Sunday, March 22, 2009

Playlist: White singers, hip-hop songs

What say you about this cultural phenomenon? Is it cute ’n’ clever? Or played out already? Is there a whiff of insincerity and disrespect... or is that a case-by-case situation? Which of these tracks do you like? Which not so much? I’m still trying to sort through my feelings...

1. “Straight Out of Compton” – Nina Gordon

2. “Hey Ya” – Obadiah Parker

3. “Gin and Juice” – The Gourds

4. “Nothin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” – The Escape Frame

5. “Mama Said Knock You Out” – Royal Crescent Mob

6. “Baby Got Back” – Jonathan Coulton

27 comments:

Woe said...

After "Straight Out Of Compton", I no longer feel right on the inside...I'm all fucked up...

bklyn6 said...

So tricky. I'm reminded of that Slate article again.

Is Nina Gordon's cover homage or f*ckery? I can practically hear the laughter during a live performance.

I liked Obadiah Parker's arrangement of "Hey Ya" a lot. Kind of folksy. It seemed sincere. I think a live audience would appreciate it. Why didn't Pete Singer get a hold of this first? :-)

And you can get your country line dance on to "Gin and Juice."

I think all five songs were very good picks. They made me think a bit.

Richard Jensen said...

What? No love for Jonathan Coulton?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyJeC99QO8A

Anonymous said...

or Richard Cheese?

Undercover Black Man said...

Richard Jensen: Well done, mate. I have rectified that omission in my original post.

Anybody else know of something I'm missing?

(As for Richard Cheese, he's cool. I gave him some love on a previous playlist. At least he makes it very clear it's all a joke.)

Undercover Black Man said...

I think all five songs were very good picks. They made me think a bit.

Thanks, bklyn6. Being that R.C. Mob's track is 15 years old, I assess that one as absolutely sincere.

Their devotion to Funky Whiteboy status even led them to do a cover of James Brown's "Payback." (Which I'd upload now, except it's on a different hard drive in a different city.)

carabosse said...

Battery has a surprisingly good version of "Gangsta's Paradise". It appeared on a compilation called "Operation Beatbox", which is all hip-hop covers by alternative-rock artists.

(And although it's not hip-hop, the Willis countrified cover of Cameo's "Word Up" is much fun.)

Edshugeo The GodMoor said...

Coulton's Baby Got Back is amazing. I'd heard of it but passed on hearing it previously.

Now I gotta get it.

Anonymous said...

African rhythym, Robert Johnson, the 'street' -
we all know where it comes from ...and it's more than pain and desire ...
source over sauce.

that dude said...

Why is this sillier than British kids covering songs by Black southern bluesmen?

Michael said...

Can you listen to it more than once? If you can, it's not likely just a novelty. Gin and Juice is such a good song that it transcends genre; as are some of the others. What, no "Fight the Power" by Barenaked Ladies?

Brian said...

One vote for case-by-case. I like to compare to a case where there isn't as much of a cross-race or cross-genre gap - covers like Chris Thile's creative but respectful White Stripes number vs Jerry Douglas's brilliant slaughtering of Hey Joe sort of clarify my opinions.

For songs that are already mildly to seriously ridiculous (Hey Ya, Baby Got Back) it doesn't seem to disrespect - but a Jonathan Coulton version of, say, "Ms. Jackson," would make me twitch.

Daisy Kingston said...

Don't forget Ben Fold's "Bitches Ain't Shit" (Dr. Dre) cover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSJxvi767kQ

lawegohard said...

Some WP are fascinated by nonwhite sh*t. We have to remeber that this is in some way SPORT for some WP. When they get tired of it they discard of it and move towards their white center(Vanilla Ice or Kid Rock). I'm leary about endorsing most WP playing around with my Music. These songs were hot because the original artist felt the pain and wrote that sh*t. WTF they know about compton?

Bellingham View said...

Indie folkie singer/songwriter Anya Marina has been covering T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" a bit lately.

Interesting subverting of sexual stereotypes:

http://tinyurl.com/cv584w

RP

Undercover Black Man said...

Why is this sillier than British kids covering songs by Black southern bluesmen?

Possibility #1: Because the British kids (the best of them, anyway) didn't feel superior to the material.

Possibility #2: Because the British kids were covering songs obscure to most white listeners... whereas "Hey Ya," "Baby Got Back" and "Straight Outta Compton" were already the soundtrack to a generation of white people's lives.

In the context of this discussion, consider Alanis Morrisette's wonderful evisceration of "My Humps." The whole point of that exercise was to mock the Black Eyed Peas song... while at the same time capitalizing on the popularity of the original.

Undercover Black Man said...

Daisy Kingston: Wow, thanks for that. After watching the Ben Folds vid, I officially declare this cultural phenomenon PLAYED-THE-FUCK-OUT!!

Now let's hear Missy Elliott do a hip-hop version of "Jesus, Take the Wheel."

bklyn6 said...

Now let's hear Missy Elliott do a hip-hop version of "Jesus, Take the Wheel."

I want to hear Macy Gray cover The Black Crowes's "Rememdy". I'd also like to hear R&B artists cover some Talking Heads.

I was looking for Obadiah Parker's cover of "Hey Ya" on Amazon when I came across a compilation of Bebop covers of Outkast's music. :-)

lawegohard said...

@Daisy and UBM

I listened to that "Bitchez" song and feel very strongly that this is "musical blackface"!!!

Is it just me or do some White people like making up creative and safe ways to say N*gg*?

For example: movies, academic books about race, and whack azz cover songs like this B.S.

Anyway, Maybe this needs to go on the STUFF THAT WHITE PEOPLE LIKE list.

Robbie said...

If you think cover songs are disrespectful, you are hating on an awful lot of music. If you don't like it because these are white artists, then the problem is your own racism.

The more you bark about needing to protect hip-hop from the world, the less confidence you have in it. These artists don't you need and your racism to protect them from their audiences. Oh, and "Hey Ya", "My Humps", and "Baby Got Back" are hardly seminal works in the genre. These are pop songs, and two of them sell sex... so go ahead and shout about it, but you look silly defending these.

JT said...

I saw Ben Folds perform "Bitches Ain't Shit" quite a few years ago and that song got one of the concert's loudest ovations. It really seems like an honest cover, particularly when you consider the rest of his material.

I can't say the same about Nina Gordon's cover. It seems like she's pulling a surreptitious Weird Al maneuver. Plus, it just wasn't that good.

Also, @Robbie: It's not the cover that's disrespectful. It's the intent of the cover that may or may not be disrespectful.

bklyn6 said...

It's not the cover that's disrespectful. It's the intent of the cover that may or may not be disrespectful.

I agree, JT.

I question whether its an homage or parody? I listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover Stevie Wonder or the Ohio Players and it doesn't seem like parody at all because the appreciate the creators of the original and funk and r&b genres.

Nina Gordon's hip-hop cover feels disingenious. Like it's just for grins. But, what do I know? Maybe she's a diehard NWA fan.

Jay-Z's cover of Wonderwall was straight up dis of Oasis.

Anonymous said...

The Nina Gordon cover sounds more like a gentle (or-not-so gentle) rebuke, rather than open mockery.

By slowing the lyrics down, and forcing us to really listen to them, she asks the question: why do we celebrate this kind of hatred on the radio? Does it make acceptable when it's coming from a black rapper, rather than a female folk singer?

Her cover also highlights the sadness underlying the anger of the original. Even though the lyrics are angry and defiant, let's not forget these are the dysfunctional words of a disturbed individual.

So, uh.. basically I kinda liked it! And the cover of Mama Said Knock You Out was kicking.

Thanks for posting these, they're up there with KMDFDM's "Material Girl" and NIN's "Memorabilia" as some of my new favorite (and interesting) covers.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ You're welcome, anonymous stranger.

Anonymous said...

How about "Ayo technology" by Belgian singer Milow:

Ayo technology-Milow

Undercover Black Man said...

^ It must end.

Eye D. VS Mel O. said...

When I first heard "Gin & Juice" 3 yrs ago, I was no good!!! That rendition is still HILARIOUS!