Menu Close

You need to can it like the Jolly Green Giant

Close up of two massive giant green statue's feet

Image: Hans via Pixabay

  • Track: I’m Singin’
  • Artist: Biz Markie
  • Album: All Samples Cleared!
  • Year: 1993

Biz Markie inhabits a strange corner of hip-hop. He’s one of a few overtly comic rappers, trading in entire albums of whimsy and silliness. He revels in his own daftness.

I’m no massive Biz Markie fan, and find him a bit hit and miss. But when he hits it’s worth it, and this is a cool tune, if a little forgettable.

Most importantly, I’m Singin’ has a nice smattering of similes thrown in. Most of Biz’s similes in this track are comparing himself, or a facet of himself, to a random selection of things. Mostly music, film and TV, but some more left-field choices appear too.

It was a toss-up between this track and Like a Dream, which I was interested in for obvious reasons. But it’s a crap song compared to this

I’m Singin’ features an ice cold sample from the magnificently named Grassella Oliphant. It also creeps up on Cypress Hill’s What go Around Come Around, Kid. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from them in due course.

One thing I didn’t know before researching this entry reading a few Wikipedia pages is that Big Daddy Kane wrote a lot of the lyrics on Biz’s first album. Which is quite interesting.

The lyrics on Genius don’t have any annotations, so half the references in this are a bit of a mystery to me. But that’s part of the fun sometimes.

The lyrics

Read full annotated lyrics on genius.com

Now people always want to know my strategy plan
For me to use the weird name as “Diabolical Man”
Well I got diabolical beats, raggedy clothes
And aw hell, I’m even wearing diabolical drawers

I’m not White as Barry ‘cause I’m Dirtier than Harry
With a rap that’s big and fat that Mariah couldn’t Carey
So don’t come to me with that same ol’ same ol’
Cause I’ll knock your butt somewhere over the rainbow

Some lovely wordplay at work here with those celebrities’ names. You might ask yourself if those first two are actually similes. Superficially, Biz is comparing himself to ‘Barry’ and ‘Harry’ – so is making a direct comparison of two different things. You only get any sort of imagery going on once you get the joke, because Barry and Harry alone don’t mean anything. So I think these are simile, just about. I needed to work through that one for my own sake. Thanks for bearing with me.

At the end of this bit listeners also realise (beyond the obvious) that this tune has a musical theatre theme going on.

I write rhymes that jam more than jelly
So call me the Arthur without the Fonzarelli, or Nelly
Cause I am so bad when it comes to a rap jam
Even robins scream, “Holy hip-hop Biz man!”

This comparative simile took me down a rabbit hole of fruit-based breakfast spreads. I regret nothing.

I was wondering what ‘jam’ meant to our American cousins, and what confusion this could cause if they went shopping in Asda. Thank goodness for lifelong American Beth Goldowitz and her comprehensive answer on Quora.

I’ve no idea where that ‘Nelly’ comes from, but I suspect it’s just there to force the rhyme. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a character called Nelly in Happy Days.

I grab the microphone and go every which way but loose
Cause I’m the ugly duckling that seduces Mother Goose
And I don’t be using flipping tongue twisters
But I still get better in time like The Whispers

If you can shake the image of a cygnet getting it on with an old lady (thanks for that Biz), you might want to listen to the 1987 track that inspired this simile. Although it’s a bit of a misnomer: the longer I listened to it, the less I liked it.

But older crews you see can’t stay as loose as me
Cause old school rappers just ain’t what they used to be
So up your nose with a rubber hose
And every brother knows that your style’s older than my grandma’s clothes

Well, I hope no grandmothers are reading this (hi, mum). I considered making this the post title, but couldn’t find an image that wouldn’t be insulting to someone.

But grey skies is going to clear up, so put on a happy face
Take off that frown and cheer up, and put on a happy face, cause
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
Ah ah ah ah ah

As far as choruses go, it’s not a classic. I always wonder if seven repetitions of the refrain is really necessary? It’s almost like Biz himself gets bored of it by the end.

I start with a rhyme as I enter your mind
I hit so hard that Michael Jackson won’t remember the time
So here I come a bombing every time I home in to
Off a funky drummer boom I get hot as Donna Summers

I don’t think that Michael Jackson line, clever as it is, counts as comparing one to the other. So it’s not going in. The Donna Summers one obviously is though.

Cause I reign supreme as a rap brainstormer
From corner to corner, I’m dropping some more on ya
Not Tony! Toni! Toné!, cause I came to warn you
That I even reign in Southern California
Everybody talking ‘bout Biz is hype
Cause I make Dirty Harry’s day, hell I even make Gladys Knight’s

Some more enjoyable wordplay going on here. For anyone wondering about the Tony line, I’ll just leave this here.

Soon I star on ABC because rapping DEF is the best way to the G
Alphabetically I have to lead you through
Since I’m the m-izza I know to watch my Ps and Qs
Like the EMTs
but the B-I-Z
I rap so picture perfect I should just stop and say “cheese!”

It’s at times like this I wish someone on Genius had done some analysis of the lyrics. According to Urban Dictionary, mizza means hot, which is good enough for me. Biz’s real name’s Marcel, so maybe he likes to call himself Mizza.

I think that EMT probably refers to Emergency Medical Technician (I’ve got nothing else, ok?), an American way of saying ‘private paramedic’. Why they’d need to watch their Ps and Qs is anyone’s guess, but I suppose if you’re paying for someone to save your life, you’d want them to be polite while they’re at it.

So if I step up, who’s gonna move me back?
Cause Scooby Doo can’t even do that for a Scooby Snack
You think you can, you think you can, don’t even try it
Cause instead you need to can it like the Jolly Green Giant

I think the genius of this simile rather speaks for itself, don’t you?

Cause trying to step to Biz, you know I’m a diss them fast
So play like 98.7 and kiss my ass
Cause me and rap is like peanut butter and jelly
Which reminds me of a song by my man Gene Kelly

Again with the jelly.

I’ll admit the Gene Kelly one is a bit dodgy, but it’s going in. In fact, if we accept it’s simile, it’s a nested one. Biz is comparing the simile in the previous line with Singing in the Rain, if we accept that ‘reminds me of’ counts as comparing one thing with another. Might be a stretch, but I’m feeling generous.

Now amuse yourselves while we hit the overly-long chorus.

I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
Ah ah ah ah ah

Now it’s the universal language that the Biz Mark is speaking
I’m down with blacks, whites, Indian, and Puerto Rican
I’m an African descendent, myself would have say
But I was booooorn in the USA!
I spent the 80’s duking ladies without making babies
So I guess I’m over like a fat rat that never caught rabies

Hmm. Not sure about this, but I think when Biz says he’s over, he’s bemoaning his lack of action with the ladies. The simile is a bit of a weird one.

I suppose because symptoms of animal rabies can include the inability to swallow, hydrophobia and pica (eating shit), that a rat that never caught rabies would be fatter. Again, all I’ve got. Deal with it.

Something doesn’t add up though. Wild rats don’t actually carry or transmit rabies. Do your homework next time you try a clever rhyme, Biz.

Went from messing around like Tonto with no woman in three years
I had one little two little three little Indian
B-I-Z Markie is what it is
And if it’s hard for you to spell, then just say “Biz”
I’m down with the Zoo Crew, some kids who act nutty
B-Danks, Cool V, Everett, Todd, and Jeff
They’re my buddies, ha, my buddies, ha
Wherever I go, we go

I pass my April Fools in monster May
I pass by so much bull I should say “Olé!”
I got friends named Raggedy Ann and Andy
Call my “Bon appetite” cause I’m sweeter than John Candy
Don’t even knock it, till you try me
Cause the proof is in the pudding, you can ask Bill Cosby
Some think I’m bragging, some think I’m boasting
But even Smokey Robinson would second that emotion
That’s why I take through the sky on a natural high
Cause I’m fly-ly-ly-ly-ly, la la la la

I’ve never seen The Lone Ranger. But it sounds like Tonto enjoyed putting it about a bit.

If you’ve surmised from reading these lyrics that Biz Markie likes to reference famous people in his songs, you’re right. Mentioning both Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby in one track does seem a little unfortunate, in hindsight.

And that wraps that one up, one more annoying chorus and an outro aside.

I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
I’m sing-ing-ing-ing in the rain-ain-ain
Ah ah ah ah ah

Now excuse me while I get the hell out of here like Gary Glitter.

The stats

Similes:14
Words:792
Words per simile:56.57
Length:5m 12s
Similes per minute:2.69
Times sang in the rain:21

1 Comment

  1. Pingback:It all stays the same like the love doctor, Strange - Internet Hip-hop Simile Database

Leave a comment. Bonus points for similes.