“Pick It Up” by Redman serves as a bold declaration of his place in the hip-hop world and its trappings. With a keen mix of gritty street tales, braggadocio-laden lines, and heavy doses of humor, Redman explores themes of survival, street credibility, and the unapologetic claim of his urban identity.
The track kicks off with a repetitive refrain of “Pick it up, pick it up,” which subtly speaks to the grind and hustle embedded in hip-hop culture, emphasizing the necessity of seizing opportunities (‘picking up’). Redman further colorizes this theme with a quipping line about finding a bag of weed – a nod to street life and counterculture.
As Redman boasts about his lyrical prowess, he cheekily addresses the critics who claim he’s changed his style, affirming that he’s remained true to his original aesthetic. He adds, “Shut the fuck up, ya still a dick-ridah”, breaking down the tension between an artist’s creative evolution and the audience’s nostalgic attachment to their early work, while also discrediting bandwagon fans.
Redman then drops shout-outs to his Brick City roots, solidifying his allegiance to Newark, New Jersey, while also giving props to his crew, the Def Squad, and their collective dominance in the game. This is about more than just geography though; it speaks to the integral role of community and camaraderie in shaping the dynamics of hip-hop. “Brick City runs shit” is a testament to the city’s influence on his music and persona.
In verses about “MC’s on my balls” and “MC’s, I love it that you hate us,” Redman pushes back against other rappers who may try to bring him down or imitate his style. He’s eluding to the competitiveness and ego-driven disputes often found in hip-hop, expressing his disdain for those who lack originality.
Moreover, the lines “I don’t tote guns I tote funds” and “Your whole vocabulary’s played out, admit it” underscores Redman’s confidence in his lyrical dexterity as his true weapon, and allows him to assert his financial success without resorting to violence.
The closing verses of “Pick It Up” have Redman speaking on his success in the industry, indicating that while he may be criticized, he’s still being booked by promoters, suggesting that his skills are undeniably potent. The repeated reference to “Fly shit on deck” solidifies Redman’s self-assured stature in the hip-hop game, asserting he always comes correct with fresh and impressive content.
Overall, “Pick It Up” by Redman is a powerfully clear articulation of an artist claiming his space, flaisting his talent, and painting a raw picture of the reality he came from.