Well, maybe “genius” is a little strong. But producer Swizz Beatz has definitely racked up an impressive list of hits (from DMX’s “Ruff Ryders Anthem” to Beyoncé’s “Upgrade U”), and certain people just can’t seem to understand his work lately. This week, the police department in Camden, N.J. denounced Swizz’s participation in an upcoming anti-violence rally. Their beef? His recent single “It’s Me Snitches,” they say, encourages impressionable kids to refuse to cooperate with crime investigations, leading to a horrific cycle of unpunished urban mayhem. Now, they’re absolutely right about the disturbing consequences of hip-hop’s “stop snitchin'” meme. I cringed in April when the otherwise intelligent Cam’ron insisted on 60 Minutes that he wouldn’t notify the cops if he knew his neighbor was a serial killer; Cam and his cronies (who unfortunately include some of my favorite rappers) deserve to be called out for pushing this dumb, dangerous idea.
There’s just one problem: Swizz’s “It’s Me Snitches” has nothing whatsoever to do with “stop snitchin’.” For one thing, the song’s real title is “It’s Me B—-es”; “Snitches” is just a replacement word used on the song’s clean radio edit. It’s actually a courteous bow to the very same anti-rap activists who target foul language on the airwaves. (Go ahead and check the original, obviously NSFW track and lyrics for yourself.)
Even so, doesn’t the radio edit amount to a de facto “stop snitching” reference, simply by using the word “snitches”? Again, not really. Swizz is primarily a producer, not a rapper; his lyrics rarely make any kind of sense. In this song in particular, he’s basically just stringing together nonsensical stock phrases that rhyme (or not) for their sonic value. The Village Voice‘s Tom Breihan noted this back in March: The radio edit, he wrote, “adds an even more absurdist bend to an already absurdsong….Why would Swizz be talking to snitches and identifyinghimself? There’s no reason. There’s no reason for any of it.” In the end, Breihan concluded that “‘It’s Me’ makes the rapping part of rap pretty much irrelevant.” So, yes, the song contains a few lyrics that sound scary out of context, and the word “snitches” might conceivably call up some uncomfortable connotations. But the idea that Swizz’s catchy gibberish could actually inspire the youth to intimidate witnesses is laughable.
What do you think? Have repeat listens to the edited and unedited versions of “It’s Me Snitches” melted my reasoning capacity entirely? Should Swizz just start shoobedy-doo-bop-scatting to avoid these awkward situations? You tell me.
addCredit(“Swizz Beatz: Maury Phillips/WireImage.com”)