In the strange world of Hip Hop, the only way to maintain one's status as the top of the heap comes from two, possibly three, things. The first, and most important, is production. Good beats and a hot hook will get your single played no matter who you are. Just look at Fabolous or The Clipse. Even 50 Cent, to a degree, is the same old song with better production. Second, comes lyrical flow. Lines that make people chuckle, or twisting words, and their usual meanings, around. Finally, comes innovation, perhaps the hardest of all. The Big Tymers have made a career talking about their money and their cars. Rap, in general, is notorious for saying the same thing, not twice, but five times over, in several different songs by several different "artists".
Judging by these criteria, it is not surprising that some rappers have reached an upper-echelon of hip hop, and can almost do no wrong. Artists like Dr. Dre, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Nelly, Tupac Shakur, just to name a few. Perhaps the one man who has symbolized these three ideals the best has been Jay-Z. Jay, Jigga, Young, Hova, or whatever he's called this album has always gone out on a limb with the beats he'll rap over. Tracks like I Know What Girls Like, It's Hovi Baby, and Guns and Roses show very different beats than the so called rap norm. So, when Beware of the Boys hit radio, I wasn't surprised at all.
While travelling through Europe, Jigga heard a hot new track getting rotation in some Swiss clubs. The bass-line from the Knight Rider television show was coupled with a simple guitar track and moved the beat along, while a man sung over the track. Even though that man sung in Punjabi, Hova was hooked on the track. He had his people, talk to their people, and a match was made.
Originally, Beware of the Boys was a club banger and international hit in Europe and the Middle East. Penned by Punjabi MC, a rapper turned producer, it focuses on young women. Not in the "Shake Ya Ass" way either. The singer belts out lyrics warning teenage women just beginning to bloom about lustful men. Translated into English, the lyrics go something like this:
Be careful of the boys
You've only just grown up.
It's not your fault that you've got beautiful eyes
Once you've realized this, you will become shy
Look after your youth
This time won't come again.
Two different remixes hit stateside. They are essentially the same. The only difference between the two is that the extended remix features another Jay-Z verse, and one less verse of Punjabi singing. Jigga's first verse is the same ole rap fluff. He talks himself, and his rap label up, tells the ladies to shake it, and makes references to R. Kelly and 50 Cent.
As soon as the beat drop
We got the streets locked
Overseas it's Punjabi MC and the Roc
One, Young, Two, you, want, to, Three, Young Hovs a snake charmer
Move your body like a snake mama
Make me wanna put the snake on ya
The black Brad Pitt, I mack 'til six in the AM
All day I'm P.I.M.P. I am simply
attached to the track like symphony, it's sinfully good
Young Hov infinitely hood
However, it's the second verse that grabs my attention. While other artists have made cuts that protest America's involvement in the Middle East, specifically Iraq, none have gotten the airplay that this track has. Yeah, you heard me. Anti-war song. From a rapper. No, hell hasn't frozen over, Hip Hop is just growing up. Even though he only raps about the situation for a few bars, this is one of the most famous rappers of all time, at the pinnacle of his career. This man put out an album called The Dynasty for a reason. While the lyrics might not match up with Bob Dylan, or other protest songs of the past, this song reaches a much wider audience, one that might not otherwise get this kind of exposure. And you thought Hip Hop was only guns and alcohol.
I ain't gotta tell ya, but it's ya boy Hov
From the US, You jus, lay down, slow
Catch ya boy minglin in England meddlin in the Netherlands
checkin in daily under aliases
we rebellious, we back home, screamin leave Iraq alone
but all my soldiers in the field I will wish you safe return
but only love kills war when will they learn?
it's international Hov been havin the flow
before Bin Laden got Manhattan to blow
before Ronald Regan got Manhattan to blow
And for your reading pleasure, I think, here's the lyrics as they're sung in Punjabi, written in the bastardization that's floating around the internet. The following does not to the cut justice. I recommend either buying the single, or listening to the late night mix shows on your local Hip Hop/Urban radio station to hear this track. It really is much better than the following will make you think.
I'll retari nakesiri ona tar
The Mundian to bach ke Rahi
With the Hurle, hurle, hurle murd Bilar
Siki eth adama sillin millin etha hoker-eee
Eraki kisure gemme silli etha Hoker-e
Siki eth adama sillin millin etha hoker-eeeee
Tami ke Rakimi itoml-mi putai
That's repeated a couple of times throughout the track. Also scattered throughout the track are the usual rapper shoutouts. Jigga gives props to the people on the track, his label and the Neptunes, I think. This song is special for more than the protest element involved in Jay's second verse. I find that really cool because I too do not agree with what we have done, although it's a bit late now. I also think that this track really stands out because music in languages besides English rarely get airplay on any commercial American radio station, let alone a track sung in a language like Punjabi!
A music video was made for the original version of this song, sung entirely in Punjabi and not featuring the Jigga-man at all. While I think it gets more play on the foreign versions of MTV, I have caught it on MTV2, the channel that actually plays music videos.
All elipsises (elipses?) denote removed lyrics as I did not want to transcribe them.
Translation of the lyrics sung in Punjabi is from www.mtv.com. Jigga's first verse, and lyrics sung in Punjabi are from www.ohhla.com. All hardlinks within the lyrics have been added by me. Thank you for not suing.
All lyrics are copyright their respective owners. Beware of the boys has been released as a single, the origional version of the track can be heard on Punjabi MC's album entitled Beware, thank you again for not suing. CST Approved