I’d run up to other kids and say,
“You know what you are? You’re a garbbblelecyuhdar.”
“A what?” they’d reply.
“It’s a Swahili word. It’s actually the worst swear-word you can ever say. Far worse than shit or fuck or any of those other ones.”
And I’d insinuate, with hand gestures, what it actually meant – a suitably vague description of complex sexual acts that I’d half-picked up from Limp Bizkit lyrics.
And, if I was successful, the victim would say,
“How do you pronounce that?”
And they’d run on to someone else, and spread the word.
“You’re a garbbblelecyuhdar.”
Surprisingly enough, the actual word may not have been garbbblelecyuhdar. But that wasn’t the point. Swearwords are awesome, particularly if you’re a child only just coming to terms with the transgressive power of moving your tongue, lips and teeth to make a certain set of syllables, and break the world around you. Every child should remember the first
Bitch is ancient. And it still has bite, astonishingly – in part, presumably, to its misogynistic connotations, and in part due to that resonant ‘tch’ sound. Its brothers and sisters have fallen to the wayside in their thousands, like bugger, which now sounds so quaint you could easily imagine American tourists coming to visit a Little Teashop of Buggery in Stratford. Hell, that gives me a great idea for my next business venture.
A bit like this, only with more buggery.
The verb ‘bitch’ is even more misogynistic, because it’s so much more insidious. To complain behind someone’s back, it implies, is an essentially feminine trait. And it is interesting that “son of a bitch” or “biche sone” has been around for just as long as the word itself – you could even stretch the argument to suggest that women were partly only designated as bitches so that men could insult other men.
Now, I know Jay-Z doesn’t have 99 problems. I know this, because he lists them. Critics, radio shows, and rap magazines. Racist policemen who jump to the conclusion that he’s up to something illegal (according to the video, they’re on the money), which takes up a whole verse so that Jay-Z can make repeated James Bond-esque quips at their expense. The unsubstantiated case of a pussy who “tried to push me”, resulting in increased paparazzi attention and the D.A. asking for a half-a-million bail fee. So we’re talking seven problems at most. Really, not very many problems in the larger scheme of things.
He actually has a new book out, in which I very much hope he discusses this obvious error of mathematics. It’s called ‘Decoded’ and it purports to be about the poetry of rap. It won’t be. Because Jay-Z’s not a poet. Nas is a poet. Jay-Z’s a businessman (and I don’t think he’d mind that description too much.)
Jay-Z, for example, has never coined the word Schweppervesence, as Nas does in Life’s a Bitch. But more importantly, Nas can still pull off that peculiar combination-persona of street poet/ultra-violent criminal/materialistic businessman/drug-user/reflective parent and benefactor to the young that’s so popular amongst a certain breed of rapper. But come on, Jay-Z; you’re best mates with the President of the United States. Do you expect us to believe that you personally drive around with drugs in the back of your car? Much as I’d love to think that Obama just turns up at one of your parties and sits quietly in the corner, wincing at the constant gunshots and politely refusing the cocaine (his wife would kill him), I don’t believe in it.
Take, for example, the “bitch” of 99 Problems. Apparently this is a woman who Jay-Z is seeing, and who he believes he has under his thumb. Now, we all know who Jay-Z’s seeing. It’s Beyonce. Beyonce who in the single Single Ladies sings about being a single lady taunting her ex-boyfriend in a nightclub by being promiscuous, who clearly has a one night stand in One Night Only, and who picks up an unnamed man in Naughty Girl and inviting all of her female friends over for a mass orgy with him. Beyonce, look out! Jay-Z is a psychopathic criminal. Didn’t you listen to any of his songs?
A woman clearly physically and emotionally cowed by a short man who looks a bit like a potato.
Which, I wonder, is the reality? How does Beyonce feel when she sees Jay-Z singing 99 Problems? Proud? Sad? Resentful?
In fact, the only rapper who is actually qualified and morally justified to sing about bitches is Snoop Doggy Dogg, as he is, self-affirmedly, a dog himself. So let’s end with the Dogg’s poetic wisdom, mobbing with the dog pound, just feeling the breeze, smoking indo, sipping on gin and juice.