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Freak Convergences In Pop Culture: Framing Hanley Versus Lil Wayne

This will surprise no one but The Snob hates Lil Wayne with a passion. Not personally of course. I’m sure he’s a swell sort of gross looking dude. Nice by the bundles, but I can’t say I’m a fan. I loathe the overuse of Autotune on nearly every rap/R&B single right now and since Lil Wayne is a chronic offender I am chronically offended by his alleged “music.”

But, this doesn’t mean The Snob is a music snob. I’m a snob about a lot of things, but my music collection pretty much runs the gamut from “look how sophisticated and astute I am” Nina Simone to a “What are you? Twelve?” 99 cent download of the Jonas Brothers “Burnin’ Up.” I can enjoy crappy pop music with the best of them, I just have my limits and Lil Wayne’s ode to fellatio is one of those limits. Not only is the thought of Lil Wayne singing about his ding-a-ling on “Lollipop” gross to me, the whole song gives me a bad case of the Linda Blairs, complete with pea soup spitting action and colorful cursing. But imagine my confusion when I cursed the net and found this cover one evening.

(To see the actual music video, click here, but you have to sit through nearly two minutes of boring kids boring talking about banal, drunken suburban shizz before they rock out with the cock out to some Young Weezy reinterpretation.)

I don’t know who these Flaming Henley people are, other than they look like horrid Fall Out Boy clones, but I was amazed at the mileage they managed to push out of Wayne’s “Lollipop,” taking your standard, rouchy club track and turning it into vintage “cock rock,” emo Def Leppard-style, recalling a pop punk “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”

Back in the day, habitual song murder Pat Boone would have de-crunked the shit out of any sexuality laden bit of black music he shlacked. Boone was known for his ability to easily de-bone and regurgitate “race music” for the skittish, demure white masses. Something for the folks who just couldn’t handle Little Richard’s pompadoured, fey sexual chocolate and fainted at just the mere thought of Chuck Berry’s precious, white girl lovin’ ding-a-ling. But what do you call it when a white, suburban rock band covers classic Negro raunch and keeps all the raunch, just removes the Negro?

The song is still rather gauche, yet different. And you can’t really say they necessarily made it more palatable. The white masses, no longer being held back by their stogy anti-race music grandparents, love Lil Wayne to the tune of millions of illegal downloads. Hell, indie rock internet queen Marie Digby covered he and The Game’s “My Life” practically verbatim in the style of Lilth Fair and it somehow became some flowery folk American paean akin to a Dawson’s Creek-ification of “House of the Rising Sun.”

What seems truly apparent is how much American music, created by whites and blacks, influences one another. How blacks created Rock N’ Roll, how white musicians took Rock N’ Roll and changed it up, eventually creating their own style distinctly different, yet obviously related sound. And when you throw it altogether and actually keep the integrity (as opposed to committing the soft bigotry of lowered expectations that was Boone’s shtick), what you have in the end is the elements of what made the song an attractive song to people in the first place.

People like Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” because it is a sexual fantasy you can dance to, the classic ingredients for a party song. Framing Hanley kept the sex, the fantasy and the dancing, but lost the Autotune, added guitars and some rock bravado I thought was long dead since the advent of Grunge in the 1990s.

Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and the like effectively killed all rock music that was about solely about party penis power, largely because grunge was so serious and Guns N’ Roses, the last arena rock act standing, was not. Alternative rock eventually became a very pop slickened medium, whether pretty boy introspective (The Fray or Coldplay), hopelessly twee (Belle and Sebastian) or whatever the hell My Chemical Romance is supposed to be. (Emo-metal? Melodic punk?)

Rap music, on the other hand, maintained its sex driven streak despite the different flavors of the genre available. You could go for something enlightened or you could go for something gangster, but sex and rap music (just like sex and black music in general) have pretty much gone stayed the same. Never has one ethnicity wrote so many different odes to fornication in so many styles. It’s not that we don’t have other things to sing about, but sex appears to be a favorite topic. While the men of rock were getting in touch with the softer side of Sears, rap music was trying to figure out how they could make the song more explicit. “Lollipop” was a track made for the strip clubs (much like “I’m In Luv Wit A Stripper” and pretty much everything T-Pain sings).

But if Soundscan is to be believed, Lil Wayne’s style of pop is the thing the kids are into these days, regardless of pigmentation, leaving me to wonder:

When you produce Wayne’s pop with only a slight format change, are you creating a revolution in your genre (is this the return of white boys singing proudly about their dicks again?) or is this a pathetic attempt to stand out from the emo pack by hopping on Tattoo Face’s leaf overs? Did they make the song better? Did they make it worse? Was the song beyond redemption anyway, so no cover mattered? Will this take us back to how country and R&B artists would regular cover each others hits because the genres were similar enough to make the song a successful, but the audiences were so far removed that they wouldn’t even know whether you were listening to Buck Owens covering Ray Charles or Ray Charles covering Buck Owens? (Or for folks my age, country singer Mark Wills twanging up some Brian McKnight versus country fans who had no clue who Brian McKnight originally wrote and performed “Back At One?” Or pop/R&B boy band All-4-One’s habitual country track ripping?)

I’m thinking this is a one-off gimmick/tribute to what’s technically hot in the streets. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just the latest bizarre hybrid born out something singularly American pop music.

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18 thoughts on “Freak Convergences In Pop Culture: Framing Hanley Versus Lil Wayne

  1. I dunno, almost every comment on the “video” you posted for us is of the “rap is crap” variety. Even though only one I saw was of the overt racist variety (and it had been voted down), the overall reactions don’t make me think highly of the whole enterprise (even though as a white person who used to listen to rock and now almost entirely listens to hip-hop, I did sorta enjoy this version for unclear reasons).

  2. Anonymous says:

    didn’t lil wayne and bobby valentino do that horribly offensive song about the police woman with the lyric “i make her wear nothing but handcuffs and heels and then I beat her like a cop?” it’s shocking what people are popularized for. i’m totally grossed out by this music.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I dig the post. The track was suprisingly….um…catchy. But that’s about all I’d give it.I am interested in what the T.I.’s, Lil Wayne’s and Ludacris’s of the world are going to do in the new political enviroment. I kindof chuckled a little bit when I heard T.I.’s line in that new Rihanna radio track. I swear to god I think I could have heard something akin to that at a Bush rally Circa ’88. It’s going to be a touch difficult to rail against the man now. I’m sure they’ll still make tons of cash. But I think that the pseudo-ghetto culture glorified today might be on the way out. And from my perspective, it’s about time. It has gotten every bit as ridiculous as lipstick glamour rock. Also, when I saw that Chris Brown doublemint commercial directly quoting his latest song. Yeah.”You do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call forever”Bill Hicks

  4. Anonymous says:

    Oh yeah, I don’t think you finished our discussion of calculating republicans. If you can find time, I’d be interested in your thougts.

  5. You’re thinking too black and white.The record companies are only thinking green.If Lil Wayne’s the hottest thing right now, then how can they capitalize on that success and keep the money rolling in? Have a white band cover the same song and reach another market.I think back in the day it was more so of a race issue. But now, I think it comes down to lazy record executives who don’t want to pay producers, writers, and artist to try something new and innovative. They’d rather live by the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” motto.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I actually really liked this version. The only awkward part was the ‘shortie’part which sounded like a white-boy ebonics affectation. Otherwise it was actualy really good. Of course I like Def Leppard so it is not like my taste really counts

  7. T.B.I. says:

    I’ll admit that I am a bit of a music snob, so I wholeheartedly agree w/ on the Autotune issue. I despise the overuse of it in today’s music. It had either better be a gimmick (like Snoop Dog’s “Sensual Seduction”/”Sexual Eruption”) or Roger Troutman rising from the dead and discovering the digital audio processing, otherwise it leads me to believe that the vocalist isn’t that good of a singer.”Weezy” is nominated for 8 Grammys this year. Snob, how will you react if he wins the Album of the Year award? [Yeah, it’s a longshot since he’s going up against the overexposed Coldplay, but just wondering “what if?”]

  8. The original Lollipop is nasty but the beats makes it awesome to dance to and helps to block out what he is saying. In Framing Hanley’s version you focus more on the lyrics and it becomes even more horrendously nasty, because those boys aren’t any more appealing then Weezy F. Baby.

  9. I loathe Rap music…and the modern Black culture that breeds this stuff. I haven't listened to it in 17, 18 years…although admittedly I grew up listening to rap of the 70's and 80's. Now i'm pretty much embarrassed by and ashamed of the genre…. because it is largely considered "Black" music. I hate the values they stand for. And it annoys the Hell out of me that Black youth want to emulate every damn thing that these idiots are doing. It's not just the music we have to worry about… it's the behavior that's being passed down. Girls now want Lil Wayne and 50 cent clones to date. And of course the young men act accordingly. And I hate the new R&B too… more pathetic cookie-cutter music… with pre-programmed computer generated track templates dubbed over with bad vocals…nothing is original. There are a few exceptions… But most of it is horrible. I pretty much don't buy new stuff, unless its an independent artist or someone like Jamie Lidell… Sharon Jones… or perhaps John Legend. My music stash consists of Jazz, Fusion, 60's-80's Soul & rarities, 70's & 80's Rock, Worldbeat and a touch of 80's Pop. When I was a teenager I started delving into other genre's of music (thank God). There is so much more out there… Todays Pop music consumer has been programmed to buy garbage. They don't even know what musicianship really means… Britney Spears is considered a top "artist"…. Musicianship, singing talent, arranging, orchestration and writing are really not that important for artists or fans in this era. Even for the folks who can sing…. like those who win American Idol…. they end up getting bad material to work with if/when they get a deal with a major label. And most of the popular bands today play like $%*@.I guess that makes me a snob.

  10. I kid you not, my friends and I were just talking about this today. We were listening to the radio and I made the comment that every song on the radio is about instant gratuitous sex and nothing else. I’m like where do they come up with these lame lyrics? Nothing is original at all. Personally I listen to almost every genre of music out there and if it sounds good I want to hear it. Today’s R and B leaves nothing for the imagination at all. In the early days R and B set the standards for other acts to follow especially the European ones. Today I really can’t think of one artist worth emulating.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone even understand a word Lil Wayne says these days? Since when did ‘singing’ become ‘incoherent mumbling’? AArrgghh!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hey Black Snob,Thanks for this post it was great. Growing up I didn’t listen to much rap music. I didn’t get it. What I noticed is that I liked the beat and the hook. I know Jay-z is the man and so is Biggie, but I’m still not sure why they are so popular. Also why is our music so much more sexually explicit than others.

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