Mon 24 Jul 2006 12:00 PM
One night not too long ago I was in a fine drinking establishment – I honestly can’t remember which one – when 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” came on. Shocking, I know. If you’ve been semi-lucid and in the proximity of any alcohol in the past four years, this situation has happened to you. Indeed, on the racetrack of possibilities where hearing this song is the course marker, I can’t even guess at what lap this commemorated. But I’m pretty sure I’m losing. At previous listenings, this song has triggered the conditioning I underwent at the hands of high school dances where dark lights, bouncing girls, and driving bass boost heart rates and erode taste, causing me to get up and shake my thang. This masterpiece is in every DJs ‘break in case of emergency’ tool box. On this occasion, however, my Pavlovian response was on vacation and what I heard was not a man in control of his situation – a Caesar of debauchery and violence sent to lead us into a Golden Age of intoxication, ecstacy, and patriarchal absolutes – but a poser who insists on the claims he’s making all the more emphatically because deep down he’s terrified they’re not true. Not that I thought 50 was an icon of truthiness before, but the slick-yet-dirty production and intensity of the song suspended my disbelief under circumstances that could best be
described as ‘spinny.’ Instead of a universal rallying cry for all things booty, the song became the introductory monologue of a character that you know is going to realize the hollowness of his efforts at the end of the play, unseated by a more virtuous and humble upstart; a call of desperation by someone so deep in the carrion of excess that they saw no way out. In this ironic light, the following lyrics took on a whole new meaning:
You can find me in the club, bottle full of Bud Mama, I got that X, if you into takin’ drugs I’m into having sex, I ain’t into making love So come give me a hug if you into getting rubbed… …And you should love it, way more then you hate it Nigga you mad? I thought that you’d be happy I made it I’m that cat by the bar toasting to the good life You that faggot ass nigga trying to pull me back right?
In my mind, 50 Cent went from the most indictable proponent of fratboy narcissism to one of the most brilliant critics of the same behavior. If you can hear the words in this way, it’s like one of those 3D computer generated images where you have to cross your eyes a certain way: Everything in the song takes on new meaning. Other
mind games you can play with yourself to make life more interesting:
- When watching talk shows, pretend all the guests are stoned. (works better with some celebrities – Harrison Ford, surprisingly – than with others)
- Instead of just walking down the street, imagine you’re on top of the world rotating it with your feet. Also works when walking up stairs and feeling like you’re pushing the whole world down.