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Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune

The Best And The Worst - Vol. I

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This is the first edition of what I hope to be a regular feature on "Taken At The Flood": The Best And The Worst. Explanation:

Yesterday I was running in the park with J's iPod Nano, listening to a particular song that I find highly annoying, when I realized, with astonishment, that it is in actuality a "diss track". I quickly determined that this song had to be the all-time worst of its kind, in stark contrast to the pinnacle of the artform, with which I am very familiar. Hence the new ongoing feature. Hope you enjoy it.

The Best And The Worst - Vol. I: Diss Track

The Worst: Hollaback Girl, Gwen Stefani
Miss Stefani, who generally exhibits a modicum of competency in her music, apparently was miffed at ubercrackwhore Courtney Love due to an oblique slight. In time-honoured tradition, Miss Stefani chose to respond through her art, generating what is known in the colourful patois of the street as a "diss track". The resulting song, "Hollaback Girl", is notable in that the sheer banality of its lyrics is made even worse by its gobsmackingly terrible execution. The intro is awful. The refrain is insipid. Pharrell Williams' production is abysmal. The best diss or battle posturing she can manage is "gonna make you fall, gonna sock it to you". In a word: pathetic.

The Best: Hit 'Em Up, Tupac Shakur
This track appeared during the culmination of the Great East Coast-West Coast Beef, which I hesitate to adumbrate as time and space will not permit me to treat the subject with the serious scholarship and attention it deserves. I hope that one day my eminent colleague Double Barrel will write a full dissertation on this period of hip hop history.

Hit 'Em Up was 'Pac's 1996 response to the Notorious B.I.G.'s 1995 diss track "Who Shot Ya", which was widely interpreted as mocking Tupac's 1994 assault, during the course of which he was shot 5 times. The song is the pinnacle of its genre, featuring perhaps the greatest rapper of all time, at the top of his game, holding forth on a subject which exercised his most fiery passions. The song is masterfully produced, and its lyrics comprise some of the most vicious, unrepentant and biting words ever recorded. The song begins with Tupac declaring "I ain't got no motherf__ing friends/that's why I f__ed your b___ you fat motherf___er", a statement which sets the tone for the rest of the diatribe. During the course of the track, Tupac, in a fierce machine-gun staccato:
  • repeatedly brags that he has cuckolded Biggie
  • taunts that Biggie copied his style
  • alleges that one of Biggie's "Mobb Deep" associates has sickle-cell anemia and risks sustaining a seizure or heart-attack
  • insults Biggie's mother
  • threatens to kill all of his enemies, and instructs them to "die slow"
  • insults the record company Bad Boy Records "as a staff, record label, and as a motherf___in' crew!"
  • suggests that he and his California associates will bomb his targets
  • disses, in no particular order: Biggie, Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, Lil' Kim, Junior M.A.F.I.A, Mobb Deep, Lil Caesar, Bad Boy Records together with its affiliates and business associates, the New York hip hop establishment and, finally, each target's respective mother

The resulting song is a masterpiece, a time-tested classic. Check it.

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About me

  • I'm Sunset Shazz
  • Living the dream in Istanbul, Turkey
  • I grew up in the hardscrabble streets of suburban Ottawa, Ontario, committing petty crime, insulting the elderly - basically the classic misspent youth. When I was 19, I moved to West Philly, where I put myself through the Wharton School by dealing crack and hustling. After stints in Paris and London, I eventually graduated and moved to San Francisco, where I put in eight years hard labor working for The Man. But now I pop bottles with models, deciding cracked crab or lobster - who says mobsters don't prosper?
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