baby!
Hop up out the rrrt, she beat up the payment
I don’t give a rrrt, baby he craazzy
Before I heard this I didn’t think it was possible to homonym an onomatopoeia. I was wrong. The screeching of car tires do sound kinda like needle scratching a record. Plus major points for Yeezy elongated enunciation.
Hell Of A Life
In your wildest
You could hear the loudest screams, comin’ from inside the screen
You a wild bitch
Tell me what I gotta do to be that guy
Said her price go down, she ever fuck a black guy
Or do anal, or do a gangbang
It’s kinda crazy that’s all considered the same thing
Well I guess alotta niggas do gang bang
And if we run trains, we all in the same gang
Runaway slaves all on a chain gang
Bang bang bang bang bang
More homonyms on homonyms. I’ve spoken at length about this particular verse for another reason. Actually do chains really go bang or do they go clang? I think I’m team clang but that may just be me.
If you ever held a title belt you would know how Michael felt
Tyson, Jackson, Jordan – Michael Phelps
Yeah, had to take it to another realm
Cause everything around me got me underwhelmed
Best way to describe my position is at the helm
Best way to describe my new whip – Yeeeaaaalmmp
Car sales men take note. I don’t wanna hear about a car’s milage or crash test safer ratings. If you really wanna make them commissions just tell me how the puppy sounds in one word – Yeeeaaaalmmp.
We blasting off just like a laser
Nigga pewoon, pewoon, pewoon,
Get me back, give me room, room, room
DB-9 like vroomm,vroomm, vroom
Y’all ho what we doing, doing, doing
Not only does he use two here but as Rap Genius points also throws in multiple epizeuxises – the consecutive repetition of a word three times in a row for good measure. My third grade teacher would be pleased.
G.O.M.D. stands for ‘Get Off My Dick’. When I saw J. Cole dropped a visual for the eighth track off his 2014 Forest Hills Drive today I was very much expecting whether or not Jermaine would actually say ‘dick’ to be the most controversial thing about the video. I was wrong. Jermaine playing a house slave is the most controversial thing about the video.
On so many levels ” G.O.M.D.”could have ended up being a colossal train wreck – it’s daunting depicting sensitive subjects successfully and tastefully in a five minute window. More often than not such attempts fall victim to feeling painfully forced. But not “G.O.M.D.” It wins because it’s subtle. Lawrence Lamont (who also directed Big Sean’s acronym heavy “IDFWU”) wisely chose to refrain from letting Jermaine go complete Django in this clip, allowing for the focus to be on the drama instead of the action.
J. Cole plays a house slave at odds with the field hands because of his privileged position and yet not being accepted either by the white folks whose house he takes care of because.. well he’s their slave. Awkward right? Refusing to accept his fate however, J. Cole’s character rebels and with the assistance of the slave master’s daughter, steals the keys to the gun cabinet, arms his peoples ands take over the plantation. Part of me can’t help but feel, especially after all the time Jermaine spent down in Ferguson, that this video is a bit allegorical, with the real life Jermaine being born to a black father and white mother and having struggled early on with his own racial identity only to overcome his demons, becoming the voice uniting a generation fed up with racial injustice and indifference.
And he’s gonna fuck massa’s daughter. So take that racism.
I vehemently applaud what J. Cole’s and Lamont accomplished here. It’s empowering. You can feel the music video’s climatic tension and the entire clip does a impeccable job of bringing to life the feeling of Branford Marsalis’s “Berta Berta” – the spiritual that Jermaine samples heavy here.
All in all, good shit.
A$AP Ferg dropped a visual for his “Dope Walk” this week.
The FaceTiming New York’s Fashion Week/how-many-famous-people-can-you-spot-who’s-first-name-isn’t-A$AP concept is plenty entertaining enough, but the real fun starts damn near the end at the 4:07 mark when a couple of the girls from Haim decide letting Ferg & Co. hog all the dope for themselves ain’t dope.
What ensues is the most mesmerizing seven seconds of footage. Admittedly, I gotta tell you that watching white girls dance to hip-hop has always been an exhilarating experience for me because like them fucking Harry Potter Jelly Beans you never know what you’re gonna get. The spectrum of talent is so vast. In this instance tho let it be known that these girls can get it. I vouch vehemently.
Hell I’ll vouch for anyone who’s willing to have a good time. Hip-hop is an inclusive sport – don’t need no hateration, holleration in this dancery. Get down Haim with your funky jungle-loving selves I say. Shucks you too Taylor Swift. Like can a girl live universe? She can gig out to Kanye all day if she want’s too.
This is the coolest fucking song I’ve heard all year. And yo given the fact that we’re only eight days deep into 2015’s sweet goodness I can say that without feeling like a hyperbolic tool not even one bit.
With all due respect I’m surprised Noah “40” Shebib produced this given how insanely unDrake it sounds. The track’s warped accordion, tormented keys and off kilter percussion are so seductive they personally got me feeling all kinds of Girl, Interrupted.
It’s mucho appropriate how satisfyingly Action Bronson looses his mind on this as he colorfully raps about eluding the cops in Broncos and the facial expressions he employes when counting cash. Favorite line: “All I do is eat oysters and speak six languages in three voices..”
Like straight up I wish I could put that on my resume..
Maybe one day.
If this track is any indication, Bronson’s full length album Mr. Wonderful is going to be an experience. Oh why oh why does March 24th have to be so far away?
Sidebar: I’m finishing up John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy Of Dunces and the thought of Ignatius J. Reilly rapping this as he’s pushing his hotdog cart down Burbon Street is too perfect. I’m smelling a great music video idea. Im finna have my people contact Bronson’s people like yesterday.
I wasn’t really in a recycling mood.
And it was cold out.. But she said, “I think we should take these out any recycle em.” I looked at her and replied “Word.”
I’m not a man of my convictions.
“What’s you’re favorite book?” she asked as soon as we were outside.
“The Myth Of Sisyphus by Albert Camus,” I replied automatically without thinking.
Taken aback, she shot me a look that subtly said “mother fucker say wha?”
She asked me a follow up question but I forget what she asked. But it’s whatever yo. As a consolation I do have a confession for you tho: I lied to her.
Mr. Camus’s novel is really my second favorite book. My for real life favorite book is Nigger by Dick Gregory. But she was white and I had known her for all of 829 seconds and was it cold out and I didn’t really feel like recycling so I lied to her because it was easier for me.
I regret not telling her the truth.
Miguel hit me up last Thursday.
Little did he know my night was spoken for: I was already thirty minutes outta the city at my parents spot, super ass deep into an intense Law & Order: SVU marathon with the 11-year-old kid brother and the 14-year-old kid brother. Nothing says quality brotherly bonding quite like repeatedly watching Olivia Benson hunt down rapists.
“Bruh rain check for tonight homie. What are you doing tomorrow night tho? You closing at the bodega?”
“Ya fool. Hip-hop show tomorrow night. Come through,” Miguel replied.
For almost everyday all day Belmont Bodega is just a quiet little corner shop serving the convenience needs of Southeast Portland’s patrons since at least the day before yesterday if my memory serves correctly. Once a month however the store is transformed into a block party straight outta 1978 San Fransico’s Castro District. But Friday was different. No leather daddies. Just hip-hop heads.
To celebrate First Friday my boy Miguel and the fellows at Belmont Bodega kicked off the last leg of summer by transforming the store into a rap concert. Because nothing says hip-hop more than throwing shows in places that you’re not supposed to.. Like straight up fuck the “man”.. and his perfectly ironed khakis.
Adverse Effects did a legit job of getting the party started with their own unique blend of live trip-hop but the night’s main attraction was Portland’s own Soopah Eype – a nasty fundamental lyricist hellbent on using his wits and wordplay to fuse together thoughts of black existential angst, the American Dream’s inherent lies and trying to fucking get laid.
Friday was the first night I was ever really able to hear homie’s music in full but I’ve had many passionate late night political talks with the homie prior and I was impressed by how he carried that same energy from our inebriated debates into his performance.
My only knocks on the night was that 1) the sound system kept fucking up. Nothing kills a rap party quicker than dead silence. At one point early in his performance Soopah was like “fuck it” an just kicked it acapella. 2) Motherfuckas told me the main show was to start at 10. Soopah Eype didn’t get on till like 11:45. Low key this kinda threw my shit off because I’d begrudgingly acquiescencing to the working world’s professional demand of timeliness. Like Soopah was lucky my manager wasn’t present otherwise he would have gotten a write-up.
Yet even with these minor annoyances included I had a fucking dope ass time. And judging from the vibe of the crowd everyone else did to.
With Soopah Eype and Belmont Bodega everybody wins.
Go rap musics. Go.
Download: Soop Urko by Soopah Eype