Classic Shot: Kool G Rap and Nas
Classic Shot: Kool G Rap and Nas
Do You Want More?!!!??! wasn’t The Roots break-though album, that honour belongs to their fourth album, the Grammy Award-winning Things Fall Apart. And despite what some people think, it wasn’t even their debut album – that title goes to the 1993 independent release Organix. But to this day, after 17 years in the music industry, 9 top-notch studio albums including a couple of masterpieces, a fantastic live release and countless side projects and collaborations, Do You Want More?!!!??! still remains my favourite Roots album ever. Why? It’s entertaining as hell! Never again would the band sound so fresh, jovial, carefree or full of spirit as they did on this album.
At that time, in ’95, hip hop was dominated by New York’s brooding boom-bap and the West Coast’s melodic synth-laden G-Funk. So when The Roots came with their live instrumentation – Questlove’s hard-hitting drumbeats, Leonard Hubbard’s muted basslines, Scott Storch’s nimble keyboard work – it was totally different to anything else at the time.
Emphasising sparse jazz grooves and an improvisational approach, Do You Want More?!!!??! is perhaps the greatest display of jazz and hip hop combined. The production is finely textured with different sounds weaving in and out. Rhythmic tongue clicks open up ‘What Goes On Pt. 7’ while the jarring bagpipes do so for the title track. ‘Proceed’ features mellow keyboard tunes floating over the gentle thumps of Questlove’s drumming, ‘Lazy Afternoon’ funky vibe depends largely on Hubbard’s unpredictable bass-lines, ‘? vs. Rahzel’ is a friendly stand-off between drummer and beatboxer with the latter member, Rahzel, creating some incredible sounds with his mouth while ‘Datskat’, arguably the most-head bopping moment, finishes off with a dense jam.
And while the band hails from Philadelphia, their lead vocalist Black Thought would have no problem rhyming alongside any New York super-lyricist. Thought and his partner-in-rhyme Malik B tag-team furiously back and forth with some of the cleverest battle rhymes ever and despite the band’s impulsive instrumentation, the two emcees never miss a step.
Particularly in Thought’s case whose rhymes have never sounded as spontaneous as they do on Do You Want More?!!!??! Quick-witted and blessed with a razor sharp tongue, Thought’s fluid braggadocio sound as if they’re delivered right off the top of his head, and even though the two emcees rarely stray from the battle arena, their rhymes and flow have never sounded so energetic or enjoyable. When you hear Black Thought break down with hysterical laughter at the end of ‘Lazy Afternoon’ – you picture the rest of the group outside the recording booth pulling funny faces at their lead emcee.
The Roots would begin to incorporate other forms of music genre later in their career; blending in elements of funk, indie rock, soul and electronica with fantastic results, but Do You Want More?!!!??! stands as the peak of their jazz style. Tracks seemingly merge together as if they’re part of one great big jam fest with scat breaks providing the link between each record. Highly energetic but mellow at the same; heavily rhythmic-based but also incredibly melodic – each cut is the result of musicianship’s at its finest. I guarantee you won’t find one weak song on the album.
But surprisingly, it’s the album’s astonishing consistency that also proves to be its only weakness. With no obvious structure or unifying theme, besides the live instrumentation, songs have very little to distinguish among each other. There are no real standout tracks, songs that just jump out and sum up Do You Want More?!!!??! Add that to the fact that Black Thought and Malik B don’t venture very far with their songwriting and you have an album that’s focused purely on rhymes and beats. But hey, it could be worse right?
With this album, The Roots manage to focus all the ingredients that would turn them into one of the most acclaimed musical acts in history – the sharp rhymes, the experimental artistry, the fine musicianship, the strict devotion to creating music for music’s sake – and deliver one hell of a kick to hip hop’s status quo. They would go on to tackle more serious lyrical themes, pursue grander musical ambitions and gain considerably more commercial and critical success with later albums down the track. But immortalised in Do You Want More?!!!??!is the never-again, care-free spirit and vibe of a hip hop band from Philly bursting at the seams with their desire to make great music and not giving a fuck about anything else.
Loco-Motive - July 2nd 2012
Classic Shot: Shyne
Accident Murderers - July 21st 2012
Classic Shot: Nas and Damian Marley
If Nas’ appearance on Main Source’s ‘Live at the Barbeque’ is generally touted as the greatest guest verse in hip hop history, then I’d have to say AZ’s verse on Illmatic’s ‘Life’s a B!tch’ would have to be a close second. Summing up inner-city philosophies, the daily hustle and the general cynicism of the NYC lifestyle, all within a single verse, and delivered through flawless lyrical technique; AZ quickly became one of the most sought after emcees.
After securing a deal with record label EMI and roping in Nas as well as production credits from Pete Rock, L.E.S. and Buckwild, he released, to much anticipation, Doe or Die. Though often hidden among the shadows of more commercially successful and arguably more influential records, AZ’s 1995 debut album is one of the many East Coast Golden Age albums, that never seems outdated.
Musically, the album’s soundscape is quite diverse; swinging between grimy street cuts (‘Uncut Raw’) and sunnier G-Funk hits (‘Sugar Hill’). Illmatic production star, Pete Rock blesses AZ with the noirish, mafioso-inspired ‘Gimme Yours’, and also delivers the outstanding ‘Rather Unique’ – a Big Daddy Kane-sampling track that’s simply bursting at the seams with smooth braggadocio; “you can try to bomb me, analyze but can’t define me, my mind’s divine heavily entwined with Ghandi’s.”
The cautionary ‘Ho Happy Jackie’ courtesy of D.I.T.C. producer Buckwild is a mellow jazz piece, which features AZ on the warning side against those paper-chasing females - “she’s nothin’ but a nasty, money hungry, unclass, hoe happy Jackie.” Yeah that’s right, AZ was watching out for you dudes 10 years before Kanye said anything about gold diggers. And then there’s ‘Mo Money, Mo Murder, Mo Homicide’ – arguably the centrepiece of Doe or Die. Based on a violin snippet of ‘Cry Together’ by The O’Jays, it’s a majestic crime tale that features AZ and Nas planning high-stakes hits and “sippin Cristal in crystal.”
Listening to AZ and Nas go head-to-head, rapping back-and-forth like they did on ‘Mo Money, Mo Murder, Mo Homicide´ - it was as if they were brothers destined to rhyme together. At a time when Nas was on an untouchable level, AZ was the one of the few that managed to keep up with him, and in this particular case – outshine QB’s finest. Not only did Doe or Die show how sick an emcee AZ was – with that hot liquid flow and silky voice – it also confirmed his prowess as an incredible writer. Throughout the album, AZ effortlessly switches between the lavish lifestyles and drug-trafficking tales of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… and the optimistic ghetto poetry of Illmatic.
‘Uncut Raw’ is no-holds-barred battle rhymes, AZ unleashing a torrent of vicious threats while enlightening us on the laws of the daily grind – “life is a struggle, that’s why ni99as I know stay on the juggle, some hustle to double, others hug you to mug you,” while the title track is a serene moment of reflection and mediation, as AZ ponders over life and the struggle to make money “but still I gamble, hustle and scramble, cause money is muscles in this damn zoo, and in order to make it, you gotta take it.” ‘We Can’t Win’ and ‘Your World Don’t Stop’, two of the weaker cuts on the album juggle government conspiracies (“Guiliani’s part of Illuminati”) and autobiographical elements with the former featuring Amar Pep on a couple of verses and Ski producing the glimmering beat for the latter.
Comparisons between Doe or Die and Illmatic are inevitable. Both albums were crafted by lyrical wizards born and raised in New York, both albums feature the same jazzy, gritty musical backdrop and both albums delve deep into urban city mentality, corner-boy hustles and ghetto philosophies. And like Nas, AZ would have a particularly hard time following up this masterpiece. But unlike Illmatic, Doe or Die, along with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… andReasonable Doubt stand as the pinnacles of mafioso hip hop, and thanks to AZ, rapping about crime has never sounded so good.
Classic Shot: Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz
Classic Shot: Tupac, Biggie and Redman
Classic Shot: Pete Rock and CL Smooth back in the day
Classic Shot - Nas and Biggie back in the day
Classic Shot - EPMD, one of the greatest duos to ever do it
Life is Good - July 17th 2012
10. Andre 3000
Don’t discount the man just because he tends to sing rather than rap these days. Andre 3000 is a whirlwind on the mic and has become the premier scene stealer on guest appearances these days. No-one has been able to attack a track so stylishly and consistently grab the spotlight like Andre has over the past couple of years. Whether he’s decrying music downloads (‘What a Job’), advocating commitment (‘International Players Anthem’) or just plain ripping up the mic and putting other emcees to shame (‘Royal Flush’), Andre 3000 has become the Busta Rhymes of this era. Is it any surprise MTV listed him fourth on 2007’s Hottest MCs in the Game, based solely on featured spots?
But even before he was tearing up guest appearances on a routine basis, Andre along with Big Boi turned OutKast from a relatively obscure Southern hip hop duo to one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful musical acts ever. Thanks in part to Andre’s eccentric lyrical performances, the first four OutKast albums are all 5 out of 5 in my books. And despite what some may say, Andre’s love for singing just shows how much music he’s got in him. Consistently out there with his original rhymes, off-beat flow, spit-fire delivery and charming subject matter, he makes everybody else look old school. Hailing from a different planet altogether, Andre 3000 is a space alien, originating from a world built out of rhymes and beats and he’s blessed us humans with his artistic genius. Let’s hope he stays forever.
“…we work nights, we some vampires, ni**as gather round the beat like a campfire, singin’ folk songs, but not no Kumbaya my Lord, you download it for free, we get charged back for it, I know you’re saying, they won’t know they won’t miss it, besides, I ain’t a thief, they won’t pay me a visit, so if I come to your job, take your corn on the cob, and take a couple kernels off it that would be alright with you, hell no, yeah, exactamundo…”
Judging by rhyme technique alone, there’s no doubt about it, Eminem belongs to the very top echelons of super-lyrical emcees. He’s up there with the likes of Rakim, G Rap, Kane, Pun and Biggie. Blessed with a flow that he can vary at any given time and the ability to rap some of the most intricate rhymes ever, Eminem has shown time and time again why he’s one of greatest lyricists of his time. His writing is some of the tightest I’ve ever witnessed and his delivery is always flawless. But even though he perfected the rhyming ability, Eminem went beyond that – separating himself from other lyrical geniuses like Canibus and Ras Kass – and delved deep into songwriting.
Capable of displaying a wide range of emotions and topics – from grief to regret, misogyny to compassion, reverence to rage – Em has crafted some of the greatest records of all time. Some songs were brilliant jokes where he weaved in themes of morality and comedic elements to achieve satirical effects (‘Guilty Conscience’), others touched on complex societal issues (‘Sing for the Moment) and particularly hip hop’s extensive impact (‘Stan’, ‘Who Knew’) while the rest dealt with autobiographical aspects (‘The Way I Am’, ‘Lose Yourself’).
His discography is admittedly impressive, but out of the 7 solo albums and 2 group collaborations in 14 years, I would only call The Marshall Mathers LP a true masterpiece. But even then, as a relatively young emcee, Eminem has leaped up to be among the greats in such a short amount of time it’s extraordinary. With so much raw talent, an endless well of creativity and a fiery passion that’s rejuvenated him of late – there’s no denying it, love him or hate him, Eminem is one of the greatest emcees of all time.
“…I murder a rhyme one word at a time, you never, heard of a mind as perverted as mine, you better, get rid of that nine, it ain’t gonna help, what good’s it gonna do against a man that strangles himself, I’m waitin for hell like hell sh*t I’m anxious as hell, Manson, you’re safe in that cell, be thankful it’s jail…”
To deny Jay-Z’s immense impact on hip hop music would just be ignorant. From 1996 to 2010, 11 albums in 14 years; a live release featuring The Roots and collaboration projects with R. Kelly and Linkin Park – let’s face it, the dude’s a machine. But let’s focus on the emceeing aspect. For icy cool lyrical swagger, a dexterous flow and captivating openness, Jay-Z’s the man.
A pure genius on the mic, he blends wisecracking wordplay with an overwhelming mic presence, effortless rhyme style and an ability to craft radio bangers. In fact, listening to Jay-Z’s nimble lyrics delivered with such ease would make anyone think that they could become a top emcee in no time. But they better think twice. Honing his hard-earned skills while on the street peddling drugs; Jay-Z is renowned for not using a pad and a pen to write down his rhymes – instead memorising his lyrics and going off the top of the dome while in the booth. Hell, even Biggie couldn’t push him around on ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ – Jay-Z managed to match the former rhyme-for-rhyme every step of the way.
From Reasonable Doubt to The Blueprint, The Black Album to American Gangster, Jay-Z is one of the few rappers to maintain such a consistent string of albums over the course of his career. And right now, he’s on such an incredible level in terms of his position in the industry. He’s comfortably sitting on top of his throne looking down at the rest and while The Blueprint 3 showed signs of stagnancy, he’s maintained his advanced skills throughout the years and can still deliver those hard rhymes like he was doing over a decade ago.
“…I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell, I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a well, I was born to get cake, move on and switch states, cop the Coupe with the roof gone and switch plates, was born to dictate, never follow orders, d*ck face, get your sh*t straight, f**ka this is Big Jay…”
7. Black Thought
I’ll say it now – Black Thought is the most underrated, the most consistent and the most well rounded emcee today. It’s quite a claim but it’s the truth. Black Thought comes from a long line of old school lyrical heavyweights like G Rap, Kane and The D.O.C. who always come on to a track with 100 percent effort and rip the beat up hard. When it comes to lyricism, Thought is always in top form, giving it all he’s got every time, starting from Organix (1993) to How I Got Over (2010), he’s remained an incredibly consistent emcee for nearly 20 years. And I think the reason why is because Black Thought has never become comfortable with The Roots’ success. Despite overwhelming critical acclaim and relative commercial success, Thought has stayed passionate for his craft and has never let his rhymes stagnate. Like we saw with 2004’s ‘Boom’ where Black Thought uncannily mimicked G Rap and Kane, he’s constantly pushing himself forward and not afraid of experimenting.
But aside from the fluid battle rhymes and braggadocio we witnessed on the earlier albums, Black Thought has also improved tremendously on his songwriting. Compare older tracks like ‘Proceed’ and ‘Distortion to Static’ to more recent ones like ‘Clock with No Hands’ and ‘Dear God 2.0’ and you’ll notice the difference in song structure, prevailing themes and emotional content. Excelling in poetic songwriting, scorching battle rhymes and vibrant live performances, it’s not hard to see why I named him the most well rounded ever.
Sometimes you hear the band’s music overpower Black Thought’s vocals and the fact that The Roots are so well known for their live instrumentation and experimental artistry means that at times their lead vocalist is shunned to the side. Some people only know Black Thought as the guy who raps in The Roots. Underrated? Definitely! I mean, how many times have you seen Black Thought appear on these types of lists? Even with a whole band at his disposal, all Black Thought needs is a raw breakbeat, a funky bassline and he’ll show you why he’s one of the greatest of all time.
“…wanna pack can’t handle your strap, you a schmuck type, shoot your man in the back, meanwhile I’m outstanding and I’m outspoken, wild out take fools out without joking, if I run out of shots I’m going out poking, on a date with sis we going out stroking…”
6. Big Daddy Kane
Many New York rappers have tried to emulate Big Daddy Kane’s Brooklyn swagger, notably Biggie and Jay-Z, but with his trendy good looks, sex symbol status and enormous talent as an emcee – Kane was the reigning king of his time. Next to Rakim, there hasn’t been another rapper who has had a bigger impact on lyricism and moulding the art of emceeing into what it is today.Brag rap, battle rhymes and vicious punch-lines were his specialty and even 20 years removed from its debut, Long Live the Kane is still a lyrical masterpiece.
Classic cuts like ‘Raw’ and ‘Ain’t No Half-Steppin’ still sound ferocious as ever and even today Kane still has the verbal dexterity and powerhouse delivery to throw down with the best of them. He tore GZA to parts on ‘Cameo Afro’ despite using a recycled verse, stole the show from UGK on Underground Kingz and has gotten the best of Kool G Rap on a number of occasions. The thing about dudes like Kane and G Rap is that they were such advanced rappers that to this day, you could line any current rapper up against them and it’ll be a tough match-up. Even though he hasn’t released an album in over a decade, Kane is undisputedly a master of rhyming; a super lyricist; one of the most potent punch-line kings ever and definitely one of the greatest of all time.
“…party people in the place, embrace the bass as I commence to pick up the pace, and make you motivate, and accelerate, cause like Tony the Tiger, I’m greeeat!”
5. The Notorious B.I.G.
During an interview a few years back, Nas was asked by the audience “Who would you say were the top 2 MC’s that put you to the test?” To no great surprise he replied Raekwon and Biggie, dudes who were absolute monsters during the time. I think it’s typical of rappers, to this day, to still think of Biggie as one of the greatest of all time. Every syllable he uttered was like a punch in the face, every rhyme he delivered was like an explosion and that liquid flow of his was just unbelievable. Never bothering with intricate rhymes or overly long words, Biggie stuck to his guns – short, punchy street rhymes – and delivered them more effectively than any other wordsmith at the time (except maybe Method Man).
From 1994 to his death, Biggie was the king of New York, no doubt about it. It was Ready to Die and not Illmatic or any other New York album that brought back the East when the West Coast was dominating. And while it’s thanks partly to Puff’s innovative merging of gritty street music with glossy radio hits, make no mistake – Biggie sounded great on any type of beat. Whether it was over the funked up boom bap of ‘Flava in Ya Ear’, the venomous Premo-laced ‘Kick in the Door’ or the slickly-produced ‘Big Poppa’, Biggie’s rhymes melted into any beat and combined with his strong mic presence and cocksure personality he’s belongs to the top ranks of hardcore rhymers.
And even though he was known more as a street spitter, Biggie explored a variety of topics throughout his albums, lamenting the loss of a friend on ‘Miss U’, chronicling his rags-to-riches story (‘Juicy’), laying out the politics of the crack game (‘Ten Crack Commandments’) and narrating his renowned crime tales (‘Ni**as Bleed’, ‘Warning’). It’s a shame really, his debut was a monumental force in hip hop history; Life After Death was an extraordinarily epic double album and with his sheer and unwavering intensity on the mic, Biggie could have gone to do even more amazing things.
“…The thrill is gone, the black Frank White is here to excite and throw d*ck to dykes, b*tches I like em brainless, guns I like em stainless steel, I want the f**kin Fortune like the Wheel, I squeeze gats till my clips is empty…”
Jay-Z and Common may have some of the best resumes in the rap industry but don’t count out KRS-One just yet. Just on the strength of his Boogie Down Production albums (Criminal Minded to Sex and Violence) would be a phenomenal achievement in itself. But combine that with the Stop the Violence Movement where he gathered some of the biggest names in hip hop at the time for the historic posse cut ‘Self-Destruction’ plus his solo work and you’ve got a very impressive body of work. While KRS-One’s ‘9mm Goes Bang’ along with Ice-T’s ‘6 in the Mornin’’ became the defining points of gangsta rap, socially conscious rhymes and positive thinking were the hallmarks of the Blastmaster’s teachings.
With a booming voice, a fearsome mic attack, relentless rhymes and precise logic, KRS-One has been dropping knowledge non-stop for over 20 years, and granted, while some of those albums were way below average – there’s no denying it, KRS-One is one prolific dude. If you take everything into account, his Bronx-Queens engagement, his unprecedented run of great albums during the early years, his formidable battling prowess and rhymes that sometimes resemble sermons – KRS-One isn’t just of historical significance to hip hop, but also one of the greatest and most important emcees ever.
“…whenever I arrive the party gets liver, flow with the master rhymer, that’s to leave behind, the video rapper, you know, the chart climber, clapper, down goes another rapper, onto another matter, punch up the data, Blastmaster, Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everybody, call up KRS, I’m guaranteed to rip a party…”
3. Ice Cube
How many rappers are there who debuted in the ‘80s and are still standing tall today? I can’t think of that many. In fact, aside from Ice Cube, there isn’t another rapper out there who blossomed in the Golden Age, and is still making strong music to this day. The main lyrical force behind N.W.A.’s provocative image, creator of Amerikka’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate – two of hip hop’s greatest albums, and having released his latest album Raw Footage in 2008, it’s safe to say, Ice Cube is one of rap’s most iconic figures. A revolutionary and gangsta rolled up in one, Cube’s hostile rhymes, direct delivery and frank manner of speaking made him one of hip hop’s most feared emcee. Aside from Chuck D, no other hip hop artist was wrecking havoc on the industry like Cube.
Singlehandedly shutting N.W.A. with the legendary ‘No Vaseline’, Cube went on to take on Cypress Hill, attacked Common for ‘I Used to Love H.E.R.’ and alongside Mack 10 and WC, defended the West Coast against East Coast discrimination. I might consider Kool Moe Dee as the greatest battle rapper of all time, but now that I think about it – Ice Cube might just shut him down as well. Still continuing to release quality albums to this day – unlike other rappers who debuted early in the game – Ice Cube remains a hip hop legend and a relevant figure in the ever-changing landscape.
“…God d*mn, it’s a brand new payback, from the straight gangsta mack in straight gangsta black, how many motherf**kers gotta pay, went to the shelf and dusted off the AK, caps gotta get pealed, cause the ni**a ya love to hate still can kill at will…”
The closest thing hip hop has ever gotten to God is not, despite what he may think, Kanye West, but rather in the form of Rakim Allah – the most revolutionary lyricist hip hop has ever witnessed. On the strength of that famous opening line “…I came in the door, i said it before, I never let the mic magnatize me no more…” Rakim went on to transform simple rhyme patterns into an intricate art form. Not content to stick to the rigid structure previous emcees like LL, Kool Moe Dee and Melle Mel were using, Rakim approached lyricism with fresh imagination, delivering his rhymes like a musician plays an instrument – effortless and smooth. And as groundbreaking Paid in Full was, Rakim upped the notch with Follow the Leader, expanding on his multisyllabic rhymes and displaying a variety of stunning verbal acrobatics. There have been so many articles and reviews written about Rakim and his rhyme skills, anything I say now would simply be superfluous. Bottom line: Rakim is the most influential, the most technically accomplished and most explosive emcee in hip hop history.
“…MC’s decaying, cuz they never stayed, the scene of a crime every night at the show, the fiend of a rhyme on the mic that you know, it’s only one capable, breaks-the unbreakable, melodies-unmakable, pattern-unecscapable…”
Nasir Jones, the greatest emcee of all time. It still sounds strange saying it. A few years back, Nas wouldn’t have even appeared in my top 10. Top 15 maybe, but nowhere near number 1. But then he dropped Hip Hop is Dead,Untitled and Distant Relatives with Damian Marley, and the truth slowly dawned on me. At this point in time, Nas truly is the greatest.
As one of the chief New York lyricists since the ‘90s, Nas has always been tight as an emcee since his debut on wax. But as a hip hop artist, he’s grown and matured so much, it’s extraordinary. Granted, he stumbled along the way with his Nas Escobar, Nastradamus personas, but when Nas regained his composure and focus with Stillmatic – he’s been on an untouchable level ever since. Unlike some of his East Coast peers who are trying to relieve past glories (Raekwon), faded away into obscurity (Prodigy, AZ) or resting comfortably on top of the world (Jay-Z) – Nas is constantly pushing the boundaries of rap music. He decried the state of rap music in Hip Hop is Dead and attempted to make a statement with Untitled and while personally, I thought these two albums suffered from lack of focus, Nas’ effort has to be commended.
Back in 1990s New York, while Raekwon was making shout outs to ‘Incarcerated Scarfaces’, Biggie was threatening to rob pregnant women and Onyx were screaming “give me the money, give me the money” – Nas, and AZ to a lesser extent, was fresh with the optimism, celebrating his adolescence and rejoicing in the fact he’s alive. Illmaticwas drenched in the gloomy ghetto views, but while he wasn’t blind to the realities of the street, Nas kept an eye open for the brighter side of life. That glimmer of hope he provided to the listeners is what made him such a unique emcee at the time.
And over the years, Nas didn’t just stick to his outstanding lyricism – tight interlocking rhymes and natural flow – he’s gone on to craft some of the best conceptual pieces ever; from his letter to a prison friend ’One Love’ to the genius gun-metaphor (‘I Gave You Power’) and the cheeky ‘Fried Chicken’; Nas is simply beyond brilliant with words.
Nas’ longevity and consistency speaks for itself, from 1994 to 2010; 16 years filled with poetry, fiery battles and captivating tales. Right now, he’s in a unique spot, bridging the gap that separates different eras in hip hop music. Like he did in ’94 when he merged the old school boom bap of Large Professor and Pete Rock to 1990s advanced lyricism, Nas is now the bridge the links the Golden Age standard of rhyme technique with today’s rap listeners. A blend of the pioneering emcees before him – Kool G Rap’s grittiness, Rakim’s mystical aura, Kane’s superb technique and Slick Rick’s narratives – Nas has gone from a young budding poet scribbling in his notepad to becoming the greatest emcee of all time.
“…I sip the Dom P, watchin Gandhi til I’m charged, then writin in my book of rhymes, all the words past the margin, to hold the mic I’m throbbin, mechanical movement, understandable smooth sh*t that murderers move with, the thief’s theme, play me at night, they won’t act right, the fiend of hip-hop has got me stuck like a crack pipe…”