A Season of Songs, day 43: Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Today’s song is “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” by Dr. Dre, off his 1992 debut album “The Chronic”.

Rat-tat-tat-tat late at night with my gat
On the streets of LA
Wonderin’ where the pussy at

Overall I’m not a big fan of Dr. Dre and this album.  I understand its importance in the evolution of rap and the creation of the G-Funk sound, but I generally find Dre to be unlikable. This feeling was supported when earlier in this writing project I was looking for information on “Pump It Up!”, the hip-hop show i’ve mentioned throughout several of these write-ups so far.  Apparently after an interview with Ice Cube after his breakup with NWA, Dre took it upon himself to physically assault Dee Barnes, host of the show, because he felt the interview portrayed him poorly (not sure how beating up a woman helped improve that public perception).  Rough.

That being said, there are a couple tracks on this record that are hip hop classics and its hard not to recognize them.  “Nuthing but a ‘G’ Thing” and “Fuck Wit Dre Day” are the tracks that really solidified Dre’s place in hip hop and introduced Snoop Dogg to the world.  Lyrically the album doesn’t go too many places – drugs, sex, violence, drugs, sex, violence. These review snippets I found on Wikipedia spell it out pretty good, saying the album is a “frightening amalgam of inner-city street gangs that includes misogynist sexual politics and violent revenge scenarios” and regarding the offensiveness of the lyrics: “a spirited cleverness in the phrasing and rhymes; in other words, the song is offensive, but it’s creatively offensive”  Listening to this album is an exercise in separating the art from your personal politics (well, at least for me).

But when you get down to it, “Nuthin but a G Thang” especially is an unfuckwithable song.  That fuckin’ groove.  The back and forth of Dre’s deep vocals and Snoop’s smooth delivery.  The “It’s like this and like that and like this and uh” chorus.  Mix that with the classic early 90’s video with the convertibles with the hydraulics, family picnic and house dance party and you have a perfect snapshot of west coast hip hop at that time and a song that just begs to be played while driving around on a summer night.

“Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” starts off with a sample of a man saying “You really don’t understand do you? Hey man, don’t you know, in order for us to make this thing work we gotta get rid of the pimps, and the pushers, and then start all over again clean”  Dre quickly dismisses this thought process with a “N*****, you crazy!”  And then the song is basically just another dedicated to talking about how he won’t hesitate to use his gun.  It’s got some catchy bits but nothing too exciting.

I do have to admit to thinking the “The $20 Sack Pyramid” skit on the record is terribly amusing.  Offensive, but amusing.

Mixed feelings on this one.  Couple great tracks, but overall I don’t recommend the album.

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