... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Twinz (Deep Cover '98) - Big Pun & Fat Joe

I am writing a book about the meanings behind hip hop lyrics.  The plan is to make it semi-serious and semi-humorous while remaining as respectful as the lyrics deserve.  

There will be no trite pandering comparisons to Shakespeare, Keats and Bob Dylan.  I suppose the target audience will be the smart hip hop fan, and their dads.

Here is an extract from my annotation of Twinz (Deep Cover '98) by Big Pun and Fat Joe, a classic for one particular rhyming couplet.

Hit me up with ideas for lyrics to look at.

Twinz1 (Deep Cover ’98)2
Big Pun’ and Fat Joe

Ready for war,3 Joe, how you wanna blow they spot?4
I know these dirty cops5 that'll get us in, if we murder some wop.6
Hop in your hummer7.  The Punisher's8 ready. Meet me at Vito’s,9
With Noodles.10  We'll do this dude11 while he's slurpin’ spaghetti.
Everybody kiss the fuckin' floor.12  Joey Crack13, buck ‘em all14
If they move, Noodles shoot that fuckin’ whore
Dead in the middle of Little Italy15, little did we know
That we riddled two middlemen16 who didn't do diddily.17

It'll be a cold day in hell, the day I'm taken out.18
Make no mistake, for real19, I wouldn't hesitate to kill.
I'm still the fat one that you love to hate.  Catch you at your mother's wake
Smack you, then I whack20 you with my snub tre-eight.21

Explanatory Notes

1.  Explanatory Notes

  1. The title conveys details about the relationship between the song’s performers and is a more general statement about fraternity and loyalty.  Firstly it is a reference to the close friendship of Big Pun and Fat Joe, and secondly a reference to the physical similarities between them, both of whom were portly well-fed gentlemen.  (Sadly Big Pun passed away on the 7th February 2000 due to complications related to his excessive weight.  He was aged only 28.)  Finally, the title Twinz, evokes the extreme brotherly closeness common in outsider or lawless communities.  The title bridges the gap between Italian American Gangster movies and African-American Gangsta rap.
  2. Deep Cover was a 1992 American movie depicting the brutality and hypocrisy of the ‘War on Drugs’ (a controversial policy, and a term first used by Richard Nixon).  The movie was also notable for its eponymous theme song by Gangsta rap innovator Dr. Dre, the first official release featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg. It is an occasionally used convention of the genre to formulate a song title by adding the year of its composition to the name of a previously released movie.  Cf. ’97 Bonnie & Clyde by Eminem.
  3. The word ‘war’ is used to convey Big Pun’s serious intentions to create, within the song, an epic cinematic tale.
  4. Blow the spot: Idiomatic; to arrive at a location and cause a disturbance.Here the word the is replaced with the grammatically incorrect they.  This kind of sloppy usage is common in both idiomatic speech and rap lyrics.  Sometimes this is done to convey a casual demeanour and street-slang lexicon; other times it can be a technical device used to contort the lyrics to better fit with the rhythm of the music.
  5. Dirty cops: corrupt police officer.
  6. Wop:  derogatory American slang meaning Italian, or person of Italian descent.
  7. Hummer is a brand of pick-up truck or Sports-Utility vehicle (SUV) previously manufactured by AM General and GM.  It is a civilian version of the military High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, or HumVee) noteworthy for its extreme large size and off-road capabilities.  For exceedingly high cost Hummers can be modified into armoured vehicles.  This greatly reduces the performance of the vehicle, and is rather a vulgar display of wealth and Gangsta credentials.
  8. Big Pun’ aka The Punisher.
  9. Vito Corleone was the lead character and head of a powerful crime syndicate, or family, in the Mario Puzo novel The Godfather, and 1972 movie of the same name.  Here the name Vito is used to evoke images of the movie, however in the context used here is most likely to specifically refer to a restaurant.  Cf. “Louis' Italian American Restaurant in the Bronx.”  Scene from Godfather Part II in which Michael Corleone murders rival gangster Sollozzo and Police Chief McClusky.
  10. Again we see a reference to a lead character from a gangster movie.  This time the reference is to David ‘Noodles’ Aaronson, portrayed by Robert De Niro in the movie Once Upon A Time In America.
  11. Do this dude: murder this person.
  12. Kiss the floor: Lie down on the ground.  An order often given to hostages or bystanders during an armed robbery.The wording ‘kiss the floor’ often evokes in my mind the image of Pope John Paul II kissing the tarmac at Gatwick Airport upon his arrival during his 1982 visit to Great Britain.  This association is probably not intended, however it is worth noting the prominent role the Catholic church plays in Italian-American gangster movies.
  13. Joey Crack aka Fat Joe.
  14. Buck ‘em all:  Shoot everyone; from buckshot, meaning large balls of lead fired from a shotgun.
  15. Little Italy is a generic term used to denote a geographical area typically within an urban centre noted for its high concentration of Italian diaspora.
  16. Middleman: an intermediary.  May be used in an economic sense, i.e. a person who is an intermediate between the producer or retailer of a product, and the consumer.  May also refer to a level of hierarchy artificially created in a criminal organisation in order that the person who commits a crime does not know who ultimately commissioned it.
  17. Diddly: nothing.  Here the phrase is a double-negative.  While this common form of rhetoric is often snobbishly looked down upon amongst English-speakers with just the wrong amount of education, it was commonly used in written English until relatively recently, and is used to strengthen and reinforce the negation in many other languages.
  18. Take out: to murder.
  19. For real in this context has the loose meaning of ‘I am serious; please be aware that what I am saying is the truth as I understand it.  You would do well to appreciate the severity of the situation’.  However the functional reason of the interjection is merely verbal padding used to maintain an uninterrupted vocal flow. Cf. Yo!
  20. Whack: to commit premeditated murder, especially assassination.  Not to be confused with wack, meaning bad or of inferior quality.
  21. Snub tre eight refers to a snub-nosed (or short-barrelled) revolver pistol with a barrel calibre of 0.38 inches.  The size and shape of this design enables the weapon to be easily concealed about ones person. Tre of course being the Italian pronunciation of the Arabic numeral 3.

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