July 30, 2013 1 comment
You’re probably thinking MJF has fallen down the Complex-Rabbit-Hole of pointless lists. However, the idea for this list was entirely coincidental. Nowadays, when someone is asked about repeat references in hip hop I guarantee the first few that come to mind are probably VERSACE (versace, versace), molly, BASQUIAT, Maybachs or…are we only on Bugattis now?
I had set out to create a Playlist of Classic Rap Love songs and in my research of some of the great rap poets like Andre 3000, Kurtis Blow, and Lil Jon I noticed a common reference to the female members of the Huxtable clan. SO, this clearly excited me enough to consult the rest of MJF to inquire about any known Huxtable references. The list expanded to include more rappers rhyming about members of the Huxtable clan, including the males.
We’ve noticed there are basically three ways a Huxtable reference is used–albeit there are quite a few creative exceptions. In the Rap Love song a Huxtable reference to a female alludes to a quality woman, we especially like the nods to Mrs. Huxtable. The reference can also be used to designate the rapper’s status as “hood,” as in their life is not comparable to the Huxtable way. And of course, The Cosby Show character names can also be slang for weed.
Song: “Lovers and Friends” by Lil Jon & The East Side Boys feat. Ludacris and Usher
Ludacris dug deep in his memory for a friend/love reference and found it in the Cosby Show. Bud was the BFF of Rudy on the show. Luda wants to transition from being the longtime friend of his Rudy to her Lover. Very Real. Proud of Ludacris for not making the obvious weed reference. LUDA! Can we all agree that he is referring to sex as “play fighting in the dark”? I can see Luda typing that message into his two way pager.
I could be your Bud you could beat me up
Play fight in the dark then we both make up“ -Ludacris
Who: Andre 3000
Song: “Pink & Blue”
Andre 3000 comes through with the Clair Huxtable reference. We already know @bnease has a thing for Mrs. Huxtable from his post about Howard Alumni. But, I’m pretty sure everyone in the universe should have a thing for Phylicia Rashād. I can’t even mock this verse at all because it’s just so sweet. Usually Silver Fox is a term only applied to men, there needs to be more love for the female Silver Foxes (technically Silver Vixens) of the world.
So what if your head sports a couple of grey hairs?
Same here, and actually I think that’s funky (In a Clair Huxtable type way)” -Outkast
Who: Kurtis Blow
Song: “Love Don’t Know Nobody”
Now, Bnease tried to say, “nobody listens to Kurtis Blow” but my Survey of Hip Hop Professor MADE SURE we all learned about the greatness that is “THE BREAKS.” So, this was another product of my Rap Love Playlist Research. The track is from an album released in 1988 and is the earliest Cosby Show Reference we have on our list. The lyrics highlight the shared idea in hip hop that the Huxtable Women were top notch. As experts in Huxtable rap references, I think we can say Kurtis Blow started the trend.
She liked to dance to the beat of my melody
She was lovely/a sweet thing/you know i took her out one weekend
Get into a rhythm on a friday night/me and Melanie got it going on (PSYCH)
A Good Girl, A Real Huxtable
Always Make Me Feel Real Comfortable” -Kurtis Blow
Song: “Too Deep For The Intro”
J. Cole *SO* clever he used Cliff to mean a literal Cliff and also Cliff Huxtable. Double entendre. Don’t wanna say too many words on J. Cole……moving on.
The other half is close to the Cliff, like Mrs. Huxtable.” -J. Cole
Who: Kanye West
Song: “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
Growing up with a doctor and lawyer for parents has its benefits: Nice home, stable family structure, top-notch education. Unfortunately, every child doesn’t grow up like the Cosby kids. As a fan of the show, I love this line because Hillman College felt like a real school to me. Both Clair and Cliff attended the school, as well as Cliff’s pops and of course Denise. When Denise went to Hillman, we ALL went to Hillman because we got a dope spin-off in “A Different World.” On the other hand, I hate this line because it reminds me that I didn’t grow up like the Cosbys either :(
I aint go to Hillman” -Kanye West
Who: Phife Dawg
Song: “Hot Sex” (A Tribe Called Quest)
Riches + High quality bitches = Living large like a Huxtable. The 5 footer is 100% correct on this one. Lets break this down even further, shall we? Heathcliff was a doctor (The riches) and MARRIED ONE OF THE FINEST WOMEN ON EARF BRUH (The bitches). We can therefore conclude that living like a the Huxtable is indeed living large.
You think you’re all that, but ya girl is quite doable.” -Phife Dawg
Song: “Let Nas Down” (RMX)
Black people dream of living like two families: The Jeffersons and the Huxtables. As a kid I’d watch “The Cosby Show” and wish Cliff and Clair were my parents. Everything just seemed perfect. Unfortunately, life isn’t perfect. If you grew up in a poor neighborhood like young Nasir Jones, you probably lived nothing like the Cosby kids. That brownstone was most likely a low-income apartment and cousin Pam was probably just another black girl lost.
But the street life robbed me of that so I had to put it in rap.” -Nas
Who: Lil’ Wayne
Song: “Intro” (Tha Carter IV)
Lil Wayne took the bait and chose to make the weed reference. It’s Lil Wayne. Poor Rudy and Bud. At least he didn’t try to make it about sex too and say something like, “I smoke some Bud like Rudy, no homo.”
Song: “Family Ties”
KILLA! There’s nothing worse than a fake gangsta. If you’re living a comfortable upper-middle class life with both parents and four sisters in a nice ass comfy home, don’t front like you’re hard, bro. You can’t be a thug and also crying about your Gordon Gartrell designer shirt. WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU, YOU NEED MORE PEOPLE!
Their mother’s a lawyer, their father’s a doctor.” -Cam’Ron
Song: “Cashin’ Out” (RMX)
This is probably my favorite Huxtable reference on the list because it’s so subtle. Nicknaming a nickname of weed after the actress who played Rudy because her first name is also Keshia is pretty clever. We see what you did there, Fab.
RANDOM TBKA FACT: I actually saw Keshia Knight Pulliam in person once when I was living in Atlanta. This wasn’t long after she was looking like lunch in Chingy’s “One Call Away” video. Anyway, I was at Lenox Square Mall when I walked into a store and saw this beautiful, wingless angel looking like a walking glass of Nestlé Quik. I literally almost yelped out “GOT DAMN YOU FINE AS FUCK,” but I kept my composure and just stared at her stupidly. She smiled and said “Excuse me” when she walked past me so in my mind we been going together for like seven years.
Now, just as we were about to publish this post I happened to be reading Questlove’s Mo Meta Blues book. He starts out chapter 6 with the question “What’s the single most influential moment in the history of hip-hop?” When I saw the answer I had a minor freak out. Questlove, the legend himself, believes The Cosby Show to have been one of the most important moments in the development of hip hop. His argument is surrounded upon the episode of The Cosby Show when Stevie Wonder almost hits Theo and Denise with his car, resulting in the Huxtables recording a song with Stevie. Quest thinks this episode was powerful for two reasons–one large and one small. The first MAJOR reason being it showcased the art of the sampling process (via Stevie’s cenclavio) to a large audience and also Theo’s use of the line “jammin’ on the one.”
The Cosby Show’s influence in the culture of hip hop might run a lot deeper than we observed in our surface level observation of references. The sampling process is more than intrinsic to the development of hip hop. I think sampling is also an initial draw to a lot of people who might not have listened to hip hop on their own. When you hear a sample of a song you already know, it sparks curiosity in any music enthusiast. This is strange to think about because for most of us rap music has been around since we were born. However, when rap was unfamiliar, the sampling of familiar songs–be it rock, disco, or funk, might have played a larger role than we can really say or know.
So, we’ll just say we’ve got an imaginary cosign of Questlove.