Thursday, May 19, 2011

Forgotten Movie Songs #16: "Da Butt" from SCHOOL DAZE

I felt like hopping up the pace of the songs featured in this series, so I thought of this wild number from Spike Lee's 1988 quasi-musical School Daze. Filmed partially at Atlanta's Morehouse College, the oldest black university in the nation (where Lee attended before moving on to NYU's film school), this free-wheeling picture charts a few days in the lives of students pledging fraternities, partying, and squabbling about surprising racial schisms within the black community. The film wasn't well-received upon its release; it was considered rather lightweight in parts, and iron-handed in others (particularly in its memorably jarring ending). But I remember really liking it in 1988; I considered it an ambitious sophomore effort from writer/director/star Spike Lee, whom I thought stepped up his indie game following his smash 1986 debut She's Gotta Have It.

The cast is uniformly committed, with a sharp blend of then-newcomers (Lee, Giancarlo Esposito, Tisha Campbell, Bill Nunn, Roger Smith, Kyme, Joie Lee, Rusty Cundieff, Branford Marsalis) and veterans (Lawrence Fishburne, Ossie Davis, Joe Seneca, Art Evans and Samuel L. Jackson). The interplay between the groups leads to scenes like this one, in which the college kids have a run in with some townies, led by the always powerful Jackson. I really like the dialogue here:

And School Daze explored an issue I never knew existed before I saw it: the overt racism to which lighter-skinned blacks subject their darker-skinned fellows. This explosive theme is especially highlighted in an old-style musical number between two groups of girls, the Wannabes (who wanna be white, with their treated hair) and the Jigaboos (who like the natural look) in the excellent Bill Lee-penned "Straight and Nappy." I also liked how the movie portrays the frat life as a raucous bummer. On top of all this, School Daze has a true flavor of the South, without all the abject, unthoughtful idiocy usually found in movies about the region (it's refreshing that there's not a white person in sight in School Daze).

Of course, my favorite sequence in it remains the party scene where the joint is rollin' to the band E.U., performing "Da Butt." It's a hilarious song with lotsa naughty lyrical work ("Doin' da butt!"). The tune, with music and lyrics by Marcus Miller and Mark Stevens, is a radically catchy 80s soul/dance song that's blossomed into a classic, just as the film has, I believe. So, here is the Spike Lee-directed video for E.U's "Da Butt," with the lyrics following it.

Alright. Come on. Sing it one time
(Ee-yeah yeah. Ee-yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Sing! Ow!
(Ee-yeah yeah. Ee-yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Ha! Ha!

Walked in this place surprised to see
A big girl gettin' busy, just rockin' to the go-go beat
The way she shook her booty sho' looked good to me
I said, 'Come here, big girl, won't you rock my world
Show that dance to me.' She was

Doin' da butt.
Pretty, pretty
When you get that notion, put your backfield in motion, hey
Doin' da butt.
Hey sexy, sexy
Ain't nothing wrong, if you
Wanna do da butt all night long

(Ee-yeah yeah. Ee-yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Ow, what you gonna do about it
(Ee-yeah yeah. Ee-yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Shake it!
(Ee-yeah yeah. Ee-yeah yeah yeah yeah)

I took that girl out on the floor
She rocked me from the backside
We did the butt til it made me sore
Now, it's a physical thing, but not hard to do
You just shake-a shake shake shake
Shake-a shake shake
Doin' the butt the whole night through, come on


That's right! Shake your butt.
Come on! Gimme that butt! Gimme that butt!

Tanya got a big ol' butt (oh yeah?)
Theresa got a big ol' butt (oh yeah?)
Irene got a big ol' butt (oh yeah?)
Melissa got a big ol' butt now
And Sonya got a big ol' butt (oh yeah?)
And Shirley got a big ol' butt (oh yeah?)
Ol' Tammy got a bubble butt (oh yeah?)
Little Keisha got a big ol' butt, now, gimme the butt!

(Ee-yeah yeah. Ee-yeah yeah yeah yeah)
I'm gonna drop you lines, before we set up
We're screamin' at girls with the big ol' butt, sing it
(Ee-yeah yeah. Ee-yeah yeah yeah yeah) Ow!
(Ee-yeah yeah. Ee-yeah yeah yeah yeah)
I want your butt.
That butt.
That big ol' big ol' butt. Ow!


No comments: