If you haven't heard this song, you really must. Go download it or find a friend who has it or whatever. You won't be disappointed.
My first reason for liking this song is: Positive messages
Ahhh, the days before gangsta rap. Most people today don't even know there is a different kind of rap because nowadays gangsta rap has completely taken over the rap scene. But before N.W.A. and the late 80's, rap was just like any other genre--some good, some bad, some positive, some negative, etc. For example, take a look at these lyrics from Rapper's Delight:
A Skiddleebebop, we rock, scooby doo,
And guess what, America, we love you!
You don't really hear that so much anymore, do ya?
There's also a much more unifying message about race:
See, I am Wonder Mike, and I'd like to say hello,
To the black, to the white, the red and the brown,
The purple and yellow.
None of this divisive crap, just universal love towards all colors. Wonderful!
And then, there's also the tidbit about the father of one of the rappers giving him advice based partly on the Bible:
And from the time I was only six years old
I never forgot what I was told
It was the best advice I ever had
It came from my wise, dear old dad
He said, "Sit down, punk, I wanna talk to you
And don't say a word until I'm through
Now there's a time to laugh, a time to cry
A time to live and a time to die
A time to break and a time to chill
To act civilized or act real ill
A positive role model father figure! You don't get much of that in today's rap either. I like the tough love, too, calling his son a punk but giving sage advice at the same time.
Another good reason to like this song: It's fun!
I love this little riff on the beauty of music told in good-natured, simple rhymes:
I say a can of beer that's sweeter than honey,
Like a millionaire that has no money
Like a rainy day that is not wet,
Like a gamblin' fiend that does not bet
Like Dracula without his fangs,
Like the boogie to the boogie without the boogie bang
Like collard greens that don't taste good,
Like a tree that's not made out of wood
Like goin' up and not comin' down,
Is just like the beat without the sound, no sound
Another reason: There's also a fun food story (which I can relate to, being super picky myself):
Have you ever went over a friends house to eat
And the food just ain't no good?
The macaroni's soggy, the peas are mushed,
And the chicken tastes like wood
So you try to play it off like you think you can
By saying that you're full
And then your friend says, "Mama, he's just being polite
He ain't finished, uh-uh, that's bull!"
So your heart starts pumpin' and you think of a lie
And you say that you already ate
And your friend says "Man, there's plenty of food"
So you pile some more on your plate
While the stinky food's steamin', your mind starts to dreamin'
Of the moment that it's time to leave
And then you look at your plate and your chicken's slowly rottin'
Into something that looks like cheese
Oh so you say "That's it, I gotta leave this place
I don't care what these people think,
I'm just sittin' here makin' myself nauseous
With this ugly food that stinks"
So you bust out the door while it's still closed
Still sick from the food you ate
And then you run to the store for quick relief
From a bottle of Kaopectate
And then you call your friend two weeks later
To see how he has been
And he says, "I understand about the food,
Baby Bubba, but we're still friends"
And the last reason I love it is: The beat. Just makes me wanna groove!
However, the song isn't a perfect paragon of positivity. Indeed, one could argue that you can see in it the seeds of the more negative themes that have come to dominate rap music today. For example, there's a touch of homophobia that makes me cringe every time I hear it:
[speaking to Lois Lane about Superman] He's a fairy, I do suppose
Flyin' through the air in pantyhose
In contrast, of course, to his own über-manliness, naturally.
Then there's the beginnings of the bling attitude (one rapper boasts: "Hear me talk about Checkbooks, credit cards, mo' money / Than a sucker could ever spend") and the objectification of women ("if your girl starts actin' up, then you take her friend").
Overall, though, it's a true classic. It makes me smile every time I listen to it. Plus, it's epic, stretching out for over 14 minutes! Now, I'm no prude about music, nor a gangsta-rap hater--I listen to 2pac, Eminem, and Notorious B.I.G. (hence the URL of this blog)--but I do mourn the lack of more positive voices in the rap genre. There are a few, to be sure, but they are the minority; virtually all the most popular rap songs today are about money, women (the objects, not the people), cars, killing, and swearing.
So this post is to the good old days, when rap music could be clean, funny, and positive. May they come back again soon! Do you have any regrets about the music industry in general or the state of rap in particular? Any songs from the past you feel should be celebrated? Let me know!
All lyrics quoted here courtesy of http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/kangaroojack/rappersdelight.htm