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Homeboy got a mind that a map couldn't find
August 21, 2010 5:36 PM   Subscribe

The Rap Map is a mashup of notable places and geographical lyrics in rap and hip-hop. It's brought to you by Rap Genius, a site that explains rap lyrics like "I'm getting jacked, I'm breaking myself" (Warren is getting “jacked” (robbed) and “breaking himself” (generally befuddled)) and "One day you're cruising in your 7, next day you're sweating, forgetting your lies" (Street life can be tough — one day you’re riding high in your BMW 7 Series luxury car, the next day you’re arrested and cracking under pressure. The rest of this verse is a classic warning that the hustling lifestyle is not for everybody)
posted by desjardins (43 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm glad to see 21 and Lewis there; Wikipedia's Synopsis of "Regulate" is one of the better things I've read this month.
posted by mhoye at 5:53 PM on August 21, 2010


Columbia/Barnard a cappella group, Bacchantae, sings Bitches Ain't Shit, music by Ben Folds, lyrics by Dr. Dre.
posted by netbros at 5:58 PM on August 21, 2010


Holy crap, that map is actually useful.

a cappella group, Bacchantae, sings Bitches Ain't Shit

Who was the folk lady that did Straight Outta Compton? that's going to annoy the hell out of me now.
posted by shinybaum at 6:14 PM on August 21, 2010


Nina Gordon?
posted by desjardins at 6:25 PM on August 21, 2010


Yeah, thanks. Every time I think of it all I can remember is she's got a boring ungooglable name.

Rap Genius explaining Jay-Z is reminding me why I don't like Jay-Z. It isn't that I don't understand him, it's that he talks rubbish to catchy tunes.
posted by shinybaum at 6:34 PM on August 21, 2010


It's all fine and good, but the ultimate rap lyric resource is Snacks and Shit.
posted by The Giant Squid at 6:43 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't stand that whole "explain rap lyrics in pedantic, square, 'white' language" shtick.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:06 PM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Snacks and Shit is mostly funny, though. It's a different kind of shtick.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:09 PM on August 21, 2010


This is as good a place as any to say that:

(1) I agree enthusiastically with paisley henosis: I can't stand that whole "explain rap lyrics in pedantic, square, 'white' language" shtick. It isn't clever, it just makes you sound like an asshole.

(2) Nevertheless, there's a part of me that's very deeply satisfied to discover that someone finally edited Wikipedia's synopsis of "Gin and Juice", deleting the "attempting to make a palindrome" bullshit, and instead correctly identifying "with my mind on my money and my money on my mind" as a use of chiasmus.
posted by moss at 7:25 PM on August 21, 2010


Snacks and Shit is fantastic, and puts my in mind of the line "food is served and you're stone cold munchin'", from "Bust A Move".
posted by moss at 7:30 PM on August 21, 2010


To add on to moss and paisley henosis, I think that hip hop (or rap, or whatever it prefers to be called) has now entered its third generation of existence in American popular culture.

It is the second most popular musical form in the US (behind country), and absolutely needs no 'translation'. My 42-year old director of software catches references to Jay-Z songs in my emails (and finds them hilarious), and he may well be the definition of 'nerdy, white, and privileged'.

I was a member of a generation effectively reared on punk, hip hop, and country (courtesy of geography), and find absolutely nothing foreign about hip hop, and, to this day, I probably listen to more Southern rap (UGK, Three 6 Mafia, and Master P are still in constant rotation to this day) than anything else, and I earned a degree in Computer Science.

And, perhaps, for that reason, I find Snacks and Shit to be genuinely funny, as opposed to the 'translate rap for whiteys', because it lacks the smug cultural condescension.
posted by The Giant Squid at 7:37 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rap Genius explaining Jay-Z is reminding me why I don't like Jay-Z. It isn't that I don't understand him, it's that he talks rubbish to catchy tunes.

Agreeeeeed, but he's got charisma in buckets, which makes it forgivable.

"What's all the fuckin fussin for? / Because I'm grubbin more / and I pack heat like I'm the oven door?"

Shawn Carter, you funny SOB.

Note: Had this been said by Gucci Mane, I'd use it as further evidence of his learning disability.
posted by The Giant Squid at 7:47 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


hey i learned the word chiasmus
posted by jcruelty at 7:49 PM on August 21, 2010


I can't stand that whole "explain rap lyrics in pedantic, square, 'white' language" shtick.

I take your point, but I still think Lileks' translation of "Big Pimpin'" is hilarious.

We are men who force women into involuntary sexual servitude. And now we are spending the money, cheerfully. Also, we have drugs in the car.

Woe to all those MeFites who are medium pimping.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:49 PM on August 21, 2010


I'm not too crazy about that ''white' language' shtick either (I'm not usually big on those self-consciously white cover versions either, though there are some exceptions that prove the rule), but I don't think that's what Rap Genius does. The tone is far more snarky-Gen-Y-dude than fakey-lit-professor (whether this is a feature or a bug is left up to the reader).

And I used to really love 'Snacks and Shit,' but, after a few hundred of 'em, they started to run together, and it started to seem like they only have one basic joke. It's about how if you read something literally when it was meant figuratively, it somehow sounds gay.
posted by box at 7:54 PM on August 21, 2010


If I had to be as specific as possible, I think it's his use of the word "cheerfully".
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:55 PM on August 21, 2010


Also, along the same lines of Snacks and Shit, I love the Broken Equipment Productions vids on the YouTubes. Example.

Guys who genuinely love the artform tend to be better satirists.
posted by The Giant Squid at 8:20 PM on August 21, 2010


Pretty cool. I was surprised that they had stuff in non-NYC cities. Though we need some more representation than just Lil' Wayne in NOLA.

It'd be cool to see the map mashup of other genres of music as well.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:01 PM on August 21, 2010


Yo Rap Map, I'm really happy for you and imma let you finish, but "Intellectualize Rap" is the best proper English rap translation work of all time!
posted by rollbiz at 9:16 PM on August 21, 2010



It is the second most popular musical form in the US (behind country), and absolutely needs no 'translation'.

really?

I the Don Digital, slash, piranha morph / Alongside poor terrible surgeons who blur comic perspectives / And wonder how to get bent, that flaming Molotov shit / Unstoppable object hits unmovable wall and space split


WHAT?
posted by juv3nal at 9:18 PM on August 21, 2010


juv3nal: "It is the second most popular musical form in the US (behind country), and absolutely needs no 'translation'.

really?

I the Don Digital, slash, piranha morph / Alongside poor terrible surgeons who blur comic perspectives / And wonder how to get bent, that flaming Molotov shit / Unstoppable object hits unmovable wall and space split


WHAT?
"

He saying he's like the king of cyberspace and a pirhanna mixed together, constrasting himself to hack lyricists that rely on flashy lyrical technicians, but his skills are such a primal force of nature that he's like smashing into a wall.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:11 PM on August 21, 2010


Anyone who doesn't think rap lyrics don't need translation hasn't listened to enough rap. The Roots, for example, explicitly rhyme about writing lyrics that take time to decipher. GZA said "shit is too swift to bite, you record and write it down". Like any poetry, it requires thought and deserves analysis.
posted by louigi at 11:15 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Exegesis is different from translation.

And it isn't poetry, it's song lyrics. You don't have to guild it, it's already a perfectly lovely lily.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:34 PM on August 21, 2010


You shouldn't be
so damn material
and try to milk Ice Cube like cereal
posted by jtron at 2:01 AM on August 22, 2010


I the Don Digital, slash, piranha morph / Alongside poor terrible surgeons who blur comic perspectives / And wonder how to get bent, that flaming Molotov shit / Unstoppable object hits unmovable wall and space split

WHAT?


Well, that IS Co Flow, and they always seemed to delight in being unintelligible. It is reflected in their record sales.

(Yeah, and I was one of the 30k people who bought Funcrusher Plus).
posted by The Giant Squid at 4:57 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Woe to all those MeFites who are medium pimping.

We don't need a hotel though, we parking lot pimping.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:44 AM on August 22, 2010


Well, that IS Co Flow, and they always seemed to delight in being unintelligible.

What's unintelligible about this?!?

(Another one of the 30k that bought Funcrusher Plus)
posted by rollbiz at 7:05 AM on August 22, 2010


You're right, exegesis is different from translation, but it's hard to do the latter without having first done the former. When the music is rooted in local culture and geography, it's not surprising that many listeners would have trouble following.

I used to write out rap lyrics. Some of the first rap I listened to was Digable Planets' Blowout Comb, which is dense with Brooklyn references, and politics (how are you supposed to know what "that's most asked by 85" means without explanation?). Writing out the lyrics helped me start to understand what the rap was about. It's music with a message, but it's hard to get the message if you don't understand the words and to what they refer.

These days I don't find I need to write out the lyrics so much. This is for a combination of reasons: my ear is more attuned to the rhythms and idioms of hip hop; so much hip hop refers to other hip hop that the more you know the easier new stuff is to understand; and probably other reasons I'm not thinking of. But if I hadn't done it in the early days, I think my interest in the medium would have waned.

Finally, what is it that makes poetry deserving of analysis but not song lyrics?
posted by louigi at 7:31 AM on August 22, 2010


"I'm getting jacked, I'm breaking myself" (Warren is getting “jacked” (robbed) and “breaking himself” (generally befuddled))

Breaking yourself means giving over all your money, jewellery etc to a robber. Hence the rest of the verse. Still, I agree, at least this guy is playing his explanations relatively straight instead of going for the always hi-larious "it's funny because I'm not actually black!" bit.
posted by Drexen at 7:35 AM on August 22, 2010


Sorry, reverse the former and latter in my first sentence.
posted by louigi at 7:43 AM on August 22, 2010


louigi: Finally, what is it that makes poetry deserving of analysis but not song lyrics?

Woah, I didn't say that at all. They're two different things, though.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:18 AM on August 22, 2010


Sorry, that's what I got out of your guilding the lily comment. My apologies.
posted by louigi at 9:43 AM on August 22, 2010


and instead correctly identifying "with my mind on my money and my money on my mind" as a use of chiasmus.

Eh. Looks more like antimetabole to me. Gonna be pedantic might as well go all out. Well, okay, "palindrome" is completely wrong so changing it isn't pedantic but still.
posted by Justinian at 10:00 AM on August 22, 2010


It seems to me like some people feel the need to dress songs up as poems with music in order to make paying attention to the lyrics seem important or worthy or something, and I think that is a pretty silly way to look at it. I think song lyrics as a subset of Music are a perfectly valid thing to pay attention to on their own merits with no need to call them by any other name.

louigi: I used to write out rap lyrics. Some of the first rap I listened to was Digable Planets' Blowout Comb, which is dense with Brooklyn references, and politics (how are you supposed to know what "that's most asked by 85" means without explanation?). Writing out the lyrics helped me start to understand what the rap was about. It's music with a message, but it's hard to get the message if you don't understand the words and to what they refer.

That's a great example, the 5% stuff is completely unintelligible if you don't know the culture. That said, I feel that learning just a little bit about the cultural touchstones they're referring to will yield a much deeper understanding than just translating "I fear for the 85 who don't have a clue" to "I pity the ignorant masses;" because if I just swap the first for the second you might understand that song (up until God Cipher Divine) btu if I explain to you who the 85% 10% and 5% are, then you'll understand a whole mess of stuff going forward.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:07 AM on August 22, 2010


Speaking of Rawhide; I never knew that Rae did a guest spot for Ron G in 1994 on a track also featuring Killa Sin, KRS-One, O.C. and Biggie Smalls. (YouTube)
posted by paisley henosis at 10:42 AM on August 22, 2010


What's unintelligible about this?!?

Isn't that just shout outs to tagging crews and stuff? There's references to spray paint colors IIRC.
posted by juv3nal at 12:02 PM on August 22, 2010


I agree that translating rap lyrics is not funny and is useless. I don't think that's what Rap Genius does. They're trying to provide annotation, like those study copies of Shakespeare with a footnote every two lines explaining the words that have fallen out of use and the references to other works and historical events. They also attempt to explain the poetic technique used in the songs. I've been a hip hop fan my whole life and I think it's an excellent resource. I've contributed a couple things too!

That said, they are trying to be funny too and that falls flat as often as not. Usually I'd prefer that they played it straight.
posted by chrchr at 3:08 PM on August 22, 2010


Area Codes In Which Ludacris Claims To Have Hoes (as discussed previously)
posted by salvia at 11:57 PM on August 22, 2010


Don't keep us in the dark. What is the 85/10/5 stuff about? I'm clearly not googling correctly.
posted by Justinian at 11:19 AM on August 23, 2010


The 5% Nation of Islam.
posted by jtron at 11:25 AM on August 23, 2010


The Nations of Gods and Earths, also called Five Percenters, are an offshoot of the Nation of Islam. It's a popular religion in the innercity and there are a lot of rap lyrics that refer to it. A core teaching is that there are three kinds of people in the world. There are the 85%, who are blind and easily mislead, the 10% who manipulate and mislead the 85% and hide the truth from them, and the remaining 5%, who are the "poor, righteous teachers".
posted by chrchr at 1:06 PM on August 23, 2010


I was kind of digging this until I saw Watts described as "Thug neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles."

Perhaps meant in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but If I lived in Watts, I think I'd be offended. There are thugs all over L.A. - not really fair to single out Watts.
posted by dr. strangelove at 1:25 PM on August 23, 2010


dr. strangelove, I think what you're seeing is that you have to explain what Watts means in the world of rap music. It might not be the reality, or it may be out of date, but in the world of rap, Watts, Compton, Bed-Stuy, etc. can take on mythic proportions.
posted by chrchr at 3:31 PM on August 23, 2010


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