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Hip-hop as She Is Rapped

A little over 150 years ago, two Portuguese gentlemen of soaring ambition and limited linguistic skills published English As She Is Spoke, a Portuguese-English phrasebook so hilariously inept that it survived for 50 years in the Anglo world as a humor title.

We've come a long way since then, right?

Wrong.

Today, Google and any number of competing Web translators will render just about any page on the 'net into English as she is spoke. Last week, Wack, ever the cosmopolitan, spent a couple of hours tooling around on German Wikipedia, where we found a few local entries and ran them through a Google translator. Here are some highlights of what came out the other end. (Even though Ali G. character Borat's accent is not German, these are funnier if you imagine them read in that accent.)

The Geto Boys: "Into the early 1990s the hiphop scene came under verbal bombardment by different politicians and US organizations. Although these focused themselves particularly on Ice T and 2 Live Crew, came also less admitted rappers like the Geto Boys into the visor of discussion. After Bushwick wants an eye in a far well-known incident lost, after its friend at the time had shot at it, they continued to move the next album Incoming Goods Can't into the Public Attention Stopped reached high sales figures. On the cover Bushwick Bill was to be seen, which was brought by Scarface and Willie D into the hospital..."

Paul Wall: "It is one of the most successful representatives of the subgenres Dirty South and stepped for the first time with other Rappern from Houston -- or as one in America says: H-Town -- like Mike Jones and Slim Thug in feature...It is worth mentioning in this connection that he is white and the other rappers here mentioned black...Although it presents itself in its video tie-clips as 'gangster' and 'king of the parking plumb bob,' it visited three years long the University of Houston, which stands in the contrast to its music...Paul Wall is particularly well-known for its 'grills,' the gold, silver and platinum tooth linings. It possesses also a Juweliergeschft, which manufactures these..."

Lil' Flip: "Is called with civil name Wesley Weston Jr... Lil' Flip had longer time Beef with T.I., since both stress the title 'King of the South' for itself. T.I. accused Lil' of Flip among other things over a Hood to black horses, in which he had not grown up at all...Lil' Flip a time had ranted later against Paul Wall and Slim Thug..."

Mike Jones: "Mike Jones began in the year 2000 with black horses and belongs since 2002 to the label Swishahouse with others like, Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, and DJ Mike of '5000' Watt... In its first album Who Is Mike Jones? if it repeats some marks its names in some Songs, its telephone number indicates and gives information over its next concert dates...After the success of the album published Mike Jones still several singles, from which 'bake Then' and reached 'tip pin' the highest Chartplatzierungen quietly."

Chamillionaire: "(also known as The Mixtape Messiah, King Koopa, The Truth from Texas or Color Changing Lizard) is rapper from Houston, Texas that Hakeem Seriki is actually called...It buildup as a child of Muslim and a Christin...Unfortunately, for many is in Europe 'only' rapper like many different. One can guess/advise only to everyone both on the Beat and also on the Lyrics respects itself Chamillionaire's current album The Sound of Revenge to listen to."

iTunes Top Ten

When I was a baby critic at Belmont College in Nashville, I used to do a column in which I'd phone up the local Tower outlet every other week and get them to tell me their top books, CDs and videos, which I would then almost universally trash in print in the Belmont Vision. It was my first column, and looking back at my clippings, I seemed like a pretty pissy little prick back then. Surely, I've mellowed with age.

So I decided to conduct an experiment. I would go to the iTunes online store and look at their top ten singles, listen to 'em all and then rate 'em, just like the old days.

Would I be the same pretentious jerk I was 15 years, one wife, two kids and 60 pounds ago? Or had I cured myself of young punk syndrome?

You be the judge.

1. "Promiscuous," Nelly Furtado With its cheap-sounding synths and cheesy rap duet break, it takes me back to 1984 and Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You." But Nelly's no Chaka, and this is nowhere near as fun.

2. "Hips Don't Lie," Shakira, with Wyclef Jean A reggaeton beat, a Haitian rapper and a Colombian singer collaborating in English. George Bush Sr. never told us the New World Order would be this fun-keh.

3. "Life is a Highway," Rascal Flatts This ultimate non-essential remake of a non-essential song comes from the Cars soundtrack, and is exhibit 4978-C in the evidence parade that bolsters this conspiratorial contention: Commercial country music is meant to be forgettable and unobtrusive. That way it doesn't distract radio listeners from the relatively fun and raucous truck and beer commercials that seem to be the whole genre's reason for being these days.

4. "Crazy," Gnarls Barkley Here's the only one I'd personally already downloaded before I undertook this experiment. The combo of Danger Mouse's deep soul track and Cee-Lo's soaring falsetto has a lovely, melancholy feel. It's a magic single: The tune seems to slow the motion of life and cast all your surroundings into dramatic, black-and-white video footage. Or at least it does me...

5. "Ain't No Other Man," Christina Aguilera Imagine the JBs with a female vocalist playing over speakers with no woofers. That's what you get here -- tinny old-school trumpet funk, with no low-end, but plenty of scratchin' and tambourines. But bass-free deep funk is better than no funk at all -- and I might just download this track myself when I get home. Christina still sounds vital and engaged.

6. "Do I Make You Proud," Taylor Hicks Did you know "baby carrots" don't grow that way, that they are just normal carrots whittled down into bite-sized pieces for the sake of convenience? That's what is going on with Taylor now -- Simon Cowell and his mates will take this blues-steeped soulful guy and turn him into Peter Cetera. This track here is phase one -- it's Taylor-made for a blockbuster romance flick.

7. "Unfaithful," Rihanna Nasal, forgettable teenpop song about guilt and cheating. You've heard hundreds like it before, and you'll hear hundreds more like it again.

8. "Dani California," Red Hot Chili Peppers It's a'ight. Sounds pretty overhyped to me; maybe the other singles will be the "return to form" I keep reading about.

9. "Over My Head (Cable Car)," The Fray REM-like jangle-rock with Coldplay/U2 keyboards, a carnival of bland. You can positively smell the fabrication here.

10. "It's Going Down," Yung Joc featuring Nitti More terrible rap from Atlanta, the city that is home to much that is great about Southern rap (OutKast, Field Mob, Killer Mike) and even more that is godawful, like this. Here we have the same, tired-ass siren synth line that got really, really old back in Lil' Jon's '04 heyday, not to mention the dumb, talentless rapping. But hey -- it's not as bad as "Laffy Taffy." Which is like saying Mike Gallo isn't as bad as Dan Miceli, but it's the truth. -- John Nova Lomax


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