A few of the mixed and mashed artists: Clipse, Pharrell, Dr. Dre, and basically a bunch of absolutely fucking ridiculous backdrops for her sexy, ethereal voice. Really gets started at 1:10.Listen to the whole thing, no joke.
Let’s assess the impact of T-Pain’s “I’m ‘n Luv (Wit a Stripper),” shall we? It almost single-handedly ushered in the obscene embrace of auto-tune, gave T-Pain and Akon careers, rejuvenated public interest in R&B, and it gave Mike Jones his most successful single to date (because, really, he might as well not exist on his own). Afterwards, it invited topical imitations (“Hard as Hell” by UGK and Akon), and references from Clipse’s “Dirty Money” (“By no means am I in love with a stripper”) to Jay-Z’s “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune).”
But, sigh, it’s not.
Auto-tune didn’t start with “Stripper,” but it initiated outbreaks all over rap radio. Hell, even Justin Vernon of Bon Iver used it in “The Wolves (Act I And II).” Frustratingly, Drake’s phenomenal So Far Gone Mixtape proved that it might remain a relevant, even necessary evil for some time. Even Jay-Z called him the next big thing in rap, presumably for his ability to remain an agile, agressive, and mind-numbingly arrogant lyricist with the ability to alternately switch to on-point auto-tune croonerisms when he needed a hook (or a hookup). What this means for the music world even five years later is more of the same: sometimes graceful but mostly embarrassing results.
Somehow, the stripper topic seems to be in the same dingy corner. It resurfaces more since that song, and it too is not limited to rap anymore. The possibilities are mortifying. If you’ve successfully evaded it, your time is up now. Nickelback released a song called “Something In Your Mouth” a couple years ago, and I know you’re curious, so here’s how it begins: “Got to meet the hottie with the million dollar body / they say it’s over budget but you’d pay her just to touch it / Come on!” Really.
Thank God I can side with T-Pain on this one. At the very least, he doesn’t just beg and drool creepily at a distance (and with disgusting Jesus-hair via greasy frat girl), but at least has a sense of humor. But that sense of humor and I’m-so-in-love-I-had-to-write-a-song reveals—even in the hopeful, shiny synth line—their shared motive: “that night thing.” The compliments, the confessing, and a simple, effective hook all with a wink and a smile are worlds more effective than the former.
Drake’s stripper song (“Houstatlantavegas”) was the first to take the sympathetic route, spending most of the song detailing the ennui and claustrophobia a dancer feels stuck in that lifestyle. And, finally, that’s where we have this song.
Synth shimmers fade in and out, search, swagger like the red spotlights or the half-drunk. Britt Daniel mopes and ooh-hoo’s his way through “Who Makes Your Money?” as if the girl’s sugar daddy lifestyle pains him. Slippery, questioning bass lines aid Britt ask the titular line repeated times, hoping to strike a chord in her, hoping she might come running to him, crying, looking for a savior. Padded guitar chords gently move the song to the final verse where his paternal tone is most evident and he sympathetically asks for her recall her time alone, how her love has all “come to hate.”
Drake makes it a point to admit desiring her after he details what it might be like in her “all-star weekend” lifestyle. In this, his desire remains unsaid. It’s a sneaky move, focusing all the attention on her. It’s no wonder one critic labeled Transference Spoon’s attempt at getting laid. What saves it from being creepy or predatory is the sense that if he’s frequenting a strip club enough to want to try and fix this girl, he’s probably nearing the bottom as well. It’s in that unspoken connection of mutual misery (is he talking about himself in that last verse?) that it comes to an unresolved end.