What's With All The Misspelled Names in Hip-Hop?: An Examination
Perhaps it's only when it looks like an accident that it's bothersome. Fabolous, Digable Planets, Da Lench Mob -- were those decisions? What got me thinking about this was the title of Big Boi's long-delayed and justly lauded album, Sir Lucious Left Foot, which I assumed for at least a year was just an internet-propagated typo for "luscious" until I saw the album art. (Census data confirms that Lucious is also a valid, if arcane, variant of Lucius, but that doesn't inspire a whole lot more confidence than, say, this high-heel company.) But still: isn't Big Boi more credible than Big Boy? Doesn't OutCast sound more like a gay telecom provider than a Southern rap group?
The thesis-worthy question here -- and lord knows I haven't put in the time or work to answer it -- is whether hip-hop has any greater claim to or need for this kind of alpha-poetic license than any other medium does. Rap's relationship to the plasticity of language is at once more reckless and more reverent than any other music (or for that matter any other literature) I know of, but that doesn't exclude the same trick, or the same idiotic oversight, from being effective elsewhere. After all, isn't Wavves still more interesting, and more reflective of that band's lo-fi shtick, than Waves? How different is the J in Wooden Shjips from the (second) J in Jeru the Damaja ? How different is Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (which should be "built only" anyway) from Odessey and Oracle?
In Chali 2na's case, anyway, it was presumably a question of copyright infringement. Although that obviously didn't stop this guy.
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