If only iTunes had a return policy, or at least the ability to exchange for store credit. I'd gladly swap the original version of Lloyd's “Dedication to My Ex” for the cleaned-up radio edit, because frankly I feel like I got tricked.
I heard the song for the first time in the car, and for much the same reasons I enjoy Mad Men and anything throwback (this song's just begging for someone to mashed potato to it), I loved it immediately. Once home, I downloaded the explicit version, assuming it would be even better.
But I quickly discovered that in the explicit version, “that lovin's changed” becomes “that pussy's changed.” “I miss that lovin'” becomes “I miss that pussy.”
Now, I'm not the kind to take kneejerk offense. I'm not a prude, so the word isn't banned from my iPod. I didn't even mind when the Ying Yang Twins whispered about beating it up. So I gave the song a few listens, but soon realized I found this particular use of the word entirely off-putting.
Let's get down to brass tacks. Vaginas don't physically change, especially in the span of a weekend, no matter what kind of recreational activities a woman gets herself into. So what Lloyd is actually saying is that his girl's lovin' changed. He suspects she's cheating, she's acting differently, she makes love to him differently, and he's using the word pussy to illustrate that. In doing so, he's dehumanized her, reducing his “really special lady” to a vagina.
This is a world that embraces Missy Elliot and Nicki Minaj — the Madonnas of hip-hop who empowered the sexual image of women. Though we're not quite past the gangsta rap days when women were relegated to little more than sexual playthings, surely we shouldn't be moving backwards. I thought Lil Wayne, who makes a cameo on “Dedication,” felt something for women trying to learn how to love. And Andre 3000, who also does a verse, once promised he'd always call before he comes. Where's that chivalry now, Andre?
And speaking of which, where's all that delicious innuendo? Explicit lyrics have shock value, and that can work sometimes, but in many cases, nothing's sexier or more intriguing than being a little indirect. This could have worked for Lloyd, especially when referencing how his lover used to “squeeze him.” Could he be talking about … that? The dirty version shows us he absolutely is, and it's a little much.
Of course there's still misogyny in hip hop, but we've learned it's perfectly acceptable to rap about female sexuality in a positive way. It's even okay to use words like pussy, but at least be thoughtful about it. In other words, don't be a dick.
Follow Ali Trachta on Twitter @MySo_CalLife.