Paper chase…?

Tennis and I are driving back home the other day when traffic ahead of us stops at a bridge. The snowfall is particularly bad this evening and the going is slow, so when we spy the line of red brake lights stretching off into the distance, we know we’re in for a long slow haul. Breathing on my hands to warm them, I reach over and crank up the iPod – if we’re gonna be here for a while, might as well have some music.

After a couple of minutes of not moving and gazing around absent mindedly I notice Tennis has an extremely confused expression on her face.

ipod shot

“What’s wrong honey?” I ask.

“What is this song about? I don’t get it.” she replies, her brow furrowing under her blue knit winter cap. I listen for a second before the name comes to my head.

“Oh this is ‘Paper Chase’ by ‘Do or Die’” I reply.

For those of you not from the Midwest, “Do or Die” is a relatively unknown rap group from the early 90′s that did the whole “thugs n’ harmony” thing way before Bone broke onto the scene (correction 12.25.2006: that came after Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, though for whatever reason made their way into my CD player first. -Thanks Mdot!) and had white suburban kids everywhere pumping “1st of tha’ month” from their parent’s Ford Tauruses. Besides (helping to prove) that the concept of rap laid down over melodic grooves could be commercially viable, “Do or Die” was also famous for a) repping’ Chicago a full decade before being from the Chi was cool (see: Kanye West) and b) being among the first acts to feature a guest appearance by Twista (back then called “Tung Twista”) a full decade before that was popular (see: Kanye West, yet again).

“Um, okay but what does that mean?” The look on her face makes it evident she’s still confused.

another ipod shot

“Well you see honey, ” I begin, eager to leap on the chance to explain “the lingo” and front like I’m from the ghetto (of, uh… Wisconsin) – “In tha’ hood, we sometimes use slang for common objects. So for example, we say paper when we mean “money”, right? So in this case, he’s paper chasing, so he’s chasing after money, trying to make some ends, that sort of thing. It’s talking about what he’s doing to try and make some money.”

She fixes me with a stare. “…okay, I guess. Wait. What are the lyrics again?”

I clear my throat and get jiggy with it: “Paper chase… I’m on a motherf**king paper chase. / Paper chase… I’m on a motherf**king paper chase.

There is a moment of silence. Finally she burst out into laughter.

“Oh, I get it. Paperchase…!

“What did you think he said?”

“I thought he was saying: ‘Papertrays, all these motherf**king papertrays…!‘ And I was thinking – why on earth is he rapping about papertrays? Is he working in an office!?”

Footnote: For any you who have ever misheard lyrics before, I give you The misheard lyric database!

Also, poor Tennis’s confusion is hardly her fault – Twista used to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s fastest Rap MC” back in 1992 (at 598 syllables per minute, though that record has subsequently been broken.

Now listening to: “Twista featuring R.Kelly – So Sexy chapter II”


Come and kick it with the players, ghetto majors and the thumpa
And we neva got no room for no haters
When we pull up on them 24 omegas
While I’m smoking on a gar seeing Vega
You by my side we be on one when we hangin
What earthquake say is wrong in a relationship
We a corporation lets take over the nation
Let me get up with u girl
Don’t be trippin on yo guy he gone be up when the heat come
Cuz u could rub the lamp three times and still won’t a
muthaf**ka like me come out


7 Reactions

  1. bellish

    Paperchase is a nice stationary shop in the UK!
    Misheard lyrics are very funny. I think the technical term is “mondegreen”. I can never seem to remember any of mine when I need to though. That website is pretty funny but on the first page I looked several misheard lines were the same as the *title* of the song. Errrrrr.

  2. Liz b

    Hahah oh Michael, you’re just that gangster, huh?
    Oh and thanks for wishing me luck. I will need it!

  3. coolnahalf

    its been so hard being back in japan. i guess i’m finally at that “i’m done” stage of jet. i could stay on another year, but at this point, with the current high school i’m at, what’s the point? the kdis are eh, the teachers are wack, so what’s the motivation. are you feeling me? or is it the cold talking? not to mention even though it’s cold here, i get no love with the snow. jsut once i’d like to play it up in the snow.

  4. mdot

    just ran across this blog…
    by the way…. Do or Die didnt get on the scene until 5 years AFTER Bone (Faces of Death was in ’91). In fact, Do or Die didnt even start appearing on mixtapes until 2 years AFTER Bone droppped the singles, Thuggish Ruggish Bone and Foe Tha Love of $.
    Are you even from the Midwest?

  5. panda

    Hey Mdot.
    touche. you’re definitely right that Bone preceded Do or Die by a few years! Sorry, I really messed that one up!
    However, in my faint defense – and I realize I’m splicing hairs pretty thinly here – if you look carefully you’ll notice I said quote:
    “s a relatively unknown rap group from the early 90′s that did the whole “thugs n’ harmony” thing way before Bone broke onto the scene and had white suburban kids everywhere pumping “1st of tha’ month” from their parent’s Ford Tauruses.”
    I would submit that while Bone’s first albums dropped somewhere in the very early 90s (I’ll take your word that it was 91), they didn’t hit widespread popularity or become a mainstream name – particularly amongst the primarily white teenagers that dominated midwest suburbia of my childhood until at least E.1999 Eternal, and even then – going by my own memories of my own high school – it wasn’t until that album was out for a good year or two. And for whatever reason – amongst the people I knew Do or Die became popular way before Bone Thugs N’ Harmony.
    And I suppose that’s the crux of it. I don’t dispute your apparently extensive knowledge of harmonious rap the early 90′s, but I’m not trying to write an expose for The Source here, I was just providing some context for what was otherwise a funny story about paper trays and all that ;) My memory is a bit hazy about specific dates, that was a while ago!
    As for your question:
    “Are you even from the Midwest?”
    All I gotta say to you is: “Who the hell pretends they’re from the Midwest?” It’s not like claiming Wisconsin is gonna buy you a whole lotta street cred here in Tokyo ;)
    Thanks for reading and for the correction!

  6. mdot

    hahahhaaa very true…. claiming Wisconsin probably won’t buy any street cred anywhere… even Wisconsin.
    sweet blog by the way… clean layout…