Monday, July 28, 2008

Songs You Should Know: The B*tch In Yoo

Many folks now know the artist Common pictured on the right. And if you were one of those enlightened enough to go to a liberal arts college, and have black friends, you may have heard of him before his most recent album Finding Forever afforded him long-deserving Grammy accolades. Some early adopters might have known him even before he started doing commercials for The Gap.

But do you know this Common?

"A b*tch ni**a wit an attitude named Cube, stepped to the Com with a feud..."

The Common we know is pro-black, pro-women, pro-god, pro-life, pro love; a black man calling a "ni**a" a "b*tch" is a vortex of hateful epithets that would surely sear his khaki-melanin skin, right? That can't be the Common that freestyles in church:

Your lease is up, at the crib house ni**az get evicted
In videos them white boys talking you get Wicked

Common is calling out someone for being a "house ni**a"? Aww yeah, hypocrisy is all that and a bag of chips conflict diamonds. Come to think of it, how hot would it be to see George Bush start calling out former presidents for being retarded. Or generally start picking on the intelligence level of others. That would be like the UPS uniform calling the piece-of-doodoo brown, or however that saying goes. And it would be awesome.

Hyprocrite, I'm filling out your Death Certificate
Slanging bean pies and St. Ide's in the same sentence...

Yes, more calling out. But now is probably a good time for some context/backstory:

This is Common, over ten years ago, calling out Ice Cube (perhaps the grand patriarch of "hip hop selling out", but we'll explore that another time). Common's song I Used to Love H.E.R. (that's the Common we all know) was quoted and used by Westside Connection (Cube's post-NWA crew) in a diss record aimed at Mr. Sense. Of course these were the days that ish like that mattered, and so Common came firing back with one of the fiercest battle songs ever: The Bitch In Yoo

So this is a song you should peep because you might not know this Common:

I heard a ho say you her favorite rapper
(So what) so I had to slap her

Holla! Now that's the Common we know: slappin' h*es when they say stupid stuff. I like the Gap ad, but this makes me think a parody would be even better. Have Common rapping his jingle while slappin' white folks in a Gap t-shirt and cargo shorts. You can even tweak some of the lines from the commercial:

(to' when I flow, feel the power that rap has
white people give me love when I slap 'em in Gap ads

Actually get Kanye in there also, and that might be straight gold.

Of course, the spoof works off the contrast with the Common we identify with. Conscious, positive, not-judging-you Common.

That Common we know didn't first appear in the Gap ad. That Common we know first appeared with the album One Day it Will All Make Sense. The first album after Common became a father. Also the first album after writing the Ice Cube diss track.

Since then, this has been the Common we know:

This ain't no East coast, West coast, none of the above
I'm from Chi, I went to Cali, ni**az gave me love

Common does go from coast to coast and get love from all people. Presumably receiving positive vibes because he puts positive vibes out there. But this is a song to know because even then -- when he was edgier, meaner, realer or whatever -- he got love coast-to-coast. Just out of respect for his skills. This song is lyrically ridiculous: full of wordplay, coded references, puns and everything else that often goes underappreciated in non-mainstream rap songs. As he challenges Cube towards the end, "ain't got no choice but to fight, none of y'all motherf'ers got a chance on the mic". This was never really a battle because they weren't gonna get with Common on that emcee level. So even as Rashid gets his own Ice Cube on via movies and mainstream media, the thing that will give him cred, perhaps eternally so, is a song like Bitch In Yoo.

Common could be Liz Phair, and this song/era is his Exile In Guyville.

Anytime you come out yo, I'm a talk about you
Until you let that bitch in you, walk up out you
Any last words before I hit the switch?
From the immortal words of one: a bitch is a bitch

No one that matters really cares about "Uncle Toms" or "sellouts" etc anymore because we're all trying to make $ and now that everyone has the tools we can all "tap dance for the man" in our own way. It seems with that pretense out of the way, especially in hip hop, we can better appreciate an artist's evolution. From "F*ck The Police" to "Barbershop 2"; "I Used To Love HER" to "Driving Me Crazy" the aesthetics may change to fit your mood, or the times, or an agenda but the heart and soul stays the same. I think. Maybe.

AnyCom, "The B*tch in Yoo" makes me think of some this stuff and pass it on as a song to know. Here's the popular version in a youtube video:

"we're gonna give it to the world, peace, love, and Gap"

(that's the popular version, the original "demo" that only the cool kids know about is posted below. )

MP3 File


  1. nobody7/29/2008

    It's funny too because, from what I remember, Mack 10's flustered response to the song was, roughly speaking, "Uh ... you're a conscious emcee; you're not allowed to make songs like that."

  2. I think it might depend on what he does next to determine whether or not Common is selling out or whether he's making songs like that to make a point.

  3. I thought Like Water for Chocolate was better than his last two albums.

  4. Anonymous7/29/2008

    The biggest problem I had with Common was his blatant homophobia

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  6. This songs on permanent playlist.

    Never really much differentiated that Common (Sense) from the more positive Water for Chocolate Common.

    To be realistic, if you're hanging out with Kanye, dichotomy has got to be a big part of your life.

  7. Well, good try, but all the dissing is lost in his laid back flow and the relaxed beat. Common might be more verbally acrobatic, but he just doesn't have the power in his voice for this kinda thing.

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