Translate

Friday, July 1, 2016

"M I Crooked Letter" In Country Music, Jump Rope Rhymes, R&B, & Hip Hop

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides examples of the words "m i crooked letter i" crooked letter i hump back hump back i" or portions of those words in American Country music, jump rope rhymes, R&B music, and Hip Hop.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and entertainment purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the recording artists who are featured in these YouTube examples. Thanks also to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

****
COUNTRY MUSIC EXAMPLE: "MISSISSIPPI" (1950)
Unless there is documentation of a children's action rhyme/jump rope rhyme with the "m i crooked letter etc." lines predating 1950, it appears that the Country music song "Mississippi" is the earliest source for those recreational rhymes and for the songs from other genres with those lyrics. That Country music song was first recorded in 1950 by Red Foley.

Here's a sound file and lyrics of that song:

1950 HITS ARCHIVE: M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I - Red Foley



MusicProf78, Published on Sep 21, 2013

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I (Williams-Simmons) by Red Foley with The Dixie Dons (CD audio source)

If the title looks unfamiliar, you may recall the lyrics, which spelled out "M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I, etc"). Written by Curley Williams ("Half As Much"), this crossover hit reached #2 on the country music charts and also got some 'pop' action in recordings by Kay Starr, Art Mooney, and Bill Darnel....
-snip-
Click https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Foley for the Wikipedia page for (White American) Red Foley.

****
LYRICS: MISSISSIPPI
(written by Curley Williams, Billy Simmons)

By The M I crooked letter, crooker letter, I crooked letter, crooked letter I
Hump-back, hump-back I of Mississippi flowing down to New Orleans
It flows right by my Tennessee home where history was make by Steamboat Bill
M-E-M-P-H-I-S, Memphis is the town I mean

Way down yonder in the land of cotton, folks like mine are ne’er forgotten
What a wonderful thrill just to be down in Memphis, Tennessee
By The M I crooked letter, crooker letter, I crooked letter, crooked letter I
Hump-back, hump-back I of Mississippi flowing down to New Orleans

[repeat both verses]

Source: http://www.songlyrics.com/red-foley/m-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i-1950-lyrics/
-snip-
The letter "s" is the "crooked letter" because of the way that it is written. The letter "p" is called "hump back" (in standard English "hunchback") because that letter is written like a stylized drawing of a person with a hump on his or her back.

****
CHILDREN'S ACTION RHYME/JUMP ROPE EXAMPLES
Example #1:
Excerpt from Granny Midwives and Black Women Writers: Double-dutched Readings, by Valerie Lee,
(Psychology Press, 1996; Google Books, page 142)
"Mississippi was where I had to go for it was also Delta cotton, the Delta Queen, and Delta Blues. Mississippi was Meridian, magnolias, and mockingbirds. It was also a folk rhyme, a jump rope rhyme from childhood, beckoning me to come: M i crooked letter, crooker letter i, crooked letter, crooked letter i, Hump-back, hump-back i"...Who would have predicted that one of the longest spelled states would roll so easily off the tongues of children, clapping to its rhythm?"

**
Example #2: Mississippi
How do you spell Mississippi?
M (cross arms over chest)
I (point to your eye)
Crooked letter (cross legs and jump)
Crooked letter (cross legs and jump)
I (point to eye)
Hunch back
Hunch back
I!

~Ellen Mason, AACS Music Teacher

Source: http://www.buyjumpropes.net/resources/jump-rope-rhymes-songs-buyjumpropesnet/ "The Great List Of Jump Rope Rhymes & Skipping Songs"
-snip-
The actions that are performed for this example aren't necessarily done while jumping rope (jumping in the middle of the rope being turned by two other people).

UPDATE: July 1, 2016 (5:36 PM) I wrote that I had vague memories of chanting "M I Crooked Letter" in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the mid 1950s. But the more I think about it, it wasn't this "Mississippi" rhyme with the crooked letter and hump back words that I remember chanting. Instead, I remember kids challenging another kids to spell the word "Mississippi". And when they got to the "i pp" part, we'd laugh because they were admitting that they pee peed (urinated)- which everyone knows that everyone does but you're not supposed to say it in public.

**
Example #3: Mississippi!!!!!!



Amber Myrrh , Uploaded on Sep 22, 2011

LYRICS:
M I
crooked letter, crooked letter
I
crooked letter, crooked letter
I
humpback, humpback
I
-snip-
In this video Amber Myrrh said that this was called "The Mississippi song".
-snip-
"M Crooked Letter" appears to have been performed (and may still be performed) as a jump rope rhyme by Black Americans and by non-Black Americans. There's no documentation that would indicate which population first used these lyrics as a jump rope rhyme.

****
A RHYTHM & BLUES EXAMPLE
Case - Crooked Letter



Czudar Attila , Published on Mar 8, 2013

M I crooked letter, crooked letter I
I think I wanna hump that I
M I crooked letter, crooked letter I
I think I wanna hump that I
M I crooked letter, crooked letter I
I think I wanna hump that I
M I crooked letter, crooked letter I
I think I wanna hump that I

Can I call you on the phone
I don't wanna be alone
I think about you morning, noon and night
I long to hold you tight
I need you here tonight
Cause only I can rock your body right

[Repeat 1]

Now that I got you here
Lady have no fear
I got no place to go
Let's get down here on the floor
Let's sip a little more Moet
You ain't seen nothing yet
I'm gonna give you something that you won't forget

[Repeat 1]

This real was in awe by what I saw
So lets bang corners in my Rolex and escape the law
I'm realer then your man
Can plan and understand
You rather kick it with I than he believe in me so
Pay attention bout to rock the spot
Let's take advantage of the time we got
We here for a reason now
So when I close the door
Put yo palms on the floor

[Repeat 1 till end]
-snip-
This song was written by Karlyton Clanton and Tonee Mcclinton.

Instead of the traditional words "hump back", the singer says "I think I wanna hump that". In that context, "hump" means "to have sex with".
-snip-
"Crooked Letter" is featured in Case's album "Open Letter" which was released: April 24, 2001 (USA). The album was recorded: 1999–2001; Genre: R&B.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Letter_(Case_album) Case - Album "Open Letter"

****
HIP HOP EXAMPLES
There are a number of Hip Hop records that are titled "M I Crooked Letter" or "Crooked Letter" and/or include the verse "m i crooked letter i etc." or part of that verse. Since these examples all contain profanity and a form of the n word, I'm not including any links.

One example of those songs is Outkast's "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik" in their 1994 debut album. That song begins with the lyrics "Well its the m i crooked letter coming around the south/Rollin straight hammers and vogues in that old southern slouch".

Boo Rossini feat. Big K.R.I.T.'s "M I Crooked Letter" is another example of Hip Hop songs that include the "M i crooked letter i" lyrics. That record was released May 12th, 2011.

Here's the Chorus for that song
"Do it for the South you’re my crooked letter, crooked letter I
Rip it till I die, I do it for the state

you’re my crooked letter, crooked letter I,
rip it till I die, I put it in their face
you’re my crooked letter, crooked letter I
rip it till I die, I do it for him, I do it for her,
I do it for y’all, I do it for us.
We’re all we got.

Source: http://www.songlyrics.com/big-k-r-i-t/mi-crooked-letter-lyrics/#Gv7DgB1ohXMv9sx0.99
-snip-
"Rip" here probably means "rep" (as in "represent")

****
Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment