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Friday, July 25, 2008

For every rhyme I write, it's 25 to life...

So…here’s the deal. I don’t remember the exact first time when I saw this tag, but I pass by it almost every day on the way to the Altona train station (it’s on the corner of Max-Brauer-Allee & Ehrenbergstraße, FYI -- if you care). I see it and I can’t decide if it’s one of the stupidest tags I’ve seen or – frankly put – pure, fucking genius.

And there’s a part of me that’s really leaning towards the latter, because I think about this thing so damn much.

(Click Below for More)

The last time I thought this much about a single piece of graffiti was when I saw a “Free Tibet” piece damn near at the apex of the arch of this building. It was definitely an impressive feat, but I couldn’t help thinking to myself – and no offence intended to the plight of the Tibetan people – but, I thought, “What kind of writer would take all the trouble to get up to a spot that difficult and high up, and not paint their name?” I mean, if it were me…I probably wouldn’t have sprayed my name either, but I sure as hell would have written something like, “I climbed this fucking arch, bitches!!!” and, then, maybe…some other kind of political statement. Probably not that last part, but who knows? The fantasy-me that climbs buildings might just also do shit like that.

But this “Shook Ones II” tag, that’s a real thinker, albeit in a completely different sense. Obviously, whoever did it is a Mobb Deep fan, but they didn’t spray “Mobb Deep”. It’s just the name of a song – a classic, for sure – but just the name and, unfortunately, that name doesn’t really give up a lot of information as to the message in the lyrics. It’s not exactly the most universally understandable song title like “Don’t Stop Believin’” or “The Humpty Dance”.

Maybe it’s the graffiti writer version of that internet meme where you list the first 10 songs that play when you put your playlist on shuffle AND somewhere around this city there are nine other random song titles sprayed on walls.

I think that the writer had a target audience in mind, namely…people who know Mobb Deep and the song “Shook Ones” and, more specifically, part two. He/she wanted these people to think of the deeper underlying meaning in the words of this song. Due to the time constraints, the writer could not decide which of the many quotable lyrics were most fit to grace this wall. I imagine him/her, standing there with the spraycan mulling over the lyrics:

“To all the killers and the hundred dollar billers/For real n****s who ain’t got no feelins”? Ooh…whoa, not the n-word! Hmmm…what about “You’re minor, we major/ You all up in the game and don’t deserve to be a player”? Damn! Don’t know, can’t decide! Oh my God, the cops! Shitshitshit…

Then they hastily spray “Shook Ones II”, thinking that whoever is going to get it will just “get it”.

Maybe I just don’t “get it”, because when I think of “Shook Ones II”, the very first thing that comes to mind is: “Ain’t no such things as halfway crooks /Scared to death and scared to look, they shook.” And the second is: “You ain’t a crook, son/You just a shook one.”

Which makes for some delightful irony regarding my theory as to the origins of this tag...

And I think about this every dang time I see it.

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