Paying Wade is Better Than Paying Lebron
February 18, 2010 7:33 AM   Subscribe

A Common Misunderstanding of the Lyrics of Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind: The intricacies of rap lingo dissected by the intelligentsia, with predictable results.

For reference, please listen to: Young Jeezy- Kobe-Lebron and Jay-Z- Empire State of Mind.

For an older version of this meme, please see this translation of Notorious B.I.G.'s Big Poppa.
posted by reenum (45 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Offspring, if thou suffer'st under the whip of innumeracy, I express my pity, for I possess four score and nineteen tribulations tho arithmetic is not among them.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:49 AM on February 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


It should be mentioned that no where in America is the speed limit 54 mph.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:51 AM on February 18, 2010 [15 favorites]


I like the article, but it doesn't have much to do with the meme of over-translating rap lyrics into hifalutin language (a la Joseph Ducreux).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:53 AM on February 18, 2010


I even got five on a twenty sack.
posted by box at 7:55 AM on February 18, 2010


It's not a meme.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 7:55 AM on February 18, 2010


This doesn't have much to do with anything, really. It's just someone clearing up an obscure reference in a Jay-Z song.
posted by naju at 7:55 AM on February 18, 2010


This is not so much dissected by the intelligentsia as it is elucidated for people who don't listen to hip-hop too often.

The Biggie translation is much more snarky, while the main link is more explanatory.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:56 AM on February 18, 2010


Millhouse!
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 7:57 AM on February 18, 2010


I'm so baseball. I'd be writing "Willie Mays", "Don Mattingly", and "Babe Ruth."
posted by grubi at 7:58 AM on February 18, 2010


Now do Bedrock by Young Money. Please tell me it's meant to be an ironic parody.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:00 AM on February 18, 2010


Somebody needs to do the same treatment to early-80s rock. David Lee Roth's Van Halen lyrics, for example, certainly need greater scrutiny and interpretation.
posted by The World Famous at 8:01 AM on February 18, 2010


Also, Paying LeBron is about to get a hell of a lot better.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:05 AM on February 18, 2010


Previous interpretations of Empire State of Mind
posted by ekroh at 8:05 AM on February 18, 2010


Why would you rap about owning the NJ Nets? They're kind of embarrassing.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:09 AM on February 18, 2010


Jay-Z! You don't buy or sell coke anymore, Jay-Z. You're worth a quarter of a billion dollars thanks to record sales, clothing sales, and touring. You are a part owner of a professional sports franchise. You do Heineken commercials. You do not move g packs any longer, Jay-Z. You don't have to. We still love you.
posted by Damn That Television at 8:11 AM on February 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


So this is the hip hop version of "that's where I'm a viking?"
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:13 AM on February 18, 2010


Another example of 85's staying deaf, dumb and blind? Slanguage always adapts to meet participation and avoid appropriation.
posted by yeloson at 8:17 AM on February 18, 2010


Now lets see some website explain away Jay saying '38 revolve like the sun round the earth' in "It's Hot (Some Like It Hot)", and 'Raw like a green barrette' (he thought he was saying beret) in "Crazy in Love".
posted by cashman at 8:19 AM on February 18, 2010


I could blow your mind way faster.

The word "bed" looks like a bed. OK is a person sideways.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:19 AM on February 18, 2010 [21 favorites]


The word "bed" looks like a bed. OK is a person sideways.

That actually did blow my mind a little bit. I think I knew the bed thing way way back in my youth, but had never heard of the OK thing.
posted by OmieWise at 8:22 AM on February 18, 2010


The World Famous: Chuck Klosterman did this to some extent in his book Fargo Rock City.
posted by reenum at 8:22 AM on February 18, 2010


This is up there with Alistair Cooke's intertextual analysis of LL Cool J's "My Mother has Requested That I Render You Unconscious By Fisticuffs"
posted by chambers at 8:44 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jay-Z! You don't buy or sell coke anymore, Jay-Z

Half of this is correct.
posted by griphus at 8:53 AM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Exegeezy?
posted by barrett caulk at 8:53 AM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't know what says less about my street cred: finding out about this by reading about it on The Awl, or the fact that I've only heard the Stephen Colbert version of the song in question.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 8:55 AM on February 18, 2010


Rap Genius does a far more comprehensive job with this song, going line by line through the lyrics. In fact, Rap Genius does a great job with almost every popular rap song out there.
posted by reformedjerk at 9:09 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll defer to my homie Joe on this one.
posted by w0mbat at 9:13 AM on February 18, 2010


Now do Bedrock by Young Money. Please tell me it's meant to be an ironic parody.

just for posterity's sake:
Ooo Baby
I be stuck to you
Like glue, baby
Wanna spend it all
On you, baby
My room is the G-spot
Call me Mr. Flintstone
I can make your bed rock
posted by ennui.bz at 9:15 AM on February 18, 2010


In fact, Rap Genius does a great job with almost every popular rap song out there.

Ha, they do actually have annotated Bedrock lyrics there, for those of you that want to explore the intricacies of Lil Wayne et al's masterpiece.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:41 AM on February 18, 2010


This is good. It is certainly more interesting to read rap lyrics than to hear them. For listening purposes, I have long preferred actual music instead.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:05 AM on February 18, 2010


Thanks, BurnMP3s. A part of me was really hoping that the song wasn't as awful as they lyrics sounded at first blush. But damn... Seeing them annotated, line by line, just confirms my first impression.

I'm a bit disappointed he doesn't explain the most central innuendo: IT'S CALLED BEDROCK BECAUSE A BED MOVES WHEN YOU HAVE SEX ON IT!
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:26 AM on February 18, 2010


I have long preferred actual music instead.

How desperately original of you.
posted by inire at 10:29 AM on February 18, 2010


Ebonics tag? Seriously?
posted by paisley henosis at 10:30 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Link borked? Right now for me it's the online jungle where 404s are made of, there's nothing I can do.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:35 AM on February 18, 2010


Ok, it's back.

("Ok" kind of looks like a person pointing to something on their left.)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:43 AM on February 18, 2010


("Ok" kind of looks like a person pointing to something on their left.)

It's their right. They're facing away from you.

Is your mind blown?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:44 PM on February 18, 2010


Seekerofsplendor: How do you define 'actual music'?
posted by box at 2:07 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't even start, box. I think some other Mefites know what I mean. We've been down this road before with others in past times who have posted similar. I'm not gonna start any flaming wars. Peace out.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 3:52 PM on February 18, 2010


While some other Mefites might know what you mean, I don't.

And I can't think of a serious definition of 'music' that would exclude rap. Your userinfo says you're a professional musician, so I figured maybe you knew more about this stuff than I do.

I'm a little bummed you don't want to talk about your opinions, and I apologize if I somehow inadvertently offended you (because, yeah, flamewar? That's not me, and I don't know what could've given you that impression).
posted by box at 4:51 PM on February 18, 2010


And I can't think of a serious definition of 'music' that would exclude rap.

You're right about this. That's the end of the argument. You're witnessing an attempt to elevate subjective opinion into the realm of objective dogma.

Seekerofsplendor, the reason these arguments always devolve into invective is because people chafe at seeing your personal preferences used, wrongly, to re-categorize the world. "It's not art!" is inevitably a self-serving argument that allows you to keep saying you love all art. It's impossible to argue with someone who's so blatantly willing to base the truth on their beliefs (where the truth here is the consensus definition of music), rather than the other way around.
posted by invitapriore at 6:29 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not music? To borrow from Chris Rock, "They still make you??"
posted by cashman at 8:07 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not gonna start any flaming wars.

What.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:35 PM on February 18, 2010


From dictionary.com

mu·sic
/'myuz?k/ Show Spelled[myoo-zik]
–noun
1.
an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony,and color.
2.
the tones or sounds employed, occurring in single line (melody) or multiple lines (harmony), and sounded or to be soundedby one or more voices or instruments, or both.
3.
musical work or compositions for singing or playing.
4.
the written or printed score of a musical composition.
5.
such scores collectively.

Are you stating that rap corresponds to this definition? I am not trying to "redefine art" or anything else. I just still prefer music to rap, and I personally don't believe rap qualifies. It's my opinion, and you can listen to whatever you want, but I stand by it.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 5:51 PM on February 19, 2010


Well, let's see:

The definition you quote actually has five separate definitions, any one of which can describe "music."

Rap definitely fits #1, since it has sound, it is in time, it expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms, it has elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color. The fact that the lyrics in rap music are often spoken is irrelevant to this analysis, given that rap music itself not only incorporates melody and harmony in the accompaniment, but also incorporates sung parts as well as the melody and harmony inherent in non-sung human speech.

Rap fits #2, since it consists of tones or sounds employed, occurring in a single line or multiple lines and sounded or to be sounded by one or more voices or instruments, or both. Note that definition #2 does not require there to be any defined or sustained pitches or "notes" at all.

#3 uses the word in its own definition, and refers simply to compositions for singing or playing - where playing is undefined and must, given the use of "musical" in its definition, refer to the performance of #1 or #2, which apply to rap.

#4 applies to rap if it is written or printed, which it often is.

#5 simply refers to such written or printed scores collectively.

Why don't you think rap qualifies under the dictionary.com definition that you posted? What indispensible element of that definition do you believe to be lacking?
posted by The World Famous at 6:07 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I understand, Seekerofsplendor, that you don't like rap. I don't like hair metal.

But I don't claim that hair metal isn't music, because, from my admittedly lay perspective, it clearly is--it has verses, choruses, melody, all that kinda stuff, and they play it on the radio, and you can buy it at the record store.

And so when you say that rap is not music, as opposed to saying that you don't like it, frankly I'm confused.
posted by box at 8:30 AM on February 20, 2010


« Older Scotland's finest satirical website The Daily Mash...  |  A little triumph of the human ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments