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How Big Is Your World? Cam’ron & Vado – “American Greed”


So, I’m listening to this song. You know, the Cam’ron and Vado song called “American Greed” that has a hook that declares, “you get more dirty when your collar and shirt white” and invokes Bernie Madoff, Kirk Wright, and Lou Pearlman? Yeah that one. And I’m also reading about how a NATO airstrike killed one of Gadhafi’s sons tonight and mostly, it’s just like, that’s pretty “gangsta,” right? We take out this motherfucker’s family, just like we did with Sadaam’s kids. That’s some real enforcer type shit.

And of course, the wonky war parallels keep coming. Another effort that probably has some good intentions behind it (this time humanitarian, last time some loose idea of spreading democracy) but has a lot to do with “oil” too (though not exclusively, get smarter you cynics) and well, some half-insightful goon rap can really punch you in gut if you’re thinking hard enough. It helps that AraabMuzik’s beat is this completely evil, simmering Argento score type thing, that Vado has the singular ability to make his verses sound like hooks and his hooks like verses, and well, Cam’ron’s just being his decadent self, interested in oral sex punchlines and Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon references only.

Awhile back, Bun B started calling himself “Big Dick Cheney,” which yes, was a dick joke, but was also a way of calling our old vice president exactly what he was: a bad-ass criminal. For decades, rappers compared themselves to the real or fictional crooks they looked up to: Tony Montana, Richard Kuklinksi, John Gotti, etc. Those guys though, are all ultimately, pretty inconsequential. Dick Cheney man, now that’s a real villain. And Bernie Madoff too. There’s also that really great line in Jay Electronica’s “Bitches And Drugs” (“If rap was blacks in the sixties/I’m a white cop in riot gear ready to hose down”), which again, adds some real sociopolitical weight to a simple “I’m bad” boast. “American Greed” is the same type of goofy, tangentially political shit talk rap. Fuck “Maybach Music.” We need more Madoff Music.

*I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention something about Bin Laden’s death here, which happened less than a day after I posted this. All I’ll add is that this both undermines my hand-wringing above and kinda proves my point: There’s very real, not-so-pleasant actions and consequences behind all this stuff. Last night, Cam’ron and Vado reminded me of that fact. This evening it was our own president who invoked “the costs of war” in a speech that was like a lot of Obama’s speeches, conventional and rah-rah enough to satisfy people who want that kind of thing, but quietly turned and complex enough for anyone listening harder. It’s a dark, half-hopeful speech if you sit there and really listen. As it should be.

Written by Brandon

May 1st, 2011 at 5:33 am

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