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Your grandparents are full of crap.

As they grumble about how rap music is destroying civilization, what they don't mention is that the blues they were listening to in the 30s and 40s could be every bit as violent, sexually explicit and sometimes just downright insane as the worst gansta rap has to offer. Compared to some of these vintage lyrics the members of N.W.A are levelheaded concerned citizens, and Eminem's a regular damned feminist.

7
Skip James Cuts a Woman in Half ("22-20 Blues" - 1931)

"22-20 Blues" tells the tale of a woman who just won't get her act straight. See, Skip James sent for her, on several occasions, and yet she didn't show up! The brazen audacity! Of course, in the world of blues, there's only one way to deal with minor punctuality issues: brutal, brutal murder.


Big on punctuality.

A Few Choice Quotes

Sometimes she gets unruly;
An she act like she just don't wanna do;
But I get my 22-20;
I cut that woman half in two;


Source.

Your .38 Special;
Buddy, it's most too light;
But my 22-20;
Will make ev'rything, alright;

Shooting your woman with a mere .38 pistol? That's for pussies. Ironically James soon found himself humbled when Robert Johnson recorded a far more popular version of his song. The only real change Johnson made? He upped the caliber and named it the "32-20 Blues." It was all about the gun size with those boys.

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6
Lucille Bogan Fucks Corpses ("Shave 'Em Dry" - 1935)

Looking at a picture of Lucille Bogan, it's easy to imagine her as the motherly type, making breakfast and scolding you for your dirty mouth; but in reality beneath the modest exterior was the queen of the "dirty blues," and the writer of such classics as "Sloppy Drunk Blues," "Tricks Ain't Walkin' No More" and the "Bull Dyke Women's Blues."

Her most infamous song was "Shave 'Em Dry," a three-minute ode to her own humping prowess so filthy it would Lil' Kim blush.

A Few Choice Quotes

I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb;
I got somethin' between my legs'll make a dead man come.

You know it's a good song when the first two lines reference necrophilia and giant freak nipples.

Say I fucked all night, and all the night before baby;
And I feel just like I wanna fuck some more.

You know how people ask which dead celebrity you'd like to meet if you could? We submit Lucille Bogan for your consideration.


Move over Gandhi! You shithead!

Now your nuts hang down like a damn bell sapper;
And your dick stands up like a steeple;
Your goddamn asshole stands open like a church door;
And the crabs walks in like people.

Er, actually we take that back.

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5
King Solomon Hill Sentences a Woman to Devil Rape ("Whoopee Blues" - 1932)

"Whoopee Blues" is another song about a poor blues man having to deal with a mean mistreating woman. King Solomon Hill isn't one to settle for mere murder though, he wants his woman sent to hell to do it with the Devil--which strikes us as just a tad judgmental. We're no theologians, but we're pretty sure slashing your girlfriend to death with a razor is pretty much a one-way ticket to becoming Satan's bitch.


Don't worry, he's in Hell now.

A Few Choice Quotes

Tell me you been gone all day, that you may make whoopee all night;
I'm gonna take my razor and cut your late hours;
You wouldn't think I'd be servin' you right.

I said, Undertaker been here and gone, I gave him your height and size;
You be makin' whoopee with the Devil in Hell tomorrow night.

Apparently undertakers didn't ask a whole lot of questions back then.


"Height and size, check, and you're paying cash? No problem."

Baby, you done made me love you, now I got me for your slave;
From now you'll be makin' whoopee, deep in your lonesome grave.

Ahhh, now we see. He did it because he cared too much!

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4
Josie Miles Terrorizes a City ("Mad Mama Blues" - 1924)

Obviously violence against women was a bit of an unfortunate theme of early blues; but, as Josie Miles shows, female blues singers didn't shrink from a bit of insane violence either. Josie doesn't even need a reason. In "Mad Mama Blues" she's out to wreck the city like Godzilla in a cocktail dress and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

A Few Choice Quotes

Now I could see blood runnin';
Through the streets;
Could be everyone;
Layin' dead right right at my feet.

"Hello?! 9-11? Quick! You have to... oh God, she's coming!"

Give me gunpowder;
Give me dynamite;
Yes I'd wreck the city;
Wanna blow it up tonight.

"It's Josie Miles!"

I took my big Winchester;
Down off the shelf;
When I get through shootin';
There won't be nobody left.

"Send the police! The national guard! Before it's too... arrrraaghaghh!"


Actual photograph.

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3
Stuff Smith Smokes More Weed Than Snoop ("If You'se a Viper" - 1936)

More than a few rappers have based their careers on professing their affection for certain smokable substances, a proud tradition that dates back to jazz and blues from as early as the 1920s. Apparently one of the worst side effects of pot is a smoker's inability to stop writing songs about it.


This guy liked to do drugs? No way.

A Few Choice Quotes

Talk about a reefer of five feet long;
Not too fat and not too strong.

Come on now, five feet? That's just impractical.


This, but weed.

Now when your throat get dry;
And you know you're high;
Everything is dandy;
Truck on down to your candy store;
Get you kicks off peppermint candy.

Peppermint candy? Munchies in the pre-Doritos era sucked.

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2
Roy Brown Gets Murderous and Gay ("Butcher Pete" - 1950)

So, there were plenty of old blues songs that were either horrifically violent, or sexually explicit, but Roy Brown wasn't a man to be satisfied with just one or the other. His song "Butcher Pete" is about a guy who goes around the countryside "chopping up all the women's meat" with his "long sharp knife." Get it? This is a rare example where hiding the sexual content behind double entendres and innuendo somehow made the song a thousand times more offensive.


Geez, this song is getting a bit offensive. Better add some graphic stabbings.

A Few Choice Quotes

Ever since Peter flew into town;
He's been havin' a ball;
Just cuttin' and choppin' for miles around;
Single women, married women, old maids and all.

It's nice to know Butcher Pete doesn't discriminate. Old maids need chopping too.


Raise your hand if you love to murder!

The police put Pete in jail;
Yes, he finally met his faith;
But when they came to pay his bail;
They found him choppin' up his cellmate.

Whoa whoa, wait. Chopping up his cellmate? Come on blues guys, you already beat rap to the punch when it comes to horrifying violence and misogyny, do you have to claim suspiciously gay lyrics too?

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1
Blind Willie McTell Might Have Been a Serial Killer ("A to Z Blues" - 1956)

From Ray Charles to Stevie Wonder, the list of beloved blind performers is a long one, but as Blind Willie McTell proves, not all blind musicians are quite so cuddly.


The blindness was the only thing that limited his carnage.

At first, the "A to Z Blues" seems to be a standard "my woman done me wrong" blues song, but then Blind Willie goes and gets creative. The result is a song that sounds like something that might have been created had Sesame Street ever been visited by Charlie Manson.

A Few Choice Quotes

I'm gonna cut your head four different ways;
That's long, short, deep and wide.

Cutting heads is a lost art. Most kids today would probably know two different ways max.

When I get a rhythm of this rusty black handle razor;
you're gonna be booked out for an ambulance ride;
Cause I'm gonna cut A, B, C, D on top of your head;
That's gonna be treating you nice like mama you ain't gonna be dead.

Keeping someone alive as you slowly carve the alphabet into them is one of the more liberal definitions of "nice" we've heard. Wait, why are you backing away? We still have 22 more letters to go!

I'm gonna cut E, F, G right across your face;
H, I, J, K, that's where runnin' bound to take place;
Cut L, M, N cross both your arms;
You'll sell an' peddle gal your whole life long;
Cut N, O, P, Q that's gonna be trouble too;
Cause I'm gonna grab you mama and turn you every way but loose;
Cut R, S, T to hear you cry;
That'll be the last time tears a run from over your eyes;
Cut U, V, W on the bottom of your feet;
That'll be the last time you walk up an' down 25th street;
Marking cross your bosom with X, Y, Z;
When I get through with this alphabet;
You'll quit your messing with me.

Blind Willie's dedication to educating as he horrifies is nothing short of inspirational really.




Nathan Birch also writes the not-at-all gangsta web comic Zoology. Chris Naish can be found at ChrisNaish.com.

Want to be Internet famous? Want scores of hookers and cocaine? Cracked can help! Just go here and sign up. No experience necessary.
Sign up or we'll carve the alphabet into your ass.

To see how our generation will never live up to these artists, check out The 10 Least Romantic Love Song Lyrics and The 5 Worst Lyrics Ever to Ruin Good Rap Songs.

And stop by Cracked.com's Top Picks to see Lucille Bogan's thumb-sized nipples.

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