Monday, November 30, 2009
A Semi-Regular Roundup of the best tweets in and around the Hip Hop community
Noreaga: WELL GOOD MORNING TWIETNAM
Tony Yayo: in Germany Cologne it's goin down tonite. Eatin lunch right now starin @ the over 700 yr old church
Busta Rhymes: We officially touch down on Uzbekistan soil...ASIA we here twiggas....
Pharoahe Monch: shorty, hey whats your price? if you back it up, you can hold my ice? now lets say you owe me sumptin. ---ta-hee.
Lil Bow Wow: @souljaboytellem Yo get started on christmas song beat n hook if we gone do it we gotta do it now
Wale: its crazy how somebody would follow u 4 blocks in the rain for a picture, but wouldnt walk one to buy an album
Visiting Tribeca at night is like stumbling upon the remnants of a once great civilization. The pedestrianless blocks are laid out in an area where the grid becomes badly mangled by approaches for bridges, tunnels and the Westside Highway. The smattering of upscale bodegas and darkened lunch chains are the only dining options with the exception of a few of the bluest blood institutions inhabiting the bottom floors of hotels and large commercial skyscrapers. A casual wanderer gets the feeling that the only people living in the neighborhood stay above the twentieth floor or are sleeping in overpriced suites on business for a couple of days. It’s probably the very last place in New York you’d expect to find Hip Hop scholarships most intimate and exciting development in years, but on Hudson Street near the Holland tunnel every few months it’s where 92Y is hosting Noisemakers.
For those who aren’t aware, Noisemakers is an interview series began a few months ago by Peter Rosenberg involving casual, sit-down interviews with Hip Hop legends that have included both rappers and producers. The MC, that’s the literal master of ceremonies has become a lightning rod of sorts in New York and on the internet for good reason, there’s some things to like and a lot to scratch your head at. With a bipolar personality that bounces between an aw shucks starry eyed Stan living the dream to know-it-all record snob asshole, he can be grating, not a good look for a professional personality, but no stranger to a market that the likes of Wendy Williams and Star & Bucwild have called home. His absurd beef with Combat Jack exhibited an impulse control issue and a poor set of decision making skills. I don’t agree with his politics but what’s even more irritating is I’m familiar with them. For instance, where does Funkmaster Flex stand on Radical Islam? That being said, what he’s accomplished at Hot 97 and in New York in two and a half years has been staggering. He worked his way up from college radio to a prime spot in the DC market before the big league call up, eventually getting suspended or fired from pretty much every job he’s had.
Rosenberg was awarded a graveyard shift off the strength of a dumb youtube Rich Boy spoof and has parlayed that minuscule degree of acclaim into a prominent position as co-host of the morning show along with Cipha Sounds, who up until Rosenberg’s arrival had played second banana to Funkmaster Flex for a decade. Rosenberg is arguably Hot 97’s third most recognizable personality behind Angie Martinez and Flex at the moment. He’s a savvy self promoter who has quickly made himself a part of most of the city’s Hip Hop related conversations, hosting monthly showcases at S.O.B.’s for up and coming talent, getting MC honors at a series of A-list shows around the city, and now the engine behind his most intriguing project, Noisemakers. His hustle is phenomenal. There’s no reason any number of New York Hip Hop media figures couldn’t be doing this, but for the most part they’ve contented themselves plugging mixtapes and club appearances. Love him or hate him, until a less abrasive but equally motivated personality comes along, Peter Rosenberg has changed the game.
His Noisemakers offers an unprecedented level of access to the artist in question and I predict will prove invaluable to fleshing out the many personal and collective histories in the genre. The focus has been primarily on New York and Classic Golden era Hip Hop thus far, but as the series (hopefully) continues and expands it will tell some of Hip Hop’s great, thus untold stories and give fans the perspectives behind the music. Unfortunately Rosenberg is at the helm. His presence as moderator is nearly unbearable at times, lauding praise and lobbing what appear to be pre-rehearsed soft balls at his guests, distractingly taking the opportunity whenever possible to espouse his knowledge of the artists’ rarest 12”s, digressions intended to transparently vie for his guest’s approval and our respect.
With a love of old school and underground brought to the forefront rather than it’s typical place tucked away Sunday evenings after midnight, Rosenberg is bringing historiography and intellectualism to New York’s Hip Hop media. That’s not to say his knowledge is as deep and profound as he’d have you believe. Flex, Cipha Sounds, Clue, any individual who has spent the last 10-20 years DJing in this city, which is nearly every personality on air in New York, can quote BPMs like batting stats and recall the limited underground staples they kept in arsenal for their low profile nights spinning in Hip Hop lounges around the city, it’s merely been taken for granted. Rosenberg isn't the first to drop his Hip Hop cool and nerd out reminiscing on the first time he heard “Tried by 12”, recognizing the breadth and importance of Hip Hop’s history rather than trying to keep up with the times and be on top of only what’s happening at this moment. He follows in the footsteps of radio giants like Stretch & Bobbito, late night Rap nerds with a willingness to give shine to the little MC, but he's doing it all over Hot 97 and in the mainstream public eye. Hip Hop media institutions such as XXL have seemed willing to dumb down their coverage in the interest of ratings and sales. Hot 97, one of the only major players left in the radio game not under the Clear Channel umbrella, has taken a bold stance allowing Rosenberg to achieve this level of prominence
In short, Rosenberg could potentially represent nothing less than a highbrow vanguard being brought back to mainstream Hip Hop media. What The Source’s Mind Squad once was. It’s a shame he has to be such a dismissable gaping asshole in the process.
My favorite feature on The Sporting News' NBA blog The Baseline is a daily roundup of the days best Tweets from people involved with the Association. At its best it's hilarious, offering a window into familiar personalities through their opinions and reflections as they wade through the same mundane shit we all do. I'm going to "borrow" the concept and start a semi-regular feature here at A People's History focusing on the Hip Hop community. For our first installment here is a few highlights as Rap celebrated Thanksgiving.
DJ Clue: The Broncos are Disrespecting the Giants. Going for it on 4th and 5..with a Pass play. Wow
Birdman: SHOUTOUT TO ALL FOR THE LOVE RIGHT NOW IM OUT HERE GIVING AWAY TURKEY N MY HOOD
Alchemist: Thanxgiving would be an ideal time to commit a crime. Or at least a moving violation.
Wyclef: Happy Thanksgiving. Special thoughts to those for whom this is NOT a happy day (Native Americans).
DJ Quik: My nephew was blasting Gucci Mane in the backyard.. I was this close to punting the radio in to the next yard. lol
Monday, November 23, 2009
His soul is still dancing.
I had the good fortune to see Werner Herzog’s maniacally fun take on Abel Ferarra’s classic Bad Lieutenant the same weekend I got a long anticipated DVD in the mail. It was the hotly contested critical darling doc The Carter, following Lil Wayne in the halcyon months surrounding the release of his greatest professional achievement to date: The Carter III. I knew I was in for a unique, trippy experience from the DVD menu alone, which is a snippet of Nina Simone’s “Misunderstood”, sampled for TC3’s grand finale. It’s a screwed watermarked loop of Simone moaning “Baby, you understand me now” as a music box melody plays sadly over and over again. And you certainly will come away more intimately familiar with Weezy, though I’m unsure the result is increased understanding, or if understanding an individual as far gone as Wayne is even possible.
Forgetting the specifics for a moment, The Carter is groundbreaking for its access into the artist’s creative process. This is an area I’ve been waiting to see Hip Hop media tap for a long time and The Carter delivers on a grand scale. For me Fade To Black was a Rap Triumph of the Will, our access is hardly unfettered as co-directors Pat Paulson and Michael John Warren seemed directed to be as protective of the Shawn Carter mystique as Jay-Z himself. Perhaps it’s a feature of just how fucking insane and interesting Wayne’s process is to simply watch, but Adam Bhala Lough’s best work in this film is showing us Wayne dutifully toting around a suitcase on rollers containing his own mini studio, unpacking amps and top of the line mics in the hotel rooms he lives out of, improvising mixtape verses on the fly and punching his own edits. (His verse on a recently released collaboration with Gudda Gudda over Jeezy’s “Get ya mind right” is a borderline classic and we get to watch him work his way through his verse on “Magic” from last Winter among other verses)
Demolition Part 1 (Ft. Gudda Gudda)
The film’s focus as well as much of the surrounding controversy has been unnecessarily placed on Wayne’s excess, a fact anyone familiar with his work has long been aware of as he talks about it openly in his music. For me it was interesting to watch his day to day, a similar pattern of habitual behavior: a constant background of ESPN, a disturbing addiction to getting inked and a clear workaholic, even at the heady heights we see Wayne at, on tour and celebrating a platinum album he’s tirelessly, obsessively tinkering with what will become largely obscure mixtape verses, listening to nothing but his own shit and explaining Boy Meets Girl references for the camera crew. He's clearly an individual damaged from a traumatic home life and a non-existent childhood, pretty transparently diving into any diversion that comes his way with all his being as a means of escape.
The film’s unsung hero is Wayne’s longtime friend and associate/manager Cortez Bryant. He’s the sober steady hand trying to keep human nitro glycerin from exploding, worrying about TC3s premature leak, delivering Wayne to photo shoots and interviews, threatening random shady characters hanging around backstage at shows, unable to be around Wayne because of his concern for Wayne’s syrup addiction. It’s through him that we most feel the consequences of Wayne’s abuse, how real the concern is in his circle and how powerless anyone is to do anything about it. Wayne is a force of nature operating largely on impulse and the moment’s whim.
Me & My Drank
Wayne’s magnetic rock star charisma is apparent on stage performing his verse off Shawty Lo’s “They Know (Remix)”, “Pussy Monster” and an electric performance of “A Milli” (featuring the wildest crowd response I've ever witnessed), in interviews where he gets off on torturing reporters, a particularly great moment comes in his dismissal of a Brit quickly caught trying to intellectualize Wayne's work and place it within a tradition of New Orleans music (his interactions with the press are reminiscent of the clueless British reporters Bob Dylan gets off on fucking with throughout Don’t Look Back) not to mention the general conversation in every room we see him in. The film’s most disturbing scene is Wayne lecturing a 15 year old for still being a virgin in front of what appears to be the boy’s bemused/horrified mother, telling an anecdote of getting blown at 11 that tip toes a line between funny and scary/depressing. Heath Ledger’s Joker stories concerning the origin of his scars come to mind as Wayne at times sounds less like he’s bragging than confessing on a therapist’s couch.
The Carter ends up operating on a logic not unlike Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, as a fever dream rewarding its likable anti-hero for his sins. Wayne spends the film high and slumped, screwing off and pissing off everyone around him to seemingly no consequence, his star continues to rise and burn even brighter and we’re shotgun for the gleefully nihilistic ride. Watching Wayne before he self destructs it’s even more apparent a timeless talent has spent the last decade captivating us, making music that will be the subject of a countless number of documentaries and similar tributes to come for generations. With his prison sentence looming and his music pushed to what feels like a logical conclusion, with little place to go but down it’s possible that his prime has passed. Even if this is so Lil Wayne changed Rap for the better, taken it to playful uncharted stylistic extremes and practiced forms previously unseen that have already had a tangible effect on the current Hip Hop landscape. He gave us a taste of what the great inebriated poets of the 60s and 70s did for their art forms. A Morrison, a Reed.
Wayne has changed rap, and his Young Money label of emerging minions currently owning New York radio following in his footsteps will assuredly be pushing the ball forward long after he’s fallen back, something that at the age of 27 I can’t imagine happening anytime soon regardless of how his work will be received. The sad/fantastic truth is Wayne needs Rap as bad if not more than Rap needs him. The Carter gives us a portrait of the artist at his very best, and it’s without a doubt the best documentary about Rap music I’ve ever seen (This doesn’t count), must see shit for anyone remotely interested in popular music.
Talib Kweli Greene loved rap and he always wanted to be a rapper. In the beginning, his nom de plume was Genesis. By the age of 14 (circa 1990) he was dedicated to his craft, networking and promoting for and around the major Hip Hop clubs in New York when he wasn’t practicing his spit in Washington Square Park with a crew that included fellow Brooklynite “Black” Dante Smith, Jean Grae, Da Bush Babees and John Forte, who he would soon be rooming with around the corner at NYU. By the mid 90s Hip Hop in New York was diverse, fragmented, filled with scenes and cliques. There were the bohemian park dwellers downtown, swaggering hustlers uptown like Marcy transplant Jay-Z and a bunch of Goths who would soon be switching styles, Staten Island was its own Wuniverse and in Queens Mobb Deep would give way to hoods like Capone and Noreaga, setting the stage for anti-hero 50 Cent and his Gangster Pop Revival. Talib was an element in this swirling cauldron and very aware of his environment, the multiple voices competing for the throne in New York and the ear of the greater Hip Hop community. This was the direction he chose.
Talib is the Park Slope son of two college professors and his first name means “student” in Arabic. He bounced from Roy H. Mann, to Brooklyn Tech to a private school in Connecticut to experimental theater at Tisch, dropping out after Freshman year to pursue his passion. Things moved quickly. A bond with a beat making friend of a friend from Cincinnati bore fruit, as did a partnership with Junior High buddy Mos Def who had begun making appearances with artists the two had grown up worshipping, the aforementioned Babees and De La Soul. Their group, Blackstar, shared a spiritual lineage with Def Jux’s brand of New York indie underground, witty punchlined obsessed B-Boyism with a dash of El-P’s avant-garde inaccessibility. Their album dropped on September 28th 1998, the same day as A Tribe Called Quest’s swan song The Love Movement. The album was a mixed bag with its fair share of tinny beats and one or two half boiled back packer concepts but it displayed a vision, an alternative to what many considered a shiny suit plague. One song in particular stood out, their 55 point rookie showing that gave us a glimpse of what a Rawkus run mainstream would look like. They called it “Definition”, a vibrant homage to KRS-One blending “The P is free” with “Stop the Violence” as Talib and Mos traded rapid fire, studied Brooklyn minutiae. The song was enormous.
In a prolific flurry both artists had instant classics to their respective names by 2000 and were featured on a Soundbombing compilation that seemingly cemented a Rap dynasty in the making. Veterans like Common and The Roots appeared reinvigorated, excited about the direction Rap was taking and there were scores of young, hungry, equally idealistic troops champing to follow their lead. Blackstar championed a respect for Hip Hop history while promoting positivity, the pursuit of knowledge and cuddly Black Nationalism. It made great fodder for idealistic critics and a generation raised on P.E. and X Clan that thought it had lost its genre for good. In 2003 Mos had passed on his buzz for a punchline acting career, Talib debuted as perennially unsatisfying solo artist with Quality and 50 Cent sold 11 million albums.
One could argue that it was definition that short circuited Blackstar’s respective careers. Before they had even gotten their stylistic feet on the ground it had been annoyingly defined and categorized for them as conscious, a soundtrack for paging through Maya Angelou and grilling asparagus, music for white college students and black women. Like the intellectuals they were Mos and Talib resisted the label like the plague (a la De La). They considered it a dishonest articulation of their slant which contained multitudes. After all, they had grown up in Brooklyn too, they smoked blunts and got in fist fights. They actively campaigned against their designation, in retrospect probably a mistake for both. Because the question that remains then is what did their voices really sound like? Who were they as artists? How is this diversity conveyed through music? It was a problem Mos ran away from and Talib ran toward.
From his professional inception Kweli’s strengths as a lyricist first and a rapper second were clear. The ruminative “2000 Seasons” strikes the right note over its jazzy melancholic skeleton, a former Nkiru bookstore clerk weaving the wisdom of the ages into his conversational, slightly arrhythmic flow pledging underground fealty in a war for the soul of Rap. In many ways Kweli’s delivery suits him, it demands attention to the content and it’s his wonderful words that are his contribution to the medium. Early Talib insists that Rap can be more than fun. His analytical verses were serious and thought provoking. On “What If”, a 1998 guest appearance on an L-Fudge single he accomplishes these things without being high minded or pretentious, he owns the concept and takes his inquiry in several unexpected directions. Rather than posing a series of obvious left wing critiques Kweli asks “If you tore this wicked system down what would you build in its place?”. He’s a focused young man rapping with passion, behind a cause and a love greater than the furthering of his career. He’s not being fun but he’s having fun, not trying and it’s tangible. This is where Talib excelled on Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Blackstar and Train of Thought, diving head first into “4 Women” unconcerned with how such naked poetics and earthy Huxtablisms will be received while firing off gorgeous, fully formed insight and beautiful metaphors at will.
I haven’t heard a Kweli track since he went solo and self-admittedly more mainstream oriented, from Quality through Ear Drum that hasn’t smacked of effort. His strength as a writer has proven to be his downfall as an artist. He thinks too much, and it leads the listener to distraction. With “Brown Skin Lady” Talib was half of the greatest heartfelt Rap love song not called “Beautiful Skin” ever made, but in some ways it poisoned his future as no rapper I can think of since has made more uniformly cringe worthy songs intended for women. His Blacksmith mixtape work feels premeditated, he sounds uncomfortable and out of his element and it’s this lack of understanding his true strengths and playing to them that has sabotaged his career. Talib wants to resist his underground following, to make resonant chart toppers, rip street approved freestyles over someone else’s single of the moment, make rap and bullshit for the ladies but he simply doesn’t have the goods. Worse, he lost his identity somewhere along the way on his bid for prominence and hasn’t been able to regain form. Even on his retro grab Ear Drum it’s Kweli making a retro grab and the results are ho hum (ditto for Liberation as a ploy for some critical internet shine). Not bad just boring.
Last night I saw Talib at Brooklyn Bowl, a new ritzy upscale bowling alley/concert space in Williamsburg. It was my fifth or sixth time seeing him live. His old Washington Square running mate Jean Grae, now signed to Blacksmith was among the openers and remains one of the most endearing personalities you can see on stage at a Hip Hop show. Talib reminds me of Nas in that on stage his vibe is much changed from the person we imagine on record. Nas strides around with an emotionless “fuck you” expression draped in a Fila track suit with huge gold medallions hanging from his neck, Talib is all smiles and kinetic energy, jeans and a tight t, rocking Sam Rothstein sunglasses that don’t come off. The air was filled with shoulders rotating attached arms waving rhythmically to the beats, faithfully reciting the old favorites and not so much the new stuff. Always a good show, Talib carried the evening with his charisma. Hi Tek was on hand and according to legend a Reflection Eternal album is ready to go and there’s a Blackstar project somewhere off in the forever receding distance, one can only hope. It’d be nice to see at least one more W on Talib Kweli’s record. There are few artists that have put more time, care, thought and effort into their music and careers. A career that has been good, but not quite what we once dared to dream it could be.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
This is an exercise I began primarily for myself and it turned out well enough that I decided to share. I’ve always been interested in the seasonal quality music can assume. Is it aesthetic? Is it Rza and Da Beatminerz’s murky bass lines that evoke slush in Staten Island and Crown Heights? Is it content? Does the mere mention of hoodies and timbs pair them to a track? Or perhaps imagery, maybe your iconic black and white video featuring a bunch of dudes in parkas behind chain links fences with breath coming out in cold smoky puffs forever link your song to the months between November and February.
The defining trait I’ve settled on is the listener. I don’t pretend to have captured the essence of the season with this effort, for all I know you consider “Mighty Healthy” synonymous with hickory smoke and booty shorts at cookouts. Growing up in New York gives you a very specific definition of the season that a majority of the country may not relate to. The sun is in a perpetual state of setting, the streets are filled with people on their way to destinations, heads down and boring forward through any and all obstacles. It’s raw, freezing rain, blasts of frigid wind that cut to the bone, so cold your eyes and nose will flow and you find yourself cursing a gust of moving air. It’s sleeping in sweats, getting layered before going out, convulsing as you try to get dressed after a hot shower in the morning. Bare, skeletal trees litter blocks, corners are occupied by seemingly shallow puddles with thin frozen skins you discover too late are a foot deep and send you running indoors for a warm pair of ankle length Champion socks. It’s the conditions that give this city its stereotype for being rude and no-nonsense. But it’s not all bad.
It’s the smell of fireplaces re-kindled, bundled up kids helping bundled up old ladies carry their wire carts up and down subway stairwells, streets woven with lights, crisp astoundingly clear days, family and old friends. It’s a quiet, reflective, introspective period. We all cut down on our nights out and trade tequila for scotch.
Keep in mind I wanted to keep the tape interesting, I was wary of repetition and I didn’t just want to cut and paste Liquid Swords or 808s. I’ve looked for patterns below and I would like to think (with a few key exceptions) it’s no coincidence that nearly all the artists and producers hail from the Northeast but it could be as simple as this is the stuff I listened to on snow days hot boxing my old car or the soundtrack I’d push through snow to in my headphones on the way to school. All that being said, if the selection spurs debate, mission accomplished. Wherever you’re from I hope this compilation helps you enjoy the season as much as I do.
Download: A People's History of Hip Hop Presents: Winter Warz
1. Dead Prez- Wolves (Original Sample) Let’s Get Free (2000)
2. Wu-Tang- Bells of War Wu-Tang Forever (1997)
3. Redman- Welcome (Interlude) Muddy Waters (1996)
4. Noreaga- Body In the Trunk (Ft. Nas) N.O.R.E. (1998)
5. Young Jeezy- Hypnotize The Inspiration (2006)
6. Lost Boyz- All Right Legal Drug Money (1996)
7. Killah Priest- From Then Til Now Heavy Mental (1998)
8. Smif-N-Wessun- Wontime Dah Shinin’ (1995)
9. T.I.- I Still Luv You Trap Muzik (2003)
10. Rampage- Wild For Da Night (Ft. Busta Rhymes) Scout’s Honor……By Way of Blood (1997)
11. Jadakiss- Shootouts (Ft. Styles P) Kiss of Death (2004)
12. Non Phixion- 4 Ws This Is Not An Exercise (2000)
13. Nas- Live Nigga Rap (Ft. Mobb Deep) It Was Written (1996)
14. Onyx- Bacdafucup Bacdafucup (1993)
15. Styles P- Ghost P The Ghost In The Machine (2006)
16. Mad Skillz- All In It From Where???(1996)
17. Ghostface Killah- Mighty Healthy Supreme Clientele (2000)
18. 50 Cent- DJ Clue Freestyle Grand Theft Audio 2 (2002)
19. M.O.P.- Take A Minute St. Marxmen (2005)
20. Kanye West- Family Business (Advanced Far Superior Rough Mix) College Dropout (2004)
21. Gangstarr- Royalty Moment of Truth (1998)
22. Ol’ Dirty Bastard- Snakes Return to the 36 Chambers (1995)
23. Common- Gaining Ones Definition One Day It'll All Make Sense (1996)
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
There’s an underdog portion of everyone’s heart that urges us to hate Michael Jordan and root for Miguel Cotto. The same impulse wants to insist that Big Boi, Outkast’s technically proficient, extremely likeable swag is on the same level as the scarily insightful, superlative inspiring white person fetish he raps with, but how often is that actually true? As I meander through the Kast’s impeccable catalogue in no particular order, this series aims at analyzing those moments when David rose up and slew the 1985 Georgetown Hoyas.
Our first installment appropriately comes with one of Big Boi’s greatest upsets and most definitive victories. In many ways “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” helps define Aquemini. While notes of otherworldly fun ring through the album start to finish, it’s the seven minute, soulful slow burner that states the growth and completion of a thought the duo began with Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. It’s a free form existential meditation on mortality rooted in country grammar for grown folk, maybe no purer expression of the Kast’s aesthetic exists. But most importantly it works and it has rightfully attained its classic status.
One would think the spoken word pretensions and natural poetic inclinations the exercise demands would play directly to Andre’s wheelhouse. In fact, though we may never know for sure, it’s probable Andre himself dreamed up the concept of philosophizing Atlanta night life over an addictive funk riff after taking one too many wheat grass shots. And yet it’s Big Boi who comes away with a decisive W, receiving the honors of naming the track and beating 3 Stacks at his own game, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape.
"As the plot thickens it gives me the dickens
Reminiscent of charles a li'l disco-tech
Nestled in the ghettoes of niggaville, usa
Via atlanta, georgia a li'l spot where
Young men & young women go to experience
They first li'l taste of the nightlife
Me? well I've never been there, well perhaps once
But I was so engulfed in the old "e"
I never made it to the door you speak of hard core
While the dj sweatin' out all the problems
And the troubles of the day
While this fine bow-legged girl fine as all outdoors
Lulls lukewarm lullabies in your left ear
Competing with "set it off," in the right
But it all blends perfectly let the liquor tell it
"hey hey look baby they playin' our song"
And the crowd goes wild as if
Holyfield has just won the fight
But in actuality it's only about 3 a.m.
And three niggas just don' got hauled
Off in the ambulance [sliced up]
Two niggas don' start bustin' [wham wham]
And one nigga don' took his shirt off talkin' 'bout
"now who else wanna fuck with hollywood court?"
It's just my interpretation of the situation"
Andre’s verse is largely impressionistic, he nails the languid, coffee shop tone but he’s too cute and affected for his own good. Conversational flourishes persist throughout the verse and it takes away from his delivery, we take him less seriously to his detriment. The focus is loose and suffers from an attention deficit. 3000 bounces around dropping Seussian alliteration and punctuating the mini story closing the verse with sound effects but he never quite settles in and neither do we.
"When I first met my spottieottiedopalicious angel
I can remember that damn thing like yesterday
The way she moved reminded me of a brown stallion
Horse with skates on smooth like a hot comb
On nappy ass hair
I walked up on her & was almost paralyzed
Her neck was smelling sweeter
Than a plate of yams with extra syrup
Eyes beaming like four karats apiece just blindin' a nigga
Felt like I chiefed a whole o of that presidential
My heart was beating so damn fast
Never knowing this moment would bring another
Life into this world
Funny how shit come together sometimes [ya dig]
One moment you frequent the booty clubs &
The next four years you & somebody's daughter
Raisin' y'all own young'n now that's a beautiful thang
That's if you're on top of your game
And man enough to handle real life situations [that is]
Can't gamble feeding baby on that dope money
Might not always be sufficient but the
United parcel service & the people at the post office
Didn't call you back because you had cloudy piss
So now you back in the trap just that, trapped
Go on and marinate on that for a minute"
Big Boi on the other hand drops a tight, gorgeous masterpiece, one of his all-time best. He compares feminine grace to a hot comb running through kinky hair, the female pheromone to a soul food staple, the intoxication of love to burning through an ounce of piff. The entire first half is at once beautifully poetic and appropriately ghetto in his analogies, truly digging at the essence of this track. For a finale Antwan tackles the challenges of maturation. How amazing it is that a sweaty moment in a club can spark a lifetime together, how hustling’s dicey proposition isn’t a secure enough source of income for a family, how difficult it can be to go straight in a system that isn’t built for you. It’s wildly economic, moving from romanticism to reality in the span of a bar. He presents a universal message and steals the show. Big Boi wins and so do we.