Hey ya, possums!
We’ve received breaking news of paramount importance to fans of OutKast. The rumors of a split between André 3000 and Big Boi are rumors no longer. Big Boi has unceremoniously left André 3000 to his saddle shoes and Glen plaid knickerbockers, and has taken on a new partner, none other than Marcel “Outcast” Vigneron.
So what convinced Big Boi to make sweet musical love to Astro Boy? Why, it was Marcel’s performance of his rap on this week’s episode, the lyrics to which we reproduce below.
“These People”We can understand why Big Boi acted as he did. We, too, were absolutely blown away by it. In its own, more modest, way, it had the impact of The Rite of Spring. Call it The Rite of That Freak Warm Day in Early March That Makes You Think Spring Is Around the Corner Even Though You Won’t See Crocuses Till April, Sucka. At any rate, it made us want to exercise all those intellectual muscles from our university days, when we hung out with the other lesbians from the Comparative Literature Department at the LitClit Café (just up the street from Café Pamplona, for those who know the “lay of the land”).
For all the haters out there
As soon as I came to this spot,
You started trying to make me
Out to be something I’m not.
It’s taken every ounce that I got
Not to pop you in the face.
And you have no grounds to base
Your accusations off of,
‘Cause your building’s built on quicksand.
You say my food lacks fundamentals
Like salt and pepper.
And I’m, like, “Yo, man, whatever.”
I don’t even get stressed,
Because I know, at the end of the day,
My food is fucking soigné.
We began by giving props (if that’s how one says it) to the far-sighted artistic decision by Bravo’s visionary producers to shoot Marcel’s performance on the rooftop of the loft building. The rooftops of downtown L.A. are steeped in musical tradition. Everyone from U2 to Beyoncé to Nelly Furtado to Paulina Rubio has performed on them; it was only fitting that Marcel’s début should take place in such hallowed surroundings. There was also the resonance from our collective memory of the rooftop scenes in West Side Story, with its increasingly timely message of musical resolution to gang violence, since that is exactly what we are witnessing on Top Chef. The Crips and Bloods have nothing on the Foamers and the Fomenters.
Now for the work itself.
We tried a little scansion—the first line looks like this, “˘/˘˘/˘˘/”—but gave up after we got a headache from the complex rhythmic structure, that mélange of T.S. Eliot and Tupac.
“And you have no grounds to base/ Your accusations off of,/ ‘Cause your building’s built on quicksand.” We took this as a thinly veiled, but nonetheless powerful, indictment of the real estate boom in Las Vegas, Marcel’s home turf, a way to decry the corruption of schemer-dreamers who daily pave the yellow brick road to that sand-colored Emeril City.
However, we cringed at the “off of,” which is our number-one pet peeve (we refuse to date a man who owns a hair dryer, says “off of,” or uses “laying” instead of “lying”). But then we realized that it was merely our privileged background speaking, and that we just didn’t get it. How could we possibly understand Marcel’s pain? How could we focus on things as petty as prepositions in the face of bepompadoured suffering? We were consequently beset by an attack of liberal guilt so strong that not even Preparation H could alleviate it. A thousand lashes with a wet soba noodle for us.
“You say my food lacks fundamentals/ Like salt and pepper.”
We marveled at Marcel’s dexterity in alluding not only to Ilan Hall’s charge that Marcel doesn’t know how to use salt and pepper in his cooking, but also to Salt ‘N’ Pepa, who, before they found the Lord and VH1’s The Surreal Life, were absolutely fundamental to the nascent arts of hip hop and rap.
“My food is fucking soigné.”
Our favorite line, bar none. Oh, the mix of linguistic registers! Oh, the alliteration! Oh the mix of food and sex and French! Oh the humanity of it! And the contrast between “fucking” and “soigné”! As Monsieur Lambert Wilson says in that Matrix movie, it’s like farting through silk. Or better yet, like that moment in King Vidor’s 1949 The Fountainhead, when Patricia Neal sees Gary Cooper working the pneumatic drill and then he breaks into her house, rips off her pretty silk clothes and has the kind of rough, boundary-breaking sex that can be had only by a pointy-breasted-succubus-painted-in-Ayn-Rand’s-own-image and a lanky-well-hung-and-laconic-objectivist-Nietzchean-superman-based-on-Frank-Lloyd-Wright. Furthermore, the placement of “fucking” next to “soigné” is both homosexual and thug; it’s a line of poetry that is (itself) “on the DL.” Truly masterful.
We wish Marcel the best of luck with his musical career as he tries to move beyond the notoriety of being the hip hop version of The Girl Who Broke Up Reese and Ryan.
And that’s a rap, possums.