Stone Cold Nonsense

Bust it.

I love, and have always loved, Young MC's 1989 hit, Bust a Move. I consider it one of the premier achievements of the human race, is what I'm telling you. Seriously.

The beat, the plot, the rhythmic sound effects that sound like excerpts from a comical beatdown (seriously, every few seconds you hear a guy go, "Huh!" followed by him yelping "Aah!". This is outstanding.) ...it's all just top-notch stuff. Plus you had Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers doing the bassline, and that never hurts.

I do take issue, however, with the logic. Point of fact, the whole rhyme, dope as it may be, doesn't really hold water.

(Sidenote: Now, hold on, folks. I give Marvin Young, better known as Young MC, all the props to which he is entitled. In this song alone he successfully incorporated the words "opportunistic," "overzealous" and "celibate," not to mention the exceptional characterization of women lying on the beach as "perpetrating" a tan so that, as you know, a brother with money could be their man. Cynical, accusatory, borderline misogynistic, but unquestionably funky fresh. Plus he wrote a lot of the rhymes for Tone Lōc's "Wild Thing," another singular accomplishment in the hip hop pantheon.)

(Secondary sidenote and disclosure: "Bust a Move" was the first song I ever purchased. I remember precisely, which is unusual for me, that I bought it during a shopping excursion with Kay the Babysitter, who took us to Coconuts Music near the Greenwood Park Mall. I think I had five dollars at the time, and the Young MC cassette single was $3.49. I could not conceivably be dating myself more emphatically here. The reason I remember the event so vividly, I theorize, is that I had the choice between this "cassingle" and another I had picked up—most likely Poison or Guns 'n Roses—on which to spend my hard-earned allowance. For some reason my eleven-year-old self chose the path less taken, (at least by suburban white boys, at least in 1989), and that has made all the difference.)

(Tertiary sidenote: This was, remember friends, the Golden Age of Hip Hop. We didn't realize it at the time, but we were being constantly inundated with rap that was actually good, as opposed to the thugged-out jibberish b.s. I hear on the radio today. (I also had a yellow onion on my belt, which was the style at the time.) Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, Boogie Down Productions, Beastie Boys, Tribe Called Quest... that were not "classic rap" back in the late '80s. That was just "Rap," a hastily pasted label on a new section in the aisles of your local Coconuts Music or Sam Goody store, and that was what was on TV (Rap City, Yo! MTV Raps, The Box) if you knew when to watch. *That* was music, like we'd never heard before, and it was inventive, diverse, surprising and influential. And *that* was what you could order at twelve tapes for a penny from Columbia House Music.)

But back to Marvin's rhyme. Chapter four, verse one, about 3:16 into the video I hope you're watching. I'll emphasize the words Young MC emphasizes in his lyrics to the best of my ability.

"Your best friend Harry has a brother Larry
In five days from now he's gonna marry
He's hoping you can make it there if you can
'Cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man"

Let's start from the beginning. We can take it as conceivable that Harry and Larry are brothers. Marriage-aged males circa 1989 would have been born around the late sixties, early seventies, when naming your kids things like Harold and Lawrence was somewhat acceptable. Okay.

But why on earth would *you* be the best man? We've already established that Larry has a brother: it's Harry. Barring some remarkable falling out between the two (which nonetheless leaves young Larry in close contact with his brother's friends), why wouldn't he pick Harry instead?

And don't say it's because you're all that tight with Larry -- your best friend is *Harry*! Are we to believe that this Lawrence character is so profoundly unpopular that the best he can do in the Best Man department is some dude who hangs around with his *brother*?

Assuredly not. Furthermore, what's with the short notice? You've got five days now -- one business week -- to prepare your speech, plot a route to the church, find the reception hall, and attend to any other Best duties I'm definitely forgetting.

But no biggie, though: Larry is hoping you can make it there "if you can."

If you can?! You're the Best Man in this crazy arrangement. Even if it's not your best friend or your brother getting married, since we've already established that it's in fact the brother of your best friend, you're still what I would regard as Key Personnel.

This hitching is going down in less than a week and the hapless groom is still "hoping you can make it there." I'm sorry; I just don't know what kind of fly-by-night operations you're affiliating yourself with at this point.

Oh well, I guess that's how it is with the kids these days... always inviting random strangers to play critical roles in life events. I just don't understand it.

But go on, go ahead. Say "neato" if you will. Proceed to check your libido. And yes, roll to the church in your new tuxedo.

I'll be back here, listening to my old, worn out Low End Theory tape. Chillin' at Paul's Boutique. Standing on the wall like I was, Poindexter.

* Entirely true footnote: I really want one of those shirts they've got in the video. I think they're the coolest.


Hello, I'm Ryan Noel. said...

First, I will not report you for your blatant disregard for the unwritten web log rule forbidding more than two side notes. I think there is a provision for a third side note if it funny as Hades — which it was.

Just about every bit of this blog took me back. But, the cassingles... I thought I was the Cassingle King! Oh man, my cassingle rack was loaded with selections from Bell Biv Devoe, Bobby Brown, Public Enemy, Living Colour, GnR, Def Leppard, Digital Underground; I could go on, but won't.

The only thing I can figure on the Harry/Larry thing is that it was an arranged shotgun wedding. You know, Larry's meddling father arranged it so hastily that, you, the best man might have already made other plans. *shrug*

That's the best I can do.

Hello, I'm Ryan Noel. said...

P.S. Don't you miss videos where all the lyrics are interpreted literally line by line?

P.P.S. I"m ashamed that I missed an "is" in my previous comment. So embarrassing.

Colin said...

I *love* see and say videos! You picture the storyboard crew rewinding the tape in their Walkmen and piecing it all together... "Okay guys, in this verse he says somebody ate so much he nearly split his pants. Call Props, we need some split pants and polka-dotted underwear."

(from the back of the room) "But wait, the lyric says *nearly* split your pants..."

"Quiet, you. Just get the underwear. How we doing on the Young MC sweatshirt, to be worn by Young MC while rapping in the Young MC video?"

Anonymous said...

You are off the chains. Seriously. Ahh, memories- of bass pounding through my bedroom floor as you monopolized the family room (and the rest of the house, for that matter) with sounds of rap and other random music...especially when I was still asleep!!! I could punch you in the kneecaps for that. But, I didn't. And I still won't. And Kay?!? You remember Kay? Hilarious. She was my favorite, by far. You took me WAY back. Thanks. It was the highlight of my day, which has royally sucked so far.


Valarie said...

Yeah, that was a good trip down memory lane. I think I am going to bust out some Tribe Called Quest right now. Your poor sister had to put up with a lot!

laurowens said...

I always wondered why larry wasn't harry's best man. lol
side note: I have always loved this song but was too young to have seen the video. this was my first time and I loved it!