The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 October 2005

Keister parade

The first rap record generally recognized as such was 1979's "Rapper's Delight," a grafting of some South Bronx street nonsense onto a repurposed Chic groove. Except to the extent that their disc sold fairly well, though, thereby establishing the existence of a market for the stuff, nobody is likely to accuse the three guys who made up the ad hoc "Sugar Hill Gang" of being particularly influential; hardly anyone even knows their names.

And while various thugs and blingmeisters have gotten their names, or at least their pseudonyms, into the national discourse, the most important hip-hop disc, I'm starting to think, is Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back." Not only did it sell in the requisite zillions, but the very cut-and-paste culture that made it possible has found incredible versatility in this ballad of bootyliciousness. Richard Cheese (on Tuxicity) cut a lounge version a couple of years back; translations into Latin and Regency English have been carefully undertaken; and most recently, Jonathan Coulton has worked up an alt.country version. In Coulton's own words:

I've wanted to cover this song for a long time, because it is excellent — there's a wonderful message in there for those of you who have big butts. In the proud tradition of many white Americans who came before me I hereby steal and white-ify this thick and juicy piece of black culture.

And we're glad he did.

(Via Chris Lawrence.)

Posted at 10:11 AM to Tongue and Groove


TrackBack: 6:23 AM, 17 October 2005
» Latin In Odd Places from Curculio
I just found out that someone calling himself both 'logoparenthÍtÍs' (accents in the original) and 'quislibet' has translated Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" into Latin....[read more]

No. No. I refuse to believe that the MIx-a-lot thingie is more important than "Rapper's Delight."

Posted by: david at 10:26 AM on 16 October 2005

I'll go David one better: the use of the words "rap" and "important," outside the context of a criminal prosecution, is simply wrong.

Posted by: McGehee at 11:07 AM on 16 October 2005

Baby Got Back may actually represent the apex of the genre. Basically, all hip hop that came after that was just a re-hash.

(No, I don't much listen to hip hop.)

Posted by: aldahlia at 3:12 PM on 16 October 2005