Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Masta Ace (feat. Ed O.G.) -- "Ei8ht Is Enuff" (2009)

When it's time to get wild on the stage
I can spit eights like Lynn Swann, Alan Page,
Or maybe Randy Moss in his college days

Today is January 31, so tomorrow is the first day of February -- and that means the 2012 model of "29 Posts in 29 Days" makes its debut in a mere 24 hours.  

I see you shivering with antici- . . . -pation! 

But 2 or 3 lines would be amiss if it didn't feature a football-themed song before getting all wrapped up in the extravagant, fanciful, and elaborate construction that is "29 Posts in 29 Days."  After all, it's Super Bowl week!  

Country-western music seems to be the preferred genre of football fans -- Faith Hill does the NBC Sunday Night Football theme song, a Big & Rich track is featured on ESPN's College Gameday, and Monday Night Football kicked off for years with a Hank Williams Jr., song.  (Last fall, ESPN dropped the Williams song after Hank Jr. dropped a rather odd reference to Hitler while talking about President Obama and House Speaker Boehner playing golf together.)

But while basketball would probably rank as the favorite sport of rappers, there are a lot of football references in hip-hop songs.

Just one year ago, Lil Wayne was getting a lot of attention with his song "Green and Yellow," which was released just before last year's Packers-Steelers Super Bowl.  "Green and Yellow" is a spoof of Wiz Khalifa's huge hit, "Black and Yellow," which pays tribute to the sports teams of that Pittsburgh native's hometown.  (Black and gold are the colors of the Steelers, the Pirates, and the Penguins.)

Lil Wayne is a New Orleans native, but is proud to be a cheesehead:

Yeah, uh-huh, you know what it is
I'm a cheesehead, y'all n*ggas Cheez Whiz
Pittsburgh Steelers, that's nothin'
That Super Bowl ring, that's stuntin'
Lil Wayne at Super Bowl XLV
Next Weezy takes on the beloved Steeler "Terrible Towel" -- a rally towel created in 1975 by the late Myron Cope, who was the radio voice of the Steelers for 35 years
This is Green Bay -- bitch, we go hard
This is Packer Country, where's your green card?
Terrible towels, that sh*t's borin'
We got the ball, you know we scorin'
In the last verse of "Green and Yellow," Lil Wayne continues to hammer on the Steelers.  He even belittles the team's legendary "Steel Curtain" front four, which helped Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls in six seasons in the late 1970s.  He plans to smoke a big cigar to celebrate the Packers' victory, but his cigar will be filled with "Amsterdam" -- a euphemism for marijuana.  
Big Gs on the helmet
Steel Curtain? What is that, velvet?
And if we win, I'ma throw a Super Bowl party
And blow a cigar like Vince Lombardi
I'm in Wisconsin, smoking Amsterdam
Yeah I'm from New Orleans, but I been a Packers fan
We knocked the Eagles and the Falcons and the Bears off
Now we 'bout to cut Troy Polamalu's hair off

I haven't heard any comparable Super Bowl-themed hip-hop songs this year.  Surely there are rappers out there who are fans of the Giants and the Patriots.

No one team appears to be the clear favorite of the hip-hop community -- a lot of NFL teams have rappers as loyal fans.  For example, Ice Cube is a Raiders loyalist, while Brooklyn native Jay-Z roots for the Jets and Snoop Dogg (a Los Angeles native) is a Steelers fan.  

But rappers do appear to have a favorite NFL player: Randy Moss, the phenomenally talented but badly behaved wide receiver who retired from the NFL before the 2011 season.  (Since no NFL team wanted to touch him with a ten-foot pole at that point in his career, it was a good time to retire.)  

When I searched the indispensable hip-hop website, Rap Genius, for "Randy Moss" references, I got 23 hits.  By contrast, "Chad Ochocinco" generated a measly three hits.  (Surprisingly, Tim Tebow is mentioned in a lot of hip-hop songs.)

My personal favorite Randy Moss rap song is Outkast's Grammy-winning "The Whole World" (2002).  These lines are from the verse contributed by Outkast collaborator, Killer Mike, who compares his ability to catch a musical beat to Randy Moss's ability to catch a football without breaking stride:

Glitter, glisten, gloss, floss
I catch a beat running like Randy Moss

"The Whole World" is a delightful little ditty -- even those of you who claim not to like rap music will enjoy it -- and the official music video is very cool:

If you are a fan of today's NFL but are old enough to remember watching the Dolphins, Cowboys, Steelers, and Vikings powerhouses of the 1970s, you'll appreciate the lines quoted at the beginning of today's post, which are taken from the veteran New York City rapper Masta Ace's 2009 song, "Ei8ht is Enuff."

Let me quote those lines once more for your convenience:

When it's time to get wild on the stage
I can spit eights like Lynn Swann, Alan Page,
Or maybe Randy Moss is his college days
When he was goin' through that childish phase

Masta Ace can certainly "spit eights" (which refers to his gift for rapping in eight-measure or eight-line verses).  But what is the significance of his mentioning NFL stars Lynn Swann (the Hall of Fame wide receiver for the Steelers who ran for governor in Pennsylvania in 2006 but lost), Alan Page (a Hall of Fame defensive lineman for the Vikings who is now an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court), and Randy Moss (who should be in the Hall of Fame someday, but whose checkered legal history and infamous pseudo-"mooning" of the crowd in a 2005 NFL playoff game will probably prevent him from pursuing a career in politics or on the bench)?

Randy Moss pretending
 to moon Packers fans
 It's really quite simple.  Swann and Page both wore jersey number 88 in the NFL, while Moss wore number 88 when he played college football at Marshall University.

Perhaps the ultimate football-related rap song is "Queen's Gambit" (2005) by the rapper GZA, who was one of the founders of the legendary hip-hop collective, the Wu-Tang Clan.

"Queen's Gambit" refers to 31 of the 32 current NFL football teams.  Most of the references are obvious, but some are a little tricky -- GZA is not above using a homonym or a near-homonym for a few of the team names.  Let's see if you can figure out the 31 that are mentioned in this rap.  If you can, you'll be able to deduce which team is not mentioned.

I'll even give you the lyrics to help you out:

She dated jolly green giants that flew on jets
An A-list actress, who was never walked off sets
She loved stuffed animals, especially bears
Was a role model, like a cardinal to our peers
A patriotic tomboy, like Mary Ellen from The Waltons
A former lifeguard, who had the skills of a dolphin
When I met her, she was in drama school and wore bengals
Drove a Bronco, and she was far from star-spangled
Had basic skills, and worked part time in mills
Raised buffalos, cause she was behind them bills
Had a man who always roared like lion
A domestic violent cat, tackled the girl and kept her crying
Couldn't care, she was losing her hair, from depression
She was in the air, and there was some room for interceptions
I told her to stay strong, not to be ashamed
You're a ten, I see, you just need to tighten your game
Her ancestors were chiefs, who ran with running deer
On the sail with the seahawks, who battled the buccaneers
The redskin garments was suede coatliners
Held rare coins frequently sought from gold miners
They were hard-working warriors, we call overtimers
Shot plenty arrows at cowboys and 49ers
Her interesting background but quite unusual
Great for a script but out of bounds for a musical
She told me to call her if I came to town
I started textin' her soon as my plane had touched down
Holding my luggage in the hand that revealed the bad scars
She pulled up at arrivals, driving the Jaguar
Her brown skin was soft, her legs beautifully shaven
Her house was fly, sitting on the roof was a raven
As we entered, I heard laughter
She walked into a large living room, I went after her
There was two of her girlfriends playing chess like they were Vikings
Militant as panthers, their resemblance was striking
Had on thongs, high heels, and belts that was garter
Energized like phones that just came off the charger
I introduced myself to gain yardage
'Cause anything less than smooth would have been straight-up garbage
The shorter one met me when I had a SkyPager
Thought I rolled with robbers, stealers and panty raiders
She took fruit from the orange bowl, it was in season
One of them said she loved the juice and kept squeezing
I knew that I was gonna get wined and dined
It would have been a penalty not to pass the scrimmage line
Now I laid back and relaxed, waiting for the kick-off
One removed the lip gloss like she was bout to lick all
She caressed me with fingertips soft as velvet
Dying for me to pack her as she stroked my helmet
And I was thinking these girls was saints
But it was first and ten, and there was extra walls to paint
Before you know it, I had all three in a huddle
Buckin' like a colt before I released them puddles
They spread eagles like wide receivers
As I ram them in the endzone, and they became true believers

(Hmmm . . . I don't think "Queen's Gambit" will end up as the Monday Night Football theme song.)

Here's "Ei8ht Is Enuff."  Note that Masta Ace, who hails from New York City, is wearing a Yankees hat.  His collaborator, Boston native Ed O.G., is sporting a Red Sox cap.  Perhaps it's not too much of a leap to presume which team each will be rooting for on Sunday?

Some of you may prefer this version of "Eight Is Enough":

Here's a link you can use to buy "Ei8ht Is Enuff" from Amazon:

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