You can tell a hit record by the strength of its hook. A current example
is Ghostface Killah’s
“Back Like That”. With its great production and a hook sung by newcomer
Ne-Yo—think Usher-lite (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing)—the track grabs you from
the beginning and never lets go.
In case you haven’t heard it yet, the story related in the
song goes like this: Ghost is a big deal. Apparently, a few women on the side is par for the course. However, his girl didn’t take to kindly to
his extracurriculars. She takes her
revenge by going around with a guy he’s got beef with. Maybe she sleeps with this other dude, maybe
not. All we know is that Ghost’s boys
see her out in this other guy’s new Benz. He confronts her and he pulls an Oran “Juice” Jones on her: She’s sent
packing, blingless, back to her mom’s.
The remix with Kanye West is cool. But what this needs is an answer record by a female MC. She’d tell the woman’s side of the story and
why she, in fact, “got her man back like that.” I mean, this song is overly ripe for an exploration of sexual
politics, because it’s a lens into the fantasy that much of hip hop propagates
about male-female relationships: Guy—a player/baller/Don (as in Corleone)—sets
up Girl in the lap of luxury, in exchange for which she’s supposed to be loyal
unto death and overlook all of his dalliances.
A nimble record company would find the right MC, and put out
a response, the way Roxanne Shante said her piece about UTFO. What a great way to start the summer! Not with some manufactured beef, which is calculated only to sell records. Rather, create some dialogue in the public sphere, the result of which could not only sell records, but could start a much needed conversation and begin to change expections about the role of women in hip hop. This would probably be much more effective than Essence Magazine’s "Take Back the Music" campaign.
I nominate Jean Grae.