Friday Top 5: Petty Crime Songs
I have played Mortal Kombat. Listened to Gangsta Rap music. Seen horrifically violent movies. Been completely inundated with mediated crimes of all sorts. Maybe that’s why I find songs that strive to shock with ultra violence or hardcore drug use such a bore. The most over-the-top crime narratives are often the most mundane. But songs that catalog more bizarre and subtle transgressions? The futile inane rebellions of everyday life? Now that’s the good stuff. Follow the jump and cue the Judas Priest:
BREAKIN’ THE LAW, BREAKIN’ THE LAW!
5. The Streets – The Irony of It All
Drugs, as any good D.A.R.E. graduate will tell you, are a dead end. But The Streets’ Mike Skinner makes a pretty good case that alcohol may be more harmful than marijuana. The crux of the argument: rowdy drunken louts cause a lot more damage than couch potato potheads. This is made entertaining by Skinner who portrays both an inebriated hooligan and a nerdy stoner with equal command. In case you are swayed by the logic of this popular song, I remind you: drugs are illegal and bad.
4. The Luniz – I Got 5 On It
It seems every rapper wants to be Scarface. The money. The mansion. The mountains of cocaine. The Luniz have slightly lower ambitions. They’re just trying to scrape a few bucks together to buy some pot. That’s not a crime right? What’s that? It is a crime? To hear The Luniz tell it, it just seems like good clean fun. Maybe that’s because, without any fantasies of grandiose wealth in the song, The Luniz are infinitely more likable than your average Scarface wannabe.
3. The Beastie Boys – Egg Man
The Beastie Boys’ sound may have matured exponentially from 1986’s License to Ill to 1989’s Paul’s Boutique, but the Boys themselves? They were still writing songs about egging people. Fortunately, even criminal mischief sounds good with The Dust Brothers at the helm. Built on the Super Fly bass line, the song also borrows liberally from the score to Psycho. Such is the production on the album: samples layered on samples create a sound that has not been surpassed in inventiveness to this day.
2. Future of the Left – Throwing Bricks at Trains
“Throwing Bricks at Trains” is about. . . wait for it. . .throwing bricks at trains. Weird subject for a song, but then, Future of the Left has a knack for cockamamie narratives. What exactly, is the point of this vandalism? It’s the kind of act so idiotic in its simplicity, that it could only be attempted by the young and hopelessly bored. But when Future of the Left claims the bricks “are just sad reminders of former glories,” it’s obvious the band is not speaking about youthful indiscretion, but about crimes of deeper adult stupidity.
1. Dead Kennedys – Stealing People’s Mail
If you aren’t into throwing bricks at trains on Friday nights, perhaps stealing mail is more your speed. But be warned: stealing mail is a federal offense. All the more fun for some people. And no one is as quite as gleeful in their perversity as the Dead Kennedys. The opening lines set the tone for a mock weekend party track: “We ain’t going to the party/ We ain’t going to the game/ We ain’t going to the disco / Ain’t gonna cruise down main. . .we’re stealing people’s mail/ on a Friday night.” Well, that’s one way to spend the weekend. I’m guessing you have other plans. Whatever they may be, stay out of trouble out there.