I had to write this for a class, so I figured I’d write it in 45 minutes 2 weeks after it was due and share it with you all (nobody).
Say just a few words of the lines of Afroman’s 2001 single “Crazy Rap” or as it is also known “Colt 45” and you will be joined by any nearby youngsters. The song was a minor hit internationally on the charts, according to Wikipedia but as I remember it my entire social group could repeat it line for line. The correlation seemed to be that if you were close to or part of the amorphous party/slacker/stoner crowd you would be exposed too if not entirely saturated with this and other songs by Afroman, no matter how white your neighborhood. The song is lighthearted and fun, also dirty and cheeky. The lyrics tell the tale of Afroman’s journey through America and philosophy on life at large through the lens of alcohol drugs and women. On the surface it is a comedy, a verse of black jokes, a verse of couplets, and then a verse in homage to the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rappers Delight.” What might be seen as generic upon closer reading actually lends itself to broad applications to commentary on culture and the diffusion of African Americans at large.
Take the rappers name for instance, “Afroman” while this may seem like some generic black superhero we will consider in this paper that what he is trying to achieve through his generic name and lyrics is not to detail his own exploits solely but rather to be an “everyman” of African descent. The song starts with a joke, and laughter from a small crowd. He then begins his story in a rap, rhythmic oral telling suits his style and lends itself to my interpretation that he is representing all of black culture and building on the largely oral African tradition. He wastes no time getting into the song “Said colt 45 and two zigzags baby that’s all we need” he may be seen as a bit reductive at this point of the “we” is understood to mean “we African Americans” but none the less the idea here is that his culture is able to thrive with very little, and able to be expressive attractive and fun despite lacking material goods. It is this skill of going without or making due that enables him and his culture to “Sell tapes from here to Hong Kong” or rather to create universally appealing ideas and art, which in turn support his lifestyle.
Through this lens each line becomes more and more interesting. The initial verse is about his experience with a white girl in “a small white town” called Palmdale. While is account is no doubt fictionalized he deals with, in a lighthearted and fun way some real issues regarding African Americans. When Afroman says “When the Afroman walked through the white land Houses went up for sale” it is easy for us to interpret “the Afroman” as not just our speaker but as a commentary on all African Americans and the phenomenon known as White flight, a centrally dynamic in the lingering effects of segregation. So here he is in Palmdale as an outsider peddling his cultural ideas when he meets a little girl named Jan whom he allows to ride in his “Caddy” which is a rich symbol of American culture. A Cadillac is symbol of wealth and status which became subverted by African Americans to whom the luxurious and spacious style appealed. The prevalent image of African Americans and their cars tends to be thought of as older cheaper but immaculately clean and maintained vehicles which suggest a status all their own. So we can assume Jan was impressed by this Cadillac and was delighted to ride in it with the vibrant young Afroman and even to go as far as to have sex with him in her home. During the ecstasy of their love-making Afroman uses some interesting images, among them the image that “She sucked my dick till the shit turned white” suggesting some kind of figurative mending of race relations or possibly blood loss in the appendage due to obsessive sucking. Later he remarks to similar effect that she “Got my ass looking’ like a zebra” again conjuring images of racial mixing and cohesion. This triumph however is swiftly punished by the white establishment in which it is taboo. “The motherfucker whooped my ass all night” says Afroman of the beating he received at the hands of a racist and enraged father. In a most touching turn of events however Afroman is able to in some sense forgive his oppressor and to stand his ground rather than retreat. The line “But I ain’t mad at a prejudice dad/ That’s the best damn pussy I ever had!” makes this sentiment especially apparent and relevant to our interpretation. Even though African Americans have been oppressed and mistreated they did not leave the south, they were able to create their own cultures within but without whites. It is a credit to their race that they pressed the issue and demanded equality and got it, not only achieving their own freedom but forcing introspection onto their oppressors.
The song is rich with these meanings, in two separate instances during rhymed couplets women’s breasts burst open with some choice drinks. We can choose to interpret this as a cheap joke, as a literal phenomenon or as a metaphor. The metaphor here is that in the case of Dolly Parton whose “Titties were filled with Hennessey” is his way of saying that the land of America opened its bosoms to all who sought their milk that despite segregation or even slavery this is intrinsically a land where virtue will be rewarded with sweet sustenance.
The final verse is a reference to “Rappers Delight” as I have already stated which sets it up as a critique of his own culture. It is also a description of black on black violence and the pressures faced from within the culture. Even Afroman admits at this point he is “In the wrong neighborhood” and that he feels tremendous pressure to please the woman he is with. When he is unfortunately found by the woman’s boyfriend he quickly remarks in an adlib that “I don’t bang” or that he is not affiliated with any gang activity. This is no doubt to save him from any more harsh punishment than he already has coming to him and no doubt could be looked at as a criticism of gangs and their effect in the black community. While he tried to go out and be productive, to have sex with a woman and achieve orgasm or the kind of shared bliss men and women are able to provide for each other he is unable to attain it due to trifling maters such as infidelity and inner city violence. He does however offer a solution to these problems despite his disappointment, he posits at the end of the song that true satisfaction is found within oneself with the following line “You thought you had a girl to rock your world, now you still got to go jack off.”