Day 66: "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" – Like Father Like Son , 2006
I remember exactly where I was when I first realized Lil Wayne was a genius. It wasn't a moment when I realized he was good at rapping—I already knew that—but rather one in which I heard him do something that completely shifted my idea of what was possible with rap. I was sitting in my car—I can still picture the spot, in Carrboro, North Carolina, next to the Armadillo Grill, waiting for the light to change—and "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" was playing on the radio. The song was starting to be everywhere, the hook instantly iconic, but this must have been the first time I'd caught the third verse. In it, Wayne rapped, "Show me my opponent." Then there was a crunching sound, like he was biting into an apple. And then he rapped the next line like his mouth was full (maybe it was; to this day I have no idea how you would do that voice without something in your mouth): I heard it as "there go my opponent," although listening now I'm pretty sure he just repeats "show me my opponent." Either way, the implication is the same: Wayne had just devoured the competition in a single bite.
My mind was blown. You meant to tell me it was possible to make a song where you acted out eating someone and then deliver lyrics like your mouth was full? It didn't seem within the bounds of music or even physics. That line has always stuck with me, and, as we've addressed the theme of Wayne rapping about eating rappersin various guises this week, it was inevitable that I would return to it. I've listened to a lot of music in the decade since then, and I've never heard another person—let alone a rapper—enact such a satisfying apple crunch on a track, nor deliver lyrics with their mouth full of food. I've barely heard anything that has made the track feel so three-dimensional. That line is like a virtual reality immersion experience. (One of the only analogues for me is the moment in Kendrick Lamar's "Sing About Me I'm Dying of Thirst" when he enacts a murder by cutting to silence mid-sentence). It is, in a brief moment, an expansion of the artform, of the English language itself.
Everyone basically agrees on when Lil Wayne's hottest run happened—roughly 2005 to 2009—although the exact beginning and end points are constantly up for debate. What's clear is that with "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" we were definitely there. "Fireman" may have been a substantial hit, but "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" is the song that I remember fully ushering in Wayne's radio ubiquity. From this point until at the earliest 2010 or 2011, there was at least one song with Wayne on it in heavy rotation on the radio at all points, as near as I can remember. Furthermore, by this point Wayne's brilliance was inarguable, as that "my opponent" line suggests.
And that wasn't even the only cool part of the song. You've got one of the best Birdman lines ever, his whole essence encapsulated, in "start to holler, dollar after dollar / flipping chickens, getting tickets / want the money and the power." You have, even outside of that apple crunching, an absolutely classic Wayne verse in the third verse in particular. It opens with "when I was 16 I bought my first Mercedes Benz / I must have fucked a thousand bitches and her girlriends" and then goes on to add, "big paper say good morning to the mailman / what you know about putting bricks in a spare, man / I can stuff a coupe like a motherfucking caravan." The hook made the phrase "stuntin' like my daddy" an idiom (as we were saying yesterday, one of Wayne's talents that makes him so integral to hip-hop and to our generation's understanding of the English language). And, while to this day I don't know what a chromed-out 1100 Yamaha motorcycle looks like, exactly, I know that it is a fucking awesome motorcycle due to: This is the best rap song ever made about motorcycles. Yup, Lil Wayne and Birdman made motorcycles, which are already objectively pretty badass, cooler than they'd ever been before, and I say this while wearing a Harley shirt that I got from my uncle, who was a Devil's Disciple.
Which brings me to another point: Today is Thanksgiving, and feasting (sometimes on other rappers) aside, it's also a time for many people around the country to unite with their families and give thanks. It's not always easy to do that—family relationships can be deeply fraught. Look at Wayne and Birdman, who a decade ago were making an album called Like Father Like Son and today are embroiled in a $51 million lawsuit against each other. But this song is a testament to the power of a strong bond between family or people who treat each other like family, and I would hope that we can read it that way today and find the means to each be thankful for the people in our lives, whether they are our family or friends, with whom we can experience the proverbial pyong! of riding a chromed-out 1100 Yamaha motorcycle. And, of course, I would hope that we can be thankful for Lil Wayne, a genius who, like the rest of us today, is looking for a bite to eat.
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