Big Tymers – “Still Fly”

Released: 3.12.02

Peak: # 11

Hip-hop materialism is an easy target for critics, especially of the white middle-class stripe. When said palefaces yearn for the days of Public Enemy and rap that “meant something,” I suspect they miss Chuck D’s politics less than his austerity. (They also ignore the fact that Public Enemy still exists.) Me, I’ve never known or cared much about cars or clothes, and many a name-brand inventory has glazed my ears over. Still, I presume that “gator boots with the pimped out Gucci suits” look quite smart, and I’m sure that both the E-Class Benz and the 430 Lex are fine modes of transportation, because when it comes to excess, I trust the Big Tymers.

Cash Money label head Bryan Williams, a.k.a. “Birdman,” a.k.a. “Baby,” can be a microphone chameleon. He’s more vicious in the company of Clipse (“What Happened to that Boy”), more street beside Lil Wayne (“Stuntin’ Like My Daddy”), more boisterous when surrounded by his full gang of Cash Money Millionaires (“Bling Bling”). But alongside prolific beatmaster Mannie Fresh–who here devises some complex dramatic scenario about hydraulics and stereo equipment I’ve never quite gotten to the bottom of–Baby sounds lovable and slovenly.

Warbling a wobbly sea shanty of a chorus misprised from the Gilligan’s Island theme, the duo kisses off middle-class fiscal propriety in the fine tradition of Little Richard’s “Rip It Up,” though at a more leisurely pace. At first, “Stay Fly” seems a satire of hood rich flossers who blow their gas money on minks, piss their rent away on rims, and cagily keep possessions in they mama’s name. But these two MCs not only identify in full, they make ruining your credit sound more exciting as slinging crack. Maybe the coarsening effect consumerism has had on the black community is no joke. But prigs who bristle at the gauche material fantasies of the underprivileged are why the Big Tymers are entitled to treat it as one.

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