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In more positive rap news, this week had plenty of good things to offer. K'naan takes us to the doctor, Nas teaches us a new word, Emilio Rojas catches Bieber fever, Pusha T returns to our list with a shout-out to New Jack Swing and Joell Ortiz reveals what's hiding underneath his baseball cap.
5. "Thought you knew me well, go back and delete it/ I'm in every joint this year, orthopedic," -- K'naan, 'Nothing to Lose' Lyrics
K'naan finally finds a new way to use the dreaded "hashtag rap" flow, making one of the oddest but best doctor puns we've heard in ages. More people should use "joint" not just to mean song, but in the medical sense as well. We -- and our chiropractor -- approve!
4. "You're in the presence of a majestic, esoteric/ Message from the most ghettoest king, worldwide respected/ I can say 'ghettoest' 'cause I come from where metal spit/ Praying to God I can slip and slip out the devil's grip," -- Nas, 'Kings and Queens' Lyrics
Hip-hop has a long history of adding words to the language. Biggie gave us "conversate," Lil Wayne gave us "bling bling." And now Nas self-consciously joins their ranks with "ghettoest," which we intend to start using in every possible context immediately.
3. "I ain't bowing out gracefully, I be leaving thieving/ 'Cause I'm a writer -- you hate on me, I get Bieber beefing/ Up on a pop song, a Top 40 hit/ Have a 12-year-old girl singing, 'You ain't s**t,'" -- Emilio Rojas, 'Stay Schemin Freestyle' Lyrics
Emilio here finds a new way to get at his antagonist. Rather than just making a battle song, he imagines getting extra licks in by having the whole country singing along to a diss. Now we are anxiously awaiting Selena Gomez' response track.
2. "You from the talk-a-lot era, where you flash money/I'm from that Keith Sweat era, make it last money," -- Pusha T, 'Trapping in my Sleep' Lyrics
As one who remembers the "Keith Sweat era" very well -- 'I Want Her' was our grammar school jam! -- we loved this reference to the R&B singer's 1987 debut album, 'Make It Last Forever,' especially in a context of dissing young'uns for their less-than-discrete ways. These kids today!
1. "I do so many temporary things to smile for just a minute/Hat low but not for style -- I'm trying to hide under my fitted," -- Joell Ortiz, 'Monsters in my Head' Lyrics
Joell and his cohorts in Slaughterhouse spend so much time, um, slaughtering the mic that you may be forgiven for forgetting that they have feelings, too, as well as thoughts that don't involve ways to rhyme four-syllable words. On 'Monsters in My Head,' the fearsome foursome deals with their depressive issues. On his verse, Joell gives us a rare look into the sadness behind his goofy, comic persona. His verse is a contribution to a pop-song canon on this theme that goes back at least to Smokey's 'Tears of a Clown,' if not before, and it's a fine addition.
Bonus: YMCMB Groaners of the Week
"Lobster sushi rolls with a side of soya sauce/Chopsticks, you know we don't give a fork," -- Nicki Minaj, 'Gimme Money' Lyrics
We at RG have been Nicki Minaj supporters since we first heard her on Lil Wayne's 'Don't Stop, Won't Stop,' way back in 2007. Even then, though, she always had an unfortunate fondness for groan-worthy puns -- "Now it's not hard to find me, top behind me/ You be Harry Potter and I'll be Hermione" was the notable one on that tune. She continues her habit of using jokes only a grandmother could love on this recent jam.
"Love make you do it all/Going up and down like a see-saw," -- Tyga, 'Do It All' lyrics
This is the conversation we think went down at Young Money headquarters in mid-2011 when this song was made:
Tyga: Hey Wayne, I need a word for something that goes up and down.
Lil Wayne: Hold on (takes hit of joint). I'll tell you in a sec (sips purple drank). I got a great one. It's...(passes out after being up for 15 straight days and recording 673 guest verses).
Tyga: Hey Drake, what do you think?
Drake: Oh, I got a great idea. Use...(gets text from kind-hearted, buxom stripper; leaves)
Tyga: What about you, Nicki? You got any ideas?
Nicki Minaj: (Starts speaking in tongues, levitates, flies away)
Tyga: Guess I'll go with "see-saw."