The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sax on the Beach

Sometimes my addiction to watching YouTube videos that I was obsessed with in Junior High School leads to negative thoughts and I become perilously certain that I might be a hipster. Because when you're 24 and watching something that you loved when you were 10 or 11, you can't be quite certain if you're appreciating it ironically or not. Yet unlike PBR or mustaches or plastic glasses, a video like Wreckx N-Effect's "Rumpshaker," was never uncool. In fact, knowing every word to every verse guaranteed you street cred, if there were such a thing at Beverly Vista Elementary School at the dawn of the Clinton era. But then again, I do have the aching suspiction that if a song of the caliber of "Rumpshaker" came out today, I'd probably instantly dismiss it as just another R&B song talking about girls with nice asses. That being said, I could care less. "Rumpshaker," is an awesome song, with a video that can only take one to garguantuan heights of awesomeness. And besides, it got in on the songs talking about girls asses' bandwagon early, and in the words of Hansel, "I respect that."

After a mere five seconds of watching the video for "Rumpshaker," one is besieged by one-all-too-important question: Why is this unbelievably hot girl playing the saxophone alone at the beach? This is quite mysterious. Is she unaware of the greatest party ever, being hosted directly adjacent by Markell and Teddy Riley and Aquil Davidson, the masterminds behind Wreckx-N-Effect? Or is she just bored by the ever-present debauchery engrained in the 1992 Virginia party scene and just wants to blow the sax, alone on the beach, while wearing a two-piece bikini? And if so, what has led to this soul-crushing boredom?

Yet one must also ask themselves, what exactly is wrong with the men of Wreckx-N-Effect and every other male at the party? Here, they have a beautiful and obviously musically capable woman, wailing on her saxophone, mere yards from your party and yet they don't ask her to come over, nor do they offer her a drink. In fact, all they do is video tape her on an old-school camcorder while ranting and raving about its "zoom" function. This is bad form. I would've thought that they would've known better. Of course, in all likelihood, they must've tried to spit game at her prior to the shooting of the video. This must be a fact, because no man can ever resist a hot woman playing the sax on a beach. It is not something you see every day. Therefore, the subtext looming beneath this seemingly innocuous scene must be one of rejection. The woman must've forsaken Wreckx-N-Effect's advances to hone her craft on the beach. Spurned, the New Jack Swingers, created a song capturing their wanton lust for the unknown sax girl.

With that in mind, we must analyze the recondite and sheer greatness of the video. First off, it goes without saying that the early 90s are the most awful yet amazing period in the history of fashion. The garish and gaudy styles of the 80s were still in vogue, yet they somehow got all mixed up with the era of Cross Colours and of the pro-black African nationalism of X-Clan and Public Enemy, leading to fashion ensembles that resemble a cross between a Falco and an Andre 3000 video Perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about, but I don't have any other theory as to why in the course of the video, Teddy Riley, the man with the camcorder (I think), is seen wearing a neon pink and and green bathing suit, a dangling gold chain, a leather motorcycle jacket, a black cut-off muscle shirt with matching short black shirts and my personal favorite look, NASCAR veteran, complete with a red bandanna and a checkered red and yellow NASCAR shirt.

On top of it all, the video manages to slip in every rap video cliche you can think of: girls shaking their asses shot, the guys chilling on the motorboat shot, the black and white shot, the male dancers doing all sorts of crazy moves in the background shot, the beach scene shot. Other than the beat-down shot, I can't think of one cliche they didn't hit.

And how can I write about the brilliance of "Rumpshaker," without mentioning the lyrics of the song, written by Pharrell Williams, who took his $10-15,000 "Rumpshaker,"
song-writing fee and blew it all on Polo and Ralph Lauren clothing, starting a chain of bad Pharrell Williams decisions that ultimately culminated in the writing of the lyric, "your ass is like a space ship and I want to ride it."

Luckily, the video manages to answer the questions that were seemingly enigmatic to someone who'd only heard the single. "All I want to do is a zoom, zoom, zoom, and a boom, boom." By merely hearing the song, one can assume the "boom boom" of the equation, but zoom, zoom, zoom? Is the rapper riding an airplane? A motorcycle? A segway scooter? You can't be sure. But when you see Teddy Riley, literally zooming with his video camera everything becomes abundantly clear.

Then there is a conumdrum raised in the last verse of the song, when one of the rappers claims about a gyrating video ho, "she can spend every berfday butt naked." Was this common behavior in the Newport News party scene? Were video ho's just willing to spend every birth day butt naked. And if so, did they not go out to dinner in celebration of their day of birth? Indeed it would be pretty absurd to walk to walk into your local Cheesecake Factory butt naked, even if it was your birthday.

And then there was the line, "I don't mind sticking it to her every single night." While the rapper doesn't mind having sex with said video ho, this is hardly a ringing endorsement. In fact, it must've been a huge blow to her self-esteem. While he wasn't averse to the prospect of sticking it to her every single night, he wasn't exactly chomping at the bit. Poor form, Wreckx and poor form Effect, this woman must've been inevitably scarred by their lack of desire for her and in all likelihood, this callous line may have started an eating disorder. For shame.

All in all though, I can't complain about this video. It surely gets two crucifixes up. It has everything one could ask for from a music video: gyrating hos in bikinis, camcorders, boats, gold, saxophones and most importantly, people dancing the robot. So what if it may have knocked down a video ho's self esteem a few notches? So what if it may have raised some important questions associated with spending one's birthday stark naked? The point is, Wreckx-N-Effect like girls who shake their rump and girls who like to shake their rump like Wreckx-N-Effect. And that is all one can really ask for. That and a woman who enjoys playing the saxophone in a bikini on the beach.


At 2:50 AM, Blogger Nate said...

Rump Shaker is the reason Jeff took a liking to a black chick in high school...

But how amazing is Teddy Riley...He made the careers of Bobby Brown, Guy, Wrex 'N Effect, and Blackstreet. Definitely the king of New Jack Swing. Damn Gina!

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Ian said...

Let's not forget the fact that he pretty much produced the entirety of Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" album. That's probably a far bigger deal than anyone will give it credit for.

As for "Rump Shaker," there's just too many awesome lines to quote. I'm thinking "since you've got the body of the year..." and "ticklin' you around Delaware before I enter." Good point about the fashions; I'm pretty sure nobody looked good in the early '90s, but this was something else. Someone needs to do a study about the exponential growth in hotness of video ho's. Just look at a video from 1995 and compare it to "Big Pimpin'" or something. It's astonishing.

But perhaps my favorite part of this song is how that same sax sample shows up somewhere on "It Takes A Nation Of Millions..." Not only that, but the drum sample from "Tennessee" is on there too.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Joey said...

In college, I wrote a piece once about how slept on Dangerous remains. It might not be his best album, but there are so many quality songs on that joint.

I recently did a karaoke rendition of "Rumpshaker" and the shit was blazing. It's always difficult to pick hip-hop songs for karaoke: with a general audience, you can't be too esoteric; with a hip-hop audience (a rarity), you can't be too obvious. And on top of that, you don't want to feel like some jerkoff hipster picking out some seductive "other" for the sheer irony of it. "Rumpshaker" could be seen as an unfortunate choice, but its enduring popularity seems to trump all other considerations. I can't think of any person who doesn't at least smile then this track comes on.

And while talking about samples and repetition, it would be sacrilegious to compare this to "Ain't No Half Steppin'," but can we at least agree that this is perhaps the second-best use of the "Blind Alley" sample? Maybe third? I do like "Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag."

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Yes, the dangerous album was all sorts of awesome...Completely forgot that T.R. had a big hand in that one...Yep, Yep!

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

Teddy Riley really had everything figured out for a good decade or so. Seriously, check out the man's wikipedia bio, it's incredible. He produced Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh in the 80s not to mention the others ones. And as much as post-91, Michael Jackson was a punchline, I'm definitely in agreement that Dangerous was one hell of a record, and Riley produced Remember the Time, still one of my ultimate videos of the all time (this is my next Monday video analysis for sure).

It's funny, I was totally gonna' mention your point about the video ho getting absurdly better looking each year through the 90s. I actually had taken notes on the video and written that same thought down. What the hell happened. Was the influx of money just able to make them attract a hotter caliber of video ho? I really don't understand how it happened.

As for karoake, I feel Rumpshaker is the ultimate "good call". There is no one who doesn't like that song. It's definitely the thinking man's early 90s rap karaoke choice. I'm guessing the the non-thinking man goes with the more ironic choices of "Baby Got Back," or Tag Team's "Whoomp There it Is."

Hip Hop Karaoke choices are tough to get right. The truth is I'm still waiting for the moment when I can bust out a karaoke duet "I got a man," with a hot girl. That will make my life complete.

I'm gonna' say it takes the second best prize for the Blind Alley sample, though Pink Cookies was definitely my favorite song off of 14 Shots to the Dome, an album that I definitely did not like much back in the day, at least compared to Wreck-N-Effects whole album which I actually really loved.


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