Over the next couple of weeks, Backbeat will feature some Top Ten lists from around the Village Voice Media chain. Click here for previous year-in-review coverage from Backbeat and VVM.
Hip-hop A-listers including Rick Ross, Akon and Plies were caught grossly exaggerating their gangster credentials this year. (Turns out they were painfully law-abiding. The horror!) But even if your favorite rapper wasn't caught in a lie, you can bet he or she put out a hilariously absurd record or two in 2008. Here are the most preposterous rap songs of 2008. -- Ben Westhoff
RICK ROSS, FEATURING T-PAIN "The Boss" (Def Jam) Though Rick Ross claimed on his debut album, Port of Miami, to know Manuel Noriega, The Smoking Gun website found that Ross was a prison guard rather than an international drug kingpin before he was famous. Perhaps they met in the can? In any case, his assertion on "The Boss" that he "made a couple million dollars last year dealing weight" is absurd. Still, we're tempted to give him a pass on his claim that "I don't make love/Baby we make magic," because, well, we wouldn't know.
USHER, FEATURING YOUNG JEEZY "Love in This Club" (LaFace) Sex in a puddle of Patrón, anyone? The story line on Usher's latest album, Here I Stand, is roughly "former playboy takes on fidelity and diapers." But on "Love in This Club," all that goes out the window. Ursh combines hip-hop and R&B's two great passions (discos and humping) without, sadly, elaborating on his exhibitionist fetish. It's clear from Young Jeezy's verse, however -- "It's going down on aisle three/ I'll bag you like some groceries" -- that he prefers to make love in the Piggly Wiggly.
FOXY BROWN, FEATURING KIRA "When the Lights Go Out" (Black Rose/Koch) When Brooklyn's Don Diva Foxy Brown drops her thug persona and attempts to get sexy, you know things are going to get weird. Still, "When the Lights Go Out" actually creates a mood with its bouncy beat and twinkling chorus. That is, until Brown suddenly announces, "My na na na tastes like Jamaican kiki." We have no idea what that means, but we just lost our woody.
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LIL WAYNE "3 Peat" (Cash Money) Wayne's best-selling Tha Carter III is full of preposterous moments. At the beginning of "Got Money," for example, he demands "a Winn-Dixie grocery bag full of money right now to the VIP section" and then squeals. But the album's lead-off, "3 Peat," surely has the most silliness per stanza. Never mind that the rapper compares himself to Hitler, rapes babies, says his cash is "so old it's growing white hair" (despite being on a label called Young Money), and claims that to get on his level, one would need "a space shuttle or a ladder that's forever." The song's true head-scratching moment comes when he imparts that he "had to do this shit for my clique, like Adam Sandler." Referencing, you know, that movie Click.
SEAN KINGSTON "Take You There" (Beluga Heights/Sony) "Take You There," which got mucho airplay in '08 despite being released late last year, has a particularly curious premise. Kingston offers his shorty the options of an island paradise visit or a trip to a dangerous hood: "We can go to the tropics/Sip piña coladas...or we can go to the slums/Where killers get hung." Sean, you're only eighteen, so we'll tell you something about women: Take them to the beach at your own peril; the quickest way to their hearts is a guided tour of crushing poverty and lawlessness.
THE GAME "Dope Boys" (Geffen/Interscope) The Game has made a career out of sucking up, freaking out and appropriating others' styles, and no song better exemplifies those traits than "Dope Boys," off his latest, LAX. Over a sample of "Eleanor Rigby" (W?) and assisted by Blink-182's Travis Barker on drums (T?), Game explains that he's planning to give 50 Cent a good licking (F?). Further revelations -- that he's sick of blow jobs and plans to climb into Dr. Dre's window -- seem tame by comparison.
FAT JOE "The Fugitive" (Terror Squad/Imperial) Happily married Fat Joe lives in suburban New Jersey, barely drinks, and claims to be appalled by drugs. Yet the first track of his album The Elephant in the Room, "The Fugitive," describes a tense scene in which he gets up "early in the morning" to cut that "raw raw" with a "hammer." Although his baby mama is "stressin'" and he's "about to catch a case," a rare medical condition ("I'm allergic to poor") and an ingenious business plan ("Shit, I done made some whores out of the girls next door") have kept him solvent.
T-PAIN, FEATURING LIL WAYNE "Can't Believe It" (Nappy Boy Entertainment/LaFace) Never mind the boorish premise -- that T-Pain is going to set his hoochies up in posh pads around the world to lustily await his arrival when he swings through on tour. The song doesn't get completely out of hand until Pain adopts a faux-Midwestern accent and rhymes "Put you in a mansion" with "Somewhere in Wis-can-sin."
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PLIES "I'm Da Man" (Slip-n-Slide/Atlantic) "Went to sleep real/Woke up realer/Goon affiliated ex-drug dealer/Resumé solid/Street cred bigger," raps Algernod Lanier Washington, aka Plies, on "I'm Da Man." (He adds that his pockets are "full of cash" and his body is "full of liquor.") Algernod has really captured the essence of street hoodlum on this one; a sociologist couldn't have done a better job. Speaking of which, it turns out he barely has a criminal record and studied sociology at the University of South Florida. Say this for the guy: His resumé is indeed solid.
SHWAYZE "Polaroid" (Suretone/Geffen) Los Angeles-based dube-puffer Shwayze is extra annoying because, unlike thug rappers, he affects an enlightened air, whining existentially like Camus one moment and singing like Jack Johnson the next. The rest of the time he spits garbage like this, from "Polaroid": "Woke up with a semi-hard dick/In a fat chick/Three this week/Call that a hat trick/But everybody know hockey ain't for black kids." Make it stop, you say? Understandable. Catch you on the flip side, 2008.