SPORTY THIEVZ, 'No Pigeons' (Roc-A-Blok/Ruffhouse)
Village Voice, July 14 - 20, 1999
by Simon Reynolds
speaking, TLC's "No Scrubs" is a frisky bundle of joy, but words-wise,
it's cheerless as can be. Designating an entire class of
low-or-no-income guys as deadbeat "scrubs," the song obsessively
reinforces the bleak notion that designer commodities and the financial
wherewithal to ac quire them constitute the ultimate measure of a man:
"I'm looking like class and he's looking like trash."
there's an answer record. "Representin' the so-called 'scrubs,"' says
the sticker on Sporty Thievz's single "No Pigeons," and although they're
brandishing champagne glasses in the booklet of their Street Cinema CD,
the Yonkers trio aren't playas. In the "Pigeons" video, they dress like
casual, neighborhood B-boys, while their track "Cheapskate" adopts a
proud-to-be-tightfisted stance in defiance of con temporary rap's ethos
of conspicuous consumption.
Basically a cover of "No
Scrubs" with new lyrics, "No Pigeons" savagely mocks women who front
like they're high-class by, say, wearing a designer outfit for one night
then returning it to the store. What makes "Pigeons" more interesting
than the opportunistic novelty hit it's already become is the smarting
sense of wounded retaliation underneath its high-spirited surface.
has edited the "Scrubs" and "Pigeons" videos together into a single
"sick mix"; if this were simply a straightforward battle-of-the-sexes à
la UTFO vs. Roxanne Shante, the Thievz's jeers about dirty Victoria
drawers and mustache removal would be plain misogynist. But class
animosity gives the tussle a different inflection, and an edge. It even
hints faintly at some dim-and-distant end to the name-brand-fetishizing,
it's-all-about-the-Benjamins era. In the interim, maybe it's time for
specter-of-Marx concepts like "reification" and "false consciousness" to
reenter the lexicon of hip hop critique.