Tag Archives: Hip Hop

Eminem — Lose Yourself

Year: 2002

It was hard to pick an Eminem song. Rap God is meticulously great rapping and I also love the rhymes of Without Me, but I’m not going to belt out the other F word while singing along. Martika’s chorus on Like Toy Soldiers is lovely but I’m not super into songs about drama with other singers. I dig Higher and I like how each verse gets progressively more complex, fitting the theme of the song.

Ultimately, going with the most popular song. I love how Eminem will take words or phrases that aren’t perfect rhymes but he makes them work with his inflection.

But I kept rhymin’ and stepped right in the next cypher
Best believe somebody’s payin’ the Pied Piper
All the pain inside amplified by the
Fact that I can’t get by with my nine to
Five and I can’t provide the right type of
Life for my family ’cause man, these goddamn food stamps don’t buy diapers
And its no movie, there’s no Mekhi Phifer

The only perfect rhyme there is “cypher” and “Phifer.”

Arrested Development — Tennessee

Year: 1992

A powerful song about pain, Black culture, and racism that of course I completely misunderstood as a child. Complete accident that it came up on King’s holiday, but it works.

Music video cuts out the last speech by Aerlee Taree:

Headliner, I won the game of horseshoes
Now you owe me a watermelon
Let’s go climb trees and skip over rocks
Do like they do below the border
Speech’s hair
Don’t it look like the roots of the tree that the ancestors were hung from
But that’s okay, get it.

Cause he’s down to Earth

50 Cent (feat. Nate Dogg) — 21 Questions

Year: 2003

Beyond just the music I will occasionally write about the artists themselves and how I reconcile any conflicts with their personal lives and or racist/sexist lyrics (especially when we get to country!). I don’t think I had ever read the Wiki pages for either 50 Cent or Nate Dogg. By all accounts it seems like Nate Dogg was not the best person, with a domestic assault conviction and several more accusations and charges before he died following two strokes at 41. 50 Cent has never had any similar accusations, though his relationship with his first son is sad, with regular public feuding, saying he didn’t love him and didn’t care if he died. Way to take the high road there. He came out as very pro-gay pretty early on which is pretty cool.

As for the song itself, it’s a sweet love song reflective of the experience of black men in thug life (Tupac Shakur’s concept of that). Mostly I love the instrumentation. The guitar work is repetitive, but I love the sound of the high E at the end of every line. This won’t be the last time Nate Dogg is featured this year; he had no part in writing this one, but the King of Hooks does a slick job with the chorus and the outro.

15: Poison (Bel Biv Devoe)

Album: Poison
Artist: Bel Biv Devoe
Year: 1990

1. Dope!
2. B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?
3. Let Me Know Something
4. Do Me!
5. Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny (Word to the Mutha)!
6. Poison
7. Ain’t Nut’in’ Changed
8. When Will I See You Smile Again?
9. I Do Need You
10. Poison [Extended Club Version]

In case you can’t read it, the album cover advertised that BBD’s “music is mentally hip-hop, smoothed out on the R&B tip with a pop feel appeal to it.” They forgot, “and also with lots of punctuation!”   Seriously, that list of song titles is not pretty.

Thankfully, here at Death By Troggles we don’t judge music by its cover. I never listened to much New Edition, and I’m lukewarm about the solo careers of Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, and Johnny Gill. BBD impressed the hell out of me when I was ten and this album still does twenty-two years later. They cover only three topics in nine songs: sex, relationships, and reminding everyone that their name is BBD.  Many songs cover all three, and they do it with infectious energy, stylish rhymes, above-average harmonies, and pretty good enunciation.

Poison is their most popular song and I don’t feel it’s aged a bit, other than perhaps some slang like “knockin’ boots.” Ricky Bell’s voice is outstanding, which he shows off most on Dope!  B.B.D. is a hilarious song. “She’s sticking closer to you than the bread on the meat of my sandwich,” is so ridiculous but they pull it off. I remember singing Do Me! really loud as an 11-year old, even when my mom was home, and she’d just roll her eyes. Even to this day when someone says, “It’s six o’clock” I immediately think “on this Swatch Watch!”  The group’s strength is definitely with their up-tempo numbers. They finish things off with two decent ballads. They don’t do them near as well as their protege, Boyz II Men, but they more than make up for it with everything else.

The whole gang from New Edition shows up on Word to the Mutha, probably the worst song on the album, as it’s pretty self-aggrandizing. The extended club mix of Poison also does nothing for me and is unnecessary, especially just four songs after the original version. But I don’t count it against the album when ranking it.