You just popped in the Kanye West
Get right for the summer workout tape
And ladies, if you follow these instructions exacly
you might be able to pull you a rapper, a NBA player
Man, at least a dude with a car
So first of all we gon' work on the stomach
Nobody wants a little tight ass
The first introduction the mainstream American Hip-Hop audience got to Kanye West was on the track Slow Jamz. Featuring fellow Chicagoan, Twista, as well as actor turned crooner Jamie Foxx, West showed what he was all about, slick production and on-point, sometimes funny rhymes. He continues this trend with The New Workout Plan. Appearing on Kanye's debut record, The College Dropout, The Workout Plan highlights Kan's ability to dominate the mic and make you chuckle and shake your thang at the same time.
As with many of his songs, Kanye floats from flow to flow, as well as the subject to whom he is rapping. In only a few of his songs is Kanye actually rapping to the listener, and this track is no exception. He switches from regular Hip-Hop braggadocio to commands to his dancing audience, as well as a select few for the anonymous women he is speaking to. Kan assumes the role of a dirty, hip Richard Simmons and belts out his excersize commands to the females in the audience. Many of these commands, much more than leg lifts and crunches, seem juxtaposed when compared to each other. In lines 3-5 of the first verse, Kanye raps the steps for a lady giving oral stimulation in line 3, then rapping about not "disrespecting the weed" in the next. While these are tried and true rapper's cliches, he follows up with line 5, "Pick up your son, don't disrespect your seed." This is similar to other sections of The College Dropout, stereotypical Hip-Hop placed next to a more morally apporpriate line.
After a slightly un-impressive second verse, Kannye turns up the humor as the song switches to the interlude. Consisting of "real-life confessions" of women who have learned to succeed though Kanye's workout plan, this interlude bridges the gap between the rap part of the song and the upcoming dance section. The three testamonies get increasingly more silly and hilarious. In the first, Jill is excited because she's now dating an NBA baller, and can spend his money frivolously wherever she wants to. Asandra, however, is a working girl who now has her life improved thanks to the workout plan. Not only does she have her phone bill paid, she has new rims on her car and managed to break up with "Ray-Ray's broke ass." The kicker is little Ellie-May. Ellie has probably has her life improved the most out of the three women. She has upgraded her living conditions to a brand new double wide and she's now dating outside the family! Let's hear it for Ellie-May! The interlude concludes with the three ladies coming together in hood rat harmony to belt out their thanks to Kanye's workout plan and their glee at no longer having to work at the mall.
And with the sillyness of the interlude out of the way, we can continue into the dance break. Pushed by a hard pounding bass drum, a synthesized voice defiantly won't let you forget that it is Kanye's workout plan. After some talking by Kanye and more singing by the vocorder, we're lead into one of the funniest sections of the album.
That's right, put in work
Move your ass, go berserk
Eat your salad, no dessert
Get that man you deserve
Just like in the lines 3-5 of the first verse, Kanye seems to demean women by telling them to shake their money-maker and not splurge on tasty confectionaries before reminding them to "get that man [they] deserve." Does this make him better than 50 Cent and other rappers who completely turn women into objects for male enjoyment? I'm not one to say, however, what Kanye does do that Fitty fails to do is to expand the genre of Hip Hop again. Instead of rehashing tried and true Hip-Hop cliches, Kanye raps about Jesus, his time at the Gap before he moved to New Jersey as well as other issues that 50 probably wouldn't touch upon if he wanted to.
In my eyes, The Workout Plan would make a great "club banga" if it weren't for the interlude, which slows down the track. It's hard to dance to talking, especially while the beat slides to the back and we're left with the beutiful sliding strings. The dance part at the end also seems short for dancing, as it goes by pretty quickly.
No more Mocha Lattes, you got to do Pilates
You gotta pop this tape in, before you start back dating
Hustlers, gangstas, all us, ballas
The New Workout Plan is track 11 on Kanye West's Roc-A-Fella Records debut, The College Dropout. I believe it was writted solely by him, I cannot find my CD booklet at this time. All lyrics were transcribed by me, used without permission, thank you for not suing.