About my people she was teaching me
By not preaching to me but speaking to me
Common – I Used to Love H.E.R
First time you gave that track a spin, you thought it was about a girl, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU!? Until it happened… that last line, possibly one of the greatest closing lines (no relation to the wrestling move) in history…
Because who I’m talking bout ya’ll is hip-hop.
The classic bait and switch move; well played sir Common, well played.
But before Com’ dropped that moment of clarity (word to Jay-Z), we collectively thought the track was the sad story of the chick next door who turned into a gangsta and is now rolling with gangsta bitches. Wrong.
Would you have known that track was about hip hop, had that last line been omitted?
Yeah , after a few listens, even without that last line, you probably would have been able to gather the track was indeed about Com’s beloved hip-hop, and not the chick that was just out there having fun, not worried about anyone, and you could tell from how her titties hung.
[Enter Rap Genius]
Part of the fun in music, hip-hop especially, is interpreting the perfect verse over a tight beat (Brown Sugar reference there, judge me). You may have heard and/or used Rap Genius before; it’s the site with lyrics to posse-cuts, conscious raps, or just that I’m going to rob me a n***a today mood music.
But there’s a twist!
Aside from containing the lyrics to your favorite
twerk anthem tracks, Rap Genius takes it a step further than typical lyric sites; it also contains annotations of the underlying meaning to lyrics. Sounds great right? In theory, maybe, yes. But, right now Rap Genius has about as much credibility as Wikipedia has in a college term paper.
Rap Genius is the Wikipedia of annotated lyrics. It’s set up just like Wikipedia too. Lyrics are posted and interpreted by the general public. You read that right, the general public has the ability to go in and add their interpretation to lyrics. So it’s not some rap-hip-hop-ologist (made up career title) telling you what Jeezy meant when he said I can’t lie, man that shit got me .38, but, instead it’s the GENERAL PUBLIC.
Anybody notice I just said the general public like eight times in one sentence? I just like saying general public. THE GENERAL PUBLIC. That was the last time I promise.
This is no way an attack on Rap Genius, because like Wikipedia, some of the stuff on there is true and credible; and other times its bologna. (Side note I had to sing the Oscar Mayer Weiner song just now in order to spell bologna right, terrible.)
Speaking of bologna, my beef; well not really beef because beef is when I see you its guaranteed to be an ICU (shout out to B.I.G.)… my qualm (yeah that’s a better word), with Rap Genius is, aside from them allowing anyone with computer access and a keyboard, (opted not to use general public here) is again, it takes the fun out of listening for gems within lyrics. Maybe that’s kind of a hip-hop purist ideology, but yeah that’s how I feel about Rap Genius; let the people listen and interpret for themselves instead of writing an interpretation in stone, or worse, on the internet.
In the same breath, Rap Genius can be, and kind of already is a dope tool. I mean seriously we’ve all heard a line where we just had no idea what the hell is being talked about, or we missed the double entendre, or a reference completely went over our head. Rap Genius saves the day — you read the line and the annotation, and that light bulb goes off like “Ohh that’s what they meant!” Thank God for grantin me this moment of clarity!
I just wish it wasn’t a public contribution deal that allows everyone to throw their interpretation out there all willie nillie because then you got people interpreting stuff and being fake deep (see reaching).
Note: Currently, over at Rap Genius it seems they’re moving towards having artist getting verified accounts on the site and actually breaking down the references to their own songs for us cut and dry. I guess I feel a little bit better about this, but for real, I just like trying to decipher lyrics on my own, it’s like a puzzle; but I’m definitely not going to knock the hustle Rap Genius, just know that I still love Hearing Every Rhyme!
So what do ya’ll think? Interpreting lyrics is part of what draws us into hip-hop? Sites like Rap Genius helpful? Hurtful? Fake deepness (that’s what she said)? Talk to me.