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#ThemeSongTuesday (5/31/16): A Crash Course In Basic Thuganomics

There are many ways one can reach a significant level of popularity in today's culture. You can star in movies, be the protagonist of a TV show, make music, or the Generation Y shortcut: go viral and achieve meme-hood. A true superstar, in every sense of the word, looks at the metaphorical menu of fame and orders one of everything. John Cena is an example of that true superstar.

Appearing in over ten feature films, several TV shows (including being the protagonist of first SmackDown! then RAW for what feels like over a decade), and his own rap album that debuted at #15 on the Billboard Hot 200 are just a few of the accomplishments you can add to Cena’s ever-growing list, but none are as important to the internet as “Unexpected Cena.” The horns blare and his music plays on, but what lies beyond those short 15 seconds? A full song, apparently!

John Cena makes his entrance to the tune of “The Time Is Now”, his 2nd and current theme song. The rap track was written and performed by Cena, featuring his first cousin Marc Predka a.k.a. Tha Trademarc, who also takes production and writing credits. Think Roman Reigns and the Rock, except they’re actually cousins!

Despite being completely synonymous with the image of John Cena and WWE, the only parts of “The Time Is Now’ originally from Cena’s brain are its lyrics. The instantaneously recognizable horn section was sampled from Pete Schofield and The Canadians’ rendition of “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia.” The final ten seconds of the instrumental were taken for the theme’s opening build-up with the rest of the opening horns looped over and over.

As for the integral PRRRRRRRAPPADOOOOO! that bridges the beat drop in? They sampled M.O.P.’s “Ante Up.”

The lyrical content is straightforward basic hype-rap. Unsurprisingly, bars that scream out “I’m the best and I take all my competition down” parallels John Cena’s unstoppable booking.

“I got my soul straight, I brush your mouth like Colgate”

An unsettling image of John Cena brushing my teeth for me pops into my head, but reminding children to brush their teeth helps that PG Era image push, too!

As opposed to having it debut on WrestleMania 21, the theme was first used a few weeks before in an episode of SmackDown! where Cena, along with Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio, took on JBL & the Basham Brothers in a 6-Man tag team match.

Since then, “The Time Is Now” has become less of a theme song and more of a reaction cue to the audience and viewers at home. As soon as you hear the opening slowly fill the room and make its presence, you already know who’s coming out. The only choice left is: boo or cheer?

Now the Doctor of Thuganomics didn’t get his degree overnight. Way before his time was now, many days and nights were spent studying for his Ph.D. in “Basic Thuganomics”, which also happens to be one of his rap creations and John Cena’s debut WWE theme.

Before Superman became Superman, he was a white rapper that spoke in rhymes to diss his opponents. In lieu of his cape—a.k.a. the “Never Give Up” flag—he donned a silver chain with a huge padlock, which he’d sometimes wrap around his fist to get a win over his opponents. Now this isn’t exactly the Eat-Your-Vegetables John Cena we know and love to hate today, but he was a different man back then. He literally cheated his way to his first WrestleMania and title win.

As far as song quality goes, “Basic Thuganomics” has more of an underground hip-hop feel and is generally received better than “The Time Is Now.” Tha Trademarc is also on the track to feature and produce, while Cena admittedly spits some sick bars in his opening verse, dropping lines that are somewhat prophetic of his future in the WWE:

“The raw rhymer, turnin' legends to old-timers
My incisors like a viper bitin' through your one-liners
New DeadMan Inc., and we about to make you famous
Takin' over Earth and still kickin' in Uranus”

A subconscious reference to the show in which he dominated for some time, a man who would later become a major rival, potentially the man who he will send off, and a Uranus joke?! Damn, Cena. With global warming looming over us, the world can only handle so much fire.

We can rally for “Basic Thuganomics” to come back as current Cena’s theme all we want since it is the better theme, but that would be like asking the Undertaker to come out riding his motorcycle again. Personal preference aside, that’s just not who he is anymore. Cena’s traded in the chain and brass knuckles for the cape and shining morals. He no longer leads a chain gang, but a nation with rules and regulations. Only one line of “Basic Thuganomics” remains true with his Cena’s character today:

“I'm untouchable but I'm forcin' you to feel me”

What do you think of John Cena’s theme songs? Let us know in the comments below!


When he isn't writing Smark Henry's #ThemeSongTuesday column, Lorenzo Magnaye hosts the #HomeRun on 99.5 PlayFM. It's a good thing, too, since his childhood consisted mostly of watching professional wrestling and listening to his parents on the radio. He's only recently rekindled his love for the WWE, and has been trying to make up for missing out on everything post-WrestleMania XX by praying to Seth Rollins thrice a day. Follow him on Twitter: @RenzoSaurus!

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