Tagged: Nas

Nasty Star

I was listening to some post-his-prime Nas today (particularly the track ) and was really trying to articulate just WHY this man is the most aesthetically pleasing lyricist of all-time.
*Again, I want to be clear that with Nas, specifically post- It Was Written & a couple tracks on I Am, we know content is basically out of the equation.


I think it comes down to these key elements of flow:
1) Nas’ ability to deftly & precisely maintain a high syllabic content line for line is difficult, if not impossible to emulate, while still holding a normal cadence. Take this line on verse 2 on the Nasty track:
Silent rage, pristine in my vintage shades
I’m not in the winters of my life or the beginner stage, I am the dragon
As a former eMCee who has attempted to mimic all kinds of eMCees doing all kinds of flows, a line like this – potentially awkward timing, a ‘line after line’ (line 2) element and a rhyme prior to restarting a new rhyme are all factors that can throw an eMCee off his smooth train. Not so with Nas.
2) as John Wooden says, “be quick, but don’t hurry.” Play this segment, also in Verse 2, and note the difficult complexity of what he’s doing here – again, many words/syllables but nothing forced. He let’s the rhyme come to him, and with this kind of structure that’s near impossible.
Past nasty now, I’m gross and repulsive
Talk money, is you jokin’? Cash everywhere, in my bank, in the sofa
In the walls, in the cars, in my wallet, in my pocket
On the floors, ceiling, the safe, bitch
I got all you envy, but don’t offend
I’m skinny, but still I’m too big for a Bentley
You are your car, what could represent?
Too Godly to be a Bugatti, you honestly
Must design me somethin’ Tommy Mottonic from Queens had before the ’90s

3) Nas maintains a conversational tone while flowing. VERY underrated factor, and something many eMCees just can’t avoid (Eminem most obvious, M.O.P., Pharoahe Monche, etc). I personally think there’s a time & place for screaming/singing/etc (again, whole other discussion), but the smooth vocals of just. . .conversation. . .are what make Nas’ flows so aurally pleasing.

Also, Nas = Stephon Marbury?
https://i0.wp.com/sohhdotcom.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/07/23/nas20080703300x300.jpg      https://i2.wp.com/davissportsdeli.com/podcasts/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/196_8d8106b40308ad5034a98a01b5c66133.jpg
Additionally, You know one of my fave hip hop things to do is say, “_____ rapper is
like _____ basketball player.” Love the obvious potential for analogy
in the art, aesthetic and execution of each; not to mention similar
culture just makes it obvious sometimes.

Nas has always been sui generis, though – how to classify a cat that
was so utterly beautiful, executed on such a high plane only to fall –
not precipitously, but gradually. . .but still maintaining flashes of
brilliance, enough even to go toe-to-toe 20 years later, at least in
argument. . .which brings me to Starbury.

I think stylistically, Star may have been the most gorgeous, smooth &
precise cat to grace the court in our lifetime. I’m in no way putting
him up there AS A PLAYER with Kobe, Mike, even LeBron and def not
Iverson. BUT, the kid from Brooklyn with the silky 20-footer, the deft
three point shot, the no-look passing guaranteeing 10 dimes/game and
the CONTROLLED quickness (as opposed to AI, let’s say, whose reckless
quickness was advantageous nonetheless) combined with the ball control
of Chris Paul and driving ability of Dwyane Wade who could leap like
Mike? And at 6 foot even, if that??!

Fact is we know how the Starbury story turned out, but we don’t also
appreciate his four year run averaging 23.5/10.5/5. Even toward the
end, when motivated, he was unstoppable. Shoot, today I hear he’s
dropping 30/game in China:oP

Alas, Star can be Nas and Nas can be Star, save for the fact that as
you said, Mr. Escobar has his Trophy on the mantle already. But
aesthetically, stylistically and perhaps most important in regard to
career & emotional trajectory, you gotta admit there’s something

Tigallo for Dolo

Thank you, Phonte of Little Brother, for leaving the rap game at your absolute lyrical apex with Tigaallo for Dolo, a Nas is Like. . . or  The Sixth Sense au revoir to the youthful hubris of being a raw lyricist. After all, Phonte is now one half of the grammy-nominated duo The Foreign Exchange (along with Nicholay), concentrating mostly on the downtempo, soul-heavy sound.

Regardless, check out this track (lyrics below), and enjoy the sound of mature, ‘big boy’ lyricism. . .

Little Brother: “Tigallo for Dolo”
From the album: Leftback (2010)
Produced by Khrysis

“By myself
H.O.J., even when I’m by myself
Little Brother, even when I’m by myself
Foreign Exchange, even when I’m by myself
Zo! & Tigallo, even when I’m by myself
Justus League, even when I’m by myself
Phontigallo for dolo
Smile for the camera, nigga, pose for the photo
Pause for the promo ’cause failure’s a no-no
Back on my fly shit
So green with envy, kiss me, I’m Irish
Niggas be asking me “Who we got to ride with?”
They saying “Come back Tay, we been craving”
We need LB to come and save the rap game
But, truthfully, I don’t think the shit needs saving
I think we got wives and sons that need raising
New dreams to fill and for that, we need patience
Twenty-one years old, I used to slang verses
But ten years later, I am not the same person
Whole new perspective, not the same purpose
And sometimes I have to question if I even want it
Not mad at the game ’cause it is what it is
And not mad at the radio ’cause I don’t know what’s on it
Be in my own universes when I be doing verses
Burn ‘em down like the Klan used to do to churces
Back in the day in my town, nigga
Don’t come around if you a clown nigga, then go and do the circus
First, do the knowledge, then do the purchase
Understand why, against me, a coup is worthless
Battle Tay That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard
Since ex-hoes claiming that they’re born-again virgins
Feeling like a born-again version
Of myself, thought I left the shit I used to listen to
‘Til one day, I was playing my old shit
Like “Who the fuck is this? I kind of miss this dude.”
It’s the same old Tigga that slowed your whole movement
And y’all dudes just all show and no proving
But honestly, I like what them young boys is doing
But my niggas like “Tay, they close, but no Cuban”
Like I was the chosen one for flowing
I’m done, the rap game’s no country for old men
I’ll always spit whenever the spirit hits me
But fuck if I’m a be doing this shit when I’m sixty
And that’s no disrespect to KRS
I’m just trying to make my art and do what’s smart
I’m saying, rapping Tay, four-and-half-mic honoree
Or singing Tay, first-time Grammy nominee
Nigga, you do the math, nigga, you add it up
That’s on my mind when I press record
A lot of niggas probably mad at me
But I would rather be a lonley wolf than a sheep that’s bored
So fuck it, be by myself
Big Pooh, even when I’m by myself
Big Dho, even when I’m by myself
Nicolay, even when I’m by myself
My nigga Zo!, even when I’m by myself
Median, even when I’m by myself
Yazarah, even when I’m by myself
DJ Flash, even when I’m myself”

Renaissance II Track listing

Hip Hop Renaissance II (track listing)

i) Projections – Juggaknots

ii) Starr Status – Kenn Star

iii) Anti-Matter – KingGeedorah/MF Doom/Mr. Fantastik

iv) Here we Go – 9th Wonder/Buckshot

v) Duck Season – DJ Babu/Beatnuts

vi) Dreamin’ – Del the Funky Homosapien/Brother Ali

vii) In the Ghetto – Elvis Presley

viii) The Grudge – EMC

ix) Murs Day – Murs

x) History – Mos Def/Talib Kweli

xi) You’re a Customer – EPMD

xii) Cypher Freestyle – Mos Def/BlackThought/Your Boy Eminem

xiii) Take Me to Your Leader – King Geedorah

xiv) Stay Chisel – Large Professor/Nas

xv) High Rollers – Ice-T

xvi) Hip Hop’s Cool Again – Oddisee

xvii) Hip Hop Tribute – Icewater/Raekwon

xviii) Kelly Watch the Stars – Air

Hip Hop Renaissance

A little break from sports to remind people what real hip hop really is. . .and in light of these bodaciously bogus ‘Songs of the Decade‘ lists – which should be renamed ‘commercial tracks of the decade’ – here is the Track Listing for my Hip Hop Renaissance compilation:
Waitin’ On You – Kenn Star
Trouble Man – Juggaknots
Clear Blue Skies – Juggaknots
Surving the Times – Nas
Hope –
Pete Philly & Perquisite f/ Talib Kweli
The Web – The Roots
We Can’t hear You – The Herd
Brooklyn In My Mind – 9th Wonder f/ Mos Def, Jean Grae, Memphis Bleek
The Healer – Erykah Badu f/ Pharoahe Monch
Brand New – MF Grimm f/ Monsta Island Czars
‘Maica Living – Large Professor f/ Killa Sha & Guardian Leep
Can’t Let Her – Little Brother
Madness In a Cup – Mr. Lif
Dear Zev (Never Give Up) – Scienz of Life
Smile – Juggaknotz f/ Castro
Still Love – Soulstice
Realistically the compilation spans from 1997 – 2009, but since real hip hop (nee, Underground) is never understood nor fairly represented, take a moment to peep said tracks – or email me for a compilation, I’ll send – and you’ll figure out what real eMCees and producers are doing these days.