Title: "Bible On The Dash"
Producer: Morris Brothers
Album: 601 & Snort (mixtape) (2012)
I know, two Maybach Music Group artists in a row. Weird, right? But it should be obvious by now: I listen to a lot more stuff than what I choose to write about. And no, I have no plans on writing about any Rick Ross albums anytime soon, although I haven't counted him out entirely.
My introduction to MMG's Gunplay was not, as you may believe, through his guest appearance on Kendrick Lamar's "Cartoon & Cereal". It was actually in name only, during one of those crawls on the bottom of the screen where MTV delivers its "news" super early in the morning, the only actual time those fuckers ever bother to play music videos anymore. I get that, with the advent of YouTube, I can watch any video I want whenever I want, but it's not the same as actually programming a channel with said clips, as opposed to the garbage reality shows and teen soap operas they actually air today. But I'm getting off topic. Gunplay's name popped up in the crawl as the channel was promoting an upcoming mixtape from the dude. I don't remember which mixtape it was, but I do remember being so upset that they actually used his rap moniker "Gunplay" on screen, as this was the same MTV that infamously edited their videos down to near-incoherence, deleting not just swear words, but also any references to brand names, drugs, sex, violence, and God. I get that's his fucking name and all, but to air his name repeatedly while editing out all of the lines about school shootings in the video for Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks", which I remember watching while this crawl was happening (although I may have my timeline mixed up), seemed hypocritical at best and like bullshit at worst. If you're going to censor shit, you shouldn't get to pick and choose who and what to censor. Although it is interesting that the artist censored wasn't the rapper, but that's a story for another time.
Anyway, musically, I first heard Gunplay on "Take This" (also known as "Take Dis" on the actual mixtape it appears on) after clicking a random link on another hip hop website. The video itself was full of theatrical tricks that were unnecessary, but what I remembered most was Gunplay's line delivery: he came across as passionate, violent, and empathetic, sometimes all at once. "Take This", a song about heavy cocaine use whose first few bars of the first verse could also double as Gunplay describing suffering from the flu (no, seriously, look them up and tell me I'm wrong), isn't a great track, but it gets its point across in a relatively short period of time, which is good, because a little bit of Gunplay goes a long way.
Case in point, "Bible On The Dash", the subject of today's post. It runs for less than three minutes, but within that short timeframe, our host has used his two verses to rationalize his life choices in his own mind, all while demanding an "honest answer" for whether or not his "tarnished past" has damned him for eternity. It's not a new concept for our chosen genre: I hear rappers trying to make themselves believe that there's no way off of the streets all the goddamn time. Hell, DMX used to have a track on every album devoted to a prayer of some sort. But most of those songs don't feature a hook where the artist cops to rolling around with a holy book at all times as a way of feeling protected and insulated from whatever decisions he makes: most rappers would just quickly shout-out their God and then get back to pushing that weight, but Gunplay actually tries to consider alternate outcomes.
The Morris Brothers instrumental is catchy and slower than you might expect, as though they were trying to give the subject matter a proper amount of respect. It's a good beat, but you've heard better. What elevates the track for me is Gunplay's lyrics, delivered with a combination of resignation and what could almost be described as some kind of hope, as though his destiny is just a few sales away. Some of his geometry is a bit off: his friends are "parallel to foe" and "all that good pussy leave you parallel to broke", but technically that means that his friends aren't foes and he won't be broke no matter how much he spends on "good pussy", since the lines will never intersect, but it's not hard to figure out what his paranoia has led him to believe. He tries to "keep [his] Glock cold", as he explains in the hook and in the second verse, but is finding it harder and harder to justify letting potential threats live, which very much reminded me of Jay-Z's "Streets Is Watching" line, "It's like a full time job not to kill n----s", which is essentially the entirety of Gunplay's point. Still, I like this song: rappers being reflective while refusing to give up the lifestyle of their own choosing, even given the rampant contradictory aspects of said lifestyle, is always interesting subject matter when the right person comes along to give it a twist. Now, would I continue seeking out Gunplay? I haven't so far, so I have no idea where to start: perhaps you two could help me with that in the comments section. But "Bible On The Dash" works for me.
Gunplay shot a video for "Bible On The Dash", which I remember also seeing on MTV a few years ago, but I just now found this long-ass version with a two-minute short film setting up the clip attached. It drills the titular phrase into your head while adding nothing to the overall experience, but in the interest of being thorough, here you go.
Do you agree or disagree with this selection? Discuss below.