Thursday, April 12, 2007

Speaking of rap music and this time of year...

A column I wrote in 2002:

Rap isn't about white or black;it's green, yo

Yo, homie, check it out: Last week I be chillin' behind my crib wit my hoe, some weed and a 40, lookin' to bust some slugs, and ...
Oh, wait. First I should explain. I've decided that - like Barbara Billingsley in "Airplane" - I speak jive (or its present-day incarnations called "hip-hop" or "rap"). In fact, I've decided to do today's column in the vernacular that has become so popular that it is the dominant format on 150 radio stations nationwide (compared to just six stations less than a decade ago).
There's a rapper named Ja Rule (my initials), but coming from a humble place in New Haven, I'm thinking of calling myself Cid-rule (Italian slang meaning "dumb like a cucumber").
Let me be clear here: I loathe rap. It's not only a parasitic and repetitive genre but its few works of artistry are dwarfed by the creeps who give it heat.
For every hard-working member of the recording industry it supports, it also furthers a violent, degrading and drugged-out culture that pimps out its young and talented. For every person it lifts out of poverty, it leaves millions of fans behind - looking ludicrous, angry, dated and less useful to society than a cable TV CEO. (That was harsh.)
Don't take my word for it. Check out the lyrics for rapper Ludacris (rap rule No. 1: never spell it right) or P Diddy or Eminem. The misogynistic words and ideas flow freely, and today they're making their way into the AOL Instant Messenger conversations of 8- to 12-year-old girls.
The nonprofit group Mediascope notes that "Music lyrics have also become increasingly explicit in the past two decades." One rap track these days contains more foul language than appeared in 50 YEARS of TV and radio before 1995. Chain-owned radio stations entice kids into the "hip-hop" tent with somewhat-sanitized versions of songs; then the kids buy or download the hard-core versions for their MP3 players or CD burners. Then a hideously big car stereo shakes your house like a thunderstorm spewing F-words.
If you consult a rap dictionary, as I did, and you take out all the words referring to illicit drugs, sex acts, female body parts, evil women and gun violence, you're only left with the words "yo" and "MC Hammer" (ba-doom). But I decided nonetheless today to use some rap lingo to talk about something that really should be part of your hip-hop lifestyle... gardening.
Word up? Why rap about the slim and sorta shady turf behind my crib in the suburban hood? Because the outdoors are "all that." I don't like to be "in the house" during the summer. No diggety.
To quote that amusing but mother-dissing little example of white trash known as Eminem, "Now this looks like a job for me, so everybody just follow me, cuz we need a little controversy, cuz it feels so empty without me" ... rapping about my garden.
Many of you "get your swerve on" with tomato plants. All the old lovers of the love-fruit say, "There's nothing like that first fresh tomato of the season," and you go, "Word, homie. It's all about the flava. Fresh flesh. But how do you get such a "phat" tomata?"
Well, G, you need to cop some sturdy bedding plants, "pull a piece" or three of weeds out of the way, and stake those thangs so they're not laying all over the ground like a bad poser's low-rider. (Wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa wa...)
Public Enemy No. 1? In my garden for years it was the woodchuck gang, which would dis me by boosting all my young bean plants, lettuce and peas. Now I am really anti-gatt, but I was so wacked by these gangsta critters that I wanted to take a lawn cart on a drive-by. You know, bust a cap in that critter's furry biskit. (Instead I just threw a rock and screamed in a high voice.)
But late last year I trapped the last of the street's woodchucks and took it to a hood so rich they actually make all the payments on their Lexus wheels. Smaller pests are laying low, too, so we're nearly organic in this veggie-booty hunt - except for a dusting of "white powder" on the zucchini plants (rotenone, fool!).
We make a "fly" zucchini bread in my crib. It's moist to the max; you can bake the stuff in muffin caps. Just don't undercook it or you'll have a limp biscuit. (Scratch some vinyl for me on that one.) We be potatoes and stakin' tomatoes; pole beans next to the collard greens (actually Swiss chard but that busts the rhyme).
Sheesh, I think it's time to retire as a rapper. As for my opening paragraph: If you're hoeing out weeds from your garden and you notice a slug problem, take a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor, pour a little in a can at surface level and watch the slugs dive in like suburban folks at a Dunkin' Donuts. Save the rest of the bottle; you'll need something to drink with all those vegetables.

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