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