Even though it’s patently ridiculous, a clean version of A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems” exists. It’s funny. And, like watching Die Hard on TBS (“Yippee ki-yay, mother trucker!”), listening to rap on the radio can be an interesting lesson on how to creatively scrub the dirty words. Over the years, many a clean version/radio edit of a dirty hip-hop song has gotten airplay, some even better than the original. Here, we count down the best five, because why the freak not?
5) Xzibit – “Paparazzi”
Years before he was hosting Pimp My Ride or starring alongside Nicolas Cage, Mr. X-to-the-Z was making some classic west coast hip-hop. His breakout single “Paparazzi” is a masterpiece without a doubt, but the clean version sounds like it was possibly recorded weeks after the original when Xzibit had an even stronger mastery of his flow, making for an even smoother slice at rappers only in the game for the money and the fame.
4) Ying Yang Twins – “Wait (The Whisper Song)”
Hey, how you doing little momma let me whisper in your ear, tell you something that you might like to hear that contains no foul language. The unedited version of “Wait (The Whisper Song)” is so absurdly filthy, even by Ying Yang Twins standards, that there’s actually two clean edits of the song, one with sound effects and this squeaky clean one with the lyrics almost completely rewritten and re-performed. The sinister purring here of members Kaine and D-Roc suggests innuendo so vague (“Wait til I show you this”) that it almost sounds dirtier than the original.
3) Nelly – “Country Grammar (Hot S***)”
We don’t think we’re telling any tales out of school when we say that the hook on the clean version of Nelly’s “Country Grammar” is far superior. The St. Louis superstar’s original breakout summer jam, “Country Grammar (Hot S***)” just had a more memorable radio hook which made the song more fun. Think about it, in the summer of 2000 as you watched the Survivor finale, do you recall having more fun saying “boom boom baby” or “street-sweeper baby?”
2) Wu-Tang Clan – “Shame On a Nuh”
It’s one of the most galvanizing beats that RZA ever produced, boasting some of the most quotable lines that arguably the greatest group in rap ever recorded, so what better way to crank up the absurd fun meter than making a radio edit of a song that would otherwise never get mainstream play by replacing the offensive language with guttural outbursts? “Shame on a Nuh” is a great group grunt-along that everybody in the car can get down with!
1) Jay-Z featuring Amil and Ja Rule – “Can I Get A…”
Looking back on the stand-out cut from the Rush Hour soundtrack 15 years later, Jay-Z has to know that the clean version of “Can I Get A…” will always be head and shoulders above its source material. Keep positive, you guys. Bounce with me with me with me.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 25, 2013