This one ended up a bit lengthy, so I’ll keep it brief. Today I’m going to be taking a look at this year’s hottest summer anthems in hip-hop and other vaguely hip-hop-like genres of black music. Granted when you’ve been out of college for a few years, and you spend the vast majority of your time holed up in your mother’s basement, the summer doesn’t mean nearly as much as it did, say, 10 years ago. But summer is still one of the most important times of the year for music, and I figured it’d be instructive to take a look at a few of the records that are likely to be the most popular this time around.
Without further ado:
R. Kelly feat. T.I. and T-Pain, “I’m a Flirt (Remix).” R. Kelly may be a 40 year-old functionally illiterate child rapist, but damnit if the guy can’t write a hit single. I’m not as crazy about “I’m a Flirt” as I was the “Ignition” remix, but “I’m a Flirt” has somehow managed to become even more ubiquitous than that song was a few years ago. I basically can’t get in my car and drive around the corner to cop a burrito without hearing it. As I pointed out in my review of Double Up on my own site, Kells brings up a good point on “I’m a Flirt.” If I had a girlfriend, the last place I’d be trying to bring her was anywhere near R. Kelly, even if she was a grown woman, in which case I’m sure R. Kelly wouldn’t be at all interested.
Baby Boy da Prince, “Dis Is de Way I Live.” If you thought the Minstrel Rap movement faded away last year with songs like “Chain Hang Low” and “Chicken Noodle Soup,” then I’m afraid to say you’re sadly mistaken. The lyrics to “Dis Is de Way I Live” may not include any overt references to fried chicken; and I’ve yet to see the video, but as far as I know, it doesn’t include any tap dancing or anything; but in some ways, “Dis Is de Way Live” manages to go those Minstrel Rap classics one further, both in the way the song’s lyrics are about how Baby Boy da Prince does nothing but sleep ‘n eat, not to mention the way he mangles the English language as if he was Emmett Till’s 90 year-old sharecropper uncle yelling, “Dar he!” or some shit.
Shop Boyz, “Party Like a Rockstar.” Say what you will about the motherfucking Shop Boyz (and believe me, I will), but at least they’ve got an eye for a good gimmick. I’m not sure why this is, but all of a sudden mad black kids are fascinated with all things rock music (except of course for listening to rock music that doesn’t suck balls, but that’s a topic for another discussion). Younger kids in particular are rocking tight jeans and chain wallets and band t-shirts as if this was 1993 all over again. And if ever there was a rock-rap anthem for black music as wallpaper types, it’s “Party Like a Rockstar,” what with its bizarre references to the likes of Marilyn Manson and the Osbournes of all people. If only these d-bags could actually rap.
Rihanna feat. Jay-Z, “Umb-a-rella.” Speaking of black people who are getting into rock music, I wonder how many black people are really into “Umb-a-rella;” because there’s hardly anything particularly hip-hop-like, or even R&B-ish, about it. The drums sound right out of some Rush of Blood-era Coldplay record, and there’s guitar on it. Granted there’s only the slightest bit of actual guitar fuzz, not unlike “Party Like a Rockstar,” but still. It’s obvious to me the only reason they even play this on black stations is because Rihanna herself is black, albeit in the most space alien way possible. Meanwhile I’ve still yet to hear any Amy Winehouse on black stations, even after Jay-Z dropped a perfunctory, phoned-in guest verse on “You Know I’m No Good,” as if there wasn’t already a version with Ghostface Killah. Hmm…