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Lyrics and Life

 

By Caitlin Ward

01/18/2017
Dang
Mac Miller featuring Anderson .Paak

HOOK
I can’t keep on losing you
Over complications
Gone too soon
Wait, we was just hangin’
I can’t seem to hold onto, dang
The people that know me best
The key that I won’t forget, too soon
I can’t keep on losing you (x2)

Yeah, yeah, yeah
How many mistakes do it take ’til you leave
When I’m left with my hand and my face all red
And a face looking at you like (Wait)
I know I ain’t a saint, if it ain’t too late, well
I can’t keep on losing you, I run away so fast
Know my heart like gold but it break like glass
Knowing shit get old when I act so young
Baby you so cold, never had no sun
You don’t wanna grow up, yeah that shit no fun
So when I get home I’mma give you some
Make you feel like woo, when I hit that drum
Yeah the dick ain’t free, I don’t give no f___
Yeah it’s complicated, got you frustrated
Get home late and you don’t trust me baby
You way too drunk, you don’t know what I’m saying
You can drive my car, don’t drive me crazy
Complicated, got you frustrated
Every single night I keep you waiting
You say you don’t care, is what you saying
We both know that’s some bullshit
Okay, we be fighting, we be reuniting
Kiss me, touch me, tease me, me excited
God, the devil, who is who?
Tryna get through to you because

HOOK

Well, you can’t go away girl, I’mma need you
Play your games like they my ticket to an Ivy league school
Won’t get hall of fame dick from a minor league dude
I seek pussy, other people need food
Only got a little time, I ain’t tryna spend it
Arguing about who ain’t giving who attention
Starting up the engine, need to reboot
I seek pussy, other people need food
And I use every bone in my body
Keep on holding on to your trust
I know you don’t want nothin’ to do with me
But just one more time, let’s make love
One more time it ain’t much
F___ ‘em all, let’s be us, summer’s soft sweetness
Call you late drunk, you hang up
What a mess I made us, sense, I make none
It’s complicated, keeping me up late
Can’t concentrate, you’re always on my brain
If it’s love then why the f___’s it come with pain?
I just think that’s some bullshit
OK, it’s seems inviting, trust me, she’s a titan
This week she like him, next week they fightin’
Need protection, your dress is bulletproof
You safe with me girl

HOOK

I can’t get "Dang!" out of my head. This song has been in there for weeks. I’m not even sure how I heard it, but it’s been stuck in my head. I start singing the hook once or twice an hour some days, and I’ve nearly memorized the entire rap despite the fact that, before today, I’d never looked up the words. Which, if you’ve read them already, you may think are kind of iffy.

It’s not the words that have drawn me into this song, though. It’s the sound of it. Anderson .Paak sounds like a husky Curtis Mayfield when he sings the hook, and the music underneath is somewhere between a throwback and brand new: a 70s-style funk instrumental that loops like a newer track, old school horns and brand new synths. The music video is brightly coloured and imaginative, replaying a scenario twice over the course of the song, only the second time everyone in the background is a professional dancer. There’s much to love about the whole thing.

When you listen to a song that often, though, you do end up thinking a lot about the words. They reminded me of a rather grand pronouncement I made shortly before Christmas: I was no longer going to listen to music that was misogynistic. Listening to music that objectifies and demeans women is tacit acceptance of that behaviour, and I was going to have none of it any longer.

I make pronouncements like this regularly, and my record on managing to follow through on them is patchy at best. I’ve decided to no longer eat chocolate at least half a dozen times in the last two years on account of how little of it is produced ethically, and the fact that I’ve made the decision that many times tells you how well I’m doing.

What it comes down to, I suppose, is that all-or-nothing decisions tend to make you crazy more than they lead to positive changes in your life or the world. One of the reasons I’ve managed to stay a vegetarian for four years is because I decided early on that avoiding animal products entirely was going to be practically impossible. I have compromised when situations necessitated it. And also, vegan leather is stupid. Rabbit fur is warm, durable, and renewable. For as long as I have not eaten meat, I have also walked around with the flesh of dead bunnies on my feet — I must hold my downfalls in tension with my ideals. Positions have got to be nuanced and considered to hold weight long term.

That’s why this “not listening to misogynistic music” thing confuses me sometimes. Most blatantly sexist music annoys me far too much for me to want to listen to it. There’s a good chunk of the 1970s that have vanished from all of my most played lists, for example. I’m not sure why I listened to Led Zeppelin in the first place, and there’s only so many times I can hear Ronnie Lane be annoyed that a woman is asleep when he wants to have sex with her before I think, “You know what? I don’t really need to listen to the Faces.”

But there’s this other collection of songs that are more complex than that: Jidenna almost invariably rapping a single sexist line in the middle of a song of his that I love; a narrator in a Kate Nash song talking down another woman when she’s done nothing to deserve it except be another woman; Leonard Cohen saying you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind when as a woman yourself you’ve no doubt her real (not perfect) body has been touched by many things besides your mind and often not in a way that she wanted, so leave your mind out of it and stop thinking she’s the Virgin Mary simply because you don’t understand her.

That last one’s the song "Suzanne," by the way, if you’re not familiar with Cohen.

At this point, you may be thinking if I have that much ire over a Cohen song as gentle as "Suzanne" I must have a deeply complicated relationship with this Mac Miller song if I like it but those are the words. But honestly, I don’t. A lot of Miller’s earliest music is posturing and sexist, certainly, but he was also about 17 at the time. In retrospect it sounds a lot more like he was playing at something than actually having his own opinions on any of it. At the not-really-ripe age of 24, the age he was when this song came out last year, a lot of that posturing is still there.

I don’t think a song about trying to hold a relationship together need have quite so much bragging about his sexual prowess . . . if any. But the thing about this song that separates it from the others I’ve mentioned is that it’s not about Miller objectifying this woman, and it’s not about him blaming her out of hand or putting her on a pedestal. It’s about knowing there’s a mess, knowing it’s partly his fault, and having no idea how to fix it. There’s nothing misogynistic about that; it sounds like just about every romantic relationship I’ve ever been in or seen. And yeah, there’s a lot of bawdy images going on in this song, but it’s also clever. The line, “I’ll use every bone in my body / keep holding on to your trust” is one of my favourite lyrics from the past five years. So despite how these lyrics might come off, and even though I’ve tried to swear off misogynistic music, I don’t feel a bit bad about listening to the song.

I may not start singing it down the hall at work, mind you. Because, you know — nuance.

 

Ward is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer who spends her days (and most nights) working at a small Catholic college. Her less eloquent thoughts can be found at www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings