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MCs be hooked like addicts

girl looking up and blowing smoke

Image: Alessandro Zambon via Unsplash

  • Track: 3 Tha Hard Way
  • Artist: Bahamadia feat. K-Swift & Mecca Starr
  • Album: Kollage
  • Year: 1996

You know that when someone spells ‘the’ like that they mean business.

This certified classic of a track comes to you courtesy of one of Philadelphia’s finest. A one-time member of the Gang Starr Foundation, Bahamadia was discovered by hip-hop royalty Guru (RIP). DJ Premier, the other half of Gang Starr, produced her debut album Kollage. Track it down if you don’t know it, it’s great.

Bahamadia raps with a lovely, downtempo serenity. She’s one of those artists that make you feel more intelligent by just listening. Her style is so soothing, you could easily let her words wash over you. Don’t – you’ll miss out on clever, deep lyrics and a mountain of similes.

This track certainly contains a hatful, from all three artists. This is one hip-hop tune that definitely passes the Bechdel Test: three female rappers doing their simile thing.

There’s not a great deal out there about Bahamadia’s two guests. Fellow Philadelphians as far as I can work out, K-Swift (not to be confused with her Baltimore DJ namesake) and Mecca Starr both seem to have all but disappeared from the public eye. A shame, Mecca Starr in particular shows off some proper skills in her verse.

The hook comes from a much-sampled LL Cool J skit, and Premier throws in a bit of James Brown too for good measure.

This post, my last for 2019, takes our list of similes to well over 200. At this rate, I’ll have comfortably gathered over 500 by the end of 2020. I’m simultaneously excited and a little unsettled by this. But I suppose we all need hobbies.

The lyrics

View the annotated lyrics on Genius.com.

[Verse 1 – Bahamadia]

Salutes to action be the latest entry for ‘Illadel colonies
To get the cream like cherries jubilee

Bahamadia starts us off with a little shout out to her home city. Cherries jubilee is a dessert invented for Queen Victoria. And it sounds horrible.

My steeze put you at ease like methamphetamines

As mentioned in the intro, Bahamadia’s style (AKA her steeze) is somewhat soporific. I’d recommend listening to her over dabbling in methamphetamines, especially if feeling at ease is your goal. Methamphetamines are likely to do the exact opposite.

Or like Tony Starks’ fantasies about his Wallabees

Here’s a first. This is a simile that refers to another rapper who is already in the database. Ghostface Killah, whose aliases include Tony Stark (superhero Ironman’s alter ego). He’s been known to rap about his fondness for Clarks Wallabees.

Two fit-een, yada mean? Big East be comin’ through
Ghetto magic plus the bullies back it what
Me now Buddah Blessed for I and I
Provide da greatest naturale pure as life that exit from the gentatile
Styles international like direct connects from internet

I think you mean ‘steezes’. Glossing over what ‘gentatile’ may or may not mean, the simile here might sound a little naive to modern listeners. But as this track came out around the start of the internet era, I think we can forgive Bahamadia.

Verbal text blossom like Chia Pets

I learn so much from this daft project. Chia Pets (‘the pottery that grows’) are a sort of horribly tasteless grow your own plant/pet hybrid…thing. Here’s an incredible advert for them. One for next year’s Christmas list.

Perfect with the mic devices Bahamadee be the nicest
Bringin’ this rap thing to the light like Osiris

From lowbrow to highbrow in just two lines. That’s one of the things I love about hip-hop. Osiris is an Egyptian god of, well, all sorts of things. That includes the afterlife, which is presumably why he brings things to the light.

For the nine pound et cetera
Peace to Gang Starr and my nigga KSARRAH

This track is rammed full of references to other artists. If you don’t know Gang Starr you’re probably reading the wrong blog. KSARRAH tHA HANGMAN (who must have accidentally left caps lock on when choosing a name) is a new one to me.

The hook itself is a nice simile, but I can’t accept it into the database as it’s a sample. It’s all there in the rules. Three The Hard Way is a 1974 blaxploitation classic directed by Gordon Parks JR, who also did Superfly.

[Hook]

We gonna rock this motherfucker like Three The Hard Way

[Verse 2 – K-Swift]

Ayo, I’m doing this for the crews claimin’ that they’re better
I’m tickled, ya must be like Sanford on the Ripple little by little

Today I learned…that classic sitcom Steptoe and Son was re-imaged in the US as Sanford and Son. In it, Steptoe analogue Sanford’s favourite tipple (there’s a missed opportunity for a rhyme) was a fortified wine called Ripple. Doesn’t sound very nice, but it’s an improvement over distilled paraffin.

I kick verses off the middle of my brain
The Riddler couldn’t fuck wit’ Kannon Riddles
I remain the undisputed, you should’ve known if you knew it
Montell couldn’t tell you how we do it
If you got the chance to even do the battle dance with the Kannon Band
Shit be slammin’ more than Larry Nance

Our first comparative simile of the track is the fourth reference to basketball to go into the database. Larry Nance won the first NBA Slam Dunk contest in 1984.

And plus it’s in me to give you more like Demi

And our first comparative is followed by our only switcheroo. It’s the first we’ve seen for a while. This track came out the same year as Demi Moore showed us all more than we asked for in Striptease.

I do it easy, leave the hard-a-way to penny
As I display skills for what it’s worth
Sent to this Earth to put the curse of wack MCs upon my turf
This is the end like Armageddon, you’re settin’ a bad example

Not the film with Demi Moore’s then husband Bruce Willis (which didn’t come out until 1998), but the biblical battle for end times.

Niggas still using samples times ample
Yo Swift never said she was the baddest but I kept it real
You niggas frontin’, talkin’ ’bout you packin’ steel
You be sportin’ a foot all up in rectum
By them Central kids sittin’ all up in the bully section
Wreckin’

After a pretty lucid verse, K-Swift lets herself down here by descending into near-gibberish. Still, it sounds cool.

[Hook]

We gonna rock this motherfucker like Three The Hard Way
We gonna rock this motherfucker like Three The Hard Way
We gonna rock this motherfucker like Three The Hard Way

With K-Swift’s cameo done and dusted, it’s over to Mecca Starr. It’s a really good verse. Her simile use is quite varied – some straightforward, some unintelligible. Let’s take a peek.

[Verse 3 – Mecca Starr]

Do you remember those you chose to forget back when ya ears was wet?
And now ya preachin’ me releasin’ mini-tec
I need a mic check because the static comes sporadic
MCs be hooked like addicts while casualties stay tragic

I think Mecca Starr’s staccato, punchy delivery offers a nice contrast to the more unhurried flow of Bahamadia and K-Swift. This verse is like a click of the fingers, snapping listeners out of their blissful trance.

Mecca Starr’s first simile of her wide-ranging collection is pretty simple: her rapping is dangerously addictive. Just say no, kids.

There ain’t no glamour in that story, all guts no glory
Entrenched in jealousy just like the suckers who abhor me

If you can get over the pronunciation of abhor with a silent aitch, well done. It gets me every time. Although that probably makes me the sucker here.

They tell but they don’t know the core, so raw is now my reference
Like Mumia there is no evidence to say I am more than I am

Journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. You can make your own mind up about what happened, but many believe he’s innocent.

Unbending, never-ending similar to million men

1995’s Million Man March would have still been fresh in the memory when these lyrics were penned. In the quarter century since it’s nice to see the US has effectively eradicated all forms of discrimination.

Me say ‘just us’ you say ‘me bust bust’
Mental stagnation like the cancer patients eatin’ cow fuss

I’m fairly sure these are the right lyrics, but have no clue to what they mean. Google hasn’t helped me uncover any controversy about cancer patients and beef. I can only assume a cabal of billionaire farmers and butchers has covered it all up.

As the minds rust
From dawn to dusk I rest in Mecca
The words sound power as in energy see Heka
To die because ya black simply be no cause at all
Surreality just like the Legends of the Fall

Heka is the second ancient Egyptian god to get a name check. He’s the deification of magic and medicine, which could be a link to the cancer line.

I can only imagine the simile is a reference to the 1994 film. I’ve not seen it, but it doesn’t sound particularly surreal to me. It sounds shit, but not surreal.

Initial looks of the shook hearted kids who shouldn’t started
Lyrics leave like spirits and the waters Moses parted

Two for one here. All three rappers dance around spiritual or religious themes. Including the three in this track, we’ve seen 17 similes so far I’ve (in some cases lazily) classified as ‘religion’.

Do or die’s ya slogan but niggas slip with Trojans
Major mental corrosion like Murray’s meat unfrozen

Again with the obscure meat similes. Google has been of no help. This raises so many questions. Who or what is Murray? And what’s the link between their meat and mental corrosion? Is Mecca Starr’s disappearance from the public eye linked to her meat-based revelations?

By posting this, am I risking being their next victim?

I am the chosen, Earth, Sun, Moon and stars
Hard for me to find a top contender just to spar
Some peep the exterior and think inferior
Next ya know they callin’ for a Sound Bwoy Buriell
D&D Studio be wicked, catch wreck for infinity
One love peace to Bahamadi’

No similes here but a couple of noteworthy hip-hop shout outs. D&D Studios (big fans of Dungeons and Dragons I assume) was the New York studio that DJ Premier worked out of. He ended up buying it.

Sound Bwoy Buriell is a 1995 track from Smif-N-Wessun, who I’ve never heard of. But Notorious BIG crops up nodding away at the one minute mark of the video, which is a pretty good seal of approval.

Bahamadia is back to see us home, and she’s got several more musical references she wants to share.

[Verse 4 – Bahamadia]

Like Salt-N-Pepa I take it to the next plateau

I’m going to assume I don’t need to introduce Salt-N-Pepa. It’s a clever little lyric – not only were they one of the first all-female hip-hop troupes, they were signed to Next Plateau records.

Niggas scream they want this Brown Sugar like D’Angelo

More music, but RnB this time: D’Angelo released Brown Sugar the year before this track came out.

I make it better fo’ fanatics fiendin’ for the butter, boo
Like 25 to lifers do from lack of gettin’ power
; you

PSA: don’t google ‘truffle butter’ if you don’t want to permanently lose your innocence. I think Mecca Starr is saying she is partial to satisfying sex-starved chaps, but I’m not sure. But whatever she means, she’s comparing it to the helplessness that long-term prisoners feel.

Oh, I put my little thing in action, smooth like satin
Or Special Ed when he was taxin’

It’s not a huge leap of the imagination to guess what her ‘little thing’ might be. Continuing the hip-hop theme, Taxing is a 1989 tune from New York rapper Special Ed.

Heads relax and play the back when I spill
I regulate a flow like chicks on birth control pills

A great line and simile in my book. It’s very evocative, and I wanted it to be the post title. But it’s hard to find a suitable image for, unsurprisingly.

Ill anitics, keep it movin’ on
Bouncin’ like nylon from ‘Illadel to Lebanon
No doubt
It’s three tha hard way

And also like nylon, that wraps things up.

[Hook]

Three The Hard Way

So many similes. At 26, that’s the highest number in a single track we’ve seen thus far. It’s hot on the heels of Action Bronson for the similes per minute top spot too. A resounding way to finish off 2019.

I’d like to have put more effort into this post, but I’m afraid I’ve been floored by a combination of Christmas listlessness and illness. I’ll be back in the New Year, hopefully with renewed enthusiasm. Unless the farmer-butcher mafia gets to me first.

Have a good one.

The stats

Similes:26
Words:633
Words per simile:24.35
Length:4m 11s
Similes per minute:6.22
Danger of being disappeared in an unlicensed abattoir:High

Leave a comment. Bonus points for similes.