Picture living in a one-bedroom studio in LA. It’s a hot summer day, and you’re going out to Venice Beach to bask in the sun and enjoy the waves.
If you had to pick an artist to blast on such an occasion, who would it be?
Consider Biskwiq. He’s an artist I recently discovered via Spotify’s Discover Weekly. As of June 2021, his top song has 29 million streams. I was genuinely shocked I’d never heard of him before.
As much as I love his music, this post is about the song that got me hooked to his discography. It’s called Cucumber Water.
I fell in love with this song because I believe it makes an important observation that anyone living intentionally should pay attention to.
(You can play it in the background here.)
It starts with this hilarious dialogue from the movie The Other Guys (2010):
God, this water’s good
Terry, have you tried the water?
Shut up, Allen
The cucumber accents the water in such a way that..
When I first heard the sample, I thought it was just silly. It put a smile on my face — few songs do that. The sample made me feel that Biskwiq’s music has an easygoing self-consciousness to it, not to mention a sense of humor.
After an synth-heavy syncopated interlude, something amazing happens at 1:24:
You hear an excerpt of 50 Cent’s In Da Club, starting with its iconic refrain.
It’s your birthday
We gon’ party like it’s yo birthday
We gon’ sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday
And you know we don’t give a fuck
It’s not your birthday!
When I heard this the first time, I was like, this song is fire. I thought Biskwiq paired a classic rap vocal to his instrumental perfectly.
Then I started thinking…
Why would Biskwiq pick 50 Cent? Why pick In Da Club, specifically the chorus and first verse, in a song called Cucumber Water? I believe there are a few possible reasons and it’s open to interpretation. But let’s start with this observation:
Cucumber water is what you’d find in the posh offices of the most powerful corporations in the world: think major record labels, venture capital firms, tech companies, hedge funds, etc.
Some employers in the upper echelons of society provide cucumber water to their employees to incentivize them to show up to the office. After all, cucumber water feels healthy. It tastes fresher than normal filtered water. It has Vitamin E — good for your skin and your Instagram photos. It takes minimal effort to make, and at these posh offices, you are so comfortable that someone else makes it for you.
But, unlike the privileged workers of corporate America, what’s 50 Cent doing? He’s drinking Bacardi and bub’.
Here’s 50’s unforgettable chorus:
You can find me in the club, bottle full of bub’
Mama, got what you need, if you need to feel the buzz
I’m into havin’ sex, I ain’t into makin’ love
So come give me a hug if you into gettin’ rubbed
The uninformed listener might stop here and think 50 Cent is just another rapper boasting about living a sublime party lifestyle. Well, he is, but there’s more to it than that.
Bub’ is short for bubbly, or champagne, the drink of choice for a special occasion. It’s really important to note that 50’s not drinking cucumber water like Terry and Allen— he’s drinking champagne.
I think this sets up an incredible contrast that Biskwiq tries to highlight for his listeners.
The office élite have an endless supply of cucumber water and financial security. Cucumber water people can use their cucumber water money to live with comfort and without purpose. They have privilege hidden in plain sight, and it comes for free.
But bub’, on the other hand, is very different. You literally have to do something worth celebrating in order to justify drinking champagne. Not only do you have to know what you want, but you also have to fight for it.
In the same spirit, 50 emphasizes how his life has been and is an endless quest for a better future:
If you watch how I move, you’ll mistake me for a player or pimp
Been hit with a few shells, but I don’t walk with a limp (I’m aight)
In the hood in L.A. they sayin’, “50, you hot” (Huh-uh)
They like me, I want ’em to love me like they love Pac
But holla in New York, fo’ sho’ they’ll tell you I’m loco (Yeah!)
And the plan is to put the rap game in a chokehold (Huh-uh)
I’m fully focused, man, my money on my mind
Got a mil’ out the deal and I’m still on the grind (Whoo!)
Here, it’s obvious that 50 works for the champagne. It isn’t on tap for him like cucumber water is for the cucumber water people.
For this reason, I believe Biskwiq’s song gives listeners a chance to self-fulfill the belief that you shouldn’t live for the watered down life of stasis — you should live for the bubbly life of growth through adversity.
This is reinforced by another sample in the outro:
No no, No more water! We’re not here for that
Which is why I love this song.
Are you living for the cucumber water? Or are you living for the bubbly?
I’m not sure what to make of the fact that this song stands in contrast to the the vast majority of Biskwiq’s easygoing music. But I am impressed that he raises an important question without a single original lyric, using music production alone.
For that reason, I’m a fan.
As companies begin to entice their employees to return to the office, expect to find more cucumber water than ever before.