Day 77: "Watch My Shoes" – No Ceilings , 2009
Much as the gates of Hell are said to read "abandon hope, ye who enter here," the gates of Wayne's Mouse on the Track Wonder Emporium, a.k.a. his freestyle over Boosie's "Watch My Shoes," offer an admonishment: "No ceilings motherfucker, good morning / dick in your mouth while you're yawning." Hope is scarce, Wayne will bring it to your front door like you ordered him, and, oh yeah, he will still beat your ass like a fucking drumstick.
If Mixtape Wayne could be said to have a curtain call, it would probably be this song, one of the standouts of No Ceilings and one of the last times he jumped on a semi-obscure Southern rap hit and fucking demolished it instead of just freestyling over Drake beats, as he does on mixtapes these days. "Watch My Shoes" is all one verse of pure combative rapping, and it's a model for the form. Rap is built on these kinds of show-offy bars—I spent the weekend listening to A Tribe Called Quest, and R.I.P. Phife, a master of the form—but, in the post-Drake era, the genre is generally too solipsistic to have this kind of focus. Everything needs to be about something. But what fun is that? Wouldn't you rather hear Lil Wayne gleefully announce he's "on my papa bear shit need hot porridge"? Wouldn't you rather see this, whatever this is:
Weezy Fucking Baby, baby
Make the ladies come quick
The money can't fit in my pockets
But I'll bet that gun fit
And I'm so unfit
Cause all I eat is rappers
And these rappers ain't shit
I like my fast food faster
Syrup got me slow
Like a turtle 'round this ho
And I'm flyer
Than the highest-flying bird around this ho
What's the word around this ho?
You'll get served around this ho
Yeah you'll get served like a fucking hors d'œuvre
Around this ho
OK let's break some of that down: Wayne just said that he's unfit because his diet is rappers—a noted Wayne trope—and, while you can argue about the inherent nutritional value of rappers all you want, the fact of the matter is that what he is eating is fast food. As in these other rappers' music is junk that is bad for you! Dude, that is the most devastating own ever! Wayne just sonned everyone (call them Carl's Jr.) as a sidebar to talking about how badly he owned them. And then to add insult to industry he dances around with these rhymes about being slow like a turtle and higher than a bird and wraps the whole thing up with a reference to serving his enemies like hor d'oeuvres, in case you were wondering what Wayne prefers to put on the menu. I'm imagining, for what it's worth, that he's like one of those bloggers who takes Wendy's meals and reconstitutes them to look like haute cuisine.
Anyway, it continues from there because did I mention that this verse is four minutes long? One verse. Four minutes! And wow the owns keep coming in, devastatingly. "I don't know why your bitch keep coming by," he quips. "I done fucked your bitch a hundred times / what your fucking bitch got on her mind? / my fucking dick." He will leave you in the wasteland, you're not the same, he's a martian, and this is Space Jam. He rhymes "Eskimo" with "let's get mo' bitches." He rhymes "Oshkosh b'gosh" with Peter Tosh. "I do me," he raps a moment later, a moment of contrit—oh no, never mind, he's still piling on the brags: "No, I do three / at a T-I-M-E / why when we / say we Young Mula / the bitches leave y'all / and relay run to us?" That last line is delivered with a gleeful screech, as if Wayne can't believe how hard he's crushing his opponents.
Hold up, though; we're only like halfway through this ride. But then again, as Wayne says, "payday comes sooner than later 'round here." Nonetheless, "you better stop the hate around there / before Tommy, Mack, and Nina debate around there." Whew. This stuff doesn't stop being fun. Plenty of people can rap for four minutes, but none of them make you feel like you're watching a running back break free and rush toward the endzone for a hundred-yard play, like you just won a sweepstakes and you need to physically rake in a million dollars in cash, like you are powering up your motherfucking superpower charge attack—you get the point. And then it all ends kind of abruptly, with a nice little simple punchline tucked in right there at the end: "I go pistachios / that means I go nuts on any beat that they throw at me." Is it fair to reduce this inhuman display of talent to a handful of pistachios, the objectively worst nut? Of course not. But insofar as that is an absurd comparison and this verse is so good that you can only come out of it having contemplated the absurdity of everything—art, the human condition, the possibility that Lil Wayne wouldn't take your girl—it makes complete sense.
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