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A Line-by-Line (ish) Defense of Jagged Edge's 'Let's Get Married'

Illustration for article titled A Line-by-Line (ish) Defense of Jagged Edges Lets Get Married
Photo: Paras Griffin (Getty images for Black Music Honors)

Ever since the first Verzuz “battle” popped off, the social medias have been aflutter with discussions of which artists would make for a good head-to-head battle. Suggestions, both good and terrible, seem to be what social media was built to amplify. Well, after the last “battle” between Ludacris, Nelly and Nelly’s WiFi connection, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland made mention of a battle between 112 and Jagged Edge. While many folks might not get the significance of this, this Battle for Atlanta is one many of us would love to see, namely because people have such strong opinions in favor of one group of the other. I’m a Jagged Edge guy, even going so far as to make the case for why Jagged Edge is a better group, from top to bottom, than 112 many moons ago. Mind you, I’m a fan of both groups but Jagged Edge speaks more to my sensibilities.

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Any discussion about Jagged Edge almost always leads to a mention of their omnipresent wedding jam, “Let’s Get Married,” the remix of which has been played at every single wedding I’ve been to as an adult. Though the song’s remix (it features the group singing the lyrics over Run-DMC’s “It’s Like That” instrumental with a guest verse from Reverend Run) isn’t necessarily an anthem—nobody is making it part of the soundtrack for a movement or their life, it’s just a great remix—no discussion of “Let’s Get Married” is complete without a discussion of just how much people hate it as a love song, or a song in general.

Except me. I’m not people. I won’t pretend that it’s a song that belongs on a list with greatest love songs of all time or anything, but I do think the song gets a tremendously bad wrap, largely because of one line sung in the chorus, “we ain’t gettin’ no younger, girl, we might as well do this.” Now, despite the fact that Las Vegas has made an entire wedding industry out of this mantra, to place it in song is a no no. But I do think the lyric gets taken out of context. So today, we will contextualize it in relation to the whole song.

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Also, while you’re here, I think the people who hate this song are the kinds of people who also hate Baby Boy, mostly because many of us like to believe relationships like Jody and Yvette don’t exist (patently false) or if you do believe they exist (they do), you don’t believe they should be given time on screen (the most likely scenario). I happen to love Baby Boy, just for the record, and also think that while probably unromantic, more than a few marriage proposals include less than idyllic language. Shit, the years don’t work, but I can see Jody dedicating “Let’s Get Married” to Yvette, her laughing it off (because if said right, it’s quite comical), them getting married and living their hood love forever. Point is, just because it isn’t beautiful doesn’t make it trash. Also, I think it’s really just a love song from a man’s point of view and sometimes it isn’t pretty, even if the outcome is.

Let’s dig in. Lyrics courtesy of whoever provides Google search with lyrics. Lyrics in italics in bold, commentary...not.

See first of all

We’re already starting strong by acknowledging that we’re at the beginning of the song.

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I know these so-called playas wouldn’t tell you this

This is both a line that implies some level of honesty no other man would proffer while also separating himself from the so-called playas. He’s a real playa from the Himalayas. This is important because it means his realizations and growth were more substantial than a so-called playa.

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But I’ma be real and say what’s on my heart

He’s about to keep it 100, and speak from the heart. It would be disingenuous of me to not acknowledge that those two lines could be the set up for some bullshit. But he could also just be inarticulate.

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Let’s take this chance and make this love feel relevant

Didn’t you know I loved you from the start, yeah

This to me sounds like what happens when a guy looks around and realizes, you know what, I love you and always have, let’s bet on us! Let go and let love. It’s beautiful really.

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When I think about all these years we put in this relationship

Who knew we’d make it this far?

What couple, who has been together for a long time, hasn’t had one of those, “can you believe we made it this long?” convos? My wife and I have definitely had them.

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When I think about where we would I be if we were to just fall apart

And I just can’t stand the thought of leaving you

I mean he’s laying his soul out here. He realizes he can’t live without her (in the metaphorical sense, natch) and he knows better than to go anywhere.

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Let’s stop here for a second. That whole first verse is about love from a very male point of view, which I think is what gets lost on a lot of people. A lot of men do have moments of realization that push them in a certain matrimonial direction. It might not be pretty, per se, or a version of love or getting married that is pure poetry. Sometimes, it’s just a collection of sentences.

Let’s continue. The hook:

Meet me in the altar in your white dress

We ain’t getting no younger, we might as well do it

Been feeling it all the while girl I must confess

Girl let’s just get married

I just wanna get married

Okay, so here’s where I think it’s safe to say most people locate their hatred for the song. Admittedly, “we ain’t getting no younger, we might as well do it” sounds like, “fuck it, we’ve been here this long, we might as well.” But allow me an alternative spin on this. When guys talk about getting married, I can’t tell you how many involve the question, “I mean, where are you going? If you ain’t going nowhere, marry her. You aren’t getting younger, bro. Settle down, it’s better for your health.” Again, it’s not pretty, but it’s real. What is implied is the idea that marrying her isn’t about her, but him, and the truth is it’s both. He wants to marry her in this scenario, and for him, he’s come to the realization that it’s something he can do, wants to do, and is willing to do, and hopes she wants to do the same, with her and her only. Most people in relationships want to feel wanted, he wants to be with her. It’s essentially the crux of doing something with intentionality. Again, Jody would say this.

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Meet me in the altar in your white dress

We ain’t getting no younger, we might as well do it

Been feeling all the while girl I must confess

Let’s just get married

Baby lets get married

We’ve been over this.

Said I done it all

But frankly girl I’m tired of this emptiness

He realizes that what he was doing didn’t help him be a better man.

I wanna come home to you and only you

‘Cause making love to just anyone ain’t happening

I just gotta be with you

This isn’t some admission of cheating left and right, it’s just, again, a realization: that while having the ability to sleep with anybody sounds great in a non-committal way, the truth is, the connection he has with her is the one he wants. As Jay-Z said, it’s just different.

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Do you think about us finishing something we started so long ago?

I wanna give you my all

Of course, she does. If they’ve been together long enough for length of time to be worth mentioning, she probably thinks about both marriage and leaving him.

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Do you think about, us maybe having some babies?

Come on won’t you be my lady forever, yeah

Naturally.

I’m ready to commit to you

And I just can’t wait for that night

‘Cause I need you here with me

And let’s start a family

He’s all in. He hopes that she is, too.

So yeah, it’s not perfect. It’s a little clumsy, but it’s biggest crime is its commitment to honesty from many men’s point of view. And in that sense, it’s wildly accurate.

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The defense rests.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

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DISCUSSION

feministonfire
FeministOnFire

“...I think the people who hate this song are the kinds of people who also hate Baby Boy, mostly because..relationships like Jody and Yvette...should [NOT] be shown on screen...”

Half right. I like the remix beat but I hate Hate HATE that it’s a blatant manipulation of the emotions young Black women feel knowing the low Black marriage statistics BECAUSE they have likely witnessed first-hand the deplorable, despicable, triflin’ness of Jody types!

We haven’t had enough good-quality, realistic Black stories about working-class and middle-class Black folk that we can afford to have that below-the-gutter, unredemptive bullshit broadcast across the universe.