5 Things about corn and Eminem (Detroit Free Press)

BY ALEX CRUDEN/FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Detroit’s hip-hop master has a new version of “Jimmy Crack Corn.”

What does it mean?

THE ORIGINAL

A song so old its author is unknown, “Jimmy Crack Corn” was first published around 1846 and is attributed to the Virginia Minstrels, according to Cox News Service.

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Popular versions were recorded by folk stalwarts Pete Seeger and Burl Ives. The song began:

When I was young

I used to wait

on master and

hand him his plate,

pass him the

bottle when he got dry

and brush away

the blue-tail fly.

Jimmy crack corn,

and I don’t care.

Jimmy crack corn,

and I don’t care.

Jimmy crack corn,

and I don’t care.

My master’s gone away.

MEANING?

The Dictionary of American Regional English defines “cracking corn” as snoring, but that doesn’t seem to apply. However, according to Cox, the reference desk at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San Jose, Calif., suggested the real words may be “Gimme cracked corn, and I don’t care.” Cracked corn is another name for whiskey.

NEW TAKE

The Eminem version begins:

Jimmy can crack corn,

but I don’t care

My enemies crack corn,

but I don’t care…

See us on them award shows,

we’re like (Oh yeah)

Can we get more of those,

they’re like (Oh yeah)

See us keep blowin’ up,

we’re like (Oh yeah)

See Jimmy can crack corn

but I don’t care.

CONTEST

Friday is the last day to remix your own version of “Jimmy” and win broadcast fame.

Sirius Satellite Radio is running a contest. Download the vocals-only track, do your own production and send it in as a CD. The winner will be broadcast for two weeks on Eminem’s Sirius hip-hop channel.

Details are at www.sirius.com/shade45.

BACK TO THE BLUES

Another rural phrase found in old songs is “chop cotton.” The meaning of that is clear: thinning the plants.

Back in the day, a farmer would plant a lot of seeds because not all would take. In areas where many cotton plants did spring up, the excess was chopped down with a hoe so the others would grow productively.

So will Eminem be choppin’?

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