Phonte's Top 10 Awesomely Bad Hip-Hop Love Songs For Valentine's Day
Today, you may have noticed, is Valentine's Day. It's also Friday, which means a) it's going down and b) you're going to need to lay down a much longer Valentine's Day playlist of romantic jams than usual to carry you through this love and lust filled weekend. Accordingly we started to brainstorm a list of our favorite Awesomely Bad Hip-Hop love songs in last week's Okayplayer editorial meeting--and quickly realized we should just take our concept to the master--the Chazz Reinhold, if you will, of collecting Awesomely Bad Hip-Hop Love Songs. That would be one Phonte of Foreign Exchange and Little Brother fame (hell, of Okayplayer fame, as far as that goes). In case the brother's immaculate rhyme styles don't immediately recommend him to you as the curator of this list, please recall that as 1/2 of the team that brought you Zo! & Tigallo Love The 80sTigallo The Tay Godknows his way around a damn love song. Nuff said. Light some incense. Reserve one of those sexy little tables in the back. Get your erotic artifacts n' shit in order. Open up the chili sauce--and click through to experience Phonte's Top 10 Awesomely Bad Hip-hop Love Songs For Valentine's Day. Then go cop The Foreign Exchange's brilliant Love In Flying Colors and Zo!'s Manmade (both in stores now) and find out where to catch them on tour here- ed.
1. Kurtis Blow- "All I Want In This World (Is To Find That Girl) Kurtis Blow Mercury Records, 1980
Lyrically, this song is awkward as all hell. It may have went down smoother as a comeback joint for The Dells or any oldies group looking for an 80's hit, but Kurt singing it dolo pushes it to new levels of absurdity. I'd be very surprised if copious amounts of cocaine weren't involved in the recording of this song.
2. Sweet Tee- "Why Did It Have To Be Me" It's Tee Time Profile Records, 1988
I had the biggest crush on Sweet Tee in 3rd grade, man. I really did. But neither my schoolboy crush nor her flawless chocolate skin could hide the fact that this song was THE worst joint on an otherwise respectable debut. The song is corny enough as is, but the true highlight (or lowlight?) is the singer caterwauling during the end adlibs. Sweet Tee made a brief comeback as Suga in '95 with "What's Up Star?" from The Show soundtrack and, to my knowledge, hasn't been heard from again. For shame. A southern boy such as myself will *always* make time for some Tee.
3. Brand Nubian- "Try To Do Me" All For One Elektra, 1990
I love New Jack Swing, but I can understand the bad rap it has taken throughout the years. As fun and as energetic as the music was, you pretty much had to be there in order to get it. The music doesn't translate well unless you have memories connected to it. While it was responsible for some of my all-time favorite 90's R&B, New Jack Swing was also responsible for some of hip hop's biggest misfires (see: Run DMC's "Back From Hell" LP). Sadly, this song was also one of them. "Try To Do Me" was a stain on a classic record but hey, all is forgiven, fellas. In the immortal words of Biz Markie, we understood that this was just something for the radio.
4. Big Daddy Kane- "The Day You're Mine" Long Live The Kane Cold Chillin/Warner Bros, 1988
Full disclosure: Big Daddy Kane is a living legend, my biggest influence as an MC and hands down, the reason I rap today. With that said, his 90's output marked a slow, disheartening decline that even his biggest fans could no longer defend. Most would argue that Kane's 1990 Taste Of Chocolate LP was the beginning of the end, as Kane focused more on his loverman/sex-symbol persona instead of raw battle raps. I'd agree that the decline started there, but the seed for it was firmly planted on his debut album with this song. Not content to just rap about the object of his affection, Kane thought it necessary to sing his own hook as well. He doesn't sound completely awful, but I never thought the day would come where I'd actually HOPE to hear T.J. Swan. The sad part is that as bad as this song was, Kane's worst was yet to come.
5. LL Cool J- "You're My Heart" Walking With A Panther Def Jam, 1989
"Walking Wtih A Panther" is a milestone in Uncle L's catalog, if for no other reason that it houses three of the ABSOLUTE WORST SONGS OF HIS CAREER: "One Shot At Love," "Two Different Worlds," and this joint. The success of "I Need Love" had L desperately reaching for his next ladies jam. While he would perfect this formula on "Mama Said Knock You Out" and repeat it again on "Mr. Smith," the smooth, soulful charm of cuts like "Around The Way Girl" and "Doin It" were clearly waaaaaay down the pike when L recorded "You're My Heart." One would think that watching LL drop dud after dud in the love song department would help them make better decisions. Unfortunately, LL's touring DJ, Bobcat, didn't get that memo and we were forced to suffer through...(turn the page)
6. Bobcat- "I Need You" Cat Got Ya Tongue Arista, 1988
Bobcat: "AYO L, REMEMBER THAT I NEED LOVE JOINT I PRODUCED FOR YOU?"
LL: "Yeah, Bobcat..."
Bobcat: "IF THEY LIKED THAT JOINT MAN THEY GONNA LOVE THIS ONE, AIN'T THAT RIGHT FELLAS?!?"
People Pretending To Be Friends Of Bobcat But Aren't Really Friends Of Bobcat: "YEAH, BOBCAT!"
7. Big Daddy Kane (again) f. Alyson Williams- "I'm Not Ashamed" Prince Of Darkness, 1991 Cold Chillin' Records
Remember when I said the worst was yet to come? Yeah.
This was officially my last stop on the Big Daddy Train. "All Of Me" feat. Barry White was cheesy, but Kane got *somewhat* of a pass because Barry was an OG, and we couldn't knock the brother for trying something different. Once "I'm Not Ashamed" dropped and we saw him doubling down on the spoken word/R&B hook formula, all bets were off. Outside of the intro, "Death Sentence," and "Come On Down" featuring Q-Tip and a newly liberated post-LONSBusta Rhymes, "Prince Of Darkness" is the one Kane album his hardcore fans try to forget; I don't even know what album you're talking about huh what album I CAN'T HEAR YOU.
8. MC Brains- "Brainstorming" Lovers Lane Motown, 1992
For the record, I wasn't mad at this joint. (And I'm certain this was the first and last time Shawn Stockman ever sang the lyrics "Hello, my name is MC B" with a straight face.) Take away MC Brains' stilted verses about his wife being pregnant by another man, and you're left with a fairly standard Boyz II Men song. And in 1992, a standard Boyz II Men song worked pretty damn good for a certain 13 year old North Carolinian gettin his telephone cake on. DJ Brainchild disagrees but as far as hip-hop love songs go, you could do a lot worse than "Brainstorming." Although I'm certain that if my wife became pregnant by another man, we wouldn't have shit to brainstorm about. Somebody gotta die.
9. Nice & Smooth- "Cheri" Jewel Of The Nile Def Jam, 1994
Another joint that somehow succeeded in spite of itself and ended up in the "So Bad It's Good" category. On paper, this was supposed to fail on every imaginable level. Smooth B singing a R&B joint? Nah, bruh. That sounded about as plausible as Khujo Goodie playing saxophone (True story. Listen here, 2:03 mark). The kicker here was that Smooth sang this joint like he really meant it. Whereas Kane, Kurtis Blow and other rappers would sing their hooks almost apologetically, Smooth really went for his here and didn't sound half bad. Note to all would be rapper-turnt-sangas: Confidence always wins.
10. Willie D- "I Wanna Fuck Your Mama" Play Witcha Mama Wrap, 1994
It may not be a "love" song in the technical sense, but never before has hip-hop seen such a loving ode to fucking somebody's mom. Predating the MILF/"Stifler's Mom" craze by almost 5 years, Willie D channels his best Ice Cube here (on both the rhymes *and* production), and tells you in explicit detail how, and why, he wants to fuck your mom and let your daddy watch. Ni**otry with a bit of cuckolding thrown in for good measure, "I Wanna Fuck Your Mama" is #RNS of the highest order.