Greatest Album of All Time?
I was recently rummaging through my record collection and--wait, actually it's a CD collection, no one has records anymore--I pulled out an old gem that took me back to 8th grade. I hadn't heard this album in years, so I put it into Aiwa and hit PLAY. After listening to it, I decided that this was, without a doubt in my mind, The Greatest Record of All Time
You might be asking yourself, what album was it? The Beatlesí Abbey Road
? Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon
? The Clash's London Calling
? Nope, none of the above. In my opinion, the greatest album of all time is 2 Live Crew's seminal rap album As Nasty As They Wanna Be
. As Nasty As They Wanna Be
is not only a paragon of deep, heartfelt songwriting but also a critical and farcical examination of modern society and misogyny. Let's take a close look at some of the more important tracks on this most important of albums.
As Nasty As They Wanna Be
's first track is Me So Horny
, and like many of the album's tunes, is a love song. This track starts off with a sample of dialog from Stanley Kubrick's classic Full Metal Jacket
in which a young Vietnamese girl attempts to explain to an American GI that she do everything he wants in order to secure his love. This is echoed in the song's refrain, in which the same Vietnamese girl explains to the GI that she will love him for a long time--a most touching and heartfelt sentiment. This right here is a testament to love's strength in the face of adversity which, in this case, is the horror of the Vietnam War. The actual song starts off with the singer lamenting sitting alone at home with no one to love--a universal theme in modern American culture. Who amongst us doesn't dread a Saturday night alone in front of the television watching old reruns? The singer goes on to proclaim his love for an unknown woman whose parents disapprove of their relationship, as evidenced by the line "I know he'll [her dad] be disgusted when he sees your pussy busted, won't your momma be so mad if she knew I got that ass?
" This is obviously a classical literary reference to Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet
, perhaps the greatest love story ever written. The final verse describes the consummation of the subjects' relationship and contains what is perhaps the most tender and loving line ever written in modern music: "Put your lips on my dick and suck my asshole, too
". The songwriter's intent is clearly to both proclaim and prove his love for someone very close and dear to his heart. All in all, Me So Horny
is a great track that does an excellent job of setting the mood for the rest of the album.
Another important track on the album is its third, Dick Almighty
. This song serves as an allegory on the dominance of the male gender in modern American society. What better way to assert male dominance than by proclaim oneself to have large genitals? This behavior is a natural one, mirrored by most mammals in the animal kingdom. For instance, it is usually the lion with the largest penis that is the alpha male in a particular pack. In this track, a critical examination is made by the songwriters of the somewhat misguided value that society places on genital size and how this can sometimes blind persons to the true worth of a male individual. The lines "That dick has got a spell on you, once it gets inside, you'll act the fool. That dick will make a bitch act cute, suck my dick, bitch, and make it puke.
" clearly lament the fact that power is often equated with penile size, though to the intelligentsia
, of which the 2 Live Crew are clearly members, this is a notion to be laughed at. The songwriter goes on to explore the idea that there are many in society who believe that only men should be awarded power and prestige and that there are women who'd go to any length to attain this genital-related power, as evidenced by "Jump up on it, grab it like you want it. If you could wear a dick, bitch, you would flaunt it.
" This is powerful societal commentary and a critical look at the interpersonal power struggles plaguing America, and the world at large, today. The songwriter is trying to make a point about male dominance and importance, especially as the chief caregiver and breadwinner in many post-War nuclear families. As chief provider in many families, it is up to the male to provide for his family, especially his wife, as explained in the line "That dick, is a greedy bitch's dinner
"--meaning it's the male who provides shelter and food for his wife--"I let a bitch feed before going up in her
"--meaning that it's important that the male takes care of the survival needs of the woman in the relationship before he himself is sated.
The next track is a change of pace, acting as a fun foil to the serious tone of the rest of the album. C'mon Babe
is a playful look at modern American sexual relationships. While seemingly lighthearted, it is a critical look at the pitfalls of an empty, one-night-stand fling that is sought and participated in for purely sexual, rather than love, reasons. This song contains probably some of the best-written lyrics on the entire album, such as " When the party`s over, we can get together, Go to my house and fuck forever, And do whatever comes to mind, Let me stick my dick in your behind
", which beautifully illustrate the lust-based sexual relationship that the singer laments. The writer goes on to describe the folly of pretending that such a one-night-stand is more than it actually is--that there is love involved just because there are the trappings of love, as seen in the line " You can pour me a glass of Dom Perignon
Then suck my dick until I cum, Soft is your body, tender is your kiss
". After all, what is more romantic than a glass of fine champagne? The writer then follows up with a promise that if this were true love, then he would give up his playboy lifestyle of chasing women and that there will be " No more clubs and sex on the run
", leaving the listener hope that there will be a moral resolution and a change in attitude on the part of the subject.
The final track I want to examine is a cleverly-written metaphor on the rampant "sexification" of America, in which society is becoming more and more focused on sex. This is dangerous, in the opinion of the songwriter, as it is removing the "love" aspect of sex and focusing more on the instant physical gratification context of the act of intercourse. The songwriter cleverly calls his vision of modern American media and society The Fuck Shop
--a title that offers a clear thesis that today's overwhelming sexual symbolism and references in the media have denigrated the act of making love to the more sinister and loveless "fucking"--i.e. having sexual intercourse for the sake of physical rather than emotional gratification. The first line of this song is designed to show the listener the dangers of this "sexualization of America" by stating that soon, in our collective psyche, there will be no alternative to having sex for physical gratification as we, society, will have learned to dispense with the emotional aspect as modern media has inclined us to do: "There's only one place where we can go
"--meaning "no alternative"--"where the price is right just to fuck a ho
"--a clever reference to America's TV--and, therefore, media--obsessed population, via the classic game show The Price Is Right
. Are we headed inevitably towards a breakdown of "proper" society? The writer uses flying symbolism to evidence this point: "Spread your wings for the flight, let me fill you up with something milky and white
". This echoes the use of the bird as symbolism in classical literature. For instance, in Kate Chopin's classic Awakening
, in which the author uses imagery of a caged bird to symbolize how the main character, Edna, feels trapped as a wife and mother in New Orleans' Creole society with no outlet for her creativity. Likewise, we as a society face a future of being "caged" into a world where love has no meaning. This usage of symbolism is a testament to the learned and intelligent nature of the songwriter and of this great band.
All in all, As Nasty As They Wanna Be
is a perfect requiem on today's society. The 2 Live Crew clearly states their position as one of lamentation for simpler times when love meant something more than raw animal attraction and media wasn't corrupted by the lowest common denominator, but at the same time, offer hope for the future. While this album is 14 years old already, like many of the great records, it is a timeless classic. Many of the concerns voiced by the songwriters are still valid today and we can only hope that in another twenty years, As Nasty As They Wanna Be
will still stand tall amongst the Pantheon of great musical achievements of our time while the societal issues will have dissipated into mere memories.