Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ying Yang Twins- as suggestive as they wanna be

As a fan of Atlanta rap duo Ying Yang Twins' hit last year "Salt Shaker," I was looking forward to their latest one, "Wait." Listening to it at first, it sound enticing not just because of the minimal rhythm track (rubber band bass plus finger snaps and that's it) but the way the whole song is whispered. Novel idea, eh? But then you listen to the words. There's a real thrill for the ladies ("wait'll you see my dick") and a promise to satisfy ("I'm gonna beat that pussy up") are both repeated again and again and again. Sounds like a nice, romantic evening. Yawn. Some guys will definitely pick up on the not-so-soft porn but the ladies probably wouldn't be chanting this.

Usually, we think of the "dirty" versions of a song as the "real" version, the one that hasn't been scrubbed down for radio and such. We want to get our thrills full throttle. Or do we? When we have "clean" versions of bawdy tunes, most of the time it's unintentionally funny as most of the lyrics become bleeps until it sounds like semaphore. Who wants to hear that?

In a case like this though, where the "dirty" part is so explicit that it's stupidly obscene, I was curious what the clean version would sound like. To my surprise, not only was it better than the "dirty" version, it was actually really good. Instead of the dirty words, we get echoed howls and moans that fit in nicely, especially considering the not-so-subtle come-on of the song.

But what also makes it a better version is the more open-ended context. By not naming their thing or her thing in detail, it leaves a little bit more to the imagination, even if we can pretty quickly guess what body parts they're referring to anyway. That doesn't necessarily make the song "clean" now- it's just suggestive now, which can be even 'worse' (dirtier) depending on the particular listeners' imagination.

Think of many black-and-white horror or gangster films. The violence that we see isn't very explicit (or even on screen sometimes) but that makes it no less gruesome or disturbing, even when we see it today. Slasher films make these seem pretty crude and old-fashioned on one level but they don't have the suggestive/imaginative power of these earlier films. Sometimes when art leaves us to fill into the blanks and we're made to think for ourselves, it can be much more powerful than cases where we see or hear everything in detail. What we may fill in may be much tamer than what was originally intended but many times, we find that when we're tested like this, we're usually up to the challenge of figuring out a startling scenario (much more than we'd like to think sometimes).

That's why I think of YYT's clean version of "Wait" is better. Not just because we don't have to sit through their own slimy sex fantasies but also because our own, we're left to think up something that might be more pleasurable. Or more realistic. Or weirder. Any way you look at it, that's more fun for you.


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