I‘m a Piece of Shit begins with Father being asked, “Why don’t you love me, Daddy?” Posed seductively by Awful signee Abra, it’s a simple enough question, not least because its answer is contained in the album’s repentant title. But it’s also contained in the album itself, in its woozy slew of hangover hip-hop that has the Atlanta rapper not simply regretting the oversexed sexuality that marked his excellent debut, Who’s Gonna Get Fucked First?, but the oversexed sexuality that marks the entire Atlantan rap scene.
Accordingly, I’m a Piece of Shit isn’t just a self-indictment, but an indictment of all the sleazy posturing and seamy debasement that seems to be mandatory if you want to reassure people you’re an MC in this day and age. In the Makonnen-featuring opener “Why Don’t U,” Father rides the hypnotic, low-slung bass to protest, “I’m tired of being high all the time/ To convince niggas I don’t give a fuck.” Here, he couples his plaints with the admission that he’s “tired of looking for love,” suggesting that it’s precisely the compulsory braggadocio that’s making love elusive for him.
While Father undoubtedly parcels much of the blame for his amorality onto his own shoulders throughout I’m a Piece of Shit, this subtle castigation of a whole subculture continues on subsequent tracks. On the smeared, swaying “Lanes,” he asks, “Why can’t niggas stay in they lanes?/ Why they stay swerving tryna be the same?” Likewise, on the nocturnal remorse of “Up Still,” he laments, “Never ever trust another nigga with your life,” having entrusted his way of life to the seedy conventions of his seedy milieu.
Even when the recriminations and accusations are ostensibly focused alone on Father’s own misbehaving, it almost seems as though the rapper is using his own “father figure” status within the Atlanta scene to criticize it by proxy. Because he’s a patriarchal symbol of all the clubs, players, and hangers-on that comprise the Georgian demimonde, his self-criticisms on the plinking “Fuck Up The Sheraton” and the clubby downer “Party on Me” come across as veiled, encrypted criticisms of nearly everyone around him. On “Fuck Up The Sheraton,” he declares, “I’m rotten to the core,” and in so doing he upbraids that very core: Atlanta itself.
This partial transferring of the condemnation implies the biggest take-home message of I’m a Piece of Shit, which is that, even though Father spends most of the album apparently flagellating himself for his sins, this is only so he can continue committing them with a clean conscience. He has no intention of changing his lecherous ways, which is why for every regretful “I wanna die a little” from “Y U Make It Hurt Like This,” there’s a “Might just stay here for life” from “Lanes,” implying that he won’t be reforming himself anytime soon, and that he’s chiding himself only to avoid even worse punishment from someone else. Of course, the thing is that, given how successful I’m a Piece of Shit is at balancing his patented smut with more reflective head-spinners, we don’t want him reforming himself anytime soon either.