Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Perfect Songs - My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me

my mind is playing tricks on me

If I tell you a song is about paranoia, hallucinations, loss of sleep, suicidal thoughts and general anxiety, you're probably going to think it's either metal, punk or some 90s emo grunge thing. And that is probably one of the reasons this particular song sticks out to me. As we know I'm not a connoisseur of the genre, so I can't say for sure whether or not any other hip hop song has covered this ground as well (aside from Eminem who clearly owes his entire career to the existence of Geto Boys as far as I can tell). Either way, "My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me" is a perfect song unlike any other.

This is one of only a few hip hop songs I can rap along to almost the whole way through, though only when I'm alone because I have no illusions of my abilities. The whole damn thing is brilliant, but of course you can't shake Bushwick Bill's whole "This year Halloween fell on a weekend" story. And that's a big part of what makes this thing work so well is that it's these 3 stories that are told to us, not as a way of glamorizing anything, but as confessions of these horrible events that these guys went through. It's all about how their lifestyles are weighing on them mentally to the point of actual insanity and yet it doesn't shy away from or condemn the reality of the lifestyle either. It's not preachy or condescending or any of that. It just is. That's huge when you consider this came out in 1991just as "Gangsta" rap was reaching a cultural peak. Or maybe these are just sort of like scary stories one would tell around a campfire if one were a gangsta and aren't meant to be taken literally at all. I don't know which it is, but they're evocative and effective in both instances.

Look, it would be real easy to try to go into a whole thing about race and politics with this, I'm sure. But it's not gonna happen here because I'm not the guy to do it. Instead I'll tell you how great the Isaac Hayes sample is in this and how much I love the way Willie D. says "I live by the sword," pronouncing the W like it's a sworn oath. I love how these stories that are so dark and distant from my own experience are somehow so relatable because they focus on the very human aspect of the mind itself. And that relatability of other experiences, usually from the street, is kind of the point of hip hop, isn't it? See, I wound up getting a little political about it anyway. Whatever, just go sit alone in a four cornered room, stare at some candles and play this shit. God damn, homie, this song is fucking perfect.

1 comment:

  1. The Geto Boys song is good, but Isaac Hayes' "Hung Up On My Baby" is just sublime. That guitar solo!