Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Master P - Mama's Bad Boy (1992)

I have a facebook friend called Melissa-Jane. She's one of those facebook friends you have as a facebook friend because she's your friend on facebook. She works at some kind of community yoots place in my old hood, and thus occasionally posts slightly demonstrative status updates about hanging out with da mans dem and the most bangingest dubstep producer being a fourteen-year old member of her yoots group. I'm sure she's listened to a fucking shitload of dubstep in her time, so she should know. Her other notable facebook posts have included a few house exchanges, people with names like Toby and Jemima, owners of a cottage in the Lake District very keen to swap for a few weeks if anyone has anything around the Dordogne; and some crowing over Jay-Z speaking out against overuse of the word bitch, because it's sexist to call a lady a bitch and that's bad. He's probably read my blog post, she snorted brayingly, because she had written a blog post about Jay-Z's sexist song 99 Problems. How can he say bitch, she probably asked in the blog post, when he is married to Beyoncé who is a lady and bitch is a word for lady? I say probably because I only remember the general thrust of it, most of which was qualified by Melissa-Jane explaining how she herself only listens to real rap, like that nice J-Live dude. Apparently J-Live has a significantly more respectful attitude to bitches than Jay-Z. I tried pointing out that Jay-Z nicked 99 Problems from Ice-T, but she didn't seem particularly interested; so I unfollowed her because 1) I don't really like excessively middle-class people, particularly not those who bang on about being down with the kids, 2) J-Live is rubbish, 3) no good ever came of knowing someone named Melissa-Jane, and 4) bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks.

Anyway, to get to the point, if we imagine some sort of metaphysical realness sphere - for want of a better term - the kind of thing Plato might have envisaged had he grown up around Bedford-Stuyvesant, then this Master P album would be at the exact opposite pole of our hypothetical sphere to Melissa-Jane, everything she stands for, all her treasured J-Live twelves, and everyone she's ever known or met. Mama's Bad Boy be some surprisingly ig'nant shit, and that's why it's a classic. It might of course be argued that I'm just some ageing cracker getting his anthropological jollies from things which scare middle-class people, but none of y'all bitches be sayin' that shit to my face, and Mama's Bad Boy is still a great album.

As the millionaire entrepreneur behind No Limit Records, Master P should require no introduction, but Mama's Bad Boy dates from way back when he very much did require an introduction. Musically it's a bit rough around the edges compared to later No Limit productions - your basic north California variation on the g-funk of the day - although the bass is nice and it has a warm studio feel, predating beats written inside a silicon chip and all that; but it works because that stuff still sounds great, a touch jazzy, summery with a nice low boom-bap contrasting hard against the lyrics. Master P has never been the world's greatest lyricist, but he sounded reasonably decent back in 1992, although to be fair there was less competition back then, and as always he makes up for what he lacks with personality - and of course the enduring magic of ig'nant.

It's poverty, shootings, waiting on that bubble up and the usual. Women tend to divide into those conducive to sucking a dick and those from whom one catches a venereal disease; and I'm awarding extra points for the creative retooling of We are the World:

We are the world,
We are the dealers,
We are the ones that sell crack-cocaine,
So let's start selling...

It doesn't even rhyme! That's how much of a fuck Master P doesn't give on this album. We're a long, long way from Arrested Development.

We need the ig'nant shit because sometimes life can be so crap that it's the only thing which makes any sense and which doesn't sound like bullshit; and yes, there's a certain aroma of celebration in some of the judicious beatings and shootings described here, and it's very irresponsible, and I'm sure Melissa-Jane would give Master P a piece of her mind should he wander into a certain yoots club; but if it bothers anyone, there's a heapin' helpin' of context at the end when our man - I'm guessing about eighteen years of age when he dropped this record - shouts out to everyone he knew at school who didn't live to appreciate his success, and it's one hell of a long list. So as with most ig'nant rap, yes it's funny because this is the sound of kids entertaining their friends and making them laugh; and it's funny that the term ig'nant will probably upset those who feel we should know better; and maybe it isn't Shakespeare or Chaucer or Common or Doseone or any of those boring wankers; but unfortunately it is real, at least on its own terms. Mama's Bad Boy is what happens when you cram people into run-down housing between a liquor store and a gun shop, so just be thankful that one good thing came out of it on this occasion.

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