Why Getting Lyrics Wrong Matters

Paul Devlin continues his quest to correct the record of bad transcriptions in the new Anthology of Rap. Devlin spoke with Adam Mansbach, a member of the anthology's advisory board who was disappointed with the collection:

[T]his is a book that seeks to establish the relevance and artistry of hip-hop lyricism, and instead it's made many of the world's best MCs look downright incoherent by misrepresenting their words.

When Ice Cube says "your plan against the ghetto backfired," and it gets turned into "you're playing against the ghetto black fly," more has happened than just a simple error in transcription; you've made an important song perplexing and impenetrablewhile staking a claim, backed by institutional power and market presence, that your version is canonical.

Over at The Nervous Breakdown, Art Edwards admits his own history of misheard lyrics and debates whether he likes his own versions better.