I saw one of those end of year round ups in the Village Voice today for the worst lyrics of 2008 today - r&b and hip hop seemed to come out real winners, with rock not far behind. Some of my personal favourites from their list are include:
I won’t attend your pity party /
I’d rather go have calamari.
Ne-Yo “So You Can Cry”
Skip dinner and gon’ rent a movie /
You order Chinese food right
before you do me.
Usher “Trading Places”
She ain’t a politician /
Honey’s a pole-i-tician.
Nas on Young Jeezy’s “My President Is Black”
Swagger tighter than a yeast infection /
Fly go hard like geese erection.
Lil Wayne “Dr. Carter”
There is obviously a glib smugness to be gained from cherry picking lines from songs and alienating them from their original context so that they instantly become meaningless (and, in this case, ridiculous) - but perhaps lyrics should stand up to such scrutiny. I'll confess - a lot of hip hop lyrics pass me by but the reaction a lot of people I know have had to much of Commons' Universal Mind Control has been real disappointment and incredulity. In the context of his career this album feels the least personal to most I've spoken to - coming from a hip hop poet who has such a talent for touching on the most universal of human emotions and story telling. The only song I actually like on the album, the stunning Everywhere (click to download) - largely featuring Martina Topley-Bird, he drops the second verse that begins "No pop, no pop, no pop, no pop/ We gon' do this thing/ Til the sky just drop"...to be honest I'd love to hear a version of the song without him on it.
I wouldn't normally post something from a mainstream press source ridiculing r&b and hip hop but there was a good measure of other music thrown in and er, 'pity party - calamari' is just inspired. I think this year has been really interesting musically, I've heard a lot of fantastic production but to be honest I think there is room for artists to really step up to the plate lyrically. Making music for endless mixtapes or the club doesn't mean you don't have to bother saying anything meaningful. I really hope someone will take up the challenge in '09 and realise the cheapening of music leaves many of us wide open and craving for something more substantial...