Last week’s Song of the Week has got to be “Low” by Flo Rida, a rap artist whose real name is Tramar Dillard and who was born in, you guessed it right, Florida, in Miami to be exact. If I’ll be a rapper someday, I’ll call myself Pin Amun Gajan, to give my image a scary Bin Laden-ish appeal while paying homage to my barriotic roots in Pinamungajan, a town 50 years south of Cebu City, Philippines.

“Low” had to be it for following me around unceasingly. To begin with, it robbed me of a total of 35 hours of sleep. Last Wednesday alone, it kept me awake from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. I don’t know what San Isidro Labrador, whose feast the neighboring block was celebrating, got to do with hitting the floor and getting low low low low low; but for a while right there I really thought the chapel choir was going to use “Low” for Holy Communion.

To the many of you who don’t know the song, drop the fight. Teaching today’s kids the lyrics of Bob Dylan and the melody of the Beatles is like asking them to wear space suits to school for the Buwan ng Wika celebration. It’s just impossible, and from their point of view, stupid. “Blackbird singing in the dead of night…” “Dad, what’s that song?!! Yuck!!!” The music of today’s generation is hip-hop. If you still think hip-hop is not music at all, I say give it up — and hey, is that your teenage daughter and her boyfriend making out in the backseat?

Like any rap song, Low’s message is profound and could be the key that will unlock the mysteries of the universe. Right after the intro, which in this case is immediately the chorus, the song tells us about a girl named Shawty, who goes to a bar wearing “apple bottom jeans” and “boots with the fur.” And while everybody in the club was looking at her, Shawty “hit the flo.” And the next thing we know, “Shawty got low low low low low low.”

Shawty is the same girl who, in the very same chorus, also wears “baggy sweat pants” and “the Reeboks with the straps,” and who, while in this sporty getup, “turned around and gave that big booty a smack… ayyy.” Then she did what she loved doing, which was to hit the floor. And the next thing we know, “Shawty got low low low low low low low low.”

Shawty is a derivation of “shorty” or “shortie.” Slang dictionaries give it multiple meanings: a good friend, a small child, a newcomer or even someone short. Its prevalent use, however, is to refer to a particularly hot girlfriend. The Urban Slang Dictionary has this example of shawty usage: “Me and mah shawty went to da sex shop yesterday and got some shit, yo.”

Are you still there, grandpa? OK. “Low” the song is another one of those piece of shi… sorry… is another one of those hip-hop hits that, with the use of one chord alone, climb the top of the charts milliseconds after their release and stay there for 30 weeks. It is a product of the art institute called the “Monotonic-Monosyllabic School of Hip-Hop Hurray,” which holds that a musical scale has only one real note – which is Do — while Re to Ti were just invented for the musicale The Sound of Music to happen. In the Philippines, its staunchest advocate is Chiz Escudero, the robot who carries a pocket-size tuner that makes sure all his speeches are in Do.

Which obliquely brings us to the second reason Low made it as Song of the Week. On the second day of the picket outside a Gaisano store last week, the protesters’ chants of “Tomas, Potbellied Rambo” were drowned by Low blaring from the most earsplitting loudspeakers available at the store’s appliances department. You will remember that this was the same tactic Capitol used against several anti-Gwen rallies in the past. Capitol officials found the tactic so effective that they used it to quell protests at the provincial jail. The defenseless inmates had to give up and learn to dance the Thriller. Remember that?

The same thing almost happened at the Gaisano picket last week. It was reported that some people from the protesters’ camp actually started dancing to Low, effectively turning an otherwise serious protest into a stupid noontime show, while Tomas Osmeña and his Swat team were drinking with the store’s owners upstairs, and when everybody was looking at them, they hit the flo, and the next thing we know, Tommy got low low low low low low.

sun.star opinion, august 19, 2008