View profile

Pharrell and Jay-Z take on "WAP"


Life in a Shanty Town

August 21 · Issue #226 · View online
The hip-hop newsletter that's not afraid to ask the tough questions

Pharrell and Jay-Z have a new song coming out today, and I’ll admit, I’m psyched.
I spent all day yesterday rocking out to a playlist I put together of some of my favorite Pharrell/Neptunes productions, including “Superthug” by Noreaga, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Hot in Herre” by the STL’s own Nelly, in preparation.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to listen to the song before I had to write this yesterday. It hit streaming last night at midnight, but there was just no way I could stay up that late. I had to go to work today.
I’m emotionally unstable when I don’t get at least eight hours of sleep, and I can’t afford to be involved in an “incident” right now, what with the state of the economy.
“Entrepreneur” is highly anticipated enough that it was trending for much of the day yesterday, but will it be able to top “Wet-Ass P-word” (which is what they should have called it) by Cardi B and Megan Thee Shooting Victim?
Apparently, “WAP” not only debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, but it’s one of the most popular songs of all time, up there with that Bryan Adams song from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack and “The Boy Is Mine” by Brandy and Monica, its most relevant predecessor, at least demographically.
What exactly that means, I’m not sure. Did more people listen to “Wet-Ass P-word” than any other song, despite its subject matter? Or did people spend a lot of money on “WAP” merch bundles, which counted toward the song’s “album-equivalent units?”
I shudder to think what would even be included in a “WAP” merch bundle.
Regardless, Pharrell and Jay-Z have their work cut out for them, if they hope to compete. They’re a combined 102 years old, give or take a year, and I can’t remember the last song I liked by either of them.
For Pharrell, it may have been the aforementioned “Blurred Lines.” I of course loved the video, but I actually kinda liked the song, and I even once considered writing a book about it, back when I was working on Wardrobe Malfunction. It would have included a lengthy digression involving Louis Farrakhan, Muammar Gaddafi and the history of feminism.
I might still use that idea, and I’m not worried about mentioning it here, in the free version of Life in a Shanty Town, because I’m actually kinda curious to see who would steal such an idea. (Perhaps the Chinese.)
I haven’t had much use for post-retirement Jay-Z, but lately I’ve appreciated his pontificating about black generational wealth on 4:44 and the fact that he chose to lend guest verses to every song on Jay Electronica’s nutty, supposedly anti-Semitic A Written Testimony. I’ve got my fingers crossed that “Entrepreneur” is in a similar vein.
I’m concerned, however, that the song seems to have been purposely timed to coincide with the Democratic National Convention, and not, as the few remaining Nas stans on Twitter suspect, the release of the new Nas album, King’s Disease. (I googled King’s Disease, and the first several results all had to do with gout. Is Nas aware of this?)
King’s Disease is produced in its entirety by Hit-Boy, the guy who did “Dreaded N-Words in Paris.” Remember when Nas jumped to Gwyneth Paltrow’s defense when she got a little bit too excited about seeing that song performed live in Paris? Ah, 2011.
I read, in some quote that must have been excerpted from a press release, that Nas and Hit-Boy had been meaning to work together for a while, and they finally found the time. There must not be as many demands on Hit-Boy’s time these days…
Yesterday, it was announced that Pharrell has guest-edited a collection of essays written by a veritable who’s who of Biden supporters, blue checkmarks and non-ADOS blacks, including Angela Davis, half the cast of the show “black-ish” and, of course, Tyler, The Creator, in the new issue of Time magazine.
I haven’t seen an issue of Time in the wild since that one with OJ on the cover, which I actually bought back in 1994, and it would be a shame if/when I miss this one. Similar in the scope of its ambition to the New York Times’ 1619 Project, I feel like this Pharrell issue could give 1619 a run for its money.
To think, seven years ago Pharrell was ripping off Marvin Gaye songs and dancing alongside naked white chicks, as if he’d somehow managed to get inside my subconscious.
Take it easy on yourself,

Did you enjoy this issue?
Become a member for $5 per month
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Byron Crawford
You can manage your subscription here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue