Culture

The Music

Culture | The Top 5 rap/hip-hop albums for the week ending June 17, according to Billboard magazine

Issue: "Dumpsters or hospitals?," June 24, 2000
The Marshall Mathers LP
3 weeks on chart
STYLE
Vile, relentless profanity set to catchy rhymes, beats, and chants.

BEST CUTS
"Marshall Mathers"-an R-rated song (as much for "revealing" as for "revolting") on an X-rated album (as much for violence as for profanity)

WORLDVIEW
Ironic: a society that idolizes the likes of Eminem deserves all the contempt that the likes of Eminem can dish out.

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ROLE MODEL STATUS
Arrested twice recently, once on "felonious assault and concealed weapons charges," once for pulling an unloaded gun on an associate of the rap group Insane Clown Posse.

I got that work
Big Tymers 3 weeks on chart
STYLE
Vile, relentless profanity set to catchy rhymes, beats, and chants.

BEST CUTS
"10 Wayz"-a PG song on an NC-17 album

WORLDVIEW
Language exists as an avenue for obscenity and profanity, women exist for two reasons (one of which is to be hit), the love of money is the root of all joy, and the quickest road to wealth is paved with all of the above.

ROLE MODEL STATUS
Self-described "pimps" audaciously begin their liner notes with this line: "First, we'd like to give thanks and praise to God." Which god?

My name is joe
Joe 7 weeks on chart
STYLE
The seductively paced, rhythmically undulating style of R&B known sometimes as "slow jam."

BEST CUTS
"I Believe in You"-a G-rated duet (with 'N Sync) on an album of R-rated solos

WORLDVIEW
Vile, relentless insistence that women exist for only one reason (and it's not to be hit).

ROLE MODEL STATUS
Joe's liner-note thank-you's begin with, "I must first pay the highest honor to the creator of all mankind, Jesus Christ," but Joe is a romantic softcore pornographer; even the promisingly titled "One Life Stand" lusts in its heart.

goodfellas
504 Boyz 5 weeks on chart
STYLE
Vile, relentless profanity set to catchy rhymes, beats, and chants.

BEST CUTS
"Life Is Serious"-a PG song with a pretty if rudimentary melody, an appealing if brief vocal by Erica Fox, and a cautionary if poorly articulated plot about murder

WORLDVIEW
"Our mission? To get money, power, and [women]" (announced in the songs "Whodi" and "Beefing").

ROLE MODEL STATUS
Self-described "dawgs" and worse, their thank-you's begin with, "Thank God and all the real soldiers and Thug Girls in the North, South, East and West."

Lucy pearl
Lucy Pearl 2 weeks on chart
STYLE
Creative if sometimes meandering blend of old- and new-school R&B.

BEST CUTS
"Remember the Times" (a distant echo of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish"), "Do It for the People"

WORLDVIEW
Romance is fun ("Dance Tonight") except when jealousy ("Don't Mess with My Man") and mothers-in-law intrude ("Can't Stand Your Mother").

ROLE MODEL STATUS
A trio composed of former members of popular '90s groups (one each from A Tribe Called Quest, En Vogue, and Tony Toni Toné) dodges the parental-warning sticker by slightly altering an obscenity.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The title of the debut album by the gospel duo Mary Mary is Thankful (Word/Columbia/C2), but it might as well be Quite Contrary. For one thing, the rapidity with which it has become a multi-format hit challenges the notion that gospel acts can "cross over" only after years of paying dues on the church circuit and then only with material so subtle as to qualify as value-neutral. The album's first single, the exuberantly worshipful "Shackles (Praise You)," has been a top-30 hit and a top-10 hit on Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B/Hip-Hop charts respectively, and a top-five hit in England. As of June 17, the album was Number 68 on the Billboard 200. More importantly, the music of Mary Mary (actually, the real-life sisters Erica and Tina Atkins) challenges the notion, currently prevalent among bestselling black-music acts, that the only way to make fans is to inundate them with profanity, violence, and sex. In addition to 11 overtly Christian-and unabashedly funky-originals, Thankful also boasts contemporary re-workings of "What a Friend" and "Wade in the Water," giving even old-school gospel fans reason to give thanks.

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