19/08/2019: “Vapors” by Biz Markie

Rappers usually boast about their rags to riches stories, in which the riches are often exaggerated to some degree. Mostly, it’s not done in a particularly imaginative or even talented way.

“Vapors” stands apart from the legions of empty boast songs that have been released over years, and can lay a more solid claim to originality because it was before the 90s Hip Hop golden age.

The instrumental is essentially James Brown’s “Papa Don’t Make No Mess”. You can clearly hear the guitar striking out a chord, and the echoing, restrained horns.

The groove underneath is late 80s Hip Hop to the core, showing off a soulful bassline and swinging drum beat.

Lyrically, Biz Markie brings his trademark wit, illuminating the change in lifestyle him and his rapping contemporaries experienced from making music money. Incidentally, “vapors” is used here in an idiosyncratic way, to mean the way people are attracted to money and success.

The song was released in 1988, the fifth single off the rapper’s debut album, Goin’¬†Off.

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