Monday, June 23, 2008

Air Force Ones

In case you missed it, I've been gathering works from the past in order to centralize them and put them in some sor of web page-portfolio. While that materializes, I'm going to post a lot of this stuff here just to see if anyone reacts to it. I present to you another essay from my school days, this one was a music review. Enjoy!



Michael R. Adams

Rather than bash my head into the wall wondering who let the dogs out, and spend the afternoon laying in a pool of blood and bile pondering why I can't touch this, I turn off the radio. Instead of disemboweling myself in an attempt to discern L.L. Cool J's idea of paradise, or gouging out my eyes to avoid another shameful video of the Humpty Dance, I turn off (and no longer want) my MTV. Still there's music on the airwaves that I just can't seem to avoid, no matter how much I try. Having said that, the rest of this article will be directed at one song that has frustrated me for some months now. +"Air Force Ones," a hip-hop song by Nelly, is the worst song ever created, for three reasons. *The lyrics are undecipherable; the product that it promotes is of questionable quality; (sadly) it is the best representation of the music genre that it belongs to.

I'll put this quite simply: If I hadn't seen the title of the song, or watched the too-much-attitude-not-enough-brains video, I would not even know what this song was about. To be completely honest, I'm not sure that the "artists" or producers did either. It is most probable that they took the ambiguous non-annunciated caterwaul of a group of talent-deprived pretty-boys, and added the words later. This would explain why such barely audible nonsense as "Ayuh urf unh!" would be conceivably translated to the name of a brand of shoes. After one heroic attempt at listening to the song (one more time) all the way through, I decided to investigate in a manner less offensive to my ears. An exhaustive internet search for lyrics to the song, using such relevant terms as "Air Force," "Ones," and "Hot girl-on-girl action," yielded fruitless (if not entertaining) results. I hit the databases, and finally managed to locate a written transcript. My hopes of finding some meaning to the song were dashed when I was exposed to such poetic gold as "There's somethin bout dem that's dirty why I got em," and "The last person that touched um I been shot um." It seems that the person who wrote the lyric sheet was just as confused as I was.

Unlike the majority of the people who listened to this song on the radio, heard the title of the song, and ran out to buy a new pair of shoes, I have actually owned a pair of Air Force Ones, pre-Nelly. I purchased mine at a time in my life when I was trying to find the ugliest pair of shoes imaginable, and they fit the bill. They're not great shoes. They're overpriced, poorly crafted, and very difficult to keep clean. The song, with its highly repetitious chorus line, would have me believe that they're some sort of incredible super-shoe that will make me athletic, popular, and "bad-ass." They did not give me game. They did not help me to woo (to quote the hip-hop culture) "the bitches." They were, if nothing else, uncomfortable, and nearly traction-less on any graded surface. These facts led me to the conclusion that Nike (the creators of Air Force One basketball shoes), knowing that the general human populace is becoming acutely aware of the flaws in its product, has positioned itself to sell its wares to humpback whales by playing the very whale-bellow friendly Nelly song underwater, where it belongs.

This song is by far the best example of its genre. You might mistakenly believe that the term "hip-hop" means, "hip music that is hoppin'. Word. Aight, dawg?" The fact is, however, that its origins lay in the Latin iphe ophe (pronounced "ip-HAY op-HAY"), which literally translates to "twenty million eight-year-olds will buy this album because we pay to have it played on the radio every hour on the hour." Although other genres of music have their own soulless commercial properties (pop music has Britney Spears and its "boy bands," country music has… well… country music artists, classical music has Mozart, etc.), this song stands out. It is not the first, best written, best sounding, best selling, or most socially controversial hip-hop song - heck, it's not even the genre's first song about a particular brand of shoes as it was beaten to the punch by Run D.M.C.'s not-so-great-but-clearly-spoken "My Adidas" by almost 20 years. It is unique in the fact that not only is it unintelligible, arrogant, and about a completely inane subject, it is also marketed so astoundingly well that it has achieved multi-platinum status. Never in the history of the world has a song gone so far with so very little, and it has truly deepened the septic tank by which all other hip-hop (flim-flam) artists seek to be judged.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that this song is popular based solely on its marketability rather than on any sort of artistic merit. All of the facts are laid bare, including the ones that I have chosen to make up. The sweet, gentle sound of a livestock slaughterhouse set to a repetitious drumbeat would be every bit as appealing as this mindless bit of audio tripe. The mere existence of it shows that in this day and age artistic merit is viewed as undesirable, as our music industry (meaning the big industrial factory where music is manufactured rather than written and performed) moves into full swing to bring us such "classics." While I don't hold Nelly completely responsible, they (as the singer who lends his name to this band of losers has never preformed without his equally untalented associates) are one of the many guilty parties who should be on the chopping block when the long-overdue cultural revolution rears its bloodthirsty head.

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