No Context: Spank Rock and Benny Blanco's Bangers & Cash
No Context by Zach Baron
Spank Rock and Benny Blanco are…Bangers & Cash was reportedly the result of a chance meeting between the Philadelphia-based sex rapper Spank Rock and a young former Disco D intern named Benny Blanco. Blanco had on hand a collection of beats he’d based off, almost entirely, samples jacked from the controversial early ‘90s Supreme Court case rappers 2 Live Crew, and as a means of getting them out into the light of day, offered them to his newly successful friend. Spank bit, and Bangers & Cash were born: four unusually crass songs (five, if you count the one they didn’t give away for free over the four week publicity bonanza run-up to the EP’s release) about pearl necklaces, fellatio, and sex involving brown paper bags.
No doubt also influencing the genesis of Bangers & Cash was the world-beating year that was 2006 for Spank Rock, nee Naeem Juwan, in which he went from a down-and-out Baltimore-to-Philly transplant to a globe-trotting, pussy-destroying titan in less than six months due to the strength of his debut, Yoyoyoyoyo. The sex raps that played as wink-and-nod wish fulfillment in the mouth of an aspiring indie-rap star landed him fame and more; more, presumably, in the form of willing girls who could appreciate the irony and also the confidence displayed, so that eventually, Spank Rock became less like an outré fantasy project and more like day-to-day life. By the time Blanco got to him, one could guess, Spank had more than just an EP’s worth of sexual adventures to relate.
Finally, almost certainly adding to the appeal of the project for both men was the chance to push things forward a bit in their not-so-nascent genres: for Blanco, the revival of the Miami bass production style, and for Spank Rock, club-rap or gallery-rap or party-rap or whatever one chooses to call rap music when it’s made for a primarily non-rap audience. Nowhere was it more obvious how much they were trying to get away with than in the artwork appended to their various singles.
The Bangers & Cash debut single (above) dropped with a picture of Benny and Spank lying in the sand side-by-side, pounding fists as two thick, greased up women straddled their prone bodies; in the obviously fake background, Miami palm trees and blue skies stretched off into the distance. Over the next three weeks, this image was followed by one of two bikini-clad women, over whose heads were imposed those of two snarling panthers, demolishing a city, Godzilla-style, while shooting lasers from their panther eyes; a thong-clad panda bear on all fours, looking back over its shoulder at the camera; and (below) a snake giving a naked woman cunnilingus.
The records also included the following lyrics: “She gotta have it cinematic like Netflix / HD-documented pearl drop necklace”; “B-o-o-t-a-y, you ain’t got no alibi / You ugly, bitch fuck me”; “From the club to the bed / Brown bag on your head / In, out, lift, split / Cough, spit, eat dick,” and so on. These would be unremarkable on practically any given major label rap record, but for Spank Rock they were a significant leap forward from even Yoyoyoyoyo, which itself had hooks such as “tap that ass, tap that ass, tap that ass…”
Some of the off-color can be explained by where Spank Rock’s been for the last year and half, which by his own admission has been a different club practically every night. Some lyrics are satirical – say, “Hoochies wanna get on the guestlist / Eat a small dinner so you fit in your dresses,” from “Loose,” – satire derived, perhaps, from an intimate knowledge of just who’s trying to storm the VIP. And I don’t believe, exactly, that Juwan’s ever thrown a brown bag over a girl’s head – or at least, not in the order described above.
Spank, by his own admission, prefers to fuck to Janet Jackson, an empowered woman if there ever was one, and Amanda Blank, who’s also in Bangers & Cash and who raps on “Loose,” offers up a triumvirate of female positive mood music in the same Myspace short: Bjork, Mazzy Star, and Duran Duran. They then go on to posit Bangers & Cash as music made in the same spirit—call it inspirational.
Maybe. For Blanco, things are probably the simplest. To revive an ass-shaking production style he’s enthralled with – and, it should be said, really talented at – he needs ass shaking to be a thing people do again. For Spank, and the other B&C rappers – Santogold, Black Betty, and Blank – there are personas to look after, fantasies to be lived out and mock-fulfilled, and the fame that inevitable attends controversy, should there be any. But even Spank Rock’s number-one sex-soundtrack pick R. Kelly knows to get a girl home you’ve got to flatter her first (and during if you want to enjoy it, and usually after as well, if you ever want to do it again). Whatever Bangers & Cash is, it’s no turn on.