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Top 40 Philosophy: Flo Rida, “G. D. F. R.”

Posted in Life

Yesterday, I pointed out how the instrument I generally loathe — the saxophone — has made a comeback in the 2010s. The 80s were the decade of the saxophone. Well, okay, it was the decade of the synth. And of the mullet. And of shoulder pads and neon colors and pants with waists so high you didn’t even have to wear a shirt.

But saxophone solos were all over the place in pop music back then. Thankfully, that trend seemed to die out as the 90s wore on, though in 90s Christian pop music many a guitar solo was replaced by a saxophone solo in the “radio edit version.” I found this enraging.

I discovered in college, however, that I really liked saxophones in jazz. I didn’t like them in wind bands (I played in one in high school as well as in Messiah College’s Symphonic Winds) particularly, but in jazz they were great.

And since roughly 2011, pop musicians have figured out how to use saxophones in a way that I actually like. Yesterday, we did Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty.” Today, we’ll do the next pop song to copy “Talk Dirty’s” Middle Eastern saxophone riff style: “G. D. F. R.,” by Flo Rida, ft. Sage the Gemini. (This song made it to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.)

I find that video a confusing mix of women’s empowerment and objectification. So, let’s talk about the lyrics. I guess.

Yesterday we discussed the difference between conventional and natural signs, and pointed out that Jason Derulo evidently believes a particular part of the human anatomy to belong to the latter category. Today we see once again why the idea of a natural sign would be so appealing to philosophers of language.

“G. D. F. R.” stands for “Going Down For Real.” The term “going down,” when applied to an passenger jet, is not a good thing. When it is metaphorically applied to a public figure (e.g., a politician), it similarly implies disaster.

However, when an event “goes down,” that means it happens, or becomes actual. An event that has “gone down” has occurred. It has shifted from being potential to being actual. And, for whatever reason, the term is usually a positive one when applied to events. Usually, the person who says that something is “going down” is excited about this fact.


There may be something deep here. The shift — from potentiality to actuality — is huge in Aristotelian metaphysics. And Plato and Aristotle both saw themselves as seeking knowledge of reality. Only what is real can be known, they argued, and knowledge is important because in it you get ahold of what is real.

Reality is huge in contemporary pop music. There’s no bigger compliment you can give someone (usually yourself) than to say she or he is “real,” and no bigger insult than to say she or he is “fake.” I’m going to do a whole series on that soon. But if you’ve heard any amount of pop music recently, you know what I mean. You’d think reality was happiness itself — the ultimate goal of life.

Fortunately for us, then, what is going down is doing so “for real,” according to Sage the Gemini. This is not a fake, or merely apparent occurrence (whatever it is). It is “for true.”


So, with G. D. F. R., we have at least two philosophical issues. The first is the problem of “equivocation” — the fact that one word or phrase can have multiple (and even opposite) meanings. The second is the fact that reality, for some reason, is something that humans generally think is very important.

But why do we think that? What’s so great about reality? (That’s not a rhetorical question. It’s something to actually — “really”? — ponder.)

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