Here’s a little secret about most rappers: sometimes we just want to sing really good (or bad) love songs. Here’s the problem: minus Phonte of Little Brother, Mos Def, k-os, and a few others, we can’t frickin sing. At all. Most rappers would never admit this. Some are openly frustrated 70s R&B crooners (I see you Snoop and Ghostface).
With that in mind, I’m starting a segment called Three For Love. I’m going to spotlight 3 love songs I secretly wish I wrote.
The first track I picked sounds like someone in my position–all desire but not enough talent to be a certified crooner (whattup Dom P!). His name is Pharrell Williams, and he’s been surprisingly successful singing memorable hooks with not much…oh what’s the word…skill? “Frontin'” is probably the best example of this. Think about how BIG this song was when it came out 5 years ago, then think about if you’d ever want to hear Pharrelll’s falsetto ever again. If you watch the video again it looks like the genesis of hipster rap. And I’m still madly in love with the smokin’ hot redhead–any leads on her, fellas?
I’m posting the 9th Wonder remix of “Frontin.” It’s based on a sample of “My Cherie Amor,” still my favorite Stevie Wonder song of all time. Like most 9th Wonder beats, it’s does the job of keeping your head bouncing while not getting in the way of the artist.
Up next is a song from the new Jamie Lidell album, “Jim.” The track “All I Wanna Do” reminds me of Sam Cooke and slowdancing in the summertime. I was huge fan of Jamie’s last album “Multiply” even as James Blunt completely ripped off the same album cover (assclown). This time around Jamie ditches the electronic glitches and quirky effects for a straight forward ol’ soul album. “All I Wanna Do” has the hiss of analog tape, and that’s fine by me. Fellas, if you can’t close the deal with this song playing, may God have mercy on your soul.
Finally, we have the greatest hip hop love song of all time. Sorry Tribe, Common, LL, and Apache but Rakim’s “Mahogany” is the perfect comination of slick, sexy, visual, mature, and Memphis soul. I discovered this song on “The 18th Letter” double album I bought at the Franklin Mills mall in the winter ’97 as I was trying to write my own love song with a sweetheart from the great Northeast. That never panned out, but acquiring this song was worth the trip.
The one thing that always bugged me about this song is the line “You know how far a kiss could go, fuck around and miss the show.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but Rakim NEVER said the F word on any song besides this one. He’s the cleanest lyricist of all time, and yet he decides to say Fuuuuuuudge on a song about an all-world cover girl he met cooling outside the Palladium. Weird.
Buy Pharrell’s musichere
Buy Jamie Lidell’s music here
Buy Rakim’s music here