"Paper Gangsta" is a song written by Lady Gaga and producer RedOne from Gaga's debut album, The Fame in 2008. The song relates to Gaga's feeling about her six-month record deal with Island Def Jam in 2006-2007. In 2010, the song was used in the music video for "Telephone", it is playing on a stereo set towards the beginning of the video.
Writing and background
The song was recorded with the internal microphone of Gaga's MacBook Pro and finished at the Record Plant. Lady Gaga's vocal range is B3-D5 during the song and is modified with auto-tune. The instruments featured are a piano layered with strong synthetic beats along with various RedOne's samples. The lyrics of the song refers to Gaga being dropped by Island Def Jam and how the label let her down. Not only about her bad experience with getting signed but to have nothing to move through. The other meaning of the song is her talking about wanting a "real man", or a relationship with a guy who's "just as fabulous" as her.
The song was performed for the first time in 2009 during the first North American leg of The Monster Ball Tour. For the performance, her voice was altered using an auto-tuned microphone (Gaga purposefully used the auto-tune microphone to show how Island Def Jam wanted her to change). She wore a red bra and thong, with a matching red hat (both by Zaldy Goco) while spinning on a dentist chair. The dentist chair may symbolize Gaga being controlled by Island Def Jam like the dentists control their patients. Also, towards the end of the song, she gets out of the chair and her back-up dancers (all female) go into the dentist chair while it's still spinning (saying she won't be controlled by Island Def Jam anymore and the chair still spinning may symbolize the record label waiting for someone else like Gaga) . Gaga then grabs what looks like thick, black tape and puts an end onto a dancer in the chair, and lets the tape "wrap" around the dancers as they pile onto the chair. She then finishes the song by yelling, "Fuck you bitches!" on several occasions (like a way to avenge Island Def Jam)
- All instruments played and programmed — RedOne
- Recorded and engineered — RedOne at Record Plant (Hollywood, California, ) in January of 2008
- Mixed — Robert Orton
- Sony/ATV Songs LLC / House of Gaga Publishing LLC (BMI)
- Sony/ATV Songs LLC / Songs of RedOne LLC (BMI)