The year rap got drunk: 2009's best hip-hop songs about booze
The last 12 months are likely to be remembered for their eclectic cultural sweep -- as the year Tiger Woods was sucked into a vortex of groupie hell, Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme came tumbling down and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” became a legitimate dinner party talking point. But at street level, ’09 will go down in the annals for something else entirely. It was the year hip-hop finally plunged face-first into full-blown alcoholism.
We’re not talking about “You can find me in the club / bottles full of bubb” -- or any of that namby-pamby, bling-era conspicuous consumption (Jay-Z, as well as every other MC to rhyme “Cristal” with “pistol,” please pay your waitress and leave). Mainstream rap went giddy, downright hiccuping drunk, glorifying alcohol consumption. This year, the pop charts were awash with MCs and R&B crooners extolling the virtues of chasing a buzz and winding up wasted -- hopefully with some kind of sexual conquest to offset the bar bill.
Somewhere, Charles Bukowski and Dylan Thomas are probably tuning in to Power 106 FM. Meanwhile, auto-tune savant T-Pain and Crunk’s capo di tutti capos, Lil Jon, emerged as this year’s preeminent champions of booze-sozzled hip-hop. So herewith, the top 9 (as in '09) most alcoholic-enabling hip-hop songs of the year.
“Shots” – LMFAO featuring Lil Jon
Jägerbombs, lemon drops, Jello shots and kamikazes as well as premium liquors such as Ciroc Vodka and the rappers’ de facto favorite (judging by its ubiquity in hip-hop songs since 2006) Patrón tequila all get a shout-out on this Crunk-inflected club-banger. Even if the song’s “we came to party” ethos is hardly groundbreaking, its hook remains unforgettable: Lil Jon hoarsely screaming the word “shots!” 16 times in a row.
“Blame It” – Jamie Foxx featuring T-Pain
“Blame it on the Goose, got ya feelin’ loose / Blame it on the 'trón, catch me in a zone / Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol,” Foxx sings with no small amount of added Auto-tune attitude in this boudoir jam that was all but inescapable on Top 40 radio earlier this year. Yes, he is talking about Grey Goose and Patrón. But later in the song, he lays bare his reasoning: by continuing to fill a potential love interest’s cup, she’s more likely to lose her inhibitions – “Fill another cup up / Feelin’ on your butt what?”
“Crack a Bottle” – Eminem featuring Dr. Dre and 50 Cent
“So crack a bottle / Let your body waddle / Don’t act like a snobby model / You just hit the Lotto,” Em sing-raps on the chorus of this party track. The operative thinking here conflates sobriety with snootiness and getting wasted with winning a lottery jackpot.
“Crazy Night” – R. Kelly featuring R. City
“This Hennessy got me,” R. Kelly croons on the lead cut from his latest album, “Untitled.” Then he gets to the chorus: “If you’re drinkin’ what I’m drinkin’, put your hands up in the sky / If you’re thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’, you’ll say, 'What a crazy night!' ” But R’s consumption hardly stops there. In the song, he also brags of a “thousand dollar” bar tab, concluding, “I need another shot of that Bacardi” -- recklessly ignoring the inevitability of a hangover such booze mixing will provoke.
“Maldito Alcohol” – Pitbull
Reggaeton was no stranger to hip-hop’s reigning dipsomania. Exhibit A: rapper Pitbull spitting lyrics (in Spanish) such as “I don’t want water / I want a drink”. . . “Damn alcohol, sweet torment / Give me a drink on the rocks.”
“Wasted” – Gucci Mane
“Party, party, party, let’s all get wasted,” the rapper exhorts on this hit single. “Shake it for me baby girl, do it butt naked / I’m so wasted, she so wasted / Tell the bartender send me 20 more cases.” The discrete charms of this hit single don’t end with the incontrovertible logic of its chorus, however. Mane also presumes the intoxication of certain notorious pop divas, mentioning that the booze has got him “geeking like Whitney and Britney.”
“Patrón Tequila” – the Paradiso Girls featuring Lil Jon
We can all agree that Crunkmeister Lil Jon was the man behind this year’s most unabashedly pro-booze music. On this paean to rap’s preferred tipple, though, the Paradiso Girls make vocal a silken threat: “By the end of the night, I’mma have you drunk and throwin’ up.”
“One More Drink” – Ludacris
An unapologetic ode to putting on one’s “beer goggles,” “One More Drink’s” narrative drama revolves around the ramifications of Luda having that proverbial one too many. Drunk driving and bedding ugly women ensues: “Surrendered to the woman / And her bringin’ me home / Because she looked better / Every shot of Patrón.”
“I’m So Gone (Patrón)” – Chamillionaire featuring Bobby Valentino
Chamilly and Bobby Valentino go for the obvious couplet here, rhyming “I’m poppin’ bottles of Patrón” with “all night long.” For the rapper, it’s clear that alcohol provides a palliative for his worldly concerns. “I’mma wash my problems away,” Chamillionaire raps. “Tonight I need a drank.” R&B Lothario Valentino, meanwhile, announces that he doesn’t usually drink but admits he’s “gone” -- read: wasted -- from drinking a mixture of tequila and rose wine.
-- Chris Lee
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Photo, top left: Pitbull. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times
Photo, top center: Ludacris. Credit: Getty Images
Photo, top right: R. Kelly. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times