254 - Ludacris' Rap Map of US Area Codes
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
“I’m a female and a feminist. I dislike the usage of the word ‘ho’. However, as a geography major, I find this song hilarious, and had to map it,” says Stefanie Gray, referring to ‘Area Codes’ by the rap artist Ludacris.
Rap, for those less familiar with the term, is a genre in which the rhythmic delivery of rhyme and wordplay constitutes the main element of the music. Rap relates to singing as racewalking relates to running – but that’s just my inexpert opinion.
Rap music has been criticised for its content, which often consists of crude and ludicrous bragging about the rapper’s lyrical, financial, criminal, physical and sexual prowess. ‘Area Codes’ could be considered as an example of this phenomenon, sometimes referred to as gangsta rap:
“I’ll jump off the G4, we can meet outside/So control your hormones and keep your drawers on/’Til I close the door and I’m jumping your bones/3-1-2′s, 3-1-3′s (oh), 2-1-5′s, 8-0-three’s (oh)/Read your horoscope and eat some horderves (sic)/Ten on pump one, these hoes is self serve/7-5-7, 4-1-0′s, my cell phone just overloads.”
“In this song, Ludacris brags about the area codes where he knows women, whom he refers to as ‘hoes’,” says Ms Gray, who plotted out all the area codes mentioned in this song on a map of the United States. She arrived at some interesting conclusions as to the locations of this rapper’s preferred female companionship:
Ludacris is not deterred by clever and/or strong women? The concept of Ludacris’ song reminds me a bit of ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’ by Johnny Cash, which, come to think of it, probably shares some subtext with ‘Area Codes’.
Map kindly provided by Stefanie Gray.
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