Friday, October 5, 2007
Decoding "Dumb It Down"
I was on my LB's blog and ran across this new video from Lupe Fiasco called "Dumb It Down." In the clip, Lupe hits you with a barrage of metaphors and wordplay that could leave you dizzy, which plays right into the title of the song by having you wonder what the hell he is talking about.
When I googled the song folks on messge boards give Lupe props for the song and his ill wordplay (even though they don't know what he's talking about), others call it wack because they think he's not really saying anything, and others knock it because the video isn't directed by Hype Williams and is too plain (lacks color, materialism, and girls)...
Before reading my commentary on the lyrics, watch the clip and see if you can decipher what he is saying. Afterwards, check out my interpretation below and see if we are on the same page.
I listened to the song a couple times and this is how I interpreted each of his verses:
In the first verse Lupe starts by explaining that he (the listener) is blind and deaf through lines like "my iris resides where my ears is." After a couple lines of reiterating his senses deficiencies he allows someone else to take the wheel and steer him in the right direction because he lacks the capacity to do so. While driving the person steering the wheel (negative rapper) drives wrecklessly and leaves the "windshield menstual" (bloody) and "in the grill is road kill" which I interpret as his way of saying that the rapper is feeding him blood, "gun talk," and violence which is what the majority of rappers who dumb down their lyrics talk about.
In the middle of the first verse, he references The Matrix and talks about how the listener takes both pills (knows right from wrong initially) but gravitates towards the negativity, which Lupe follows with a barrage of sci-fi violent imagery (lies) that is more appealing than the truth.
At the end of the verse he talks about ghosts penning lyrics and giving flowers to the mothers of the deceased. To me, he's talking about how rappers in the industry 1) have ghost writers pen their negative lyrics (even though they themselves don't live that lifestyle) and 2) the effects of their lyrics that perpetuate violent behavior in the community and how rappers deflect responsibility once they are confronted.
He reiterates that he is blind and deaf but can only hear the message of the person steering the plane once he realizes that the stewardess of the plane being driven by the negative rapper is a hot woman (video girl). Peep how he talks about how the message is as "high as an earring to the ground is." A woman's height is not very high. He then says the "Pimp C (see) the wings of the Underground Kings, who's also Clingon, to infinity and beyond" which I interpret as how the pilot (The Underground King/Clingon) degrades women and will both use them to spread his message (to the Pimp (listener)) and simultaneously steer them in the wrong direction. He goes on to talk about how he is flying on a pegasus (Winged Horse from Greek Mythology to convey his truthful content) while the listener is "flying on a pheasant" (common bird) while snorting the white horse etc. The "pheasant" is another way to portray the rapper's message as a negative one.
Dumbed Down Interpretation of 2nd Verse:
Rappers use video girls as a formula to get people to listen to their negative message. Once she has your attention, he can proceed to tell you about how killing and doing/selling drugs is cool. Then the white guy (the industry) on the hook is trying to make him "dumb it down" so that the women who are being exploited will not realize that they are being taken advantage of.
Talks about being brain dead and "head-less...like foreplay-less sex is" ....(damn that's a hot line/metaphor...did you get that???)... to the point where whatever the pilot says goes. This verse is more about how rappers use "street cred" to convey their authenticity. Peep how how says "they need proof like a vestless chest" and then think about how rappers that get shot are the ones that the masses want to listen to. Similarly, he points to street cred by saying "necklace theft" to reference how rappers validate their credibility by claiming to steal the chain of another rapper. After you believe that they have "street cred" the pilot will then drown you with materialism and other negative things until you are "neck-less." The water starts to drown the listener, but ...
LUPE TO THE RESCUE! He comes in and pulls the plug to drain the water so that you don't drown...that is "until the water rises again" (or until his next album comes out). He's pretty much calling himself a breath of fresh air.
That's hip hop people.
Lupe is one of my favorite rappers and this song exemplifies why. This is what is missing from hip hop music. I remember the days where you could listen to a hip hop song years later and pick up something that you missed before. Those were the days.
Peep the clip and see if I'm overthinking his lyrics.