Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


That’s some real conversation for your ass

Top 5 Reasons Why Ben Folds’ Bitches Ain’t Shit is the Greatest Thing Ever.

1. Okay, technically, “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks” is about the most misogynistic statement you could possible make. But for some reason, it’s even more UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLY misogynistic when uttered by a nerdy, middle class white guy (accompanying himself on the piano). This has more than just shock value though. Ben Folds’ version of the track, from Dre’s The Chronic, raises the question of why something is unacceptable from one guy (or bunch of guys) but not from another.

2. There’s more than misogyny being shown up here. As it happens, rappers get away with saying all sorts of ludicrous things you wouldn’t necessarily notice until they’re being repeated by a nerdy, middle class white guy (accompanying himself on the piano). Take the statement ‘Her pussy was the bomb’, for example. What normal person would say this? I mean, seriously. In any idiom… Imagine telling someone that your girlfriend’s “vagina is top notch” *. They’d think you were deranged.

3. Bitches Ain’t Shit isn’t hip-hop’s finest hour. But amid the macho posturing, Snoop does let slip that his heart was once broken by one of the very women he now dismisses as a hoe. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it admission of vulnerability that, while not excusing the unremitting misogyny of the track, nonetheless it offers a vague sort of redemption. By making the moment where Snoops discovers Mandy May’s infidelity the emotional centrepiece of the song, Folds’ reading again subverts the original.

4. But, but, but… Ben Folds Bitches Ain’t Shit is not at all a takedown of Dre, Snoop etc. By chopping off a couple of verses and adding a kick-ass melody, Folds’ in fact showcases their lyrical dexterity to better effect than Dre’s own production. I’ve listened to this track 91 times on iTunes, and it wasn’t for a fucking sociology lesson!

5. It just fuckin’ rules, okay!

* With thanks to Mark for the vernacular translation there!

(from Mongrel, circa November 2006)

March 21st, 2010.

8 Responses to “That’s some real conversation for your ass”

  1. Denise Says:

    Interesting…. they sing “bitch”, “hoe” and “slut” but draw the line at “nigger”.

  2. Eoin Says:

    That’s true Denise. I remember, before she became a completely crazy person, Courtney Love standing on stage shouting “Repeat after me: BITCH!” (Audience yells BITCH!) “Repeat after me: WHORE!” (Audience yells WHORE!) “Repeat after me: NIGGER!” (Total audience silence.)

    People are basically morons….

  3. Colin Says:

    @Denise: They had to draw the line at “nigger” as everyone, especially in America, knows that it’s offensive if you aren’t black or don’t have a black member in the band (race shield). It’s in their constitution as an amendment. That and Ben Folds isn’t THAT controversial.

    All this has reminded me of John Lennon defending it’s use in “Woman is the Nigger of the World” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5lMxWWK218

    (And for a Conan O Brien nod):
    Artie Kendall sings about Germans, Women and the Irish – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Loc5Uh8rkgs

  4. Chris Says:

    It also raises another important point. Why can’t nerdy middle class white guys publicly admit they like rap without being ridiculed (Unless of course they’re Ben Folds).

  5. The Bad Ambassador Says:

    True dat!

    One of the all time greats. I was lucky enough to see Ben Folds perform it live in Vicar St.

    Another one worth checking out is Nina Gordon’s “Straight Outta Compton”


  6. fiona Says:

    “I used to be up them guts like every day”

  7. Eoin Says:

    Mark and I actually dissected the lyrics to this song in quite forensic detail. I remember querying the expression “chin checking.”

    Like how fucked up a relationship do you have to have when you have to inspect your girlfriend’s chin to see if there’s another man’s semen on it??

  8. ballsdeep Says:

    Ben Folds uses the N word (nigga) in his versions of it though. At least use it if you’re going to say the rest!

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