“Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)” by UGK & Outkast

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In a song that features André 3000 at his most inventive, Pimp C at his most quotable, Bun B making the promises of a travel agent, and Big Boi offering a brief sex-ed lesson, all blended seamlessly with the undeniable joy of Willie Hutch’s 1973 “I Choose You,” it’s damn near impossible for anything individual to stand out. And yet, whenever I listen to this song (which is a lot), I always find myself most in awe of André’s poetic dexterity. It’s a verse in two voices, with André announcing to his ex that he is engaged, and a friend trying to persuade him to reconsider. It’s unique within the song because of its steady devotion to monogamy, but what’s impressive is the wordplay present in the message. Homophones and double entendres abound. After texting his ex the big news, he says, “Then I CC’d every girl that I’d see see round town.” Later he raps, “I’m so like a Pip, I’m glad it’s night / So the light from the sun would not burn me on my bum / when I shoot the moon, high jump the broom / like a preemie out the womb, my partner yelling ‘too soon.’” In what is quite possibly the most perfect rap song ever recorded, André’s verse shines and grounds the song in a loving fidelity that recalls Hutch’s original. “Keep your heart,” André’s friend advises, but this song already has mine.

-Shane Lake

LAKEShane Lake is a teacher and writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in New Ohio Review, Indiana Review, Narrative, Cimarron Review, Third Coast, and Hardwood Paroxysm.

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