This week’s downloads are some of my favorite rap songs, the guilty pleasures that I address in the post below on gender and hip hop. I won’t even defend their quality, as I know that my taste in hip hop is questionable.
• Adina Howard – Freak Like Me
Remember her? She was one of the booty girls in the mid-nineties, pictured on the front of her albums bent over the hood of a car. Howard styled herself as a thug on the hunt for a thug, and contrary to the typical dichotomy of “dogs and bitches,” Howard addresses herself as a “dog” in this song, an interesting choice of language.
• Trina ft. Trick Daddy- I Don’t Need You
Trina is, as usual, over-the-top nasty in this song. However there is one vaguely refreshing thing in this song, Trina’s nastiness is far more insulting than Trick Daddy’s rhymes, and after years of hearing insults of women’s sexual abilities lampooned in song after song, an aggressive answer dozens-style feels good. A comparable song is Too Short and Rappin’ 4-Tay’s “Don’t Fight the Feeling,” in which a woman shoots the both of them down in the most insulting of ways.
One thing I find incredibly interesting about the men who put out the nearly unforgivable misogynist songs is that they can then turn around and have their persona smashed to pieces by a woman in the next song. It’s too bad no one took up Ursula Rucker for a male/female rap battle on equal footing.
• Akinyele ft. Crystal Johnson – Put It In My Mouth
I suppose you could call this a backward ode to oral sex, as it directly addresses both arts of cunnilingus and fellatio in the grossest of ways. Someone actually spent money for the studio, artists, and producers on this song. Johnson has a clear, lovely voice, and the tongue-in-cheek approach they take to this song is revealed when they can’t keep it together any longer and break into laughter at the end of the song.
• Bone Thugs N Harmony ft. Notorious B.I.G. – Notorious Thugs
This is an example of one of the most irritating examples of female invisibility in music. I often find that if a mainstream rap song is not misogynist in nature, it is because women don’t exist at all in the world the song illustrates, or that women are tertiary objects meant to boost the image of the singer, similar to bling and rims. The only real references to femininity in this song is when Biggie says that his fame has allowed him to “fuck a few female stars or two,” and gives the thuggish version of the fish-in-the-sea thing: “All them hoes, I gotsta like one.” The way he says it almost sounds optimistic.
• 504 Boys ft. Mercedes – I Can Tell You Wanna Fuck
This slow jam could potentially be considered a love song of sorts, or perhaps the “realest” of hook-up songs, one in which it is understood that there will be sex with no strings attached. Mercedes, the female singer, exists purely as an answer to the male voice, affirming and encouraging the male singer’s fantasies.
• N2Deep – Back to the Hotel
I told you I have no shame; this is where I prove it. This Latino group broke in the early nineties with this one-hit wonder. Apparently they remained underground producing CDs for a loyal fan base, but I can’t really understand why. This song is my ultimate in guilty pleasures. It is indefensible.
These songs in particular appeal to me either for the nostalgia or the beats, and all of them require a certain suspension of political and social knowledge in order to enjoy them for the short time they play (sort of like listening to AC/DC, Rick James, or Gary Glitter).
If you download or already know these songs I’m curious to know how you feel about them, not musically but lyrically. Other examples are welcome.