Y’all still trippin off that Jigga shit
Y’all still trippin off that Jigga shit
It’s no coincidence that most of my favorite rappers of all time come outta QB. Here’s three cuts from my upcoming remix project ZR vs. QB
I realized this year that a large part of the joy I’ve felt from listening to music was getting my hands on it. Scarcity was good. It made you imagine what a song sounded like when The Source namedropped it in its Fat Tape section. It made it thrilling when you stumbled across a white label at record store from a group you really only knew about word of mouth (and I do mean “word of mouth”, like people talking to you about it with their mouths). Debating on dropping $18 for some shitty soundtrack because it had an ill one-off track from Mobb Deep or Wu-Tang that you couldn’t hear otherwise (see: Hoodlum, 200 Cigarettes, Tales From the Hood, SLAM, and the Shaq movie where he was junkyard Superman). Memorizing release dates. Going to record stores in packs to buy the BIG RELEASES, then debating their merits the next day with all of your friends.
Steve Jobs made my life easier, but it turns out with music, I’m like Pac: I don’t want it if its that easy.
Connections to music are important.No one says “The first time I heard suchandsuch on SPOTIFY!!! SON!!! OH SHIT!!!” Having to work to get a hold of an album or single — that built value in me as a listener. That chase, that pursuit, that lucky break, well… it’s all gone. Everything is always available. Instantly. And my joy for music has dampened.
Everyone likes a chase. Dogs fall asleep looking at rocks; they go insane charging after a squirrel. You don’t always get the squirrel, and that’s ok. We’re not meant to see and hear every single song/band/artist we’re supposed to be up on. But now we dabble and taste and snack and appetize a little bit of everything. We feel full, but we don’t enjoy the meal. We are being stimulated, but we yearn to re-experience it less and less.
I’ll probably never love the music again the way I did in 1997 or even in 2004. I’m older. I’ve heard all the tricks. I have less disposable income. I create music, and that takes up more time. I have a full life outside of music.
So when I hear something that gives me that buzz, that electric blitzkrieg, that tingle…it doesn’t matter how old I am, what device I’m holding, how much money is in my savings, if I stole the song or bought it, what the first week numbers are, how many reblogs on Tumblr there are, if my girl is making meatloaf, what my next song will be about, etc. I’m stuck. I’m frozen. I’m 16 years old at Record Town in the Gallery. I’m 24 years old thumbing through CDs on payday, grabbing every goddamn thing I want. I’m 10 years old with 3 cassette singles for $5 in the basement at Tower Records. I’m 22 loading up weird art house shit on my first iPod. I’m 28 looking over the mountains, earbuds soundtracking my flight to Phoenix.
I’m back to where I want to be: loving music.
Here’s the songs in 2011 that gave me that feeling again:
Nas – “Nasty”
The best rap song of 2011 for all the right reasons: knocking beat, great rhyming, unorthodox rhyme scheme, and tons of shit you will not understand through the first 7 listens.
Raekwon – “Snake Pond”
Going in 2011, Raekwon was the best rapper alive. On Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, Raekwon mastered slang and wordplay and made the most Wu-Tang sounding Wu-Tang album since The W. ”Snake Pond” is a manhunt record. Locations changing. Shaking down associates for info. Piecing together past incidents to predict the next move. It’s like playing chess with supreme patience: just wait for the other guy to slip, to expose himself. Red dot him, you got him.
Statik Selektah & Action Bronson – “White Silk”
I hated on dude at first. I’m an asshole
Blu feat Planet Asia & Killa Ben “Doo Whop”
Welcome to the Terror Dome, gold herringbone flow. Planet Asia is the West Coast Raekwon. I’m happy about that. More people need to just rap on soul loops. Fuck drums.
Cappadonna – “Cuban Link Kings”
The YouTube version cuts out the intro skit, which is a minute and a half. It’s the best skit since “Who Would You Fuck” on Supreme Clientele. In 2011, Cappadonna realized that we love NYC goofballs and that Wu can be funny while giving knowledge. Hence him comparing The Wizard of Oz to the Five Percent Nation.
Sir Michael Rocks – “Banco Populair”
I was stuck in Phillies traffic one day for almost 2 hours. I listened to this song about 10 times in a row. And then I went home and wrote “Michael Caine Glasses” for Nights & Weekends.
Danny Brown – “EWNESW”
XXX is not even close to being as good as Hybrid. I love his style but 30 minutes dedicated to eating pussy isn’t for me. So as much as I wanted to love XXX, I pretty much listen to the intro, then skip to “Pac Blood”, then skip about 8 joints until ”ESNESW”. It’s good to hear Danny just talk over a simple beat sometimes. Quelle is my man. He should always produce half of Danny’s projects.
Hanni El Khatib – “Loved One”
I read about Hanni a few times. Saw that he was down with Aesop Rock. Thought his artwork and album title was badass. I caught him live on a whim at Johnny Brenda’s on a Sunday night in the summer here in Philly. Fifteen people were in the crowd. And he fucking killed it.
Evidence feat Raekwon & Planet Asia – “The Red Carpet”
Evidence said somewhere that this is his favorite Alchemist beat ever. This joint makes me feel high and I don’t even smoke. Wish the hook was better, but getting Rae and Asia on there make up for it.
Noreaga feat Corey Gunz – “Slimefather”
This is not a gorgeous Alchemist beat. It feels like getting shanked in a British housing project on Mischief Night. Nore is spitting that Indian Style Knees Bents Hands Together Jose Luis Gotcha ’97 shit.
Shabazz Palaces – “Yeah You”
There’s no place in the world for corny people.
Hail Mary Mallon – “Smock”
Between this joint and “Garfield”, Hail Mary Mallon did no wrong. I never liked Rob Sonic before this project. As a decade-long Aesop stan, I would’ve named about 15 rappers he should have been in a duo with before Rob Sonic (Breeze Brewin, El-P, etc). But it’s like assembling a good basketball team – you need to be matched up with guys that make sense together, not just to sell tickets. This year, Aesop became a fun emcee, and Rob and Big Wiz are the perfect wingmen.
Jay-Z & Kanye West feat Mr. Hudson – “Why I Love You”
This is the most mature shit Jay has ever spit. To all of my enemies, former friends and associates, I see and hear everything you do in opposition to me. You blame me for all your woes, as people, as artists, as business entities. You casually sidestep the money I spent on you, the advice I gave you, the benefits you gladly accepted from being my friend. None of it was ever enough. I’m my own man, as you are your own man. And you have broken our friendship. I have lost respect for you. I will never get back the time and money I invested in you. My mother and my wife tell me to get over it, but I can’t. You hurt me. I’ve hurt you, except you’ve gone public with personal and private matters. You’ve become a spectacle and it hinders our past relationship. And with all of that in mind…I still love you.
Common feat Nas – “Ghetto Dreams”
Those drums! And Nas! Yo…..
Cocaine 80s – “Anywhere But Here”
R&B sucks today. Like, straight up assey. It’s devoid of actual emotion. It’s just people thinking of hackneyed ways to talk about banging each other, cutting each other off, and getting back together. There’s no real stories. This project from No ID was like a soul version of Shabazz Palaces — I know the main guy involved and that’s about it. Cocaine 80s and Frank Ocean gave me that feeling when I first heard D’Angelo in ’95. Something’s changing here…
Frank Ocean – “Songs For Women”
No fair, no fair. He cheatin’!
Tom Waits – “Kiss Me”
You never forget that first kiss with the woman you love. You didn’t love her then. She had on a black cocktail dress, not too flashy, not too prudish. You noted how many times she placed her hand on your shoulder when you made her laugh. Her necklace drew your eyes to her neck, her breasts, guessing what color bra she had on, but not staring like a creep. Other girls made you nervous; you wanted their approval. But this girl, it was just…easy. When you went in for that first kiss, time froze. It was still nerve wracking. She was a stranger then. You were a stranger too.
Dangermouse & Daniele Luppi feat Jack White – “Two Against One”
This year I fell in love with Italian music. The Rome album didn’t leave my car for 6 months. Jack White is my favorite rock artist and stuff like this makes me grateful that he stays prolific outside of his comfort zone. An incredible writer with a voice that conveys the right emotion everytime.
Serengeti – “Goddammit”
This is like an indie version of LL Cool J’s “Big Ole Butt” or a modern Slick Rick love story: a devious asshole does maniuplative, despicable things to women. You really should be repulsed by his behavior. You end up empathizing with him. “Yeah man, it is fucked up that you have two wives who are unaware of each other, one even thinking you’re 5 years younger because you’ve been plotting on her since she was seventeen years old. Christmas MUST be a bitch!” Seregenti and Yoni Wolf even made the 808s knock like an E-40 record. A great old school rap idea executed perfectly by guys who shop at thrift stores with Anticon money.
Arch Druids feat Roc Marciano & Planet Asia – “Scorched Earth Policy”
I’m going to be quoting Roc Marci lyrics when I’m 60 years old. That’s just how it’s going to be.
I had this joint on a Clue cassette tape probably around ’97-’98 after Nore became a hot ticket off The War Report, Nature was solidifying his buzz through Clue freestyles, and Nas had the world gasping for air waiting on I Am…
I’ve heard this ill piano sample flipped on Atmosphere’s “Hey There” off You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having and on the Raekwon & Beanie Sigle joint off Cuban Linx 2 but I’ll always remember “Triple Threat” where I hear those haunting keys sliding around like a bandit on the hood of a hot muscle car.
I was THEE BIGGEST Nature fan at this point. One of the first bootleg CDR’s I ever bought was Best of Nature & Half-a-Mil (RIP). Even had a horrendous color copy of their faces as a CD insert. Shouts to the Record Bar in South Philly for that joint and the bulk of the mixtapes I used to cop in the 90′s.
Anyway, “Triple Threat” is so incredible because you have 3 guys, who I had to assume were homies at the time, really just going in in that specific style most NYC late 90′s emcees wielded: intellectual self-righteous thugs who were articulate yet slick and deviant. That style of rhyming vanished probably after Roc-a-Fella started blowing up with (on the surface) most materialistic and simplistic styles, but guys like Pun, Prodigy, Nature, Nas, early Jay, Biggie, Rae & Ghost, etc used to namedrop authors and spiritual double entendres in the same breath as murder schemes and Lexus preferences. ”Triple Threat” exemplifies this vocation, especially since all three guys would go on to have rollercoaster careers while styles ranging from reggaeton to misguided “political” rap nostalgia.
Nas was untouchable with his first verse:
“Sex and money go together like techs and nine shells
Swiss cheese and cover it up like Roswell
Cartel, you ain’t seen no iller regime
The Celestine Prophecy, project warrior owns property
Crackers hated it, cops get jealous cause I stay with
The ’98 temporary plates on my whip
The system think it’s not right, a rich thug with a cop’s wife
Cause I’m on, tele-vision and live the pop life
I rock mics, make mills, soundscan sales
One point whatever records, profession is scales
Money’s the root of evil but it make you happy
Don’t wanna shoot my people but still they might shoot me
Cause I talk like Doctor Malachi York
Play the sidewalk, hold the fort, diamond plate chain, gold fork
Get in tune, rich like Ricky from Silver Spoons
Frank Lopez crib, elevators in living rooms”
These three guys had a cool working relationship. Nore was on the The Firm album and got a shoutout on It Was Written. Nature had his national breakout moment on Nore’s solo (“Banned From TV”) along with “Getting Head in the Whip”. And Nas needed some new rap homies after his beef with Cormega and his seemingly odd relationship with AZ after The Firm album bricked.
Here’s a few more gems from Nature, Nas and Nore during the mixtape glory days of the late 90′s
Nas & Nature “The Foulness Part 3″ (freestyle over “Shootouts)
Nas & Noreaga Funk Flex freestyle
Nature & Noreaga “Magic and Bird”
Nature & Noreaga “Let it Go/Friday Nights” (skip to 1:36–”Friday Nights” is way iller)
And apparently Nore and Nature did a mixtape back in 2008 to promote Nature’s album Painkiller and Nore’s start-and-stop label Thugged Out Millitainment which you can grab most of these joints from over at DatPiff.com for free
Alternate title: Can Die Hard Fans Ever Be Satisfied ? (John McClain just keeps coming back)
Although I’m not a Philadelphia Phillies fans, I hear what they say. Most of it is justified–the Philadelphia Phillies are the losingest franchise in sports history. They have an ownership group consisting of 13 different people, none of which especially give a crap about A) winning and B) baseball, two things you should probably enjoy if and when owning a baseball franchise.
Anyway, this isn’t a diatribe on incompetent management. It’s about fans. Diehard fans. In the case of the Phillies, I constantly hear diehard fans gripe/bitch/moan about Ryan Howard. 2005 Rookie of the Year Ryan Howard. 2006 Home Run Derby Champ/Nationl League MVP Ryan Howard. Even after having a “down season” in 2007, Ryan Howard finished 5th in MVP voting behind Jimmy Rollins. In 4 full season, he has 159 homeruns, exactly what you want from a first baseman who pushed another great basher, Jim Thome, out of town.
Here’s the thing: Ryan Howard strikes out. Alot. If strikeouts were Emmy nominations, he’d be Mad Men. When Ryan Howard strikes out, it looks really bad. You know the kid on your little league team, and no offense if that kid was you, who look completely overmatched in the batter’s box? He would swing 9 seconds after the ball already hit the catcher’s mitt and/or spin around and fall down on a missed swing? That’s Ryan Howard when he strikes out–childish, foolish, painful.
With a baseball glove in his hand, Ryan Howard is also laughable. He bungles routine ground balls. He makes errant throws to second base. He can’t dig balls out of the dirt. A cardboard cutout of Mark Grace would do better defensively for the Phillies over 162 games than Ryan Howard.
But guess what? When he’s in the batter’s box and is locked in…it’s Russel Simmons time: God bless and good night.
If he stays healthy and on this pace, Ryan Howard will probably hit 500 homeruns before all is said and done. He’ll still strike out close to 200 times a year and at best bat .270 in a given season. But if you want a guy who you could safely pencil in for 45-55 homeruns and 110-130 RBI a year for the next 5 years, he’s your man.
With all of this in mind, there’s alot of Phillies fans who want him traded. “He kills you on defense,” they say. “He strikes out too much,” they surmize. “He wants too much money,” they conclude. What these fans fail to realize is that they watching an absolute juggernaut night in and night out. Ryan Howard’s skill lies in his all-or-nothing approach to hitting: he’s either going to strike out or massacre a fastball, shooting it into the Philadelphia night further than almost any human can fathom. Does it matter than he plays first base like a snack machine? The Bulls didn’t pay Dennis Rodman to shoot free throws.
This Ryan Howard doesn’t strike out as much and is a terror on the base paths in company soft ball.
Diehard Phillies fans demand more from Ryan Howard. They have unrealistic expectations at times. They take for granted how amazingly potent and jawdropping Ryan Howard can be when his bat gets hot. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
In hip hop, two artists that instantly pop into my head in terms of always catching hell from their diehards are Nas and Wu-Tang Clan. Like Ryan Howard, both seemingly came out nowhere and dominanted instantly. Nas and the Wu dropped albums held not only amongst the greatest in rap music, but in all music. Once the magic wore off in a few years (Nastradamus and albums by U-God, Deck, Raekwon, Method Man, etc), diehard fans either walked away or apologized and waited like grumpy old men for a return to glory days of the past. Both acts had their teaser moments–a great guest apperance here, an introspective interview there. Ryan Howard does the same thing: he’ll go on a 2 week stretch where he wouldn’t hit sand if he fell off a friggin camel and then POW!!!! Five homeruns in 3 days. The romance is reignited, memories are erased, threats are recinded. The diehards can breathe again.
But can diehards ever truly be content? I remember reading a review of Wu-Tang’s album The W when it dropped. The reviewer said it was a good album but knocked it because it had too many guest apperances from outside rappers. I’m sorry–do you want to hear Islord on a RZA beat or Nas? Carlton Fisk or Busta Rhymes? When Supreme Clientele dropped, heralded as Ghostface’s best work and one of the best hip hop albums of this decade, I remember a critic knocking it for its lack of originality. Nevermind the fact that he invented slang (“Nutmeg”), covered concepts no one had done before (“Child’s Play”), and had certified bangers in every direction (“Apollo Kids,” “One,” “Buck 50″)…Ghost used familiar drum breaks and old school hooks, so fuck him.
Nas’ recording career has suffered the same fate: it’s been 14 years since the masterpiece Illmatic, 12 years since the really good follow-up It Was Written. If you’ve listened to any of his last 3 albums, it’s clear that he will never be that good again for a whole album. He hasn’t had a crossover hit since Vin Baker was sober. And yet Nas fans will either hate on his beat selection or wrongly praise him for testing new gimmicks designed as “social awareness.” Technically, he is the greatest writer in hip hop history and has a collection of songs that can rival anyone in the business. But crafting excellent LPs front to back are the sliders low and away he can’t hit.
So what are diehards left to do? Yankees fans hate Alex Rodriguez mainly because he isn’t Derek Jeter, isn’t clutch, hasn’t won a title since joining the team. In reality, he’s done his part, winning 3 MVPs in the last 5 years, carrying teams with mediocre pitching, and living up to a contract some rich guy was smart/dumb enough to give him. He will probably retire as the greatest offensive player in baseball history…and it’s not enough.
Wu-Tang fans were divided on their last LP, 8 Diagrams. It was the first album from the entire Clan in 7 years, produced almost exclusively by the RZA, and featured tons of kung-fu samples, Shaolin slang, headcrack beats, and a Beatles cover. But it wasn’t 36 Chambers, so it wasn’t enough.
Being a diehard allows you to see flaws up close. Casual fans don’t grasp the nuances and subtleties–there are not invested. As a diehard, you are making the commitment to spend your time, money, and energy on something you will stand behind. Is it ethical to walk away from something that doesn’t return the favor?
Once you undestand the flaws of your favorite team or favorite rapper, is it your duty to understand them or demand better?
Are you comfortable being passionate about something with a glaring weakness that does not get addressed?
Can you appreciate something for what it is or for what it potentially could be?
Let me know what you think.
*Goes back to listening to “Camp Fire”
Since I am a white male and this is a blog, I must follow Internet Law no. 291238 article IV pargraph 8 and write at least 1 entry about Lil’ Wayne exclusively. Over at Not a Blogger, I challenged Trey Stone/Tray (I’m terrible with names–forgive me) in the comments section to show me 5 great lyrical performances from Weezy that are on par with Shawn Carter.
After spending 10 minutes reading them, my brain feels like an omelette–sorry guys.
If Wayne proclaimed himself “The best entertainer alive” then I’d be on board. The guy is 2 years away from having his own VH1 reality show where he hands out styrofoam cups to white girls that tattoo their mispelled children’s names on their wrists. Saying funny phrases and making your voice sound like a wood chipper dipped in molasses while flowing over “A Milli” is definitely a talent. But a rapper who proclaims himself a “beast” that “eats other rappers” and sticks his New Orleans slim jim in their girlfriends should be able to, you know, spit hot shit perhaps?
I called Big O to recite some of Weezy’s lyrics to make sure I wasn’t just hating. He confirmed it as well–he’s heard better rhymes picking his son up at grade school. We started reminiscing over great lyricists of the past and how much better they are than Wayne and how their greatest lyrics would be Wayne-sidized for today’s fan.
The only way to do this was to go all out and create a piece of science so precise, so brilliant, so low budgeted we’d take the rap world by storm. I then dedicated literally hundreds of seconds to build such a dastardly device!
The Wayne-A-Tron8000 (patents pending) is half copy machine, half construction paper and scotch tape. It’s inner workings are so detailed and meticulous, your puny, infantile brain couldn’t even begin to fathom it’s operating system. So here’s an elementary breakdown of how it works: feed it with great lyrics, hit the Start button, and within seconds a Weezy F. Baby enhanced version of those lyrics pop out!
“Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns
As I crush so-called willies, thugs, and rapper dons
Get in that ass quick fast like Ramadan
It’s the rap phenomenon don dada, fuck poppa”
WAYNE-A-TRON8000, TABULATE RESPONSE!!!
“WAYNE-A-TRON8000 response uploading now”
“Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns
I watched that movie, with braces on, you can call me Tootie
Oh! Get in that ass, call me Gay Porn Movie
Rap phenomenon, black car, call me Hasselhoff”
“But what’s it all worth, can’t take it with you under this earth
Rich men died and tried but none of it worked
They just rob your grave, I’d rather be alive and paid
Before my number’s called, history’s made”
WAYNE-A-TRON8000, TABULATE RESPONSE NOW!!!
“WAYNE-A-TRON8000 response uploading now”
“But what’s it all worth, I am panty liner, touch your girl’s skirt
Rich man, so fly like Baby Jesus, church
I’m the boss, OK? I’m so alive, I’m paid
Weezy F. Baby, purple lemondade!”
“Aiyyo I shatter dreams like Jordan, assault and batter your team
Your squadron’ll be barred from rap like Adam & Eve from the garden
I’m carving my initials on your forehead
So every night before bed you see the “BP” shine off the board head”
WAYNE-A-TRON8000 TABULATE RESPONSE NOW!!!
“WAYNE-A-TRON8000 response uploading now”
“Aiyyo I shatter dreams in Jordans, I bought em for 10 G’s
You are appleseed, I am open minded, Adam and Steve in the garden
Oh! I’m carving my intials on your girl’s legs
W.F., I am vampire, she gives me Underworld sex, yeah!”
“WAYNE-A-TRON8000 ending transmission timedated 8:17:03. You are low on toner and staples. Young Money, bitch.”