Here is the exact moment that I knew Tyga’s “Rack City” was going to be the out-of-nowhere hit of the first half of the year.
I was sitting in a coffee shop in Bryn Mawr, PA in March. At this point, “Rack City” was already a rap radio mainstay but had yet to really break into the hearts and iPods of pop radio fans. The shop was manned by two college girls, both as white as the driven snow, who I estimated to be about 20-years-old at best.
(I want to take a quick moment here to say this: while I did not develop a crush on either of these girls, working in coffee shops as often as I do has given me a critical case of the falling-in-love-with-a-barista-for-20-minutes-ites. I know it’s a lame trope, but there is something about a pleasant, tattooed woman with dyed hair and opinions about “Radiolab” that makes me want to sell all my possessions and live on a WOOF farm. Some clichés exist for a reason. I’m sure there are women’s studies classes looking into this.)
Anyway, these girls were talking about the “indie” songs that they were into at the moment. Both of them had very positive things to say about M83 (played three times in the shop by the girls within the two hours I was there) and The Head and the Heart. Eventually, they moved into the rap realm and this exchange occurred:
Girl 1: Do you, like, listen to rap music at all?
Girl 2: Not really. I mean, at parties and stuff but not, like … you know?
Girl 1: No, totally! I’m the same way, but I’ve been listening to this song that I just love. It’s called “Rack City,” and I think it’s about strippers or something.”
Girl 2: It sounds kind of dirty.
Girl 1: No, it totally is, but it is such a catchy song.
Now, this exchange made me laugh when I first heard it, but the more time I’ve spent thinking about Tyga and his career (read: way, way too much time), the more I think that this dopey Villanova girl totally nailed what makes that song so potent: it is very, very catchy and it is totally and completely a song about stripping.
If a song can land with the 20-year-old fraternity basement set then it is going to be a bonified hit for at least a few months. Really, “Rack City” couldn’t miss in that demographic: for guys, it is a song for women to debase themselves to. For girls: it is song that is fun to dance to and feels a little dirty because its about a) simulated sex and b) rack city.
What these two post-teens made me realize is that Tyga has arrived.
Tyga is trying to repeat his first-half success with a new single, a song that sounds a lot like “Rack City,” but without the things that made the song such a success: the spooky beat, the catchy hook, the complete lack of self-awareness. I have no doubt that the song will flop. At this point, I thing the likely outcome is that he will become a poor man’s Sir Mix-a-Lot.
Still, I find myself pulling for Tyga. If every generation gets the Montley Crue it deserves, the millennial could do a lot worse than the froggy jams this Young Money weed-carrier is putting out.