And for those who ain't read Decoded, here are hov's comments about Meet The Parents.
A bit more going on than meets the eye to be honest.
1. This song was on the Blueprint2: The Gift & the Curse album. But it’s also a song about the gift and the curse that lies at the heart of the parent-child relationship.
2. Structurally, I was influenced by the nonlinear way Tarantino laid out the story in Pulp Fiction. So the song begins with a send-off, a burial.
3. I made his afterlife the prologue to turn the story on its head in narrative terms but also to emphasize the consequences of abandonment, that by walking out on your babies, you’re burying them.
4. The kid who died was a “thug” but everything else in these lines tells you he was the kind of person who maintained his honor and was loved by the brothers he left behind.
5. At the graveside I introduce the single mother, Isis. I gave her an Egyptian goddess’s name because there’s a way we put black mothers on pedestals while at the same time saying they’re incapable of raising boys to men, which I basically say in this song. Even if I believed it when I recorded it, I can say I don’t believe it now. There are too many men, myself included, whose lives are counter-evidence to that idea.
6. Even when the men weren’t around us, their blood was pumping inside of us, their DNA programming our moves. No matter how far away we were from our fathers physically, we were biologically inseparable, genetically intertwined. And to the degree that biology and genes determine your fate, our destinies were irreversibly linked.
7. This is a recurring image in my songs, winter as a symbol of a desolate, difficult life. Maybe if I’d hustled in Southern California or Miami the image would have less of a hold on me, but when you hit the streets in the literal darkness and cold of winters on the East Coast, it reinforces your sense that the universe doesn’t care about you, that you’re on your own in a harsh world.
8. Marijuana dipped in angel dust or PCP.
9. Her inability to deal with his death turns her into an addict.
10. I flash back to her meeting the father of her son, her son’s murderer, when she was basically her son’s age. And this feeling is real, too: Just because sh*t is hard doesn’t mean that there isn’t real romance in the hood! The moon shines, the stars come out. Isis is just like anyone else; she wanted to indulge herself and get lost in the fantasy of love for one night.
11. “I Wonder if I Take You Home” was a hit for Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam.
12. In the flash back you see her as a young girl thrilled by the fast life, rejecting a good dude who wanted to escape the city, for Mike, a guy who turned her on by being a thug.
13. Romance in the hood is a funny thing. All around the world, women fall for the bad guy, the strong, aggressive one who offers a sense of excitement or danger. It’s a cliché, practically. But in the hood, the bad guy is a different character with a different fate from the guy in a romance novel. The bad guy in the hood doesn’t always have a way to channel that aggression. His strength is frustrated by a system that rejects him, and his aggression is channeled into illegal acts. The excitement isn’t controlled—there’s no safety net when he falls off that highwire. The bad boy might grow up to be a hard man, if he grows up at all. The street f!ght that turns the girls on when he’s sixteen is less s3xy when he’s a grown-ass man. And god help the girl that’s got his child.
14. The flashback ends abruptly. Like a fake pass, you think I’m going to quarterback Isis’s story, but now we pick up Mike’s story: Like a lot of immature boys suddenly faced with fatherhood, he squirms free with a weak denial. Fifteen years later he’s still in the same streets.
15. I fast-forward to the near past in the song, the night father and son meet in the street. Their confrontation is between father and son, but the subtext is the inter-generational schism. These are fearless, fatherless young boys feeling they owe no respect to the generation of men above them.
16. Mike, who hasn’t seen his own son since he denied him fourteen years before, is not only faced with a familiar face when he sees his son, but with a newer, presumably more expensive gun, implying that his son’s hustle is a higher risk, higher benefit hustle. Father and son carry the same gun, a .38; it’s just that the son’s cost more.
17. It’s in this pause that I establish the son’s humanity, but also his vulnerability. I also show my partiality: I’m on the son’s side. Not only does he have the drop and the better gun, but he’s also got the moral high ground. He pauses when he sees the man’s face. You get the sense that he’s studied every face he’s seen his whole life, looking for the face of his father. And now here it is. It freezes him.
18. The older man has spent a life in the streets honing his survival skills. Where the son instinctively pauses, the father’s only reflex is to act, quickly, in the name of self-preservation. It’s the same instinct he exercised when he was still a kid and left his son behind. All he knows is war and survival, and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
19. The last two phrases are just slight plays on each other. In the first refrain it refers to this specific story, but in the second, it becomes more general, more generational. I never intended “Meet the Parents” to be subtle. In my mind it was a morality play, a PSA for that generation of men who may as well have emptied their guns on their sons when they left their lives. The streets where Mike left his son to be raised are the same streets where he buries him.
20. And the title to the song has dual meanings, too. The song is about a son meeting one of his parents, but it’s also a more general introduction to the listener: It’s impossible to understand this generation of kids, the hip-hop generation, till you meet the parents.
Last edited by trex; 08-21-2011 at 10:51 AM..