This past week was a busy one on the political scene. Serious threats of yet another war in the Middle East, official justifications of spying (by the NYPD) and execution of US citizens (by the Attorney General), and some kind of election or something this past Tuesday all contributed to a climate of tension that two of our top five lines of the week reacted to. As for the rest: Homeboy Sandman plays art critic, Saigon gets vicious with your family, and Snoop Dogg tells us about Soul Brother #1.
5. “I see hard rocks, so afraid to play low-key/All they art screams pu**y like Georgia O’Keeffe’s” – Homeboy Sandman, “Toca Tuesdays Freestyle” lyrics
Our first line this week is a clever, if crude, pun by hard-working NYC rapper Homeboy Sandman. Georgia O’Keefe large-scale paintings of enlarged flower blossoms are generally considered to, as Wikipedia gently puts it, “evoke a veiled representation of female genitalia.” Sandman plays on that interpretation here to accuse other rappers of being soft.
4. “Ni**a, I throw a left hook at your grandpop/While Chef Action Bronson cook up them lamb chop/After that, we gonna eat a rapper for dessert/Mega got the blood of emcees on a napkin in his shirt” – Saigon, “M.A.R.S.” lyrics
A certain breed of hip-hop fans hyperventilated en masse this week when a new collective released their first single. Following the model set by Slaughterhouse and The Four Horsemen, underground rap stars Saigon, Cormega, Roc Marciano, and newcomer Action Bronson joined forces. Their first single, “M.A.R.S.”, satisfied the purest of purists with its production by icon Large Professor. Needless to say, we at RG are overjoyed at this turn of events and look forward to much more aggressive content and old-school-sounding beats from these gentlemen. In this line, Saigon engages in a bit of tough talk while shouting out his new group-mates.
3. “Leave it behind — the, the, the crime/Fighting for every yard across the poverty line/Any given Sunday could be my last/Pay my tithes with the gas money or let the plate pass” – Big K.R.I.T., “Country Rap Tunes” lyrics
Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. has lately been a critic’s favorite, and his new mixtape 4Eva Na Day should continue the trend. These four lines provide an example of his heady style. The mix of football imagery (“fighting for every yard,” “across the…line,” “Any given Sunday”) portrays poverty as a brutal struggle, and the “Sunday” of the movie reference leads beautifully into a meditation on how a pinched economic situation can lead one to make impossible-seeming choices about where to spend money. All that, plus a Snoop Dogg reference — the first line’s “the, the, the” is said in the same cadence as the Doggfather’s famous opening lines on “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” Speaking of which…
2. “James Brown sat me down in a chair/And said, ‘Snoopy, don’t you ever cut your hair’/I was dazed and amazed/That’s why I keep my sh*t in ponytails or either braids” – Snoop Dogg, “Stoner’s Anthem” lyrics
We have absolutely no idea if this story about The Godfather of Soul meeting the Doggfather is true. However, Brown does have a history of making follicle-based demands on people — he famously made Al Sharpton promise to always wear his hair straightened. So the lyric is at least possibly true, and we choose to believe it wholeheartedly, since it makes the world a much better place to think that Snoop is still refusing to cut his hair based on advice he got from James Brown.
1. “And we still torturing/Damn, it feels fraudulent/To lie that we more righteous than the people that we war against” – Soul Khan, “Wellstone” lyrics
We had the pleasure of meeting NYC-via-Cali rapper Soul Khan this week, and urge you all to look out for footage from our wide-ranging interview with him, which we will release soon. Khan is a long-time admirer of the late Senator Paul Wellstone, and named his latest single after the politician.
The song, a wide-ranging piece that goes from media critiques to raging against climate change deniers, finds its strongest moments in its talk about war. While acknowledging the soldiers and their sacrifices, Khan spares nothing when going after the people in charge. Here, he talks about the jingoism and moral blindness that nearly always accompanies military action.