In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: Songs we felt we had to hide from others.
My parents were children of the ’60s who prided themselves on being fairly hip, rock ’n’ roll people—though as every parent discovers, the empathy of former youth has its limits. My mom enthusiastically blasted Bon Jovi, but spoke of Metallica as though it were a predatory social condition. After buying me Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction as a birthday gift, my father solemnly announced that he’d changed his mind, deeming it “too hardcore” for him. (“And if it’s too hardcore for me, it’s too hardcore for you.”) Needless to say, neither was too impressed with hip-hop, which at the time was the subject of alarmist news pieces and Tipper Gore crusades, and the soundtrack to a world of guns, sex, and teenage sass-back that was the exact opposite of everything expected of darling boys like myself. So I made extra certain they never discovered my deliberately unlabeled Maxell cassette with a dub of N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton on one side and, on the other, Eazy-E’s far dirtier solo album, Eazy-Duz-It.
I nabbed both from my two-years-older cousin, who first introduced me to hip-hop by playing me Licensed To Ill and telling secondhand tales of the Beastie Boys’ infamous stage show that was capped off with a giant, inflatable penis. But the Beastie Boys were still a bratty, kid-friendly, parent-tolerated form of rebellion; hell, my Webelos troop did a talent show lip sync to “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).” Compared to that, the first time I heard Eazy-E’s “Nobody Move” was as epochal as finding your first dirty magazine or uttering your first “fuck.” The song is pure, adults-only offensiveness, the kind that blows a sheltered 10-year-old’s mind that people are allowed to say those sorts of things—on record. Naturally, my cousin and I listened to “Nobody Move” on repeat every chance we got, his boombox volume on its lowest level, a sleeping bag draped around us to muffle the sound. In our secret cone of gangsta violence, we memorized every word.
Listening to it now, most of “Nobody Move” seems pretty quaint. It’s a fairly straightforward, surprisingly low-stakes tale of a bank heist gone awry. I mean, Eazy-E and MC Ren actually brag about knocking out an elderly security guard, and they only shoot one measly hostage. But it’s the second verse where “Nobody Move” makes a turn for the pornographic, with Eazy-E taking a time out from his crime in progress to attend to his dick, and demanding the female captive with “the biggest titties” strip at gunpoint. After she drops her panties, Eazy discovers “the bitch had a dick,” prompting him to shoot her in the crotch. In just a few bars, Eazy goes from robbery to rape to transphobic hate crime, and—even after several decades of absorbing violent hip-hop fantasies—it’s still one of the single nastiest rap verses I can recall. (Though admittedly, it’s nothing compared to “Gimme That Nutt.”) I kind of still feel like I’m going to get in trouble just listening to it on headphones here in the office.
In fact, you know what? Nobody tell my mom about this.