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Ludacris (#110 of 3)

Best of the Aughts A Single Take, #40 - #31

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Best of the Aughts: A Single Take, #40 - #31
Best of the Aughts: A Single Take, #40 - #31

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the previous installment of this feature.

40. Gucci Mane, “Freaky Girl” (Hard to Kill, 2006)
Last year, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, Gucci Mane suddenly become a rap critic favorite. Perhaps he really is a new man and his new mixtapes testify to bold new frontiers in punchlines, but I doubt it. Mane is notable as one of rap’s more documentedly thuggish characters—murder charges were at one point dropped against him for insufficient evidence—and, for me, solely for this song. After I left Austin, I rarely drove except when visiting home home, so I only got to catch up with radio hip-hop twice every year; since that’s commercial radio’s change-over cycle anyway, that didn’t prove to be a big deal. I first heard “Freaky Gurl” on the way to the airport, maybe the last time I discovered a song like that. The lyrics are hypnotically moronic. On the radio version, Gucci lays down fool-proof instructions in the chorus: “She’s a very freaky girl / Don’t take her home to mother / First you get her name, then you get her number / Then you get-some get-some in the front seat of the hummer.” (The actual uncensored version—“get some brain”—is less satisfying for some reason.) The verses are even dumber, to a degree that seems like a joke (“You’s a college girl? Come be a Gucci girl”). The beat, however, alternates between standard late-’00s minimalist nonsense and a verse that sounds like a lost John Carpenter cue for Halloween; the contrast between the two component parts is impressive. The video’s even better: I don’t know if Gucci actually realized what was happening in the video or just did as he was told, but here he’s depicted alienating every single woman he leers at. They all walk away in disgust as he toasts himself (the other glass is rested on his Hummer). The rest of the video depicts Gucci rapping against a remarkably prison-/purgatory-like backdrop.

Anything But This

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Anything But This
Anything But This

There are whispers that Paul Haggis’ Crash might take Best Picture from Ang Lee’s gentle-spirited presumptive frontrunner Brokeback Mountain. I really hope it doesn’t, because if it does, I’ll be so angry that I’ll have to retire my long-term posture of benign condescension towards the Oscars and start hating them on general principle.

I realize the Academy has been making lot of wafer-bland Best Picture choices since the ’90s (American Beauty, Shakespeare in Love, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago), honoring films that are slick and entertaining and perfunctorily “smart” but not the least bit resonant, films that don’t hold a candle to at least 10 or 15 English language films from that same year that didn’t win, and that certainly cannot stand proudly alongside such previous Best Picture winners as The Deer Hunter, All About Eve, On the Waterfront, Gone with the Wind, The Last Emperor, Amadeus, the first two Godfather movies, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and even The Silence of the Lambs and on and on and on. But compared to Crash, the recent batch of Best Picture winners looks positively brilliant. If Haggis’ movie wins, it won’t just take home a statuette, it’ll claim a new title: the most indefensible Best Picture winner since 1956’s tax shelter spectacle Around the World in 80 Days.

Six Things I Learned from Grammy

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Six Things I Learned from Grammy
Six Things I Learned from Grammy

1. Grammy producers still believe that more musical performances = higher ratings. This may be true, but some of us actually enjoy the sport of watching who will win. By the 30-minute mark, only one trophy had been given away but there were already a slew of lifetime achievement acknowledgements (see #6) and live performances, including a mess of an opening act that included Maroon 5, Los Lonely Boys, Gwen Stefani and Eve, Franz Ferdinand, and no less than three performances of the Black Eyed Peas’ sell-out hit “Let’s Get It Started.” God, I hate that song. I half expected the group to start jumping up and down all over the stage during U2’s performance later in the night.