Wednesday, September 24, 2014

he's not actually a REAL professor, you know

You know that thing where you think you've thought of a great thing, and you discover just after putting it on Twitter that you're, like, the millionth person to think of it and imagine they were the first. So before you tweet "hey, war doesn't determine who's RIGHT, just who's LEFT, amirite?! #iraq" maybe just check how original that thought is, to avoid embarrassment.

So I wonder what went through lanky rap guy Professor Green's mind while he was thinking up a title for his new album, and deciding on Growing Up In Public. I mean, I can see that the phrase has a nice sort of self-deprecating ring to it: yeah, I did some crazy shit, but I was young, and now I've mellowed and grown as a person, and - hey - in a very real sense we've been on a journey together, you and me, so you should probably continue that journey by buying my new album.

But a moment's Googling will reveal that this is a title that's been used for a number of works of art in various media over the years, very possibly with each person using it congratulating themselves on thinking up the phrase for the first time in the history of humanity and being far too excited to get on and use it to bother checking whether it really was all that original.

The alternative explanation is that the Prof knew all about the other uses and was entirely relaxed, nay, enthused, even, about giving his hard-hitting rap album the same name. Study the list below and see how plausible you think that is:
  • Lou Reed seems to have coined the phrase, or at least its usage as a title of a work, in 1980 by using it as the title of a solo album;
  • Jimmy Nail followed suit in 1992, using it as the proper title of the solo album most people probably know as "the one with Ain't No Doubt on it";
  • I was going to add: Geri Halliwell also used the title for a volume of autobiography, as I was absolutely convinced that I'd seen such a book in the shops, many years ago now. However, I'm forced to conclude that I imagined the whole thing, since the two volumes listed on Wikipedia are called If Only and Just For The Record. Searching elsewhere on the web draws a blank as well;
  • It was used as the title of a 2000 album by Irish electronic musician Donnacha Costello;
  • It was also used as the title of a 2012 album by Flemish boyband 3M8S (you see what they did there; also, yes, Flemish boybands are apparently a thing).

It's a phrase that crops up in various other places too: it's the title of a chapter section of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, and it's used a headline in this Independent article about Richard Linklater's film Boyhood and this old Melody Maker article about Depeche Mode. The earliest citation I can find is this alleged quote by former teenage film star Annette Funicello.

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