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At one time, every major rap album had to contain at least one track where the rapper recounted, in extreme detail and in first person, a boastful yet grossly implausible tale involving himself and perhaps his crew. Many believe the mid-80s to the mid-90s was the golden era of rap music storytelling.

This era ended in 1994, with Nate Dogg and Warren G's "Regulate," a song that details, among other events, Warren G looking so handsome that a group of women crashed their car from staring at him so hard. The medium's credibility was never regained, causing many of us to cast a skeptical eye on tales such as ...

5
"Parents Just Don't Understand" - Will Smith

The very first time mainstream America heard from future worldwide superstar Will Smith was the 1988 single "Parents Just Don't Understand," back when Smith was going by The Fresh Prince. It's a bouncy, radio-friendly, lighthearted tale told from the point of view of a teenager that, partway through, takes a turn for the nightmarish.

The second verse, which depicts at least one felony that Smith was apparently never even indicted for, begins with Smith "borrowing" his parents' car while they're away. Then he finds a girl:

That's when I saw this beautiful girlie girl walking
I picked up my car phone to perpetrate like I was talking
You should've seen this girl's bodily dimensions
I honked my horn just to get her attention


Above: What all women want. Forever.

She likes the Porsche and climbs in, then immediately starts desperately trying to seduce him:

She kicked her shoes off onto the floor
She said, "Drive fast, speed turns me on"
She put her hand on my knee, I put my foot on the gas
...
This girl's hand was steadily moving up my thigh
She had opened up three buttons on her shirt so far


At best, his eyes are on the road a third of the time.

At this point he's going so fast he attracts the attention of the police, which is a problem since he doesn't have license. And then:

I almost had a heart attack that day
Come to find out the girl was a 12-year-old runaway

What. The. Fucking. Fuck. Motherfucker.

She's 12?

Let's review. Will Smith, future international superstar and Oscar nominee, says, "You should've seen this girl's bodily dimensions," about a middle school child. A child who says, "Drive fast, speed turns me on" before moving her hand toward his dick.

Finally, she seduces him by unbuttoning the top three buttons on her shirt to reveal her cleavage. Her 12-year-old cleavage.


Daaamn, girl, you're lookin' fine!

I was arrested, the car was impounded
There was no way for me to avoid being grounded

During this whole sequence, a confused Smith seems to think the problem is that he doesn't have a license. No, Will, the problem is that you just abducted a child off the street with the intention of molesting her.

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4
"Funky Cold Medina" - Tone Loc

If you traveled in a time machine back to 1989 and turned on MTV, you'd see a Tone Loc video. He had two hits, both of which were about his dysfunctional and at times clearly illegal sexual habits. The first was "Wild Thing" and the second was "Funky Cold Medina," after which humanity politely asked him to stop making music.

The story beings in a bar, where Tone is frustrated that he's not having any success trying to dig up a one-night stand:


Ladies, help us out here -- what about this is off-putting to you? The glasses?

Cold coolin' at a bar, and I'm lookin' for some action
But like Mick Jagger said, I can't get no satisfaction

First of all, when Jagger said he couldn't get satisfaction, we're pretty sure he was also having lots and lots of sex. No, Tone, your problems are not similar to Mick's. And let's face it, Tone wasn't the most attractive guy. He was a little overweight, wore ratty T-shirts and jeans, and sounded like Wolfman Jack. So right away we see that perhaps Tone doesn't have the firmest grip on reality.

But on the other side of the bar, some normal looking jackoff is surrounded by women. So Tone walks over and asks him how.


It can't be the sunglasses.

So I got up and strolled over to the other side of the cantina
I asked the guy, Why you so fly? He said, Funky Cold Medina
It's better than any alcohol or aphrodisiac
A couple of sips of this love potion, and she'll be on your lap

Yes, the stranger introduces him to a mind-controlling date-rape drug, which Tone doesn't even hesitate to accept. Now, clearly it would be irresponsible to immediately start drugging human women with this concoction. So Tone tests it on his dog, which becomes so aroused it tries to mate with Tone Loc himself:

So I gave some to my dog when he began to beg
Then he licked his bowl and he looked at me and did the wild thing on my leg
He used to scratch and bite me, before he was much much meaner
But now all the poodles run to my house for the Funky Cold Medina

His home now a writhing, yelping canine orgy, Mr. Loc considers this a successful test and immediately proceeds to drug a girl against her knowledge:

She said, I'd like a drink, I said, Ehm -- OK, I'll go get it
Then a couple sips she cold-licked her lips, and I knew that she was with it

What Tone did there now carries a 20-year minimum prison sentence, thanks to the Drug Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996.


Look everyone, a felony! In the wild!

But this was 1989, which was still the 80s, as Tone is about to remind us. So chemically enhanced sexual encounters with unwilling partners were still in a legal gray area. It was a different time.

Tone soon gets his comeuppance, however:

So I took her to my crib, and everything went well as planned
But when she got undressed, it was a big old mess, Sheena was a man
...
This is the 80s, and I'm down with the ladies

Here we learn that Tone alternates his sexual orientation by decade, which means that as of a month or so ago, he's gay again. But we digress. We're going to find out later that apparently, almost having sex with a transvestite is a very real danger in the hip-hop community, as it seems to come up fairly frequently.


Take off the shades and turn those eyes south, chief.

Back in the saddle, lookin' for a little affection
I took a shot as a contestant on The Love Connection
The audience voted, and you know they picked a winner
I took my date to the Hilton for Medina and some dinner

Tone, undaunted and unable to find rest in his home due to the mass of humping dogs that are presumably still in his living room, decides to try his luck on a popular game show from the 80s called The Love Connection. This is where we have a problem. We've seen, recorded and memorized every episode of that show, and we don't recall Tone Loc ever being on it. However, he claims that he not only appeared but won.

We would suggest that he put Love Connection in there because it was the only thing he could think of that rhymed with "affection." But that seems unlikely considering that "erection" is out there.


We would also suggest that this guy win every major music award.

She had a few drinks, I'm thinkin' soon what I'll be getting
Instead she started talkin' 'bout plans for our wedding

So here Tone claims that even though he had a date that was guaranteed by contract, he still used the rape drug. But instead of the girl having sex with him, she wanted to get married, as the chemical has the remarkable ability to not only lower a woman's inhibitions and increase her sex drive, but to also create the kind of illusions of compatibility and long-term attraction that would induce her to propose marriage after a few hours.

This scares Tone, who warns listeners off of using Funky Cold Medina at all, despite the fact that it seemed to work just fine for the stranger at the bar and his dog. At no point does Tone speculate that perhaps he is the problem.


Naaaah.

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3
"Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" - Public Enemy

The tragedy of Public Enemy is that there are fans reading this who are young enough that they know Flavor Flav only as the goofy reality show star.


"Tragedy" is such a small word.

Back in the day, he and Chuck D changed rap music forever. Their first hit album was the bombastically titled It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back in 1988. They rapped about racism and the tragic state of black America, and about their persecution at the hands of a white-dominated government. In the middle of it all was the prison-break tale "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos."

Subtlety really wasn't their thing.

So first, the arrest:

I got a letter from the government
The other day
I opened and read it
It said they were suckas
They wanted me for their army or whatever
Picture me given' a damn I said never
...
Cold sweatin' as I dwell in my cell
How long has it been?
They got me sittin' in the state pen

So if you're to believe Mr. D, he was arrested for dodging the draft ... in 1988. He evidently got a letter from "the government," which called themselves "suckas" and then had him thrown in prison and scheduled for execution (he says later in the song that he is on "death row").

Clearly the government does some questionable things from time to time, but we've yet to encounter a situation in which an official showed up and said, "I'm a stupid asshole. You have the right to remain silent."


"The motion passes. This month, we will refer to ourselves as 'tards.'"

But that just goes to show how much different things are for the black man in this corrupt system. Once in prison, Chuck devises a plan to break out. The first step is to call Flavor Flav, resulting in this exchange:

Flavor Flav: Yo Chuck, you serious, you in the justice man?
Chuck: Word 'em up. I'm lookin' for that steel.
Flavor Flav: Yo, man, we gonna break you outta there, man we ain't goin' out like that man.

One thing we learn from that exchange that Chuck D is in fact a man, at least in the mind of Flav. After this, we find out that Chuck's intricate escape plan consists of waiting for the guard on death row to fall asleep while leaning against his cell:


Apparently, malls and prisons used the same employees back in Chuck D's day.

You know I caught a C-O
Fallin' asleep on death row
I grabbed his gun -- then he did what I said so

All right, so Chuck was fortunate enough to wind up in the most escapable prison since that one with the magnet boots in Face/Off. Now with hostages, it's time to make demands:

To understand my demands
I gave a warnin' -- I wanted the governor, y'all
And plus the warden to know
That I was innocent -
Because I'm militant
Posing a threat, you bet it's fuckin' up the government

Wait, are you innocent, or are you militant? You can't advocate overthrowing the government and then complain that you're falsely accused.


Nothing shady goin' on here.

Maybe part of the story is missing? Let's see if we can find a clue in here:

Got a woman C-O to call me a copter
She tried to get away, and I popped her
Twice, right
Now who wanna get nice?
I had six C-Os, now it's five to go

See, it's going to be awfully hard to get the governor to accept your innocence when you just killed a prison guard. And not for attacking you or trying to get the gun away, but for trying to leave. As the listener, we're thinking you're the bad guy, Chuck D.


Who exactly are the "good guys" here?

But then he makes his move, and the story strains our suspension of disbelief one step too far. He and his fellow escapees make a run for it, venturing into the courtyard past the guard towers:

... from the tower shots rang out
A high number of dose -- yes
And some came close
Figure I trigger my steel
Stand and hold my post
...
And then I threw up my steel bullets flew up
And to my surprise the guard tower blew up
What? Who? The bazooka was who?
And to my rescue, it was the S1Ws

Yes, Flavor Flav has shown up with the "S1W's" (Public Enemy's hype men/backup dancers).

Their half of the escape plan was to launch shoulder-fired rockets at the guard tower and presumably the fence.

Now, obviously this is where rappers' tendency to tell these stories first-person muddles things. Clearly Chuck D never murdered multiple prison guards and/or destroyed a prison with rockets. That would have made the news. But his fantasy reveals something deeply disturbing about his personality: In the event of a life-or-death emergency, he thinks it'll be a good idea to call Flavor Flav.


He'd get more muscle out of New York.

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2
"Boyz-n-the Hood" and "Nobody Move" - Eazy-E

Before Ice Cube was starring in family comedies and Dr. Dre was doing Dr Pepper commercials, they were in a rap group called N.W.A. with a tiny man named Eazy-E. And before Boyz N the Hood was a critically acclaimed 1991 gangster movie starring Ice Cube, it was a 1987 song by Eazy-E.

Eazy sadly passed away in 1995, but in his prime he went on an imaginary crime spree that shocked the nation.

On an encounter with a friend who tried to steal his stereo:

Chased him up the street to call a truce
The silly motherfucker pull out a deuce-deuce
Little did he know I had a loaded 12-gauge
One sucker dead, L.A. Times first page

It seems unlikely that the shooting of a single man over a stereo would make the front page of the newspaper in a city that averaged two or three homicides a day at the time.


Only if that sucker was famous or young and pretty.

But anyway. Maybe the guy stealing his stereo was the mayor or something. Then Eazy meets his girlfriend:

Went to her house to get her out of the pad
Dumb ho says something stupid that made me mad
She started talkin' shit, wouldn't you know?
Reached back like a pimp and slapped the ho


And here we were under the impression that real mothafuckin' G's used bats.

Here we're introduced to a theme that is going to be repeated throughout nearly all of Eazy-E's tales: his penchant for solving problems by slapping people. Which brings us to our second example from the Eazy-E catalog, "Nobody Move," detailing an armed robbery by Eazy and his crew.

This is a stick-up, everybody get face-down
Ren, gag their mouths so they can't make a sound
...
Take out the security guard with a slap of my hand
Yeah, he's wearin' a badge, but he's a old-ass man

Here Eazy takes out the guard with his superhuman slapping abilities. Again, in real life, Eazy-E was about the size of a middle school cheerleader.

Now it's time to deal with the closed-circuit security system:

Cover the lens on the TV screen
you know, so me and my gang just can't be seen

Eazy covers "the lens on the TV screen." Now, we're not the most tech-savvy people in the world, but even we know that that's not the way security cameras work. The "TV screen" part is what displays what's on the camera. The actual camera is somewhere else. Covering the screen will prevent Eazy and his gang from seeing themselves on the closed-circuit security system, but the cameras will continue to record. Nearly all problems in human society can be traced back to this "if we can't see it, it is no longer a problem" fallacy.


"How much you wanna bet this whole 'Hitler' thing just blows over?"

So the guys are robbing the bank and slapping random people when Eazy notices a woman he'd like to rape. During the robbery.

Peepin' at a bitch cause my dick's on hard
...
and then untie the ho, so I can start creepin'
I said: "Lay down, and unbutton your bra!"
She had the biggest titties that a nigga ever saw

But then the plan runs into a complication:

The suspense was makin' me sick
She took her panties down and the bitch had a dick!
I said: "Damn," dropped the gat from my hand
What I thought was a bitch, ain't nothing but a man


Underwear conceals so much.

Yes, the exact same scenario as played itself out in "Funky Cold Medina." Of all the problems to plague the inner city in the late 1980s, apparently having an attempted rape go south due to the victim being transsexual was at the very top of the list. It comes up a lot. We could start getting into the implications of this, but it really should be the subject of its own book.

Eventually the police surround the bank, and Eazy demands a helicopter "so we can get away clean, and take some pussy along if you know what I mean."

It doesn't work. Police shoot tear gas into the bank, and the guys get arrested, but only because Eazy's gun jams. We're not sure why he didn't just slap his way out.

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1
"Paul Revere" - Beastie Boys

Just like Will Smith, the Beastie Boys were in their 20s when their first hit album, License to Ill, came out in 1987, but played the part of teenagers in some of their songs. But then you have the Beastie Boys origin story "Paul Revere," which is not in fact about Paul Revere but instead tells of how the group became friends in the course of a crime spree:

The song begins with Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz) riding through the desert on his horse:

Had a little horsey named Paul Revere
Just me and my horsey and a quart of beer
Riding across the land, kicking up sand
Sheriff's posse on my tail cause I'm in demand


Sure you are.

Why is he on a horse? Wait, is this an Old West tale? That would at least make it transparently fictional, and thus more honest than the other examples on this list.

The sun is beating down on my baseball hat
The air is gettin' hot, the beer is getting flat
I was lookin' for a girl

Hmmm ... no, he's wearing a "baseball hat." So that eliminates two explanations as to why he's on a horse -- he's neither a cowboy nor Amish.

So he's clopping through the desert, drinking a beer and looking for a girl to party with. Now, it's suspect enough that he should be looking for someone to have sex with in the middle of the desert, but he also has the cops on his tail. They couldn't catch him on horseback? Are the cops on foot?

The horse seems important to the story, since the song is named after him, but they never mention him again. Already this raises doubts in our mind.


Beastie Boys and their "horse."

Out of the blue, MCA (Adam Yauch) appears. MCA asks for a drink of Ad-Rock's beer, which Ad-Rock denies him. MCA replies by pulling his gun, introducing himself and demanding -- at gunpoint -- that Ad-Rock become his friend and get drunk with him:

He put the gun to my head and this is what he said,
...
Now, "I got the gun, you got the brew
You got two choices of what you can do
It's not a tough decision as you can see
I can blow you away or you can ride with me."


A guy with hair that silver might waste a dude for coke, but not beer.

Ad-Rock agrees, and we learn why he came to be riding through the desert on horseback:

I'll ride with you if you can get me to the border
The Sheriff's after me for what I did to his daughter
I did it like this, I did it like that
I did it with a wiffleball bat

This tale of rape is an anomaly in the rap universe in that the victim does not turn out to have both male and female genitalia. But still it raises more questions than we can cover here. Ad-Rock tells MCA he knows of a club that serves champagne, which will satisfy MCA's need for something to drink and will get Ad-Rock across "the border" and out of the sheriff's jurisdiction:

We rode for six hours then we hit the spot

To you aspiring criminals, this is why horses do not make good getaway vehicles. To get out of a sheriff's jurisdiction in America, you only need to get out of the county, an area just 20 or 30 miles wide at most. This trip takes them six hours.


They'd have gotten there faster by Segway.

Then again, the sheriff is still not able to catch them. Maybe the deputies are all confined to wheelchairs?

They reach the bar, and once inside, they see a guy who apparently knows MCA. They sit next to him, and he immediately stands up, announces that he's robbing the place and shoots two random customers:

The kid said, "Get ready cause this ain't funny
My name's Mike D. and I'm about to get money."
Pulled out the jammy, aimed it at the sky
He yelled, "Stick 'em up!" and let two fly
Hands went up and people hit the floor
He wasted two kids that ran for the door


Yeah, that we can believe.

Then he does something that really makes us doubt that he or any member of this group has ever successfully committed a crime: He tells everyone in the bar his name.

"I'm Mike D. and I get respect
Your cash and your jewelry is what I expect"

Then we are introduced to the unsung hero of this story:

... I grabbed the piano player and I punched him in the face
The piano player's out, the music stopped

We're talking about the club's piano player. Apparently, the pianist is so dedicated that during the entire robbery, multiple gunshots and two murders, he just kept on going. The music didn't stop until Ad-Rock punched him in the face.


"He's deaf and blind! This guy is Ray Charles squared."

At this point, the three gather up all of their loot, Ad-Rock abducts two women, and they leave (if you're keeping count, that's five people who had to pile onto the back of poor Paul Revere).

Presumably they chose to form a rap group shortly thereafter.

Be sure to pick up our New York Times bestselling book and learn who else has been lying to you.

For more from John and Dave, check out 7 Impractical Rock Star Fashions We Wish Had Caught On and What is the Monkeysphere? .

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