In the beginning, the Bible tells us, was the Word. Likewise, many rappers begin their songs with this same invocation. “Word’ is used as a kind of ritualistic throat-clearing, a preparation for both listener and speaker; it is a way for the rapper to declare, more or less: “Everybody pay attention here, because what I am about to say is both important and true.”
Of course, it is often neither. Increasingly (from what I can tell) rap, or “hip-hop” if you prefer, falls into a circular form of self-parody in which “keeping it real” paradoxically means saying the same thing as everyone else, in more or less the same way as everyone else. There are exceptions—The Coup, Atmosphere, Abu Nurah, maybe Ana Tijoux (below)—but boy oh boy there’s a lot of dreck out there.
Which is what makes Reggie Watts’ parody so entertaining. When he starts with “Word,” it sounds just like a zillion other rap songs, but when he follows it up with “adjective—pronoun…” he’s letting us in on the joke, and by the time he winds up the intro with “Where my gerunds at?” he’s got me, at least, hooked.
What follows is a fairly brilliant satire of way too many rap songs. It’s all here: the nonsensical reliance on a handful of swear words, the mindless sexual boasting, the fetishistic weapon love, the bragging about wealth. And also what passes for “attitude” these days, which is really just another word for belligerence, directed at everybody, based upon nothing.
I first heard about Reggie Watts on The Onion’s media page. Here’s a link to an interview, in which he discusses the song below, among many other things, and there’s another truly awesome YouTube clip:
Then check out the song, but BE WARNED: DO NOT LISTEN TO THE VIDEO IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY OBSCENITY! There is a lot of it. If you are at work, you might want to listen to this once you get home. Kids, make sure your parents are out of earshot. Parents, likewise vis-à-vis the kiddies.