Monday, December 12, 2011

Area Codes by Ludacris featuring Nate Dogg

Sometimes music is meaningful because it speaks emotions that we feel deep inside in a way that no other form of human expression can. “Area Codes” is not one of those songs. It’s meaningful because our reaction to it tells us about ourselves.

Ludacris’ chauvinistic dedication to the many “hoes” that find him irresistible around the country provides a reflections, a kind of Rorschach test. Our reaction to this song reveals our own views on promiscuity, romance and the illusions that unfortunately too many of us have about the meaning of sexuality.

Ludacris isn’t the first artist to write a song boasting about his conquests. The earliest one that comes to mind is “Travelin’ Man” by Ricky Nelson.

Nelson in this early 1960s hit sings about five different girls who he is in love with. While this song has a more romantic spin it doesn’t feel great. He talks about owning girls hearts and uses cultural allusions to characterize these woman.

Ludacris takes this approach further describing forty different women he is involved with.

Forty. Let that sink in for a second, forty different women.  Maybe a list of all the area codes will help you imagine what we're talking about here.

770 - Atlanta, Georgia
404 - Atlanta, Georgia
718 - New York, New York
202 - Washington D.C.
901 - Memphis, Tennessee
305 - Miami, Florida
312 - Chicago, Illinois
313 - Detroit, Michigan
215 - Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
803 - Columbia, S. Carolina
757 - Tidewater, Virginia
410 - Baltimore, Maryland
504 - New Orleans, Louisiana
972 - Dallas, Texas
713 - Houston, Texas
314 - St. Louis Missouri
201 - Jersey City, New Jersey
916 - Sacramento, Califonia
415 - San Francisco, California
704 - Charlotte, N. Carolina
206 - Seattle, Washington
808 - Hawaii
216 - Cleveland Ohio
702 - Las Vegas, Nevada
414 - Milwaukee, Wiscounsin
317 - Indianapolis, Indiana
214 - Dallas, Texas
281 - Houston, Texas
334 - Montgomery, Alabama
205 - Birmingham, Alabama
318 - Monroe, Louisiana
601 - Meridian, Mississippi
203 - New Haven, Connecticut
804 - Richmond, Virginia
402 - Omaha, Nebraska
301 - Silver Spring, Maryland
904 - Jacksonville, Florida
407 - Orlando, Florida
850 - Tallahassee, Florida
708 - Northern Alberta, Canada

While Ricky Nelson gave each girl a couple lines, Ludacris limits the references most of these women to simply a number. Ludacris describes a sense of innocence about his circumstance like a guy in an Axe Body Spray commercial. As Nate Dogg sings, these woman just won’t let Ludacris be, what is he suppose to do about this?

I don’t full understand the cultural etymology of the use of the word “ho” to describe women. All I know is that in my circle of friend that’s not really a term we use to describe woman, ever. We’ll use prostitute to describe well, someone who actually is one, but “ho” eh. . . no. The different that Ludacris uses this word adding it on as a prefix is kind of entertaining, I’ll give him that much. My personal favorite “hor-derves.” Are these like snacks that area really easy to make or something? I don’t know, and I guess that's what makes this song so . . . ludicrous.

No one could possibly take this song seriously. Actually let me try that again. No one should ever take this song seriously. If you think that you will travel to different cities and find woman who drawn to you without you doing anything you clearly have never interacted with a woman. And while it may be “okay” to carry on with forty different woman when if it’s clear to all these woman your intentions to treat them like a “ho” and they are ok with it, it’s still disgusting. C’mon, people that’s unbelievably gross. I understand guys bragging about their sexual conquests. Once upon a time I was a teenager, but there’s limits.

Is “Area Codes” offensive? Taken seriously, yes. To describe a woman by a number and imply a level of sexual servitude is a statement not only about the woman who is a “ho” but also a statement about our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters. If you think about think this song seriously and get that out of that reflection. Good for you.  If you don’t and feel a level of respect for Ludacris and enjoy the fantasy of his conquests and are over the age of 16, you seriously need to seek some psychological help.

Taken as a novelty song, "Area Codes" has some clever lyrics, but even as a joke, it still makes us questions the way we feel our own sexuality and what it really means to share one of the most meaningful parts of ourselves with just one person, or more.

Our reaction to art sometimes reveals things we are proud of and other times feelings that necessitate reexamination.

What does your reaction to "Area Codes" say about you?

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