Welcome to the most educated music website in the world’s newest recurring series as we dust off our PHDs from Pizza Hut University to dive into the meanings of your favorite songs, line by line. While websites like Genius.com provide a similar service, they are open to public contribution and, ironically, often riddled with misinformation and idiocy. This sort of thing is best left to the professionals.
Today, we begin our series with a song from Reflection Eternal’s critically acclaimed Train of Thought. Though Reflection Eternal is a project by Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek and perhaps Kweli’s most critically acclaimed solo-ish record, we will be investigating Xzibit’s verse on the song “Down for the Count.” As one of the top three best rappers to appear on the track, his wordplay bears some close reading.
Digest the song below, and then we will begin.
Have you ruminated upon the text? Let us begin.
“I’m i-rate, usin your body for live bait”
Already, so much to parse. Immediately, we are off to the races with rich wordplay. Xzibit begin’s by suggesting that he alone is worthy to judge the legacy of Steve Jobs, as he evaluates all of Apple’s products acting as the “iRater.” He quickly follows this with a play on the adage “Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In this case, X is acting as as good steward and wants to provide a long term and sustainable solution for his fellow man’s needs.
“Xzibit rockin them heavy jams you can’t take”
Xzibit is no fool, and when it comes to fruit preservers he prefers large, voluminous jars, as they not only provide a greater quantity of product, but are also more difficult for intruders to abscond with.
“Dilate, cock back the weight, spread hate”
Even as his mother was giving birth to him, she was exercising her biceps with dumbbell curls while cursing the doctors and the man who afflicted her with such a burden.
“Heavy metal we settle and set shit straight”
In addition to his legacy as a lauded wordsmith, Xzibit also was host to the television program “Pimp My Ride.” In this instance, he is boasting of his ability to work with automobiles and properly align their tires and steering.
“Hit gates in my younger days, from the policeman”
There is quite a bit to unpack here. Another reference to technological innovation, X “hit gates,” meaning as a youth he frequently employed his Mircosoft computer to presumably read the Encarta digital encyclopedia and enrich his knowledge of the world. The computer was given to him by a law enforcement officer.
“Me and my clan used to dance thicker than quicksand”
Continuing on the theme of computers and their many uses, Xzibit boasts of the abilities of his World of Warcraft clan. Quicksand, meanwhile, is quite viscous.
“Supply and demand the hand is quicker than the eye”
Here Xzibit is offering his competitors a cursory course classical in economics, making a sly reference to the capitalistic “Invisible Hand of the Free Market,” which is so quick, men cannot see it act.
“Find some chickens to fry, while you find it hard to stick to your lie”
Xzibit is once again looking to the nutritional needs of his brother man, while expressing that his chicken is so delicious, that this impoverished man will feel compelled to gift him his only 1 Dollar bill, in reference to George “The Lying President” Washington.
“I see through the tricks, destroy the facade”
Be forewarned–Xzibit is likely to ruin any magic show or movie set upon which he sets foot.
“Your little lungs is too weak to hotbox with God”
God (Yahweh) is known to partake in heavy cannabis use. Xzibit is wisely suggesting that young children not smoke marijuana before Sunday school.
“Rah Digga, First Lady of the Flipmode Squad”
A simple and elegant nod to his companion female MC on the track. Tasteful.
“Gotta be hard like a young nigga walkin the yard”
In his childhood, Xzibit enjoyed a great love for yardwork, and when mowing his family’s lawn would often sport a healthy and noticeable erection. He is advising that his competition also become aroused before confronting him.
“For the first time, we ain’t the niggas you let shine”
Xzibit will fuck up your shoes if you suggest that he clean and polish them for you and aren’t watching.
“Expect mines to blow lines like coke everytime”
Coca-Cola is a wildly popular soft drink, and people often wait in long lines for it. While they wait, these people often consume cocaine.
“I’m an alcoholic nigga so I finish the fifth”
Xzibit is here referencing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which he, as a music lover, finds absolutely intoxicating (much like alcohol) and must listen to in it’s entirety. He is also pleading his constitutional right to not self incriminate, as he drank a whole bottle of alcohol while driving.
“You at the front door bitchin because you ain’t on the Liszt”
Meanwhile, his rival is not granted access to his domicile, because far from being acquainted with central figures in classical and Baroque music such a Beethoven, he is not even familiar with peripheral musicians such as Hungarian composer and virtuous pianist, Franz Liszt.
Taken as a whole, we have a whirlwind verse packed full of references to high culture, the Christian Bible, technology, and Xzibit’s own life story. Truly a classic for the ages.