Why Do Rap Artists Love Suicide Doors?

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Date: Monday, January 9, 2012



Suicide doors—often referred to by automobile manufacturers as “coach doors” and “freestyle doors”—are car doors that are hinged on the side closer to the trunk rather than at the front. Sometimes rear-hinged rear doors are combined with front-hinged front doors (as in the photo above) to create a yawning effect when both doors are open. Popular in the early 20th century, suicide doors were largely abandoned by car manufacturers after the 1960s. They began reappearing sporadically, however, on new models in the late 1990s and early 2000s, around the same time they began appearing in rap lyrics.

Why did suicide doors fall out of fashion after WWII? It may have something to do with the fact that they’re not terribly practical. By some accounts, getting into and out of cars with front-hinged front doors and rear suicide doors requires careful maneuvering, since—if there’s no pillar between the doors—the front door must be opened before the back door can open. But the alternative, a rear suicide door that’s not secured by a conventional front door, can be dangerous: If the suicide door becomes unlatched while the car is in motion, the air flow will throw it open, making it very difficult to close. One automobile journalist has suggested that suicide doors may have been a murder weapon of choice among 1930s gangsters (and that the very name “suicide doors” may be gangster innuendo)—if you want to throw someone out of a car, it’s much easier to get his door open if it’s hinged at the rear than at the front. And suicide doors have been associated with 1930s outlaws in the popular imagination; consider the titular characters’ car in Bonnie and Clyde, or gangster-movie icon James Cagney in this photo.

This association might go part of the way toward explaining why suicide doors are so popular in hip hop lyrics, which often draw on gangster imagery. Songs like Jay-Z and R. Kelly’s “The Return” and 50 Cent’s “Gunz Come Out” place the term “suicide doors” in close proximity to allusions to gun violence. Suicide doors evoke an Al Capone-era vibe that jibes with the threatening demeanor rappers often cultivate.

More commonly, though, suicide doors are presented in hip-hop as luxury items. Relatively unusual on contemporary cars, suicide doors are a marker of an old or rare automobile—or one owned by someone wealthy enough to make complicated aftermarket modifications to his vehicle. Tity Boi mentions that his suicide doors are on a Bentley (“Call Tiesha”), while Wigs of Theodore Unit boasts that his suicide doors are on his “0-5 Benz” with “lazy-eye lights and the apple suede floors” (“It’s the Unit”). Gorilla Zoe’s “Take Ya Shoes Off” is an ode to a car that has not only suicide doors but also “mink seats bucket” and “suede on the roof”—a car so opulent that Gorilla exhorts everyone wishing to enter it to remove his or her footwear first.

Some romantically minded lyricists have used suicide doors’ capacity to open wide as a metaphor for sex. In “69,” T-Pain invites the object of his desire—for whom he has “been doin’ tongue exercises”—to exchange oral sex “in the back of my Lincoln with the suicide doors.” Juelz Santana’s analogy in “New Star in Town” is less subtle: “Let me open up your legs like suicide doors,” he pleads.

This request may not be a persuasive one, but Santana’s simile works (recall the yawning effect), and it highlights the symbolic richness of suicide doors: They can credibly evoke death, money, and sex—a lyricist’s trifecta.

R. Kelly Is Losing His Chicago Crib

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Hip-hop crooner R. Kelly, who has had his share of legal issues in the past, is facing another: He may lose his mansion near Chicago to foreclosure. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. has filed a foreclosure action against the singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, saying he hasn’t paid his mortgage in a year.

With the foreclosure, Kels, as he is known to some fans, joins a long list of rap and R&B stars before him who failed to pay their mortgage bills.

Last year, we reported that Chamillionaire, the lyrical mind behind the hit single “Ridin,’” defaulted on the loan for his Houston mansion. Atlanta-based “Prince of the South” and southern gangsta rapper Lil Scrappy was reportedly foreclosed on late last year, along with his girlfriend Diamond, of the hard-core rap group Crime Mob. Rapper Xzibit, of “Pimp My Ride” fame, faced the music in 2009, after missing $21,000 in payments on his California home. Hip-hop record executive Damon Dash lost his TriBeCa duplex last year to foreclosure. Even Nelly (remember “Country Grammar” and “Hot in Herre”?) was accused by a former manager of being in danger of losing his home to foreclosure, although he denies it.

All of this brings up some interesting questions about hip-hop artists and their thoughts on real-estate, one’s obligations vis-à-vis private property and debt, and the economic crisis. We know from their lyrics that rappers love money, and claim to have a lot of it. We also know from music videos and TV shows like MTV’s “Cribs” that rappers also like big houses and flashy cars. But does foreclosure even register with rhyme-sayers, or are they too busy living the high life to care?

Rap Genius, a website devoted to hip-hop lyrics, shows that 12 hip-hop songs contain the word “foreclosure,” and 7 more with some variation of the word “foreclose.”

Staten Island native and Wu-Tang protégé Trife Diesel, for example, in his song “World Today,” which starts with an audio sample of Barack Obama giving a speech about the economy, raps, “FDA approved medicines, killing off us Americans / Homes in foreclosures, we being kicked out of residence / It’s time to represent, for our next to kin.” He stops short of proposing a solution to the foreclosure crisis, but offers this analysis of tightening of mortgage-lending standards by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: “People with A1 credit can’t afford steak sauce.”

Other rappers have taken on the economy, too. Statik Selektah, for example, in “So Close, So Far,” wistfully imagines a world without the GM and AIG bailouts and the subprime loan mess: “Wouldn’t it be nice if the banks didn’t f— up the loans / And people ain’t have to move out they homes? … That the world I’m talkin’ about is where we would like to be / Worried about debts, recessions and foreclosure…”

Perhaps not surprisingly, a lot of rappers are in caught up in foreclosures of their own doing. Chicago’s Real Estate Daily, citing an unnamed source, reported that R. Kelly “stopped making payments on the mortgage in an attempt to force the bank to negotiate a modification of the loan.” It’s a tactic adopted by many American homeowners, who find that banks are unable or unwilling to negotiate a new loan or interest rate for them unless they have missed payments. Chamillionaire’s case, too, was a strategic default, or so he told celebrity-news website TMZ last year.

If we are to believe the hype, hip-hop artists probably have the money to pay their mortgages, but seeing continuing weakness in the housing market, choose not to.

From the point of view of economic self-interest, you can hardly blame them. Wasn’t it Ice-T who first said, “Don’t hate the playa / Hate the game”?

Fat Joe’s Name Cleared In Sexual Assault Case

Posted: Saturday – June 26, 2010

Fat Joe’s name has reportedly been cleared in the sexual assault case that stems from an incident involving a Madison, Wisconsin woman.

The Terror Squad leader’s camp released a statement confirming the news on Thursday (June 24) night and thanked fans and friends, who stood beside the New York lyricist. The announcement also cleared up previous reports that said the rapper was detained. He was never taken into police custody, but was instead questioned inside of his hotel.

“Josepha Cartagena, known as Fat Joe, and others have been officially cleared by the Madison Wisconsin Police Department of any wrongdoing,” read the statement. “Fat Joe had no contact with, and never spoke to his accuser. He was questioned for a few minutes at his hotel room and was never detained by the police.”

It continued on to say, “Making a false claim of a sexual nature in order to extort money is one of the most horrific accusations because it not only tarnishes reputations but has the potential to destroy families. Mr. Cartagena wholeheartedly thanks his family, friends, and fans for their continued support, loyalty, and words of encouragement throughout this ordeal.”

In other news, Joe is scheduled to release his tenth studio album, The Darkside, later this year. The LP will feature collaborations with The Clipse, Trey Songz, Rico Love, R. Kelly, and Young Jeezy, amongst others.

Source

Kelly brings it home, with feeling

Posted: Tuesday – October 13, 2009

Like Marvin Gaye and Al Green, the legendary lovermen whose songs set the mood before he took the stage, R. Kelly has a potent sway over women. He inspires them to do all kinds of things, from scribbling their phone numbers on pieces of paper tossed onstage, to dabbing his sweaty brow, to hurling their pink panties in his direction. And that’s just the stuff we can mention in a family newspaper.

When the R&B superstar took the stage at the Citi Wang Theatre Friday night, playing to a glaringly small crowd that filled maybe a third of the 3,600 seats, it was clear this was an evening for the fairer sex. Hence his new tour’s title: “Ladies Make Some Noise.’’

And they certainly did during the uneven but wildly enjoyable show that momentarily transcended all the scandals that have kept R. Kelly in the public eye more than his music has in recent years.

True to his theatrics, he strutted onstage with a hype man amid two roped-off sections of female fans and launched into a mashup of hits, including Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights’’ and Snoop Dogg’s “That’s That.’’

Kelly acted shocked to tell the crowd he’s been at this for 20 years, but he’s well aware of his legacy. “Have you ever made love to my music? Make some noise,’’ he crooned in all earnestness. (Survey says: A lot of people at the Wang had.)

When Kelly wasn’t in slow-jam mode with his band and backup singers, he tended to breeze through his songs in a start-stop sequence that diluted their original glory. Still, the parade of hits was impressive: “Bump ’n’ Grind,’’ “Ignition,’’ “I’m a Flirt,’’ “12 Play,’’ and current single “Number One.’’

But Kelly essentially upended his performance down the stretch, suddenly making the earlier portions feel hurried and inconsequential. Until then, he had been establishing an intimate groove, but the last few songs found a focus and clarity that shot the entire concert to another, and exhilarating, level.

After a touching video homage to his mentor, Michael Jackson (including private footage of the late icon dancing to “Ignition’’), Kelly returned in a charcoal suit and red suspenders. Unleashing his inner soul singer, Kelly scored with a pair of Sam Cooke hits (“Bring It on Home to Me,’’ “A Change Is Gonna Come’’). They were the perfect setup to two of Kelly’s own R&B classics, “Step in the Name of Love’’ and “Happy People.’’

By the time the final spray of confetti wafted down, the ladies had held up their end of the bargain. They had spent an hour and a half making some noise for a man who, in typical fashion, had just loved them and left them.

Source: Boston.com

R. Kelly Reps Deny New Sex Scandal

Posted: Friday – July 3, 2009

Representatives for R&B singer R. Kelly have responded to recent media reports claiming the singer was involved in another scandal, this time allegedly with a 17-year-old girl.

Reports had stated that the singers home in Olympia Fields, Illinois had been raided the day before Kelly’s first ever tour of Africa.

Police were allegedly seeking a girl who was 16-years-old at the time, who was rumored to be staying with Kelly.

Internet reports stated that anonymous sources claimed police were “gathering evidence that included signed affidavits from several witnesses within R. Kelly’s circle.”

Police Chief Jeff Chudwin confirmed that they investigated Kelly, but “found there to be no crime and the matters have been closed.”

Representatives for Kelly also shot down the report, labeling it “wildly exaggerated and inaccurate.”

“No police ever showed up at Kelly’s house with a search warrant nor was his house ever searched,” a rep for Kelly said in a statement. “It is also not true … that any such girl ever stayed overnight in Kelly’s house or that she had been there but left shortly before some mythical police search.”

In June of 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges, after he was accused of videotaping himself engaged in sexual acts with a minor, including allegedly urinating on a 14-year-old, between 1998 and 2000.

Source: Allhiphop.com

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