18 January 16 | Kaija Straumanis

Back in July 2015, Deadspin posted an article on a rap song by the Latvian group Transleiteris about Latvian-born, New York Knicks player Kristaps Porziņģis. After the initial ripple of interest across the Internet, and because sometimes I don’t sleep at night and have hours of free time as a result, it didn’t take long for me to give into Chad’s insistence that I must do a translation of the song and it would be the funniest thing ever probably—and that I send the resulting translation back to Deadspin, to kind of shed light on what the song was saying, why it was funny, etc. Which I did, AND NO ONE BIT. Then a few weeks later there was another post about the song, this time saying ESPN had decided to use it for a promotional commercial, which is WILD, but apparently no one had a real interest in knowing what, exactly, the hell these guys were saying in their rap?

That feeling when you give someone something kind of great, and they ignore it or filter it into the pile of other crazy emails from crazy people, and in the meantime keep outputting more general announcements on the exact thing you’ve already voluntarily illuminated? THIS IS IT.

Anyway, because I also have access to the real world wide web (and because today Deadspin posted yet another article on yet another Porziņģis rap song) it seemed like the right time to post said rough translation of the song lyrics for the almighty #PORZIŅĢIS rap. (This latest Porziņģis song, by OLAS, as far as I can tell, is an answer to the Transleiteris song. Which was an answer/satire on an OLAS song. Or two, or three OLAS songs.)

It turned out that the “#PORZIŅĢIS” lyrics themselves aren’t all that interesting, but what is interesting is how layered the “birth” of the song is, so to speak. (At least, maybe for just me, as a Latvian?) That said, translation and language background aside, I have zero rap-lyric qualifications, so this is a “rough translation” in full meaning—but not too off the mark. (I welcome input from people with additional information/background on the song and the two groups of artists involved in this!)

However, I do also want to contextualize how and why I wasted (fascinating) hours of my life delving into this.

The song is, obviously, about Latvian-born Knicks player, Kristaps Porziņģis. And initially, it really does seem like the song is just a bunch of basketball-related puns and lyrics pieced together among shouts of “Kristaps Porziņģis” to create a tribute to him.

Transleiteris is a Latvian duo known for their translated renderings of popular songs—including Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Blur’s “Song 2,” Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’,” and even Psy’s “Gagnam Style”—into Latvian. According to their Facebook page, their main goal in translating and recording these songs is to contextualize for and bring pop music closer to Latvian listeners. (The sub-goal is to educate Latvians on what’s actually being said in pop music, as the most-listened to music in Latvia tends to come from outside the country, and it’s often doubtful whether, in terms of lyrics, most Latvians even have a good idea of what, exactly, they’re listening to.)

That said, the song “#PORZIŅĢIS” struck me as a bit of a new direction for Transleiteris (who I haven’t followed at all, but I’m familiar with what they do). It’s a song in Latvian about a Latvian, not a Top 40 hit adapted for Indo-Slavic vocabularies. It’s about an athlete, and one who wound up on a team—and a sport—that people actually have heard about. And watch. Willingly. Then the video started cropping up on Facebook and Twitter in the usual herpes-like manner. Then, as I said, I was persuaded to translate the lyrics. “It would be awesome” I was told, “it would be hilarious!” And then I spent five plus hours at my laptop, cycling through 30+ browser tabs of information and Latvian news-entertainment articles, listening to satirical Latvian rap songs via Youtube on loop, and giggling to myself with each new connection drawn in this mini-cyclone that is #PORZIŅĢIS . . .

Anyway, somewhere remains a five-page Word file of insanity that I hacked out over those hours, but below I give you a rough translation of the lyrics, complete with footnotes and links, which, this long intro aside, seems way easier to deal with.

Enjoy? Or just find more reasons to wonder what’s up with Latvians.

———————————————————————————————

“#PORZIŅĢIS” by Transleiteris1

Oh
My Little Bells2 are right here in front of you

You ready?

2.16 meters tall
(Kristaps Porziņģis)
If you’re looking at him, you’re looking up
(Kristaps Porziņģis)
Who’s got way more money3?
(Kristaps Porziņģis)
Whose name do we always get wrong?
(Kristaps Porziņģis)4

I’m pretty short, I’m not that young,
I’m pretty stiff
I come into the club, throw down some cash,
throw down my skis5, kick off my shoes.
I sit down on a couch, but my feet reek6,
I put my shoes back on and keep partying,
make my way through, slam[-dunk] one down7
just like Kristaps Porziņģis

You noticed me
Standing across from you, girl,
You dig my skis8, you wanna get with me,
You come my way, but I jump right over you—
just like Kristaps Porziņģis

I spot the hottest girl in the club
And tell her “I’m your destiny.”
But she says “You’re not as [sfx] as Kristaps Porziņģis”

[Kris Kris-]
Kristaps
[Po Po]
Porziņģis
(4x)

I am:
Honey, ice, a masterpiece, a sausage9
[Yes, yes, yes]
Meanwhile Kristaps is killing it in the NBA
[Yes, yes, yes]
A meaning, a fence, steel, a cookie, darkness
[Yes, yes, yes]
A rarity, age, luxury, pride, a drunk

I don’t want to be a liar or grow old, steeped in booze
don’t want to be sad or have to fight for [my] choices,
I don’t want to, don’t want to, son—peace.10

[Kris Kris-]
Kristaps
[Po Po]
Porziņģis
(4x)
———————————————————————————————


1 In their Facebook post accompanying the release of their video, Transleiteris wrote: “It’s with pride and the feeling of a job well done that we present our new and all-original single—dedicated to shooting Latvian star Kristaps Porziņģis. The song is totally 100% original and any similarities to any other song is, quite frankly, impossible.” (This is a bullshit statement, but stick with me for a bit longer.)

2 A nod to Latvian socially-satirical rap-duo OLAS—“olas” means “eggs”, but is slang for “balls.” The diminutive “little bells” used by Transleiteris (as the name for their “rap group” for this video) takes that slang “eggs” one self-depricative notch smaller in size.

3 A (supposedly non-referential) reference to the song “Daudz naudas” (“A Lot of Money”) by OLAS, which is ridiculous. Transleiteris goes so far in its video as to wear similar T-shirts to what OLAS has, changing #DaudzNaudas for #DaudzākNaudas (meaning: way more money). I want one of these shirts badly.

4 This stanza, and the entire song, actually, winds up being referential to the song “Zemguss Girgensons” by OLAS (the actual video is here), which was released in January 2015 as a sort of tribute to the Latvian NHL player drafted up by the Buffalo Sabres (and which, apparently NO ONE IN THE WORLD noticed except for Latvia [doesn’t matter], the Sabres webmaster [matters even less], and a handful of websites with “hockey” in the URL [half of these are probably porn anyway].) The #PORZIŅĢIS video also apes the Girgensons tribute video, down to props, lighting, and sound effects; neither song takes itself seriously (another OLAS song is titled “#DPM,” which stands for “Dzīvoju pie Mammas,” or “I Live with My Mom”) , though but I think it’s pretty clear that the Transleiteris song takes itself even less seriously…

5 Assuming this is another reference to the “Zemguss Girgensons” lyrics and Girgensons himself, though I don’t know why they used “skis” instead of “skates.”

6 In the Girgensons tribute, these two lines are about how the narrator comes into the club all baller like Girgensons, sits back in a couch, and props his feet up on a table, regardless of who is or isn’t watching him, because he’s on his way to being baller, so there. Transleiteris makes their lyirc more… realistic.

7 Lots of basketball-related puns for Porziņģis, as there are many hockey-related puns (and visuals; the one Olas guy “skates” past the girl who approaches him in the club) in the Girgensons video.

8 Again, not sure why the skis.

9 This is where I start to lose sight of what’s literal and what’s metaphor. The Girgensons song talks about being calm, smooth, and collected. The Transleiteris tribute to Porziņģis just sounds like a mash-up of words, though there could be meaning. “I’m honey, ice, a masterpiece, a sausage” could simply mean “I’m sweet, cool, awesome, and good at The Sextimes.” But then I have no idea what the following line is all about. Either way, by “sausage” they almost definitely mean “peen.”

10 And this is where shit seems to get dark. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any real-life references to explain this. I kept hoping I’d find some dark and twisty Porziņģis past—but he’s just 19 and freaky tall.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Odyssey
The Odyssey by Homer
Reviewed by Peter Constantine

Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.

–(The Odyssey, Book I, line 10. Emily Wilson)

In literary translation of works from other eras, there are always two basic tasks that a translator needs. . .

Read More >

I Remember Nightfall
I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio
Reviewed by Talia Franks

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio (trans. From the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas) is a bilingual poetry volume in four parts, consisting of the poems “The History of Violets,” “Magnolia,” “The War of the Orchards,” and “The Native. . .

Read More >

Joyce y las gallinas
Joyce y las gallinas by Anna Ballbona
Reviewed by Brendan Riley

This review was originally published as a report on the book at New Spanish Books, and has been reprinted here with permission of the reviewer. The book was originally published in the Catalan by Anagrama as Joyce i les. . .

Read More >

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

Read More >

The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

Read More >

Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

Read More >

The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >

I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

Read More >

Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >