I have a confession to make. “Ratchet” music gets me going at the gym! I don’t know if it’s the miniature feminist inside of me who feels like the harder I work(out), the faster I will defeat a song with deplorable lyrics, or that deep down inside I’m a go-go dancer who performs at a popular night club in Vegas. And the more ridiculous the song’s innuendos, if not blatant Tom Foolery, the better!
I wasn’t heavy into hip-hop growing up. No, I don’t own an extensive library of some of the greatest MCs or know the words to “Rappers Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang verbatim. Although I’m familiar with hits like Jay-Z’s “Feelin’ It” (all thanks to my cousin Joy, who played the song over and over during a long car ride for Thanksgiving one year), and get just as hype as the next person when anything by Outkast comes on, I can’t honestly say my knowledge of the genre is advanced. I am no hip-hop connoisseur. But some of the songs mentioned in this post are hip-hop’s most ratchet hits, and they encourage me to go a little longer and harder during those rare moments on the treadmill.
The person responsible for me making this confession is none other than the queen of Awkward Black Girls, Issa Rae. She recently started posting video critiques on popular hip-hop songs with lyrics that would make “A Pimp named Slickback” shudder. “Ratchetpiece Theatre” features, for example, Juicy J’s strip club anthem (so I've heard) “Bands A Make Her Dance.” I’m shaking my head in disgust and grooving in my seat just thinking about it. On YouTube, Rae eloquently dissects and translates the melodies and lyricism of the rappers’ tunes. The fact that she is a graduate of Stanford University and the brain child behind the successful “Awkward Black Girl” Web series takes away some of my shame.
Let me name a few of the culprits who bring great dishonor to my family when I plug in my iPod and need that extra push to do 30 minutes of cardio.
Exhibit A: Any and everything by Lil Wayne a.k.a. “Lil Tunchi.” When it comes to Weezy F. Baby, the raunchier the chorus, the more motivated I become.
And last, but certainly not least, Exhibit C: Kanye West. Many will argue that he’s a lyrical phenom, and I won’t disagree. I particularly enjoy cuts from his “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” where Chris Rock appears on “The Blame Game,” a song featuring John Legend blatantly taking shots at one of West’s former love interests. It’s RATCHET, and I LOVE IT!!!
Some would say my taste in workout music does not positively represent women, and it doesn’t, but let me argue that smooth jazz and R&B would most likely inspire me to curl up in a ball at the end of the treadmill and take a cat nap. So while you may judge me for getting an extra jolt of energy from 2 Chainz’s “Birthday Song,” I really don’t care. It’s not like I’m getting “juiced” (a.k.a. using steroids) to make it through a cardio routine. Everybody has a vice, right? For me it’s either ratchet music or death!
Leilah Reese is a news aide at The Washington Post. For more updates on her fitness goals, follow her on Twitter and check here each Tuesday for a new blog post.
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