What is a funky cold medina? Some say it's a drink, while others say it could have been a reference to a date-rape drug. First things first, this song would not do so well being released today. What flew in the 80s for lyrics and jokes over sensitive topics is aptly met with criticism and the possible cancellation of an artist. You can say that cancel culture has its negatives, but it would have the right to cancel this song.
But I don't want to just sit here and bash the track. It's actually really good if you take out the transphobia, sexism, rape, and rape culture undertones. It's sad because so many people see this as one of the more positive and uplifting songs of hip hops early roots. But the lyrics really take away from a lot of the magic that went into the production and the video for this song.
The song is meant to be a form of fun, in-your-face type of humor. You really get the vibes they were going for when you watch the official video for the release. Tone Loc's energy is confident, cocky, and silly all at the same time as he raps in a storytelling style about his woes with women. It doesn't feature anything violent and even features some jokes related to dogs. The overall purpose of this song is indeed lighthearted, and I really enjoy that aspect of it.
Of course, the many people who grew up to 80s music really get the message here. If you ask anyone who grew up around this time, they would either feel guilty about hearing the lyrics played back today but secretly still be jamming to it, or they would say that this song's message meant no harm. Kids in middle and high school were bumping this tune like it was their life's theme song. Popular TV show Brooklyn 99 made a joke referencing this track that brought the nostalgia back on 100%.
This beat is a simplistic yet complicated bop when you put aside the lyrics. It's made up of several samples including "Get Off Your Ass and Jam" by Funkadelic, "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner, and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones. As a person who grew up after the 80s, you may not think that this sounds groundbreaking or anything. But back when this came out, it was amazingly unique and fresh to all types of music lovers!
When Young MC, Matt Dike, and Michael Ross wrote the lyrics for this track, they were trying to come up with a brand new drink, likely alcoholic, that had powers like a love potion. You could say it was a sort of aphrodisiac, but the way the story goes, it seemed to be more powerful than that. Were they trying to describe a date-rape drug? Probably not. But when you get technical and think about the fact that alcohol is a type of drug, can't it be used just like a date-rape drug?
Tone Loc pointed to a bottle of Absolut Vodka in the video when he was describing a funky cold medina. But whatever he was rapping about was likely a fictional additive that went into the vodka. After the song's release and popularity, several alcoholic drink mixes came out under the name, with a popular mix being Absolut Vodka, Southern Comfort, and Blue Curaçao over ice and topped off with cranberry juice.
Someone could argue that the drink wasn't given to the women, and was drank by Tone Loc, making it more of a love potion and less like a date rape drug. But in the verse where he encounters a girl named Sheena, it sounds like he gave her the drink to make her fall for him. There's no way to say that doesn't sound date-rapey. Regardless of if he drank it or the girl drank it, it doesn't sound like they know the encounter would involve the effects of a love potion. Where's the consent? Even if that's not what it meant, you shouldn't have to drink or give someone a drink in order to get any type of romantic play.
To top it all off, the girl he encounters named Sheena in the story was later found out to be a transexual. This, again, is meant to bring out the lighthearted goofiness of the track, but it winds up being a direct prejudice against a whole group of people at the expense of laughter. In the 80s, trans jokes were thrown around like they were nothing, so no one would have batted an eye when listening to the lyrics. If you were a trans person yourself, you were put in an uncomfortable situation where you'd have to fake laugh along, ignore it, or be a target for a joke (or much worse).
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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