January doesn't have to be all about New Year's Resolutions and turning yourself into a perfect being of health, holiness, and forgiveness. If anything, it's the perfect month for rising from the ashes and taking charge of everyone and everything around you. This month, the editors at the McGill Tribune have compiled their best triumphant comeback tracks and their most biting clapback tracks, all aimed at taking down the competition and rising to the top. Scroll down to hear the full playlist on YouTube.
"FACTS" – Kanye West
"Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman." While far from his best work, Kanye West's “FACTS” is both a diss track against Nike, and represents the return of G.O.O.D. Fridays, as Kanye prepares to release his next album, SWISH.
“FACTS” opens with a classic Kanye-style sample of doo-wop group Father's Children, but quickly ditches the a capella soul, in favour of a Metro Boomin-produced minimal beat, over which he raps the song’s hook, "Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman," to the tune of Drake and Future's track, "Jumpman.” The track revolves around Kanye's dissatisfaction with Nike—Air Jordan sneakers in particular—in favour of his partner, the brand with the three stripes, Adidas. Kanye had previously said that he and Don C. were the reason why Jordan's are popular at all. Clearly, since partnering with Adidas, Kanye feels differently, having traded in his Jordan's for a pair of Yeezy boosts. Kanye calls Nike out for treating employees like slaves (which maybe Adidas doesn't?), and paying LeBron a billion dollars for his lifetime contract.
The song's hook refers to the fact that while Jordan's still are top sellers, they sit on shelves, while you can't find a pair of Yeezy's anywhere due to their batch-limited release, as well as the massive amount of hype surrounding the sneakers. “FACTS” is, at the end of the day, a song about just that. Almost everything in the song is, a collection of (almost) facts about Kanye's successful foray into shoes, and his surpassing of Jordan's as the ultimate hype items.
"Obsessed (Remix)" – Mariah Carey ft. Gucci Mane
Many vindictive R&B songs are written from the perspective of a scorned lover about the object of the artist’s affections. On this 2009 single, however, Mariah Carey flips the script to call out her obsessive stalker. Carey’s cheeky, flippant lyrics laid over a club beat make for a horn-and-handclap-filled clapback, a beat that plays well to Atlanta-based rapper Gucci Mane’s hype man role on this remix. The subject of her humiliation? Presumably Detroit rapper Eminem, who previously dissed Carey on tracks such as “Superman” (“What you trying be? My new wife? / What, you Mariah? Fly through twice").
A true banger that is both funny and relatable, “Obsessed” makes rejection fun again. Its accompanying music video (which in this cut is interlaid with clips of Gucci Mane mugging for the camera and pointing suggestively at Carey’s recumbent figure) gives a not-so-subtle glimpse at who this diss is directed at. If the context and lyrics weren’t enough of a hint, Carey herself dresses up in Eminem’s signature oversized hoodie, staring longingly at her glamorous counterpart. That is, until he gets hit by a bus while trying to take a fan photo. Oops!
Released amidst a burgeoning beef, this track takes the rap diss formula and makes it less threatening and more, well, amusing. Mariah truly has no chill in this teardown of Eminem, and yet, unlike him, seems on the whole unperturbed by their former “relationship.” A perfect illustration of a clapback, it’s only appropriate that this scornful anthem sets off this month’s Trib playlist.
"White Boy" – Bikini Kill
This blunt chorus, courtesy of genius lead singer Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, is the core of the song “White Boy.” The song begins with an audio recording of a discussion between Hanna and an anonymous white boy. He so graciously explains to Hanna how most girls “ask for it,” by being “slut rocker bitches walking down the street,” essentially victim-blaming women for just existing. Hanna starts her rebuttal by poignantly shouting, “I’m so sorry if I’m alienating some of you / Your whole fucking culture alienates me.”
“White Boy" was released on Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah (1993), the split album by Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear released by the label Kill Rock Stars. Staying true to Bikini Kill’s feminist lyrics and aggressive, unrelenting guitar lines, “White Boy” is the ultimate diss track aimed at the patriarchy and ignorant white boys of the ’90s who prevented girls from participating in punk rock music through their aggressive moshing and unwelcoming audience presence. Prior to the Riot Grrrl movement, girls at rock shows were considered girlfriends and punk rock girls were considered sluts and bitches; overall, they had very little representation in the underground culture. “White Boy" is just one of the many songs Bikini Kill made that stabs at the obtuse arguments made by many men and subsequently carves a place for women to be treated as equal members of the punk rock scene.
According to Urban Dictionary, a clapback means “to return fire” and Hanna certainly does that by condemning the party in question to simply “just die.” Some may say this isn’t a clapback but citing a real recording of a person and then proceeding to burn him and his whole faction is an ultimate diss to me.