Here’s the truth: I don’t listen to rap. Ever. I usually find it exhausting to listen to and very hard to follow. To my ears, there is little variety from one song to another, and the problem of wanting to hear all the lyrics, which can, at the best of times, be challenging. But having said that, I feel like if you did like rap music, YYZ by Don Meeno and Tizzy Wayans is maybe not a bad place to start. I’m laughing a little because this album came in the mail with Super Class’s album High Ends a while ago, and the contrast is hilarious. It sounds like a bad joke: an indie-rock album and a rap album end up in an envelope together…
Some songs, like “She Don’t”, are, in my opinion, just plain offensive. I’d be a hypocrite if I said it was the swearing that bothered me—that’s not it. It’s the use of some of those words in relation to women, and a man’s treatment of a woman, that raises my arm hairs. I’m not trying to say that everyone has to be a die-hard romantic, and I don’t think censorship solves anything, but I also don’t think that any woman, no matter what, deserves to be sung about like that.
However, musically, I like YYZ. Fundamentally, it’s poetry; it’s language as rhythm. The first song on the album, “Wyts”, is one I particularly enjoyed. I’ll admit it induced head bopping, and even though I couldn’t understand most of the words, I did catch wind of a solid rhyme scheme. Also, Meeno and Wayans are by no means limited to using lyrics to tell their story, particularly in the last two songs on the album, “Shittin’ ” and “So Professional”. They make use of the whole range of non-verbal noises that humans can make, which I think are underrepresented in music.
I am also intrigued by YYZ being a two-person setup. In my mind, I assumed that most rap artists worked solo, so it’s neat to see a duo working together. One song, “Speechless”, is performed solo by Meeno, but the rest of the songs are all collaborative. And on the back of the album sleeve, I can see that Meeno and Wayans’s names do not always appear in the same order. Sometime Meeno is first, sometimes Wayans, I assume depending on who contributed the most to each song. Aside from W5vy Davis, who contributed to the first song, Meeno and Wayans tackled this project together.
I haven’t been converted; I still don’t like rap. But maybe I’m a little closer to understanding a type of music I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. I talk a good game about my demand for risky art that makes people uncomfortable, and I’d be lying if I said YYZ didn’t qualify. I did feel a little uncomfortable at times and so, by my own logic, YYZ did its job regardless of my subjective taste in music.