I Get Around: Tupac vs. The Beach Boys

Arguably the most influential artists in pop and hip-hop, respectively, Brian Wilson and Tupac Shakur each composed smash singles with an identical name, “I Get Around”, and a unifying theme:  Get Ass, Keep Movin’. 

The Brian Wilson-led Beach Boys and the typically-uncredited “Wrecking Crew” gang of studio musicians defined the distinctive sound of 60s California pop.  Nearly 30 years later, Tupac emerged as the most dominant and enduring force of 90’s west coast hip-hop. 

Breaking down the lyrics of both “I Get Around”s, one may conclude that, not only are they titanic displays of braggadocio, they also represent a linear evolution in lyrical frankness.  Take, for example, the seminal passage from the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around”:

“We always take my car cause it’s never been beat.    

And we’ve never missed yet with the girls we meet

None of the guys go steady cause it wouldn’t be right

To leave their best girl home now on Saturday night.”

 

Now, let’s compare that with this integral passage from Tupac’s “I Get Around”:

“Ayo bust it, baby got a problem saying bye bye

Just another hazard of a fly guy

You ask why, my pockets got fatter

Now everybody’s looking for the latter

And ain’t no need in being greedy

If you wanna see me dial the beeper

Number baby when you need me

And I’ll be there in a jiffy

Don’t be picky, just be happy with this quickie

But when you learn, you can’t tie me down

Baby doll, check it out, I get around.”

 

The message in both songs is clear:  The Beach Boys and Tupac are well-off, wildly successful in their sexual enterprising, and unwilling to commit their priceless time and prized genitals to just one girl.  While Tupac’s “Don’t be picky, just be happy with this quickie”, is more overt in its sexual content, it is also more bracingly and endearingly honest than the Beach Boystune.  Tupac’s track feels intrinsically autobiographical, and seemingly refers to his busy recording and traveling schedule, as an addendum to his own desired promiscuity.  The Beach Boys’ “I Get Around”, in contrast, feels more anthemic, a generalized celebration of cool kid culture, rather than an audible snapshot of a young artist enjoying the fleeting temptations of notoriety and financial success. 

The worldview presented in the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” champions the archaic group dynamics of “Entourage”, a prehistoric “bros before hos” mentality buried behind the conceit of not leaving “the best girl home on a Saturday night.”  To the enlightened soul, it comes off as the Beach Boys’ avatars performing charitable works with less desirable females in the interim, whilst ensuring that the alpha target of their sexual desire is properly addressed on Saturday nights.

Tupac’s song somehow manages to celebrate the underlying see ass, get ass impulse of the quintessential male brain, without inherently marginalizing his conquests with a comparison to a more desired mate.  If anything, Tupac himself is the conquest.  “Baby when you need me, I’ll be there in a jiffy” are the words of a man controlled by his ingrained necessity to spread his seed, not a man and his buddies simply amusing themselves with side pieces while they wait on Miss Saturday night. 

Tupac and the Beach Boys both want ass.  Everyone wants ass, or we as human beings, would cease to exist.  But upon close examination, there is certainly a fundamental difference to the artists’ communication of this core tenet of the male beast. The Beach Boys imply that you are not a cool kid unless you’ve got a hot car and a throng of women, and that idealizing their Saturday night siren’s supposed desire to not be left alone, at the expense of the “lesser” females, somehow qualifies as nobility. 

Tupac may refer to a woman as a bitch or a ho in his song, an unfortunate staple in hip-hop, but he never proselytizes behind a veil of insincerity like the Beach Boys do with “it wouldn’t be right” preceding “to  leave the best girl home on a Saturday night”.  Tupac obtains nobility by ignoring its existence.  The rapper just likes procuring quickies and sensual nights of simulated passion on the road.  He hides behind nothing:  “Cause I only got one night in town.  Break out or be clown, baby doll are you down?  I get around.” 

If “I Get Around” was Tupac’s only published work, would one infer that he would also like to find his one, true love?  Is he perhaps a kindred spirit to a young LL Cool J’s breathy, soul-casting coo, “I need love, girl”?  Fuck it, probably.  Regardless, the entirety of Tupac’s verses in “I Get Around” reflect the perks, and perhaps pratfalls, of a lifestyle, while the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” portrays a similar lifestyle as the pinnacle of human existence.

And now, a hypothetical:

Person A is swiping right on Tinder during an airport layover.  He manages to find a match, and after a brief explanation that he is leaving in a few hours, but would certainly fancy a fuck, arranges for a hook-up with a woman “6 miles away”.  He takes an Uber to a Ramada Inn, engages in two brief rounds of furtive intercourse with the stranger, Ubers back to the airport, and hops on his plane to Whereverthefuck. 

Person B is casually dating multiple women in his office building, but only on Sundays through Fridays.  He refuses to offer any of the women a modicum of commitment, and tells them he will never be available on a Saturday night.  Regardless of the relative values of the other women’s character, intelligence, humor, or warmth, Person B decides to reserve Saturday Nights for the hottest-by-consensus-and-therefore-best woman in the same office building.  Not just because he desires this woman more, but out of deference to her projected feelings of not spending a Saturday night alone, as if the “best” woman’s only choices were to wait for Person B to oh-so-nobly rescue her, or stroke her cat as she fills out questions on Match.com.

Person A is Tupac.  Person B, the Beach Boys.  Who’s the asshole?   

tupac

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