All I know is bricks, money, pussy and streets

It is about those things but it is about a lot more. This was the biggest album when I was in high school. “Get Your Roll On” and “#1 Stunna” (rerecorded by some of my classmates as “#1 Cus’ma,” an ode to Panera bread – “i just bought me a phatty pastry, nigga”) it was all about shining, flossing singles and comedy album tracks like a Richard Pryor album yr parents kept you from hearing when you were a kid. Like “No No” (“If a nigga try to stick a big dick in yo butt, you be like / no-n-no n-n-n-no he di’ent!” – I know thats what I’d be like) or “Snake” (“I been takin’ ginseng/ swing a big ding-a-ling/ I got a medallion for my dick cuz my dick bling bling”) or “Rocky” (see the post title). My friend recently told me he thinks “Rocky” is better than “Microphone Fiend” and I said “maybe” because yr tolerance for the ‘humor’ relates to yr tolerance for misogyny and how much the seeming tongue-in-cheek absurdity of the lyrics (“see me jumpin’ outta somethin from 2002 / leave scar on yo ho from the side of my shoe”) can disguise that sort of thing, sort of like Bernie Mac’s child abuse jokes are funny in a sucking in yr gut ouch-way.

But this album ain’t one-dimensional like that, its more than ho-jokes and shining, because of the ridiculous on-point Mannie production, where the album tracks have the same care as the singles (sometimes more) and there’s the beautiful uplifting middle section of the album (“My Life” – “Sunday Night” – “Ten Wayz,” the song that ends with Mannie addressing himself, ‘self, i love you’ plus a children’s chorus!) and then the ‘real talk’ tracks that (thankfully) feature B.G., Juvenile, Turk and Lil Wayne. Lil Wayne carries his own on these tracks; at first I thought the new superstar Lil Wayne was an improvement, when really he’s just more distinctive, switching styles to a confident, center-of-attention punchline S. Carter stylo; on I Got That Work-era tracks (“Shine” is the obvious highlight) he was the scrappy young underdog, but certainly not a worse M.C., or anyway he was definitely always better than Baby. Mannie represents downtown, Baby represents uptown. Baby is a goofball, charming, not really as funny as Mannie but his voice is a bit stronger, and he’s less likely to be over-the-top with his humor, less wink-wink-nudge-nudge. He and Mannie called themselves “game spitters,” not M.C.s, because they didnt want to be compared to New York lyrical miracles, and thats cool because it gave Baby a license to awkwardly rhyme a line like “draino, swallowin’ everything I came fo'” with “I like rockin’ ice and playin with these hos.”

But yeah, the real talk tracks are top-notch, and somehow (Mannie’s beats, its gotta be) they don’t sound out of place next to the absurd comedy songs. Maybe the most exciting thing about Mannie’s production comes up on “Hard Life,” where he’s tossing percussion-heavy textures, little timpani rolls and ‘uh!’ over dramatic horns, Juvenile’s chorus – “It’s a hard life we livin, day by day drama, we earn stripes from killin’, attack like piranas” – and Lil Wayne’s verse, where there’s an urgency and hunger it doesn’t have any more (replaced with focus and confidence):

“On the streets it ain’t sweet, baby, dem best bel’
its not a game homeboy, this ain’t the NFL
Him just steal, for rippin with the mid-deck 12
Hit the block in twin SLs and spit at gals
You get that, pal?
Once its war, nigga, skip town
Cuz if found, you will be swimmin’ with fish, clown
Now, crack a whole chick down, sell it in quarters
If the drama happen to hit town, I’m ‘nappin’ yo daughter
If the broad try to flip out, I’m cuttin’ her water
If your boys try to help out, I’m killin’ they fathers
When and wherever
What and however – you bring it good
I’ll have your mom singin’ “Mmm hmm hmmm”
Cause nowadays lot of niggas got coward ways
So I ride with K’s to knock off the side of heads
But I’m tryin’ to stay man, I’m tryin’ to stay focused
What I’m tryin’ to say we gon’ bust it wide open!”

Not to get all govt names in here, big passages of quoted text and all that, I just think its a really hot verse and shows the multi-dimensional nature of, erm, “classic” Cash Money. Another hot shit track is “Stuntastic,” back when B.G. was the guy behind “Bling Bling” before a pen and a pad was all he had. The beat is this rough-timbred rumble, tension building with little keyboards and bou-b-b-b-bounce pulse. Strings on the chorus, its stuntastic, ballerific, straight out the plastic. Everyone hated on the ‘ice age’ when it was big (remember when cornball K-Os said ‘this is the end of the jiggy era’?!) but I donno, maybe its because where I went to high school most of my fellow white students shunned this shit as “ghetto” that I never really got the feeling that this was music about consumerism or putting one over on the masses or whatever. It was certainly about culture, and even on the least ‘serious’ album in the Cash Money canon, real talk alternated with flossing and it was all part of a glorious post-NYC bounce empire.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s