Tag Archives: Kanye West

Hip-Hop Wisdom: When the Stars Come Out on “Swagger Like Us” … T.I. Shines?!

King or not, T.I. essentially gets bottom billing on his single “Swagger Like Us,” which also features Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Jay-Z. Ridiculous, right? And yet Mr. Candle Guy still steals the scene.

Kanye sports a memorable line or two, with: “I know I got it first / I’m Christopher Columbus, y’all just the pilgrims.” But with the mixtape-style beat he jacked from M.I.A., the producer still comes off a bit lackluster. Meanwhile Jay-Z just raps about stacks of money (“Can’t wear skinny jeans ’cause my knots don’t fit”), and Lil Wayne is still using that effing autotune effect. Enter T.I.:

You go see Weezy for the wordplay
Jeezy for the birdplay
Kanyeezy for diversity
And me for controversy

Though more compliment than kiss-off, T.I.’s opening salvo establishes him as the ace in this star-studded deck. His three colleagues have their uses, he’s saying, but by distilling each to a couple words he cuts them down to size while aggrandizing himself. If nothing else, T.I. puts himself on the same level as Jay-Z, Kanye, and Wayne — an impressive feat in itself.

MP3: T.I. – “Swagger Like Us” (feat. Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne)

Jay-Z Goes Limey With “American Boy” Rap at Glastonbury

Jay-Z might have caused a ruckus at Glastonbury by entering to “Wonderwall” — a slap in the face to doubter Noel Gallagher — but the highlight of his headlining act came via Kanye West’s new single for Brit singer Estelle, “American Boy.”

Hova rapped over it, briefly — just one dense verse packed with a UK reference in nearly every line. Let’s see how many you pick out:

London’s bridges are falling down
Not bridges but britches when Jigga’s in town
Lady show me your knickers
I might let you kick it if you don’t tell the missus,
Quick, run, before the tabloids come
Run from the night or we end up in The Sun
I’m just taking the piss — unless you’re gonna do it
Oh Nelly’s gone so Makaveli
Bring Tupac of condoms when you come to the tele
Tell me if this is true
If diamond’s are a girls’ best friend, my crew
Would like to extend an invitation to you
We like to invite you to
Our family —
Jewelry I mean ‘cause my jewels are currently being guarded by the queen

In lingo alone we caught five Britishisms right there, and the line about The Sun is not only smart but more so than anything that’s been published in the tabloid. (Their top stories usually include coverage of the reality show Big Brother.)

But we need your help with one line: “Nelly’s gone so Makaveli.” Makaveli is one of Tupac Shakur’s nicknames, and the “unless you’re gonna do it” line is from Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” In the song, Nelly half-apologizes to a girl for this bold proposition:

I got a friend with a pole in the basement
I’m just Kidding like Jason
Unless you’re gonna do it

But is there a tie between him and Tupac? Readers, this one’s on you. (via AllHipHop)

MP3: Jay-Z – “American Boy” (Live at Glastonbury 2008)

Katy Perry Enjoys Girls, Cherry Chapstick

There’s not that much to say about the lyrics in Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” — even if it is the 1,000th No. 1 single of “the rock era.” We will say that they’re hands-down better than her previous hit, “Ur So Gay.” (Not a joke.)

BUT: As the millennial airwave-dominating hit, it deserves some attention, so let’s look at the chorus. (That’s the part with the kissing.)

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it

It felt so wrong, It felt so right
Don’t mean I’m in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it

Anything stand out? Besides, you know, the kinda lesbian stuff?

How about “cherry chapstick.” Like in Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing,” two bright words contrast with a field of nothingness.

Poetry or not, there’s something to be said about writing lyrics for pop music. The words need to have some sort of hook, whether it’s a flimsy, recognizeable cliche (“It felt so wrong / It felt so right”) or an incongruous, ear-catching word, like Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous.”

Kanye West knows this well, lining his hits with hooky repetition and similarly incongruous lines like “We want pre-nup!” Ol’ Dirty Bastard knew it too, making him a perfect complement to more verbose Clan members like Ghostface Killah.

Anyway, now we’re getting off topic. Here’s that song, one more time:

MP3: Katy Perry – “I Kissed a Girl”