Essential Track: Genesis Be’s ‘Tampons & Tylenol’

Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic

This post has been updated. See below for details.

The relentlessly catchy chorus from Genesis Be’s new track “Tampons & Tylenol” isn’t one I expected to be looping in my head all morning. But ever since the Village Voice’s Sound of the City blog posted the video and a Q&A with the Mississippi-born, New York-based rapper, her recently released work has become an earworm obsession.

As witty as it is smart, the track feels like a takedown of all the lunkheaded male posturing that has weighed down the genre over the years, most recently with Kanye West’s base, raw “Yeezus.”


“When she hear this song, make her body wiggle,” Genesis begins, noting a woman’s movement on the dance floor, her allure, the contours of her body, objectifying her just as a dude would. Then, though, the rapper digs into the dancer’s back story, and creates a three-dimensional human: “She got a lotta ass/But also got a lotta class/Work two jobs, go to class.”

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The chorus is pretty simple: a repetition of the line “tampons and Tylenol” while musically, a crawling, minimal trap jam wiggles and pounds around her.

Genesis explained the birth of the title to Sound of the City: “My friend and I were at the convenience store looking for tampons and I was upset that I couldn’t find tampons or Tylenol. Going back and forth, I thought they should just package them together. My friend began singing those words together.”

A year later she and the track’s producer, DJ Goodgoose, worked out the track, in which she dismisses fashion culture, the quest for money and competitive nature of rap culture in a few simple couplets: “shine without a name brand/cool without the ice/these boys don’t want to battle/’cause they hear I’m super nice.”

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The best verse, though, is the last, in which Genesis dives into the topic of the title: “I don’t like to waste time, no need for a Rolex/I’d rather spend my money on some Tylenol and Kotex.” She boasts that her music “make the speakers bleed -- I think they need a tampon,” and unveils a choice metaphor: “They say my flow’s heavy so I guess I need a tampon.”

The track has too much cussing to embed, but you can listen to it on YouTube.

Update, June 22, 11:30 a.m.: Genesis Be has released a clean version of “Tampons & Tylenol.” You can listen to it below.


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Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit