Monday, August 19, 2013

Twisted (With Footnotes)

Here is the fifth in my series of lyrical examinations of the songs of my debut mixtape, "Core Nerd!"

As I say in the song Liquid Thunder, "My rhymes are so dense you're gonna need footnotes." Here they are...

This time, for the song "Twisted."

The premise of "Twisted" is very straightforward--team up childhood tongue twisters with hardcore drug references. The idea was to do something that would be provocative by its very nature, but would also be the most technically difficult song to rap. The song is not an endorsement of drug use, more a depiction of it. But it's also NOT an anti-drug song. The idea is that drugs, like most other things, are a topic that is loaded with misinformation and paranoid propaganda and that the subject needs to be demystified in order to lead us to a better place. Casual responsible drug use can be a very good thing, particularly in a situation where drugs are regulated and safe. They can expand one's mind, in particularly in getting one outside their own myopic ways of thinking about things and they can increase sympathy and empathy, things that our society sorely needs more of. They are, of course, also very dangerous, not only for those who abuse them, but for those who take them when their are interactions with other medications or medical conditions that individuals have. My take is that prohibition is EXACTLY the worst way of dealing with the problems associated with drugs. That's the context behind the song, but the song itself is a humorous song and is not meant to be a serious examination of the issue, but something that makes people dance and laugh.

The title refers to three things: 1. The tongue twisters, 2. The narrator is high or "twisted," 3. How fucked up it is that someone is rapping about drugs and kids rhymes.

A to the B to the C to the D to the E to the F to the G
To the 1, 2, 3, you and me, he and she

One of the things that people on drugs do is talk nonsense. I wanted to give a taste of that here at the beginning, by having the narrator just start rapping the alphabet. I wanted it to go on long enough to just start to annoy the listener or make them question what the hell they were listening to right before I switched and moved on.

Her and him, Jane & Jim, Jack & Jill
Bill & Hill, let's get ill

In addition to the nonsense references throughout the song, another drug-related idea is the stream-of-consciousness style thinking that high people engage in, where they jump from topic to topic, often with little connection or with connections that only they perceive, based on the drug they are using. "Jane & Jim" here is also a little play, as it refers to the "Dick and Jane" books that kids used to be taught to read with, but, as is often the case with people who are high, the narrator gets the names wrong. Most people won't get that reference, but they will get the next one, which is the first obvious reference to children's lit. As the narrator is already high, he randomly jumps to the Clintons with the next couple, probably only because of the rhyme. The last part of this one, the word "ill" has multiple meanings, primarily that the song is about to get sick and twisted, lyrically speaking, but also that it's also going to be some difficult technical rapping that most people couldn't do.

Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled rolling papers
Down at the corner store

Peter Piper is probably the most famous of these tongue twisters, at least it was when and where I was growing up, so I led with it. I don't know what pickled rolling papers are, but I'm pretty sure you can't get them at the corner store.

Dime bag, zig zag, Phillie blunt
More fucking more fucking more

The first part is total free association with weed-related terms. The second line is a typical drug reaction, that you want more and more of whatever drug it is, as the euphoric feeling declines and the addictiveness goes up.

Rubber baby buggy bumpers
Flubber baby snuggy dumpers
Pretty baby tourist humpers
Shitty baby forrest gumpers

"Rubber baby buggy bumpers" is another really famous one, and the idea here was to try to make the four lines here rhyme as much as possible (also making them more difficult to memorize). "Flubber" was an obvious rhyme and cultural reference. "Snuggy dumpers" was specifically a baby reference and goes along with "shitty baby." The Forrest Gump reference made me laugh outside when I first thought of it, so I had to include it.

Squier like Billy, Steve like Perry
AC to the DC in Washington D.C.

This song was written well before I moved to D.C., but I've always been a fan of the city. The rest of this section is an inside joke for people who know me. Journey, AC/DC and Billy Squier rank among my least favorite musical artists ever, thus I'd have to be high to want to listen to them or reference them.

My mammoth is wooly, my jacket is fleecy
When I was a kid I knew Ryan Creecy

"Fleecy" rhymed with "D.C.," and "wooly" related to jackets as well, thus the reference, but still part of the scrambled drug train of thought. I did know a guy named Ryan Creecy when I was a kid and I've never heard a word that rhymed with Creecy and not thought of his name, so I figured it fit well here.

I saw Susie sitting in a shoe shine shop
Where she sits, she hits
When she hits, she shines
When she shines, she dreams
When she dreams, she screams

I wasn't as familiar with this rhyme, although I had heard it before. I figured in the context of the song, why would she just be sitting in a shoe shine shop if she wasn't high. There is also a hint here that her trip started to go bad at the end.

It's not about morality, it's all about reality

The chorus begins with a line that I took from an NWA song "Gangsta Gangsta," because NWA also did "Dopeman." The original sample comes from Boogie Down Productions' song "My Philosophy," which was the inspiration for my first song, "The Lesson." Two references to hip hop artist who heavily influenced me and another subtle drug reference as well.

Leavin shit behind, bustin out my mind
Steppin over the line, snortin the line

A string of getting high references culminates in stepping over the line, but line, of course, has a strong drug connotation, so I couldn't let it go by without making this reference, which made me laugh out loud when I wrote it.

Swinging on vines, be kind rewind
Steppin on land mines, feeling fine
Being blind, outta wine
Outta my mind, outta time
Outta my mind, out of time

A string of random references here showing the effects of the drugs on the narrator. Also a reference to the movie "Be Kind Rewind," which stars another of my favorite rappers, Mos Def, and the fact that I'm guessing that movie's biggest audience is stoners.

Next is the next is the next is the E
Floggy Molly is just a hobby holly
MDMA got you feeling like a champion
Getting super ill like King's Charles Campion

This might be my favorite section in the whole song. The lines here revolve around the drug MDMA, which is also frequently referred to as "molly," "ecstasy" and "E" (in its various forms) The first line is from a Moby song, with Moby being the type of artist you might find playing at a rave or other place where you might find widespread use of MDMA. The second line takes the band name Flogging Molly and turns it into a synonym for using the drug. Also in the narrator's claim that he doesn't do that much molly, he makes the "hobby holly" reference, which is a song title from the band Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, which I'm guessing, is NOT a band that a lot of molly users would be into. The narrator of the song, however, has more eclectic tastes than most, partially as evidenced by the next line, which is a direct quote from Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind." The last reference is to the first named character in Stephen King's "The Stand," Charles Campion, who is effectively patient zero in superflu outbreak that takes out most of the world population, and is also among the first to die in the novel. But "ill" also has two other meanings here, one is a reference to being very high, the other is to being a dope rhymer, which in and of itself is a reference back to the drugs in the song. Layers upon layers in this song.

To sit in solemn silence in a dull dark dock
In a pestilential prison with a life long lock

I will admit that this one was new to me when I looked up tongue twisters for this song, but I liked it so much that I had to include it. I figured that it would be really difficult to memorize, but it turns out it wasn't. The line comes from Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado" and obviously fits the tough tongue twister mold, but it could just as easily be taken as a drug addiction reference.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for nice dreams

The childhood ice cream quote is twisted here to match up with the Cheech and Chong movie "Nice Dreams," wherein the stoners sold weed out of an ice cream truck.

I cream, you cream, we all cream for tight genes

The rhyme here was pretty obvious to me, with the sexual innuendo being legit because many drugs make people horny. But I also went with the double reference that people would only get if they read the lyrics. "Tight jeans" are obviously a turnon, but so would be an attractive person who has "tight genes."

She sells seashells down by the seashore
She sells crack out the back of the seashell store
Don't come before 10 o'clock, do the special knock
She gotta glock, she got rock in stock

Another really famous one here and I immediately thought that if "she" were going to sell anything, it would probably be crack, so the famous seashell store became a front for a drug dealer, who has her rules about when users can come by and buy things, her code for announcing that you were a buyer (and not of seashells), the weapon she uses to protect her stash, and her product of choice.

She's a fox in some socks, ants in her pants

She'll make a little love, she'll do a little dance

When tweedle beetles battle in a bottle with a paddle

It's a tweedle beetle paddle puddle bottle battle

Ever since I first read "Fox in Socks" to my kids, I thought the part with the tweedle beetles needed to be in a hip hop song, it was just too much like rap not to be. That thought was probably the original germination of the idea of this song. The first, third and fourth lines come directly from the Dr. Seuss book and the third one, added in for the rhyme, comes from KC and the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight," with "getting down" being a synonym for getting high. Also, as a disco song, KC's music was heavily played in drug-fueled nightclubs of the 1970s like Studio 54.

It's not about morality, it's all about reality
Leavin shit behind, bustin out my mind
Steppin over the line, snortin the line
Swinging on vines, be kind rewind
Steppin on land mines, feeling fine
Being blind, outta wine
Outta my mind, outta time
Outta my mind, out of time

The chorus again.

Can you can a can as a canner can
Can a can?
My dealer is a woman, yours is a man
Bills, bills, bills, wham bam thank you man

I really liked the heavy use of alliteration in the canner line and the woman/man lines here brought in the same type of rhyme repetition. The use of the Destiny's Child song title also reinforced that repetition/alliteration pattern. The final part is a pun on the old saying that Urban Dictionary suggests in a crude way is about a sexual quickie.

Snorting weed, smoking lines, dropping tabs, getting pissed

Some might think that the lines are messed up when I perform this live, but the idea is the narrator is getting high enough now that his speech is getting messed up. I purposely switch the ingestion methods of coke and weed here to get that across.

Fuck you Harris, I do exist

Watching stand up comedy while high is a very common activity in some circles. This line is a quote from Aziz Ansari's first comedy special, which is hilarious, and also seems like something a high person would say.

My agent said my moneys in Security First and National Trust
But I can't pay attention cuz I'm on that dust

The second line here was added first and is a reference to both "Slow Ride," by the Beastie Boys, and "Same As It Ever Was," by House of Pain. The other line was added because of the rhyme. When singing these lines, I always space out as if I'm not paying attention, an obvious verbal version of the second line.

What the shit am I talking about
My brain is on walkabout

The next few lines are one of the most obvious sequences of the narrator's stream-of-consciousness ranting because he's high. He says his brain is on walkabout and then proceeds to verbally go on walkabout, with a stream of unrelated references.

I got 99 for my Klout

The social media influence site measures your influence on a scale of 1-100, with 99 obviously being really good.

Shout, shout, let it all out

Tears for Fears, "Shout."

Shout, shout, heavyweight bout, got no doubt

Continuing the Tears for Fears reference with two unrelated rhymes.

Gwen Stefani, jam on it, ride the pony, Mony Mony

Continuing the "no doubt" line above with the lead singer of the band No Doubt, then an old school rap reference to the famous song by Newcleus, then a R&B reference to the Ginuine song and ending the line with the Tommy James/Billy Idol hit.

Hey, hey what, get laid get fucked

Back when we were young and the song "Mony Mony" came on, there are these long pauses in the lyrics that we as teenagers had learned to fill in with this chant.

This song izdashit, check out my gravel pit

The first part is a reference to one of my other songs on this same mixtape. The second is a Wu-Tang Clan song.

It's not about morality, it's all about reality
Leavin shit behind, bustin out my mind
Steppin over the line, snortin the line
Swinging on vines, be kind rewind
Steppin on land mines, feeling fine
Being blind, outta wine
Outta my mind, outta time
Outta my mind, out of time

The chorus again.

How much pot could a pot roast toast
If a pot roast could get roasted
How much toast could a toastmaster toast
If a toastmaster could get toasted

These two were pretty easy to repurpose as drug references, since "roast" and "toast" are words often associated with getting high and/or drunk.

How can a clan cram in a clean cream can

Stuck in another one with really great alliteration, which I continue in the next few lines.

How can the Klan konklave in the cream corn

Total nonsense, but meant to poke fun at the KKK

How can Kimberly Kane profit off of web porn

Kimberly Kane is a real porn star and this was meant to represent the idea that people who are high have really deep thoughts and ask big questions about completely pointless topics.

How can I get a crest on my head like Michael Dorn (he played Worff on Star Trek)

And really stupid questions about pointless topics, too.

How much woodchuck could a woodchuck drink
If a woodchuck could drink woodchuck fuck

Bringing back the toastmaster/pot roast rhymes from above, this time with the more famous woodchuck rhyme, which was easy to pair with the cider drink of the same name.

How many boards could the Mongols hoard
If the Mongol hordes got bored

Another tongue twister, this one being one that people seem to love the most when they hear the song.

Mushroom mountain, chocolate fountain
Tip drill, road kill, Beverly Hills, purple pills
I've been to the motherfucking mountaintop
Watching panties drop, escapin the cops, using visine eye drops

Another stream-of-consciousness rant, this time with references to: psychedelic mushrooms/the drug song "Purple Pills" by D12, the gross chocolate fountain at Golden Corral, the even more gross song by Nelly, dead animals on the road, the Weezer song, D12 again, a reference tying in Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream Speech"/the D12 song/really subtle commentary on the freedom from the war on drugs, sex, and measures to avoid getting in trouble for using drugs.

It's not about morality, it's all about reality
Leavin shit behind, bustin out my mind
Steppin over the line, snortin the line
Swinging on vines, be kind rewind
Steppin on land mines, feeling fine
Being blind, outta wine
Outta my mind, outta time
Outta my mind, out of time

The chorus again. I noticed that, unlike a lot of rappers and singers, I don't do a lot of the off-the-cuff stuff at the end of songs, so I wanted to add that in here, but I don't really do much in the way of adlibbing or freestyling, so I wrote them into the song.

Time, time, time, time
Twisted, twisted, twisted, twisted

The continuation of the last line of the chorus and then the name of the song.

Sister, sister, sister, sister
Brother, brother, brother, brother
Father, father, father, father
Mother, mother, mother, mother
Fucker, fucker, fucker, fucker

The first line was meant to tie in with the previous line and reference the 80s hair metal band. Then it went through the whole family so it could end on "mother fucker."

Uh ah, uh uh ah
Uh ah, uh uh ah

These seemingly random sounds are actually a reference to an old Kid N Play song, "Funhouse."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I've been to the motherfucking mountain top
I've been to the motherfucking mountain top
I've been to the motherfucking mountain top
I've been to the motherfucking mountain top
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Ending up with a reference back to the mushroom mountain/MLK reference in the last verse, which seemed like a great place to end the song.

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