During my research for this series, I’ve come to realize that hip-hop doesn’t really have a favorite food. The culinary delights that rappers mention outright and cleverly allude to in their lyrics are as broad and varied as any other part of life and are as often used to paint a picture or to complete a rhyme as they are to symbolize something unspoken.
I have broken out some specific foods and types of cuisine that seem to appear most often or to hold the most clout in hip-hop lyrics. After looking at sardines and grits, beef, cheese, sweets, soul food and Italian food, I have one more culinary close-up before we look at food’s larger influence on hip-hop and its MCs, and that is:
Breakfast seems to make the most appearances of any particular meal in hip-hop, which might be appropriate since it’s the “most important” of the day and all. Or, it might just be an illusion since breakfast foods tend to be uniquely “breakfast foods” while all other dishes and meals could be interchangeable between lunch, dinner, or snack.
Aside from grits, which we covered separately in their own post, here are a few examples of breakfast lyrics:
Ad-rock in the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” says, “I like my sugar with coffee and cream.” Also from this track are such worthy non-breakfast mentions as “if my rap’s soup, my beats is stock” from Ad-rock and “I’ll stir-fry you in my wok” from MCA.
On the same album, the track “The Move” (the version linked is a trippy remix) includes the line, “I don’t mean to brag, I don’t mean to boast, but I’m intercontinental when I eat French toast.” If that line sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a spin-off from the Sugarhill Gang classic “Rappers Delight” in which Hi-C originally said, “I don’t mean to brag, I don’t mean to boast, but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast.” That line has been re-spit and re-spun many different ways since.
Speaking of butter, I know it’s not really a breakfast food, but if I don’t mention the Tribe Called Quest track by that name now, I probably won’t have the chance. In “Butter,” which really should be titled “Butta,” Phife Diggy uses everyone’s favorite fat to tell the story of how his game-kickin’ abilities defeated the sultry Flo. “She finally played me, but yo, I’d find another / Cause I got the crazy game and yo, I’m smooth like butter.” The hook? So simple. Tip repeats, “It’s like butter, it’s like butter baby…not no Parkay, not no margarine, strictly butter, strictly butter baby.”
Then there’s another Tribe track; this one is from “Peoples Instinctive Travels” in which the duo use a common breakfast combo, “Ham’n’Eggs,” to talk about vegetarianism and healthy eating choices, infusing a deeper meaning to food à la Cee-Lo on “Soul Food.” The jolly-sounding hook goes, “I don’t eat no ham and eggs, ’cause they’re high in cholesterol / Ayo, Phife do you eat ‘em? No, Tip do you eat ‘em? / Uh-uh, not at all.”
Similarly, breakfast for Ice Cube is more about what’s not served than what is. On his Isley-sampled anthem “Good Day,” he describes an uncanny paradise of a day in the rugged life of a gangsta. “No barking from the dogs, no smog/ And momma cooked the breakfast with no hog.” Of course if you’ve seen “Friday,” (you have seen “Friday,” right?) you know that what he’d really like to slam on is a mixing bowl full of cereal (and a FULL jug of milk!).
LL Cool J knows all about that “Milky Cereal.” I considered including this one in Part IV on sweets since it falls right in line with the theme of using sweets (in this case sugary cereals) to describe females. LL gets a little more imaginative than most in this one though, creating a certifiably cheesy storyline full of cereal allusions. Check out this line: “So we went to be alone, but we had to be quiet, cause her Cornpops was home/ Kissed her neck, kissed her back, kissed her arms/ I said, ‘Forget it, let me see your Lucky Charms’/ When we began her hairstyle was neat, but when I left the next morning, it looked like Shredded Wheat.”
Last, a quick shout to breakfast joints, which also get lyrical love. On his track “Wet Wipes,” Cam’Ron says, “Had a drunken mind, club wobbled out / Next stop: Start trouble inside the Waffle House.”
Ah, Waffle House. A dependably delicious and divey breakfast favorite the country over. Hop down from Dipset’s native New York to North Carolina, and you’ll find this line from Phontae of the now-disbanded Little Brother: “I know I’m husky, but chicks still love me/ 3 o’clock had they [...] running to Waffle House fo’ me.”
This would be a good place to work in a mention of another breakfast chain like IHOP, and while I feel sure I’ve heard it used before, the only lyric I can find is from a Timbaland song that emerged after he lost all artistic integrity. So, I can’t bear to include it.
So with that, we’ll wrap it on up. We’re almost at the end of the Hip-Hop’s Favorite Food series, so keep your eyes peeled for Part VIII. Until then, healthy eating and happy jamming to all.