Friday, April 9, 2010

Ms. Jackson by Outkast

There’s nothing easy about an unplanned pregnancy.

The recent season of “16 And Pregnant” has explored the struggles between young unmarried teens dealing with having a child out of wedlock. While the show focuses on the relationships between the teens, one of the most interesting of the show is the interaction between the teen father and the teen mom’s mother.

In episode 2, featuring Nikkole, her boyfriend Josh (who repeatedly broke up with her, to date other girls and then would get back with her) did not get along with Nikkole’s mom. In own the most shocking displays of immaturity and selfishness Josh got into a fight with Nikkole’s mom while she was in labor.

There is something between a daughter and mother that a husband or boyfriend will never replace and never replicate. For most woman it’s essential that a man is on good terms with their mother.

For Josh, one of the first steps in cementing the break-up between him and Nikkole (besides the fact that he cheated on her soon after she gave birth) was his issues with Nikkole’s mom. If Josh ever wants to be part of Nikkole or his child’s life, the first step is apologizing to Nikkloe’s mother as Outkast attemps in “Ms. Jackson.”

“Ms. Jackson” is shockingly original. The song sets a man apologizing to his ex-girlfriend’s mother for how he treated her daughter. I’ve never heard a song breach this subject so directly and it’s musical landscape while drawing from many different influences is audacious, quirky and unique.

Drum beats are played in reverse throughout the song creating a sucking sound that awkwardly maintains a beat reflecting a tense and uneasy situation. The music paints the words in the songs sometimes with subtle hints like the piano line which plays the beginning of the “Wedding March” (the cliché “here comes the bride” melody). Other times it’s more in your face like in the second verse. Behind the words “you say it’s puppy love,” you can hear puppies barking and then immediately after with “we say it’s full grown” you can a grown dog roar. Musical touches like these add a surreal almost comical feeling that somehow seems to make the serious subject of this song that much more significant.

The rapping is so fast that it barely seems to fit in the beat. The velocity reflects a urgency from the protagonist to convince Ms. Jackson that he has changed. In the first verse, he says that he will pay for the bills and that he loves Ms. Jackson. While a custody battle is on the horizon he feels that his voice has not been heard and that he is unfairly being cut out of her life.

Within the flurry of words, there are profound statements: “You could plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather,” “Forever never seems that long until you’ve grown.” It’s interesting how this rapid fire style of rapping forces your ear to engage. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to understand every word but the emotional message is clear and Outkast gives us times to breath (even though they don’t seem to need to) pausing the music for dramatic purposes, “Forever, ever?”

The last verse degenerates into anger as the protagonist address his “baby mama” directly.

Jealousy, infidelity, envy
Cheating to beating, envy and to the G they be the same thing,
So who you placing the blame on
You keep on singing the same song
Let bygones be bygones,
you can go on and get the on and your mama.

This song interestingly switches perspective almost as if the Ms. Jackson’s daughter is in the room and he finally addresses her directly. He spits out words with venom as he realizes that he he can only give so much.

"Ms. Jackson" is astounding song. The poetic rapping and original production creates a powerful the emotional statement of a frustrated father trying to reconcile with his "baby mama's mama."

Josh from 16 And Pregnant and the character in "Ms. Jackson" are two sides of the same coin. Next time feelings of conflict feelings on conflict arise between you and the mother of someone you love, pause, and think about whether it's worth it, because this is a coin that you do not in your pocket.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for clearing up the mystery. I had a feeling part of the melody was from the Wedding March but wasn't sure until now. Great idea for a blog...