Thursday, April 12, 2007

while you were sleeping

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Ghostface f/ Jacki-O - Tooken Back

There is no conversation in music more tired than RAP DEGRADES WOMEN. But even if everyone who is conflicted about the issue is sick of talking about it, that doesn't make it any less true. Occasionally appreciators of Pimp C like myself need to be reminded of this fact, like when GW9K's girlfriend looks him in the eye and says "how am I not supposed to be offended by this?" She has a point. But that being said, backpacker anthems like "Brown Skin Lady" which give women the borderline demeaning kid glove treatment aren't much help either. You really want to help the cause of women in rap? Make more tracks like "Tooken Back."

"Tooken Back" is some strange combination of Scarface and The Honeymooners. Ghost is the kingpin he always is, Jacki-O is his girl in some capacity, and they are in the middle of a fight. That right there is pretty revolutionary, giving the woman capacity to protest (in this case by telling the cops he shot a ballplayer). Ghost's response is classic: "no disrespect, but you a psycho, honey!" But then here comes Jacki-O who calmly points out how much she's done for him and how much she's tolerated ("the sex wasn't wild...but I dealt with it"), and then wraps it all up with an impatient "come back home, where you belong". Our hero caves immediately, then spends the last verse expounding on how great she is.

Ghostface and Raekwon made their names with a different type of reality rap, intricately detailed crime stories that beg for a narrator to chime in at the end like turn to page 94 to find out who took the bricks! The strength was not only in the details, but also in the tension with which the pair narrate the dangerous heists and the deals gone wrong. Ghost brings this same sensibility to all his female-centric tracks. Dude has at least three songs directed at girls who cheated on him ("Wildflower," "Never Be the Same Again" and "I'm No Good"), and that's in addition to the lovers' quarrel which is "Tooken Back". While rappers regularly scream on out of pocket bitches, Ghost explains the precarious emotional terrain. In "Wildflower," not only is he angry because his girl went and fucked this rasta-head ass dude, but he's probably just as mad at himself for believing she was at Pinky's house. You understand why he should have slapped her (had the God not said chiiiiillllll).

Like most men, Tony Starks has women troubles. Unlike most coke rappers, dude actually talks about them. For a genre which so frequently defends its ethical transgressions with a reference to violent movies and a statement about "entertainment", the casts are conspicuously devoid of intriguing female characters. But Ghost can't reasonably be expected to detail the color of his Clarks in every exposition, while glossing over the assorted females in his sphere of influence. And thus he brings not only salt for girls that scorned him, but fully three-dimensional female leads in "Tooken Back". On Fishscale he takes it to the next level with "Big Girl", telling two snow bunnies to maybe think about putting down the baggie and doing something with themselves, like owning a library. He also asks for head and gets turned down. Oh snap!

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