Our corporate cousins over at Spinner.com weighed in this week with their list of the 25 best opening lyrics in music history, from “You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar” (Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”) all the way up to No. 1, “She’s a very kinky girl” (Rick James’ “Superfreak”; pictured).
They’re all pretty solid choices, but it still feels like something’s missing. Namely, where’s the rap? Spinner chose just two hip-hop tracks, one of which — 50 Cent’s “Go shorty, it’s your birthday” (“In Da Club”) — isn’t even an actual opening lyric. (For the record, the “go shorty” bit is just pre-song patter; the real first words of “In Da Club,” not counting the chorus, are the less-than-memorable “When I pull up in the front, see the Benz on dubs.”)
That’s quite an omission, considering how much more lyrics-oriented rap music is compared to most pop and rock music. Did any of the well-known lines after the jump really deserve to be unseated by, uh, “Pigs, they tend to wiggle when they walk”? (Sorry, Malkmus.)
• “It was all a dream!/I used to read Word Up magazine/Salt’N’Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine.”C’mon — even people who’ve never listened to a single rap album all theway through start shouting along when Biggie’s “Juicy” comes on. Thisone’s a gimme.
• “Funny how money change a situation/Miscommunication leads to complication/My emancipation don’t fit your equation.” Lauryn Hill’s ferocious salvo on “Lost Ones” stopped any doubters in their tracks.
• “I bombatomically/Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses/Can’t define how I bedroppin’ these/Mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery.”Inspectah Deck absolutely destroyed the Wu-Tang Clan’s “Triumph” withthis polysyllabic beast. Eight other tight verses follow from the restof the Clan, but none have a chance at beating this one.
• “The new moon rode high in the crown of the metropolis/Shining, like ‘Who on top of this?’”Mos Def’s scene-setting imagery on his and Talib Kweli’s “Respiration”is more than just a classic hip-hop line — it’s a classic piece ofpoetry, period.
• “International, underground/Thunder pounds when I stomp the ground.”OutKast’s Andre 3000 used to drop nimble-tongued gems like this one(from “B.O.B.”) all the time — and, thankfully, he’s recently starteddoing so again.
I could go on for days! And so, I’m sure, could you. Which great first lines (rap or otherwise) did Spinner forget?