I don’t listen to Anthony Hamilton, India Arie, Jill Scott, or Raphael Saadiq. I know they’re great and worthy of the praise they receive. They just lack one critical component that I need to enjoy my singers.
Now, I’m not talking Soulja Boy ignorance. I mean calculated ignorant lines.
It takes a certain amount of genius to understand that people simply love screaming mildly retarded lines at the top of their lungs in off-keyed mimicry of a song on the radio. T-Pain understands the pure joy we all get from wailing “she gave us drinks to drink, we drunk em’, got drunk.” This understanding is the driving factor behind his popularity. If anyone were to ask me what my most enjoyable R&B album of the last ten years was, my answer would be Jamie Foxx’s Unpredictable album that speaks about sex with such poeticism as:
“It’s getting to the point where I
Watch it on TV when I buy DVDs
39.99 for the New Releases!
(39.99. For. The. New. Releases!!!!)”
It’s so extravagantly ignorant that I get a kick out of singing those lines every time I hear them and sometimes when there isn’t any music playing. I’d like to contend, however, that artists like Jamie Foxx and T-Pain understand and embrace the ridiculousness of their words, inviting the listener to sing along, laughing the whole time.
There’s one artist, though, that takes the ignorance cake simply because I’m not sure if he’s in on the joke. That singer, my friends, is no other than Lyfe Jennings.
I first encountered Mr. Jennings at a John Legend concert. He was the opening act and I had no clue who he was. I just knew that he looked like a complete clown. Let me paint the picture:
It was 2005 during the height of the white Tee era. Lyfe decided to celebrate the fad by appearing on stage with a band all wearing quadruple large purple Tees. They for real looked like full-grown Oompa Loompas or something. They all had Black N’ Mild’s hanging out of their mouths as they had the R&B Thug Starter kit fully functioning. And unfortunately, I will never forget the guitarist who was Pretty Ricky dry humping his instrument as he strummed. I laughed pretty much the whole set but was left nearly speechless when Lyfe decided to break it down with his “emotional” crescendo:
“And they teasing me with these 23’s
And these DVDs in their rides
And they pass me by, buh buh by buh by
And have the nerve to wonder why
I BE ROBBIN’ THESE NIGGAS!!!!”
I waited. I waited a few seconds to see a little smirk on his face. Something. Anything to let me know that he understood he was spouting off pseudo-thugged out gibberish. Nothing. He maintained his intense grit the whole song, as if I were supposed to sing along to that chorus in all seriousness.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe because I don’t, in fact, rob “these” niggas I don’t appreciate the depth of what Lyfe is trying to convey. But for whatever reason, I listen to this song and laugh my ass off, lamenting about my seedy past as a stick up kid. I know that rappers say the same thing, making the same claims and I repeat these bars with no hesitation. I also know that Lyfe did spend a considerable amount of time in jail, so he probably actually knows more about an actual struggle than someone like Plies. He also just got into a high speed car chase with the cops (a likely parole violation), so I guess he’s got “street cred.” But damn it, I just can’t take the man seriously. Try it out. Get to the “I be robbin’ these niggas!” part of the song and try not to laugh or at least shake your head.
They say that it’s better to laugh with someone than to laugh at them. I disagree. “Stick Up Kid” is a wonderful song simply for the fact that it’s ridiculousness is completely lost on the songwriter. It’s like there’s a big “kick me” sign on his back and I don’t have the heart to tear it off because my selfish desire to point and laugh is just so overwhelming. I sincerely hope Lyfe handles his most recent spat with the law in time to deliver some more heart-wrenching tales of thuggery over a mellow backdrop for me to enjoy and sing along with.
So here’s to you, Lyfe Jennings. I wait with baited breath to hear another gem. Until then, I will be listening to “Stick Up Kid,” remembering that there’s always someone in more dire straits than I am. And that person probably wants to rob me.
As an added bonus, here’s “Biggie Nigga” in which Lyfe declares that he’s a Biggie Nigga, reincarnated as a skinny nigga!”
Playboy Tre – Remember Me
Lil’ Cease Feat. Fabolous & Busta Rhymes “Talk Go Through Us”
Bali Feat. Lil Boosie – We All In
Raheem DeVaughn – Never Too Much
Krumb Snatcha – Mind Power (Prod. by Large Professor)
Keri Hilson – Turn Up The Radio (Prod. by Polow Da Don)
K’naan Feat. Buckshot – In Jamaica (Prod. Beatnick & K’salaam)
Language Artz – Cold Sweatz
Language Artz – Just Sum Head Nod
T-Pain Feat. Lil Wayne – Snap Your Fingaz (No DJ)
Blu – Amnesia
Juice – Rumors
50 Cent, Lloyd Banks And Tony Yayo – I’ll Be The Shooter