lyrics to go (part 6 of 7) “trouble is”

It contributes greatly towards a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate. – nathaniel hawthorne

just this week, i’ve had the tremendous pleasure of reviewing the final cut of our first music video. the decision to use trouble is as the lead single for Tobacco Road came after a circular process of parleying; it was, from the beginning, the foundation for the LP’s agri-centric concept, but when prospects of distribution for TR grew dimmer, the song became the core of an idea that rapidly developed into BPW. it wasn’t until promotional work for TR began that i started to regret the decision to include it on both projects. by that time the song had become old and uninspiring to me, and despite the pleas of a gathered mass, assembled over barbecued burgers and hot dogs for the purpose of assisting us in the selection process, i had no interest in using trouble is for a video.

in the end it was zia who convinced me. you have to give credence to an opinion formed during a deliberate, 27-hour musical fast of sorts, in a honda accord en route from seattle to phoenix, during which time no song was played that cannot be found on Tobacco Road. the kid had a vision, and he sold me on it.

the most intriguing aspect of this process, for me, has been the evolution of the storytelling from written/spoken word into visual depiction. it was enough of a challenge to articulate the summation of my experience with the town’s hiphop scene in a metaphorical folk tale, harder still to explain to zia how i thought the visual representation would best serve the point. in the end i am beyond satisfied; i can’t wait for you all to see it. here are a few stills from the shoot, including a couple of screen grabs to show you what we’re workin’ with:















…Service, work it

The vagrant came upon a plot, shop – set it down
Found vacant, he gon’ make it into something better now (1)
Barn hand, conversant in farm land, planted seven rows (2)
Will it ever grow? Heaven only knows, though he’s
Hopeful, never boastful about the ethic (3)
Set it deep into the earth, work and serve, all the rest let it
Come or not, hot summer sun, son – bumper crop (4)
Over night, or so some thought (now they’re talkin’ that)

What you really did to get this windfall, spendin’ all year estranged? (5)
Better not be mystical, typically the criminals here they hang (6)
Aint nobody ever seen you cultivate, rake or till, ya dig?
Take a lot to win a pot, wanna pay the rate? The stakes raised, you bid? (7)
In or out, what the men around here ‘bout, finna count a pound of cheese
Double down, you intend to win the prize, otherwise bounce and leave ( 8 )
We don’t care where you came from, since day one seen the game constructed
We gon’ watch it all fall, frauds claim to save it in the name of love? Nuh uh. (9)

Bubble, fizz – what the trouble is?
This is hustle biz – what the trouble is?
A couple kids – what the trouble is?
Muzzle ripped, tell ‘em what the trouble is, come on now

Trouble is love don’t want you, boy, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you, baby, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you, no, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you here

Not one to gamble, lit the Camel, took a long drag
Sat back and blew, inside he knew these folks had gone mad (10)
Through the smoke proposed a wager: tails, you can take my fields
Heads, you accept my station; they deliberated, deal! (11)
Coin turned for what seemed like eternity, slow breath
Some folks wept and fretted while the peasant never broke a sweat (12)
Confident he had ‘em in the talisman’s descent
By the time they shouted “TAILS,” he done packed his bags and went (13)

Best never try to test the vets, you wanna settle? Better pay your dues (14)
To the boss you done lost your crops, in one toss I’ll take your food (15)
Better be gone, set about and keep on a boulevard towards the boat
Ever come back get about a ton of that d-CON down your throat
In the meantime we find these fine fruits do quench a thirst (16)
And for pay we may persuade and convince some of these men to work (17)
In the end we sup and supplement the income caught in the trap ( 18 )
We must be blessed, best of all – that farmer’s gone, thank God for that (19)

Double-dipped – what the trouble is?
That’s hustle biz – what the trouble is?
A couple kids – what the trouble is?
Knuckle, fist, tell ‘em what the trouble is, come on now

Trouble is love don’t want you, boy, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you, baby, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you, no, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you here

1) well, vacant may be a slight exaggeration, but when it came time for me to do me i definitely found a void i thought i could fill. just like the vagrant, it was never my intention to blow somebody else’s spot – i was good to work the plot i came up on.

2) seven rows = seven tracks, a reference to apostrophe, the EP.

3) among the first five comments on my myspace page (est. early 05) was a nod from the young homie marc sense expressing appreciation for my humility. unfortunately, i let the comment go to my head.

4) bumper crop = bumbershoot, and other such measurements of accomplishment as perceived by the townsfolk.

5) ironically, the same people askin’ “who is this motherfucker all up in the stranger/on the cover of seattle sound/playing showbox (no sodo)/headlining benefits/blahblahblah?” are the same motherfuckers i tried introducing myself to six years ago. c’est la vie.

6) witchcraft and sorcery, the only logical explanation for fruits without labor. in seattle, as in salem, folks don’t take too kindly to the necromantic.

7) observe how the antagonists flip it, insisting the only way to “win” is to play the game (as opposed to working).

8 ) the ultimatum: put it all on the line or pack it up and go home.

9) i come from a long, long line of uncompromising, bull-headed dimwits who can’t see the fucking forest for the trees (not you, mom), but these “i’d rather the whole world think there’s no such thing as seattle hiphop than think that common market is what seattle hiphop sounds like” types take the cake.

10) agreeing to play along doesn’t necessarily mean you agree to play by the rules.

11) this is the farmer’s counter-offer; he’s all in, and if he looses they can grab the land, crops and all. but if he wins, they agree to accept him for who he is; a simple farmer who has, in fact, worked to produce every benefit. stakes is high.

12) in the heat of the moment, the townsfolk are nervous, while the farmer remains calm, cool and collected. this should give you a pretty good idea of who has more at risk.

13) tails it is. big bank take little bank (i see you, skizzle). but who really wins? more importantly, has anybody lost?

14) typical town rhetoric.

15) LOL @ “boss”-types braggin’ about their luck.

16) the fulfillment of purpose; the plan all along was to raise crops for the benefit of the entire community. good god – is any of this making sense?!?

17) one of the most significant lines in the whole song. as they enjoy the benefits of someone else’s work, the townspeople contemplate hiring laborers to maintain the field, all the while failing to realize they’ve driven out the most qualified candidate.

18 ) an honest living will forever be seen as an alternative to easy money.

19) irony here, too, in the motivation for giving thanks to god. dig deep.



  1. I’m glad Zia had the vision of “trouble is” for your video, as it is one of my favorite songs. I am excited to see the end product of the video! Keep doing what you do, thanks for creating the music!


    thanks for representing bro. we appreciate it.

    – Casual Family

  3. You ever put up lyrics to Back Home? If not, i think you should…i give you a doller. Thats probably my favorite cut off the album.

    …i have a belly button.

  4. Yo your lyrics are real…if stop by Virginia Tech you got fans!

  5. […] lyrics along with notes, generously letting us in to the backstage of his brain. Here’s his “lyrics to go” for “Trouble Is.” Helpful, yes, but still mostly […]

  6. […] a rapper with so much on his mind that his lyrics literally required hip-hop Cliff’s Notes (which he occasionally provided on his blog). CM’s self-titled debut, on the other hand, was of more manageable length and should now be […]

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