They’re trying so hard.
Wikipedia writing is one of the most important subgenres on the internet. For the most part, it’s clinical, clean, and dutiful, but sometimes you run into something hilariously earnest. Earlier this year, I wrote about the Wikipedia summary of a Thomas the Tank Engine movie that was ridiculously verbose and clearly written by a nine-year old.
More recently, the poet, writer, and MTVNews stalwart Hanif Abdurraqib introduced the world to a very particular sort of highly specific, literal reading of rap music in everyone’s favorite memoryhole. Here, look.
These are obviously wonderful—and proof that we are letting some deeply troubled people tell the story of pop on Wikipedia. And it’s shockingly ubiquitous. As long as the site allows people to include a “composition” or “content” section, we’re going to get strange, plainspoken descriptions of rap songs.
Like here, where someone gives 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” way too much tonal credit.
Or here, where someone describes Khia’s filthy, meme-classic “My Neck, My Back” the way a doctor would.
Literally every article about a Ludacris track is amazing.
This is a blurb for Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day,” which includes a parenthetical aside that notes, “whether accidentally or on purpose, the song’s length is 4:20.” You can’t make this shit up fam. Unless you’re writing rap descriptions on Wikipedia.
I love this so much. Thanks to Abdurraqib for introducing us to this incredible game—I never knew the uncanny valley of hip-hop discourse was lurking on Wikipedia—but honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised. I’ll leave you with one last artifact: A music theorist wanders into Lil Jon and DJ Snake’s “Turn Down For What” and expresses his thoughts.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Hanif Abdurraqib. We regret the error.
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