Buggin’ Out – Unpacking Hip-Hop’s Lyrical Depth


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for A Tribe Called Quest's Buggin' Out at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Five Foot Assassin’s Lyrical Proclamation
  5. Dissecting The Quest for Authenticity
  6. Unraveling The Allusion-Filled Verses
  7. The Standout Refrain: Avenues of Multiple Interpretations
  8. Buggin’ Out’s Hidden Meaning: The Insider’s Eye on Industry and Identity

Lyrics

Yo, microphone check one two what is this
The five foot assassin with the ruffneck business
I float like gravity, never had a cavity
Got more rhymes than the Winans got family

No need to sweat Arsenio to gain some type of fame
No shame in my game cause I’ll always be the same
Styles upon styles upon styles is what I have
You want to diss the Phifer but you still don’t know the half

I sport New Balance sneakers to avoid a narrow path
Messing ’round with this you catch the size 8 up-
I never half step cause I’m not a half stepper
Drink a lot of soda so they call me Dr. Pepper

Refuse to compete with BS competition
Your name ain’t Special Ed so won’t you sekkle with the mission
I never walk the streets, think it’s all about me
Even though deep in my heart, it really could be

I just try my best to like go all out
Some might even say, “Yo shorty black you’re buggin’ out”

Zulu Nation, brothers that’s creation
Minds get flooded, ejaculation
Right on the two inch tape

The Abstract poet incognito, runs the cape
Not the best not the worst and occasionally I curse to get my
Point across, so bust, the floss
As I go in between, the grit and the dirt

Listen to the mission listen miss as I do work
As I crack the, monotone
Children of the jazz so, get your own
Smoking R&B cause they try to do me

Or the best of the pack but they can’t do rap
For it’s Abstract, original
You can’t get your own and that’s, pitiful
I know I’d be the man if I cold yanked the plug
On R&B, but I can’t and that’s bugged

Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out

Yo when you bug out, you usually have a reason for the action
Sometimes you don’t it’s just for mere satisfaction
People be hounding, always surrounding
Pulsing, just like a migraine pounding

You don’t really fret, you stay in your sense
Camouflage your feeling, of absolute tense
You soar off to another world, deep in your mind
But people seem to take that, as being unkind

“Oh yo, he’s acting stank”, really on a regal?
A man of the fame not a man of the people”
Believe that if you want to but I tell you this much
Riding on the train with no dough, sucks

Once again a case of your feet in my Nike’s
If a crowd is in my realm I’m saying, “Mic please”
Hip-hop is living, can’t yank the plug
If you do the result, will end up kind of bugged

Yo, I am not an invalid although I used to smoke the weed out
Ali Shaheed Muhammad used to say I had to be out
Scheming on the cookies with the crazy booming back buns
Pushing on the real hardest so we can have the big fun

When I left for Rosie I was Boulevard status
Battling a MC was when Tip was at his maddest
It was one MC after one MC
What the world could they be wanting see from little old me?

Do I have the formula to save the world?
Or was it just because I used to swipe the women and all the girls?
I’m the type of brother with the crazy extended hand kid
Dissed by all my brothers I was all up what my man did

Supposed to be my man but now I wonder cause you’re feeble
I go out with the strongest and I separate the evils
It’s your brain against my mind, for those about to boot out
All you nasty critters even though you see I bug out

Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out
Buggin’ out, buggin’ out
Buggin’ out you’re buggin’ out

Full Lyrics

Amid the golden age of hip-hop, A Tribe Called Quest emerged as sonic architects, blending jazz-infused beats with a thoughtful vernacular that narrated the urban experience from an intellectual vantage point. ‘Buggin’ Out’, a standout track from their seminal album ‘The Low End Theory’, serves as both a lyrical exhibition and a philosophical exploration into self-identity, artistic integrity, and societal observations.

With quintessential fluidity, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg volley poignant verses that dissect the exigencies of authenticity against the grain of mainstream demands – all the while, maintaining the signature playful edge that Tribe fans have come to revere. The song is not just an anthem of the expressive ’90s hip-hop scene but a timeless exploration of the artistic spirit ‘buggin’ out’ against conformity.

The Five Foot Assassin’s Lyrical Proclamation

Phife Dawg kicks off ‘Buggin’ Out’ with an immediate assertion of self, referring to himself as the ‘five foot assassin with the ruffneck business.’ This opening salvo is dense with intent; Phife is staking his claim as a formidable lyricist. He juxtaposes imagery such as floating ‘like gravity’ with boasting of a cavity-free mouth to curiously relate oral hygiene to his untainted lyrical prowess.

The reference to ‘ruffneck business’ is twofold – it’s a nod to the rough and tumble of street-smart lyricism, and simultaneously, an assertion that in the face of the music industry’s rugged terrain, Phife is equipped to deal. Scale this against ‘The Winans’ line, and you’ve got a blend of braggadocio with an awareness of his family-in-music – a legacy woven into the very fabric of his verses.

Dissecting The Quest for Authenticity

Q-Tip’s verses in ‘Buggin’ Out’ further cement the Tribe’s ethos on authenticity. He announces an aversion to superficial competition and a refusal to alter his course for fleeting fame – ‘No need to sweat Arsenio to gain some type of fame.’ In doing so, Tribe rejects the notion that legitimacy comes from external validation, rather than innate skill and true-to-self artistic expression.

The song characterizes their style as unapologetically individualistic and sophisticated – ‘Styles upon styles upon styles is what I have.’ They critique those who may ‘diss the Phifer’ without understanding the depth of their artistry, signifying disdain for shallow engagement with their work. The persistent message is a clarion call to respect genuine creativity over commercialized popularity.

Unraveling The Allusion-Filled Verses

‘Buggin’ Out’ is rife with cultural allusions that illustrate Tribe’s rootedness in community and historical awareness. From name-dropping the Zulu Nation as a reference to an influential organization in hip-hop’s history to the encapsulation of their creative process (‘right on the two-inch tape’), each line weaves the listener deeper into the cultural tapestry Tribe captures.

Even the monikers used, such as ‘Dr. Pepper’ for Q-Tip, blend everyday with the eccentric, and Phife Dawg’s ‘boulevard status’ alludes to urban street credibility. These allusions are not just linguistic showmanship but serve as a bridge connecting the life and lexicon of hip-hop’s past to the listeners of the future.

The Standout Refrain: Avenues of Multiple Interpretations

The infectious hook ‘Buggin’ Out’ is simultaneously literal and metaphorical. Literally speaking, to ‘bug out’ is to deviate from normative behavior, which Tribe does musically and lyrically. Metaphorically, ‘buggin’ out’ could reflect the band’s internal consciousness, grappling with the pressures and expectations placed upon them by the industry and society at large.

The repetitive nature of the chorus invites the listener into a hypnagogic state where the words start to dissociate from their standard meaning – lending to the track’s psychedelic tilt. This hallucinogenic repetition reflects the nature of hip-hop at the time: a loop of challenging traditional music structures while inadvertently creating a new mainstream.

Buggin’ Out’s Hidden Meaning: The Insider’s Eye on Industry and Identity

At its core, ‘Buggin’ Out’ is a candid lens on hip-hop’s tense relationship with personal and commercial identity. The lyrics are steeped in pride about their unorthodoxy, eschewing radio-friendly R&B for a more potent ‘Abstract’ expression intrinsic to the Tribe’s identity.

Nevertheless, A Tribe Called Quest recognizes their role and the power struggles within the music industry – ‘I know I’d be the man if I cold yanked the plug on R&B, but I can’t and that’s bugged.’ This stanza reveals an acute self-awareness about their paradoxical position as influencers within a system that often requires artists to compromise for greater influence.

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