I don’t know why it took me so long to realize it, but the one thing that runs through all of Nelly Furtado’s singles are that they’re fun. They’re upbeat smiley face music, whether she’s doing fun anthems or throwing bedroom eyes at you.
One thing that’s always interesting about R&B and rap collabs, which I generally think of as being lady singer + dude rapper, is how the two musicians are portrayed in the video. Meth & Mary’s “All I Need” portrays the two as musicians solely, since Meth already has a lady in the video. Nelly Furtado’s “No Hay Igual” is the other one, as it suggests that Furtado and Residente of Puerto Rican group Calle 13 are in some type of flirty relationship.
I can’t find it now, but a few years back, 2008 or 2009 I think, there was an R&B girl group, maybe a duo, that released a single. It was pretty okay, and the rap feature was solid. It was probably Fabolous, but I think Maino or Pusha T might have been the dude. I don’t know. I swear I’m not making this up. Anyway, it came out on rap blogs, and then it went. A few weeks later, a different version of the same song came out with a different MC. It was an earlier cut, one that was leaked from the studio, and it was grimey. It was easy to see why it was shelved. Dude spent his whole time talking about how much he wanted to do the singers, which was kind of on-topic, but it was a bit much.
I only mention that too-long story because my favorite part of this song explicitly addresses the tension that comes along with these types of videos. You see a lot of Furtado and Residente dancing and flirting, and then you hit the bridge at the end of the song:
“Te vo’ a sacar a pasear (¡Wey!)”
You wanna take a walk? Cool.
“En una nave espacial (¡Wey!)”
In a space ship? Hm, aight. Kinda weird, but let’s roll.
“Cosmodrogado yo quiero surfiar (¡Wey!)”
Okay, so there’s a space-drug thing he just made up, but surfing is cool. This is getting weirder though.
“Por tu órgano genital (¡¿Qué?!)”
¡¿Que?! Even I know, judging from the wreckage of my Spanish knowledge, that you don’t need to be talking about any part of a lady’s ladyparts!
But this part is my favorite because Furtado’s response, and the reaction in the video, are so perfect. “Bro, you crossed a line and you’re about to kill a fun thing.”
It also gets at another fun part of these videos, which is that if they’re big enough, if they turn into real deal anthems, then the singers become audience stand-ins. There’s a reason why TLC’s “No Scrubs” blew up so huge, and why Sporty Thievez felt like they had to answer back with “No Pigeons.” Especially in songs with a lot of call and response, the singer is her and the rapper is me. I love that stuff. Something like Missy’s “One Minute Man” with Luda and Trina got a lot of play because it has both that raw girl power flavor and whatever the guy equivalent of girl power is. It sets up this competition, kinda like Furtado’s “Promiscuous,” between the sexes, that’s a lot of fun. Everybody gets a chance to be brash and dirty. Everybody’s got something they can scream at the boils and ghouls across the room.
In thinking about it, Trina’s done more than a few of these songs. “Five Star Chick”, the wild scandalous and NSFW “Look Back At Me” with Killer Mike, and of course the unforgettable “Nann Nigga” with Trick Daddy Dollars. Do you know how many girls I heard yelling “You don’t know nann hoe!” on the bus to and from school? It’s not just songs that are boys vs girls, tee hee. There’s a competitive aspect that’s gotta be there. That’s what makes it fun.