Monday, December 20, 2010

Deconstructing "Still Tippin"

The other day I stumbled across this breakdown of “Exhibit C” done by Toure. I’m not dude’s biggest fan, but Jay Electronica crafted a classic song with that one, so I checked out his review out of curiosity more than anything. Toure did a great job and I couldn’t help but applaud the man. I also thought about the amount of time it would take to write something like that. Well, it intrigued me so much that I thought I would take my own stab at deconstructing a song. I figured, just like “Exhibit C”, it would have to be a classic song and groundbreaking record in its own right. Something that ushered in a new genre to the mainstream masses and transformed how people view artists from the state of Texas. None other than Mike Jones, Paul Wall & Slim Thug’s “Still Tippin”. Shall we?

“Still Tippin' on four fours, wrapped in four vogues
Tippin' on four fours, wrapped in four vogues
Tippin' on four fours wrapped in four vogues
Pimping four hoes and I'm packing four fours”

Before I start on this breakdown, I figured I would start with breaking down the epic hook. The hook comes from a classic freestyle from Slim Thug where he mentions the staples of living the thug life. He has a car, probably a classic car, affectionately known as a “slab”, and he’s describing what he has on and in the vehicle.

He has his car sitting on rims that were created for the limited edition 1984 Cadillac El Dorado. They were only serviced in 1983 and 1984, so they are known as, obviously, 3’s & 4’s. So, he has four 4’s on his vehicle that are wrapped in Vogue tires. If he has such a rare tire/wheel combo, you know that he has to have money. He apparently gets his money from the prostitution profession, where he has acquired a stable of four workers. To protect his females and to also ward off would-be carjackers, he has to equip himself with a .44 magnum pistol.

“Now look who creeping look who crawling still balling in the mix”

It’s only fitting that since the song starts with Slim Thug’s vocals on the hook, that he contributes the first verse. The hook of the song deals with his vehicle, so he uses that to segway nicely into his verse by saying he’s creeping and crawling, also known as driving slow with a car that has been lowered.

“It's that 6’6” long dick slim nigga sticking your chick
Pullin tricks looking slick at all times when I'm flipping”

He’s setting his stature as an imposing force, both against smaller individuals and committed relationships.

“Barre sipping car dipping grand wood grain gripping”

He’s letting his listeners know that he will stay true to the Texas culture while he wreaks havoc on these committed relationships, complete with the reference to Barre or promethyzine & codeine.

“Still tippin' on four fours wrapped in four vogues
Pimping four hoes and I'm packing four fours
Blowing on the endo Game Cube Nintendo
Five percent tint so you can't see up in my window”

Here is confirming for the audience that it is he, in fact, who has the stable of women and the nice vehicle that he must protect with deadly force. Great for the speaker to eliminate all confusion wherever possible. However, he decides to delve a little deeper here and describe some of the bonus features he has equipped his vehicle with.

“These niggas don't understand me cuz I'm Boss Hogg on candy
Top down at Maxi's with a big glock nine handy”

Here, he takes a break from the braggadocio to get a little personal with the listeners. He asserts that he is the Boss Hogg, his vehicle has candy paint, and that because of these facts he is often misunderstood by those he cohorts with. Almost like he has worked hard to stand out but now that he does stand out, he faces more animosity than expected. Machiavellian.

“Pieced up creased up staying dressed to impress
Big boss belt buckle under my Mitchell and Ness
Oh, Gucci shades up on my braids when I Escalade
When I'm riding Sprewells sliding like a escapade
I got it made the big boss of the north”

He snaps out of his vulnerable moment to revert back to telling you why in fact he is indeed the Boss Hogg. He has to reassert his dominance on the mic as a solo force…

“Ain't shit changed I still represent Swisha House (Ha!)”

While also not venturing far from the crew that he represents. As Ne-Yo would say “I’m a movement by myself but I’m’ a force when we’re together”. Yeah.

“Four fours I'm tippin'
Wood grain I'm gripping
Catch me lane switching with the paint dripping”

You would think that Slim Thug and Mike Jones wrote their verses around each other for how they each start their verses similarly by talking about their vehicles. To keep the continuity of the track going, Jones describes the vehicle that he has, while also adding the caveat that his car has been adorned by paint that has not completely dried yet. It’s almost as if he doesn’t have the time to let his car drive because he is constantly on the go. He is painting the picture to be a nomad at the beginning of the verse.

“Turn your neck and your dame missing”

In keeping with the nomad theme, he mentions that you might find your wife or girlfriend missing from by your side. She will be gone with him on his travels. And just like he doesn’t have time to let his car’s paintjob dry, he doesn’t have time to explain what just happened to you either. Just know that when you turn your head, she will be gone.

“Me and Slim we ain't tripping I'm finger flipping and syrup sipping
Like do or die I'm po' pimping Car stop rims keep spinning
I'm flipping drop with invisible tops
Hoes bop when my drop step out
I'm shaking the block with four eighteens'
Candy green with eleven screens
My gasoline always supreme
Got do-do the brown with a pint of lean”

Jones takes a break from gets back with the initial theme of the song and here, in detail, describes his vehicle. He describes everything about it in vivid detail, even down to the gasoline that you will find within the engine of the vehicle.

It’s this attention to detail that is often overlooked, but he has a way of while maneuvering quickly through his travels to still hit all the important parts. Almost like a museum curator or tour guide.

“It takes grinding to be a king
It takes grinding to be a king”

He is using the literary tool of repetition to get his point across. While he has been describing his vehicle, and his ability to take someone’s female, he pauses for a split second to let the listener know that his life just hasn’t happened overnight. There was a lot in place that led to him being able to ascent to the top of his profession and ride with nice vehicles alongside his colleague Thug.

“First Round Draft Picks coming
Who is Mike Jones coming”

Jones pauses to do some self promotion. But in keeping with the theme of speed and quickness, these plugs are here and gone as quickly as they came.

“Slab shining with the grill and woman
Slab shining with the grill and woman”

More repetition to describe his vehicle.

“I'm Mike Jones (Who) Mike Jones the one and only you can't clone me
Got a lot a haters and a lot of homies some friends and some phony
Back then hoes didn't want me Now I'm hot hoes all on me
Back then hoes didn't want me Now I'm hot hoes all on me
Back then hoes didn't want me Now I'm hot hoes all on me
(I Said!) Back then hoes didn't want me Now I'm hot hoes all on me”

Unlike Thug who chose to get abruptly introspective in the middle of his verse, Jones waits for the last stanza to peel back a layer. He reveals that he is truly a one of a kind individual, who has overcome a lot of false friendships. A lot of people that he could not count on, that he has had to persevere to get to where he is today. This would also draw a parallel to his earlier statements about being a nomad. Possibly he is trying to escape something from his past and his past friendships/relationships. Also in a swift change of direction, he goes from his past relationships to the present. Changing tense like that makes for a weird dynamic shift in the character, and also brings the story back to the present to allow a smooth transition to the upcoming verse by Paul Wall.

“What it do it's Paul Wall I'm the people's champ”

Wall decides to begin his verse different than the first two participants. He decides to introduce himself to his listeners in order to create a more informal feel to his verses than that of Jones & Thug. He lets you know that he is the people’s champ, and that he is here to live amongst the people, not above them with his .44 magnum as protection.

“My chain light up like a lamp cuz now I'm back with the camp”

Wall has gotten to the point where he is in life because he was able to realign with past associates Thug and Jones. Almost like coming full circle.

“I'm crawling similar to an ant cuz I'm low to the earth”

This is a straight correlation to how Thug begins his verse. Again, more coming full circle.

“People's feelings get hurt when they figure out what I'm worth”

Wall ventures away from Jones and Thug. Instead of feeling compassion for the people that were in his past, Wall almost seems to take pride in setting himself apart from the others. There is no remorse or sorrow that Jones & Thug expressed while discussing their previous friendships/relationships. Wall wants you to know that he is for the people, but still, Paul Wall. Duality.

“I got eighty fours poking out at the club I'm showing out
I'm a player ain't no doubt hoes want to know what I'm bout
Biggest diamonds off in my mouth princess cuts all in my chain
Wood grain all in my range dripping stains when I switch lanes”

More continuity with the theme established by the beginning of the song.

“Switched the name, it's still the same. Swisha House or Swisha Blast”

Wall lets you know that he is not sidetracked by the little things in life, such as nomenclature. All that matters is that he is able to reunite with his past colleagues…

“Mike Jones he running the game and Magnificent bout his cash
Michael Watts he made me hot hard work took me to the top
G. Dash took me to the lot he wrote a check and bought a drop”

And then Wall proceeds to name those colleagues.

“I got the internet going nuts”

“But T. Farris got my back so now I'm holding my nuts
It's Paul Wall baby what you know bout me
I'm on that five nine Southle baby holla at me”

Closing out his verse in a fitting manner, he proclaims that he is the people’s champion Paul Wall. And if you would like to be amongst him and his colleagues, you are able to find him. The people’s champion does not hide from the people. Very accessible. Then he ends his verse with “Holla at me”. In a way it’s almost like telling the audience goodbye, thanks for listening. That concludes your journey with these three young men, and they leave you waiting for the next time you see them tipping.

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