Rasheeda's the type of "gurl" who can make you look at "bubble gum" in a whole new way.
Pop quiz, Hotshot.
Do you remember Rick James' song "Superfreak"? Of course you do. The super-funky jam with the haunted house sound was reincarnated as MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This". All right, well, there was a lyric in "Super Freak" that's relevant to Rasheeda's Dat Type of Gurl, and it goes a lil' somethin' like this: "She's a very kinky girl / the kind you don't take home to mother".
Throughout Dat Type of Gurl, Georgia rapstress Rasheeda distances herself from the woman in the Rick James tune, insisting that she's "the type of gurl you wanna take to yo' mama's house". By the way, "gurl" is pronounced as "gull" in Rasheeda's Georgia accent.
About the whole "mama's house" thing, you might say, "Really? She must be some 'gurl'!"
Let's find out. Do you remember the late '80s? Whether you do or don't, take a stroll with me through the hip-hop archives. Before LL Cool J followed his mama's directives regarding potential knockout victims (Mama Said Knock You Out), he released Walking with a Panther, which contained the single "I'm That Type of Guy", a spoken word, sh*t-talking, girlfriend-stealing beast of a track. With ego and machismo in full effect, LL snatched girls from their boyfriends like a fistful of snacks, all the while humiliating his less fortunate, less cool counterparts with lines like:
You're the type of guy that has no idea
That a sneaky, freaky brotha's sneakin' in from the rear
I'm the type of guy...to eat it when he won't
And look in the places...that your boyfriend don't
You're the type of guy to try to call me a punk
Now knowin' that your main girl's bitin' my chunk
By the end of the song, LL's "sneaky freaky brotha" routine had struck pay dirt. Not only did he get the girl, he left his underwear -- his un-der-wear, people, daaaaamn -- in the duped "boyfriend's" hamper. I don't know about y'all, but where I come from, this type of crap will most definitely earn you a felony-level ass kickin'. There's no way in the world I'm lettin' some jerk sleep with my girlfriend and leave his underwear in my hamper. You can do one or the other, but you don't get to do both! So I'll just assume "I'm That Type of Guy" isn't part of the prosecution's case against present day hip-hop, to be used as evidence of how songs "used to be about something" and "used to be meaningful". LL's underwear in a brotha's hamper? Whatever. Nevertheless, that joint was the bomb back in the day, no doubt.
Back to 2007's Dat Type of Gurl, we find Rasheeda talking almost as much sh*t as Uncle L did back in '89, stealing as many men as she can fit into her southern drawling, Gucci-fied verses. Rasheeda's the type of gurl who won't bother with "suckas wit' no money", the type of gurl you shouldn't approach "if you're still livin' wit'cha mama". From a man's perspective, claims of this nature are always curious to me. Does this money talk mean that if the man's got money, the woman's going to stay around to help spend it, but when the money's gone and the man's broke again and living with his mama, the woman will disappear too? If so, that means you (the guy) were never really in a relationship in the first place. Seems to me it's better for the men in these songs to either stay single or stay broke. That'll save time, heartache, and finance charges on those credit cards.
If you're female, Rasheeda thinks you should be the type of gurl who does what she does: basically, act like a boss. She also says, "I can do a whole lotta tricks with my behind" ("Do Yo Thang"), which is probably optional. Best to leave such complicated issues to the experts. In the back of mind, I'm vaguely aware that while there are all kinds of important issues going on in the world, Rasheeda's releasing songs about the resilience and elasticity of her rump, but I try not to think of that too much. Meanwhile, you (ladies) should make sure you're wearing what Rasheeda wears: Gucci shoes, fresh tattoos, diamonds, gold chains, extensions, and plenty of "Vickie's Secrets".
We can all agree that hip-hop is in dire need of stronger female representation. What that representation should look and sound like -- that's where the consensus breaks down.
Let's talk about the type of emcee Rasheeda is not. Mainly, she's not trying to amaze you with the complexity of her rhyme scheme, although she can shift the delivery of her crunk into a faster gear when necessary. She throws her lyrical punches in combinations of simple end rhymes, and often in self-contained pairs, with a setup line ("I change rides more than some of y'all change clothes…") followed by a knockout blow ("…It's so hot but, yet, the wrist is so cold").
No need for big words or multi-syllabic flows but, at 16 tracks, the redundant delivery and subject matter start to wear thin, as the album plods forward over synthesizers and the usual club-oriented drum programming, without covering new ground. Standard "southern crunk". The situation isn't improved by the fact that a healthy chunk of the songs have already been released, so you're getting completely new material, more like a reformulation of Rasheeda's Georgia Peach album.
In addition, there are some awkward comparisons ("Put me in some milk / Boy, I'm sweeter than some Lucky Charms", as if Rasheeda's been listening to another LL Cool J tune, "Milky Cereal"), and then there's the use of slanguage, as in, "I'm fly like a bizzerd [bird] / mini is the skizzert [skirt] /…I been up in the gym, so my body nice and fizzerm [firm]". Like, whizzut the fizzuck? I thought we were done with the "iggity"-era and words like "shiznit" and phrases like "off the heezie". Done, I tell ya! E-40 is the only person who can still get away with it.
Mostly, though, she's straight and to the point, which begs the question: what exactly is the point? Well…
Dat Type of Gurl consists of three types of songs: (1) Rasheeda's baller status, proven by her clothes, cars, and jewelry ("Dat Type of Gurl", "Flawsin'", "Poppin' Bottles"); (2) dancing and hanging out at the club, where she will flaunt her clothes, cars, and jewelry ("Let It Clap", "Dance Flo"); and (3) sex, which she can get as easily as she gets her clothes, cars, and jewelry ("My Bubble Gum", "Neva Wanna Leave", "Georgia Peach").
Ignoring the overlap between my artificially created categories, the "baller" and "sex" tracks are the best, as the clubbin' tracks become repetitive and tend to lack fresh hooks. "Let It Clap" is a good example of this, as Akon guest stars, singing, "Love the way you open up like a folder", which is hilarious to me, "Wanna see it clap when you bend it over". Another clunker is "Doin' This", a noisy club jam in which Rasheeda and Fabo trade observations about the party: "My girls doin' this" and "My boys doin' that". Pretty straightforward stuff, not really conducive to repeat plays.
The "sex" rhymes are the most intriguing, partly because, let's face it, "sex" is an interesting topic, but also because "sex rhymes" involve an interpersonal dynamic. When you're a "boss", the lyrics reflect the isolation implied by being at the top of the social food chain. It's like, "Forget everybody else; it's all about me", which places your particular brand of livin' large at the forefront. Sex songs at least imply the presence of another person -- and you know what happens when other people are involved, right? Usually, you get drama. And that's what keeps us attentive. Why do you think I watch soap operas? For the amazing writing and insightful character development? Hold on a sec while I get my laughter under control…
All right, I'm back.
Note that I called these songs "intriguing", not "stellar". They're definitely not the type of songs you want to play at "yo' mama's house". Take "My Bubble Gum" and its posse track remix featuring Fabo, Kandi, Diamond, and Princess. Musically, the "My Bubble Gum" songs alternate between a hard hitting beat and a wimpy snap and tick rhythm. I wish the harder beat had remained a constant. But lyrically, "My Bubble Gum" is an ode to being orally pleasured by a man -- Rasheeda, the "Georgia Peach", won't "mess around wit' no man who won't eat her". All right, that's…cool, I guess, but the bubble gum imagery is odd and sounds like an extremely painful metaphor. I think there's too much "chewing" going on for it to work properly, but that's only a layperson's opinion.
Similarly, "Georgia Peach" gets, um, deeper into the act, with more physical description and a sense of what the act represents -- "It's therapeutic," she says, "and it helps me relax." Like "My Bubble Gum", the image of a peach is difficult to take seriously. It's only adequate when you don't think about it too hard.
"Neva Wanna Leave" takes the discussion in a different direction. Boasting a confident R&B swagger in the same vein as Missy Elliott's "Pussycat", "Neva Wanna Leave" brags that a sexual experience with Rasheeda is so mind-blowing (as good as "sweet potato pie" no less!) her partner will never get enough. One time is all it takes, and he's hooked. "My kitty's so good, it make a n*gga neva wanna leave," sings Kandi, former member of the R&B group Xscape, on the chorus.
Well, all righty then.
The difference between Missy's track and Rasheeda's is that the speaker in Missy's song used sex to keep her man from leaving while the speaker in Rasheeda's isn't interested in holding on. In fact, once she's hooked him and made him "whine like a baby", Rasheeda's interest wanes and she won't even return his phone calls anymore.
Even though it's not new, my favorite cut is "Pack Ya Bags", featuring Kaleena. Following the same R&B formula as "Neva Wanna Leave", "Pack Ya Bags" approaches relationships from the opposite angle -- that of the wronged girlfriend. After "playing the fool", she's wise to her boyfriend's cheating ways (thanks to discovering incriminating pictures on his cell phone) and she's ready to kick him to the curb.
I don't want to over-intellectualize these pieces with stuff like, "See, what you have to dig is how Rasheeda's ownership of her sexual politics operates as the cornerstone of her individuality and radical inversion of traditional gender roles." Hey, maybe that's true, maybe it's not. At the same time, I don't want to get on a morality trip about the CD simply because she's not rapping about issues I think are relevant.
What it all boils down to is this: Rasheeda's baller numbers and sex rhymes keep your head nodding. Dat Type of Gurl is loaded with collaborations -- you'll hear Fabo, Kandi, Kaleena, Lil' Mamma, Birdman, Jazze Pha, Skinny P., Tex James, Nitti, Pastor Troy, Diamond, and Princess -- but it's always clear that Rasheeda is the star. The downside is that Rasheeda won't dazzle you with deep thoughts or an incredible delivery. Rasheeda's the "type of gurl" who keeps her messages simple and plain.