4 Jan 2008
The Phylogeny of “Dollar Bill Y’All”
Here is a phylogeny of the meme “Dollar Bill Y’All.” If you are aware of an appearance of this meme that I’ve overlooked or omitted, I want to know about it; please leave a reference in the comments.
- 1983 — Jimmy Spicer, “Money (Dollar Bill Y’All)” (mp3) The single that started it all. It’s extremely simple and repetitive, but infectious, with a synthesizer making beeps and a voice saying “Dollar bill y’all, Dollar bill y’all, Dollar-dollar-dollar-dollar Dollar bill y’all.” Who would have expected the phrase to have such resonance?
- 1993 — Wu-Tang Clan, “C.R.E.A.M.” (mp3) From Wu-Tang Clan’s seminal debut LP, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The chorus goes, “Cash rules everything around me/ C.R.E.A.M./ Get the money/ Dollar dollar bill y’all.” Wu-Tang Clan have always been critical darlings and are hugely influential. I believe all subsequent iterations of the “dollar bill y’all” meme to be spawned by 1993’s C.R.E.A.M., not the 1983 Jimmy Spicer single.
- 1997 — Nu-metal artists Limp Bizkit release an LP entitled Three Dollar Bill Yall$.
- 1997 — Coolio performs a cover version of Jimmy Spicer’s “Money (Dollar Bill Y’All)” on a compilation album called In Tha Beginning… There Was Rap (a collection of old-school rap standards covered by current rap artists).
- 1998 — R&B artist R. Kelly releases a double-LP entitled R., on which Disc Two, Track Four is “Dollar Bill,” which contains the lyrics “The dollar bill/ Dollar bill y’all, dollar bill y’all, dollar bill y’all.”
- 2001 — Ice Cube releases a “Greatest Hits” album, which contains a song called “$100 Bill Y’All.”
- 2007 — Swizz Beatz releases “It’s Me Bitches”, which contains a direct reference to Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” — “Ring the alarm, man/ Call me the sandman/ When I drop beats I’m the one-man band, man/ Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M., Get the money, dollar dollar bills y’all/ Fuck it.”
- 2007 — Wyclef Jean‘s album Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant has a hit single (featuring guest appearances by Akon, Lil Wayne, and Niia), entitled “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill).” The song contains a direct reference to Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” — “See, I’m-a tell ya/ Like Wu told me/ Cash rules everything/ Around me/ Singin’ dollar, dollar bill y’all/ Dollar dollar bill y’all.“