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Saturday, June 27, 2009

THAT REPRESENT MAN



Near as I can tell it comes from Muddy. The boastful first person narrative set to song. Muddy told you he was a Man, then he told you how to spell it.

"Now when I was a young boy, at the age of five
My mother said I was gonna be the greatest man alive"

"I spell mmm, aaa child, nnn
That represents man"

He also told you he was a Hoochie Coochie Man, then he defined it for you.

"The gypsy woman told my mother
Before I was born
You got a boy child's comin'
He's gonna be a son of a gun
He gonna make pretty women's
Jump and shout
Then the world wanna know
What this all about
But you know I'm him
Everybody knows I'm him
Well you know I'm the hoochie coochie man
Everybody knows I'm him"

After the Beatles, John Lennon was lauded for the brave artistry of his naked first person approach to the song.

"I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in Kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me...
Yoko and me
And that reality"



Today, we hear the first person proclamation of superiority in Hip Hop fairly pervasively. Every MC has to mack in a compelling manner. If not, the artist will get eaten alive by the fierce competitive nature of the game. De La Soul's positive vibrations may have been honorable, but in the end it didn't serve them very well. P.M. Dawn anyone? Graciousness and intelligence just can't stand up the the muscle of a Microphone Fiend with Lyrics of Fury.



"I was a fiend before I became a teen
I melted microphones instead of cones of ice cream
Music orientated so when hip-hop was originated
Fitted like pieces of puzzles, complicated
'Cause I grabbed the mic and try to say 'yes yall'!
They tried to take it, and say that I'm too small
Cool, cause I don't get upset
I kick a hole in the speaker, pull the plug, then I jet"

For the generation between Lennon and Run DMC, however, it was Bon Scott who felt compelled to list his many vice related virtues. Scott's braggadocio of badness, perfectly supported by the super tight and sleazy boogie woogie of the band (AC/DC) was the jagged edge that poked a hole in the bag of 70's rock bands stuck in a self-conscious trend of journalistic commentary and observation. Rock was pretentious. Even the Punks, who's self proclaimed raison d'etre was to be the thorn in the side of the pretentious self-indulgent Rock establishment, were pretentious in so doing.




Bon Scott was not pretentious. On occasion he would write subjectively, or, even actually in the third person, but mostly it was Bon on Bon, like Muddy, like Jay-Z, Bon was a boaster, and he made you love him for his arrogance.

"I'm dirty, mean and mighty unclean
I'm a wanted man
Public enemy number one
Understand?
So lock up your daughter
Lock up your wife
Lock up your back door
And run for your life
The man is back in town
So don't you mess me 'round

I'm T.N.T.
I'm Dynamite"

Ain't that a man?

Surely there have been other noteworthy practitioners of the Boast, Ted Nugent and Kiss come to mind, but not nearly on the scale of Muddy, Bon, and two decades of MCs.

Comments:
Love your choice of Eric B & Rakim naturally. Good mash up. Bon: the truck driver with the golden pipes
 
Cool post. I've been listening to Bo Diddley a lot lately and it's interesting that he references himself in the third person in his songs so often, like there was a totally different being named Bo Diddley than the guy who was singing. Apparently, he was a gunslinger.
 
De La Soul is still making some fantastic music....they never had to boast to get their point across. Did you actually mention PM Dawn & De La Soul in the same thought? Seriously?
 
Hey! Blues nerd here, weighing in:

Actually, Muddy's tune "Mannish Boy" was an uncredited cover of the Bo Diddley tune "I'm a Man" which itself was strongly influenced by Muddy's tune "Hoochie Coochie Man" written for him by Willie Dixon. So I would pretty much credit Dixon for the general motif. But give Bo Diddley some props too. "I'm a Man" copied the call and response between the personal bragging and the Hoochie Coochie-esque riff but leaves out the I-IV-V changes on the refrain staying on the root chord for the whole tune.

Anyway, I agree with your general point. Good insight!

To DC: Few people realize how much Bob Dole was influenced by Bo Diddley. :-)
 
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