Petey Pablo's "Raise Up," a 2001 song about his native North Carolina, is the worst state rap anthem ever produced. I know the song has been out for almost a decade now, and I don't even live in North Carolina anymore. But I've got to get this off my chest. North Carolina deserves so much better.
Right off the bat, Pablo dilutes and obscures his pro-North Carolina message by giving shout-outs to Virginia (in the opening spoken segment) and South Carolina (in the third verse). What the hell? Good thing Pablo didn't also write Empire State of Mind, or Jay-Z might have delivered mad props to New Jersey and Connecticut.
In fact, other than repeatedly shouting the state's name, "Raise Up" references North Carolina merely by naming many of its towns, cities, and regions. Pablo tosses out these names without cultural context or any sense of the state's uniqueness. Replace them with different cities and the song could easily be about any state in America, and probably a few Canadian provinces as well.
For example, here are Pablo's thoughts on growing up in the Old North State:
You remember them days y'all, we used to play y'all
The radio and put our own lil' part in the song y'all
Yeah, I'm pretty sure people in other states have done that too. And by the way, dude: you rhymed "ya'll" with "ya'll" with "ya'll."
Pablo's lyrics ignore so many distinct North Carolina icons. Ever heard of tobacco? The Outer Banks? The Blue Ridge Mountains? Cheerwine? The Wright Brothers? Bojangles'? The oppressive humidity? Krispy Kreme? Pablo even manages to discuss basketball without any mention of why North Carolina basketball is special. Carolina-Duke anyone? What about Michael Jordan?
To be fair, Pablo doesn't have room in the song to actually reference his state heritage. He's already filled the lyrics with standard rap citations of his own greatness ("I'm a superstar, bought me a big ol' car") and semi-coherent strings of half-rhyming tough talk:
We gonna hit y'all asses, ain't nothin' but a T.D. blast that we got comin' atcha,
(beat) slammin', (first) classic (Go for this) What's after platinum?
Those lyrics make me so proud to be from the Tar Heel state! Which reminds me Petey, would it have killed you to mention Tar Heels?
Examining all this evidence, it's clear that "Raise Up" is not, as its author claims, an attempt to "put it down for North Carolina." Instead, the song is an effort to capitalize, with as little effort as possible, on the novelty of hearing one's hometown rapped about on the radio.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to Carolina in my mind.
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