The Shrubbery
August 1999
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Why I now like rap and R&B

By Jason Morrison

Back in the day, when MTV used to play videos, there was one surefire way to get me a-surfin'. Snoop Doggy Dog. Dr. Dre. Any rap or R&B, in fact. I hated it.

But now, things are different. I no longer skip over BET like some kind of C-SPAN, I no longer flip over to Discovery when ever MTV Jams, Jams Countdown, Jam of the Week or Top Ten Jams of the Week Countdown come on. I find myself glued, in fact, to the latest videos. And I'll tell you why.

I dig chicks in robot costumes.

I think the problem has always been that MTV-Jamsesque music never gave me anything I could relate to. Ice Cube may be very good at rambling on about ghetto life, but I was a nerdy white boy-what did this all mean to me? Don't get me wrong, I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, in an outer-ring suburb with inner-ring decay. But I knew nothing of what NWA spoke, or even House of Pain, really.

And as for R&B, what knew I of the love sung about by the lovely and talented Toni Braxton, being young and nerdly? I bought the Boyz 2 Men album, but found it repetitive.

Even more recent musicians like Puff Daddy or Master P left me wanting. How could a poor college student like myself relate to gold-plated limos or even tanks? As their dancers shook booty camera-ward, I only felt a longing to touch said booty.

Sadly, I could not.

But now, things are different. I trace much of it back to Missy Elliot, who, with the mere use of a giant garbage bag suit and some interesting beats, woke me from my stupor. She sat on a fake grassy hill, and twisted and jerked this way and that like a malfunctioning android-finally a dance move I could do! I could hardly believe my eyes--they were moving like Maria from Metropolis.

At this point I must mention Busta Rhymes. I feel that I and he may have been separated at birth. He likes to say a bunch of gibberish really fast-- I like to say a bunch of gibberish really fast. He likes karate moves-- I took Tae Kwon Do for years! He wear outrageous costumes-- and I don't, but I don't care about the 'standard' fashions either! And most importantly, he did a commercial for the Sci-Fi Channel shouting, "I am Sci-Fi!"

I am Sci-Fi!

Then there's guys like Dr. Octagon, rapping about science, technology, time machines, etc. These urban beat poets are opening up my soul.

Now even boring, over-produced R&B hits have dancers wearing robot underwear. Some may say it has come about through a gradual evolution of more expensive, elaborate, and revealing costumes for the divas and the fly girls. Janet Jackson made an important step when she traveled to the future to sing in a computerized Japanese brothel, even though she was not a robot per se. The girls of En Vogue wore shiny metal armor as they told us all to free our minds. Prince had girls looking like dominatricies, and even today we find dominatricies side to side with robot-women-- sometimes the same women in two different parts of the video! And recently, Will Smith made it cool to rap while brandishing small but devastating alien future-weapons.

What does the future hold? Well, if I've learned anything from movies, television, and comic books, its that the future is either a strange new utopia or a post-apocalyptic wasteland-- either way, filled with robots! I predict that soon, every video will feature both real women dressed as robots and real robots dressed as women. Rappers will fire phaser-AK's designed by Industrial Light and Magic while they put the smack down on Sucka MC's. That is, until real phaser weapons are available, which will probably happen around the year 2014.

All I have to say is, when it comes to music videos, the future's so bright, I have to wear shades, bi-otch!

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