Sporty Thievz Steal Hip-Hop Airwaves With 'No Pigeons'

Song, currently #1 rap track in U.S., counters TLC's man-bashing hit, 'No Scrubs.'

The first time King Kirk of the Yonkers, N.Y., hip-hop threesome Sporty

Thievz heard the song "No Scrubs" by R&B group TLC early this year, he

was struck by the melody and enjoyed the music.

But when he really listened to the song's male-bashing words, he got the

idea for a musical rejoinder that would become a hit single and generate

exposure for his group.

"It was kind of hard on the fellas, because 'No Scrubs'


excerpt) was killing us," Kirk, 24, said Tuesday. "We was on a

page like we need to [respond]."

The result was "No Pigeons" (RealAudio

excerpt), a rap single that quotes from "No Scrubs" and jokes as

pointedly about women as the TLC song does about men.

"No Pigeons" was already popular on hip-hop radio and was a known

commodity in hip-hop circles before it was released commercially as a

single last week by Columbia Ruffhouse Records. It jumped from #17 last

week to #1 on Billboard's rap chart this week and is now at #16

on the Billboard Hot 100.

Tracy Cloherty, program director for New York hip-hop radio station WQHT-FM,

known to listeners as Hot 97, said she is playing the song about 40

times a week, which puts it on "the high end" of the station's playlist.

"Basically, it's funny," she said. "It's just an answer record like

other answer records."

One such record came out last year, when rappers LL Cool J and Canibus

engaged in a brief lyrical feud, with Canibus offering "2nd Round K.O."

and LL Cool J responding with "The Ripper Strikes Back." The Sporty

Thievz single differs in that it mimics the original even more closely,

both in lyrical structure and in the chorus' melody.

"A scrub is a guy that thinks he's fine/ And is also known as a buster/

Always talkin' about what he wants/ And just sits on his broke ass,"

TLC's Rozonda "Chili" Thomas sings at the beginning of "No Scrubs."

The Sporty Thievz version responds, "A pigeon is a girl who go walking

by/ My rimmed-up blue brand-new sparklin' five/ Her feet hurt so you

know she wants a ride/ But she's fronting like she can't say 'Hi.' "

"I don't want no scrub/ A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me,"

TLC sing in their chorus.

"I don't want no pigeons/ Them be them girls who gets no dubs from me,"

Kirk rhymes in his chorus.

A spokesperson for LaFace Records, TLC's label, said the group was

unavailable for comment on the parody.

Kirk formed Sporty Thievz in 1996 with Big Dubez, 23, and a 20-year-old

rapper who goes by the name Marlon Brando. (It's the band's policy not

to reveal the members' birth names, Kirk explained.)

According to Kirk, "No Pigeons" has helped fuel a good-natured battle of

the sexes between his group and its female fans and friends.

"Ninety-five percent of the response is love," Kirk said. "You got women

coming up to us saying, 'How can you call us pigeons?' But if you ain't

a pigeon, then you got nothing to f---ing complain about.

"We get all types of feedback," he continued. "They laugh. They got to

just laugh. Women know when they reach pigeon status. At clubs, they're

screaming off [the] top of [their] lungs, because they know what they


To Kirk, calling a woman a pigeon is worse than calling her a chicken,

because, he said, chicken in most ways "is good. If you're going to call

them a bird, it's gotta to be the worst bird."

"No Pigeons" has been added to current pressings of the 1998 Sporty

Thievz album, Street Cinema, which includes "Cheapskate," the

song that first introduced the pigeon reference. Kirk said the group

tried to create a little movie on each song. On "Aquamen," the subject

is a botched underwater cocaine theft.

The movie-scenario album "was a hard [idea] to sell," said Kirk. But he

added that the success of "No Pigeons" leaves the group with a sense of

accomplishment, that they've built enough of a following among hip-hop

fans to avoid one-hit-wonder status.

"People [in hip-hop] know our history," Kirk said with pride.

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