Whenever someone tells me that they dislike rap music, I always make a point to not argue with them. (I mean: why bother, right? Would the world be a better place if more people listened to Chief Keef or Waka Flocka Flame?) But the one thing that I always try to subtly mention is that 90% of rap music is fiction.
For example, right now in Jerusalem, I imagine there are scores of young teenagers bumping Moses Levi, thinking that they’ve discovered a meshuggah new Jewish rapper; but in reality, they’re just listening to… Shyne? Yup, the Brooklyn rapper most famous for being a part of (and taking the fall for) Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez’s “nightclub incident” is now making music in Jerusalem under the name Moses Levi. Before his career was derailed by a nine year bid for attempted murder, assault, and reckless endangerment, Shyne took NYC by storm with his song That’s Gangsta, which featured lyrics such as: “One hundred carats in the watch? THAT’S GANGSTA! Gettin’ skull off in the parking lot? THAT’S GANGSTA!” I assume when Moses performs the song now, he adds a few new lyrics to it, like “Converting to Judaism? THAT’S GANGSTA! Moving to Jerusalem? THAT’S GANGSTA! Studying the Torah? ‘AZ S B’ANDYT! (Before Google Translate, how did anyone translate their favorite rap lyrics into Yiddish?)
And what’s even funnier is that, right now in Belize, there’s probably somebody wondering whatever happened to Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s son, Jamal. That’s right. Before he was Moses Levi, before he was Clinton Correctional Facility Inmate Number 154-76, even before he was Shyne, Shyne was a member of one of the most powerful political families in Belize. And just in case you’re wondering: no, that’s not weird at all… THAT’S GANGSTA!
Here’s my Big Three of ‘When da Truth is more Gangsta than Fiction’ rap songs:
Lebron: React by Erick Sermon featuring Redman. In the summer of 2002, the rap game was ablaze with rumors of a homosexual rapper. The “Gay Rapper Sweepstakes” speculation got so intense that it would’ve made Vladimir Putin blush. (Do Russian men blush? Or is that just the vodka?) According to one rumor, the Hindu chorus for this song announced the rapper’s homosexuality. Of course, E-Money denied this, claiming that the chorus actually translates into: “If someone wants to commit suicide, what can you do?” Jeez, now I don’t know what to believe. Unfortunately, Google Translate is no help in attempting to translate “I’m a homosexual rapper coming out of the closet” into Hindu.
D-Wade: Wouldn’t Get Far by The Game featuring Kanye West. There’s no way that a rapper with as much street cred as The Game has a tattoo of a pink butterfly on his face, right? I mean: Isn’t that the kind of tattoo that 16 year old girls get on their ankles? But sure enough, in 2006, the “CEO of Black Wallstreet” got a pink butterfly tattooed on his face. When he realized just how fruity this looked, he quickly tattooed the LA Dodgers logo over it. This begs the question: how does a man fail to realize that getting a pink butterfly tattooed on his face is a bad idea before he actually gets a pink butterfly tattooed… on his face?
Otherguy: I’m in it by Kanye West featuring Assassin. I can’t believe that I’m even mentioning this song, as it is undoubtedly the worst track on Kanye’s new album. On the first verse, the Scoundrel Yeezy does his best to ruin the song with atrocious sexual lyrics. But after this verse, Assassin appears and totally murders the track with a verse that ends: “Because we beat murder charge like O.J.” And if you don’t believe that Assassin’s verses are that hot, just ask Justin Vernon, who’s also featured on the song. “I have no idea what that Jamaican dude is saying,” said Bon Iveezy in an interview with Pitchfork.com, “but it’s fucking awesome as hell!” After hearing the song, I looked up Assassin on Spotify and discovered that he’s from… Paris? Whaa? He’s not from Jamaica? Next, you’re going to tell me that Major Lazer isn’t really a burly, bearded Jamaican dude, who lost an arm fighting in the Zombie Wars. (He’s actually a skinny, white guy from Philadelphia.) But rest assured, Assassin really is from Jamaica: he just happens to share a name with a Parisian rap group. Is that weird? NON, C’EST GANGSTA!