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Like many cinema lovers, I was eagerly awaiting the release of Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s latest mind fuck. But you know, 2020. Those two will now be synonymous. If you look up one, you’ll learn about the other. And a footnote to that tale might be that Travis Scott song — or maybe it should be a header.

I’ve written about Travis Scott before, a couple of times actually, but listening to Scott’s “The Plan” as the credits roll to Tenet made me realize, I gots to write about him again.

But before I even get into the music, can we talk about this man just putting his name, Cactus Jack, to a Mickey D’s combo and that driving sales to the point where them fools were short on quarter pounders? Dame Dash told me to not count another man’s dollars so I’ll just say he best to had got a pretty penny for that. …


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Back in 2012 I had thought to start an online radio show with Rap from every area and every era so I surfed the web for new artists…that’s how I learned about her.

She was in high school, she was confident, she had personality — no, she had star power. She also had a couple of mixtapes and one on the way. I became a fan.

Like many artists, she raps and sings and as per normal, I preferred the rap. Not that she can’t sing. She can, it’s just that her rap is what I preferred. Soon there was big news. Timbaland was signing her. …


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You don’t need me to tell you that Wikipedia ain’t shit. If you go to Cass page, you’ll get some half ass mention of him being born from East African parents (huh) and that’s it. They just jump into his albums. Which, whatever, to me at least. But recently I realized, people actually BELIEVE Wikipedia! Shocking.

So for the record let me say, I’m familiar with “Hotel” and “I’m a Hustla” and all of that…but that I ain’t why I know Cassidy. I know Cassidy because this mothafucka could RAP. R A P. See, the way the world works now, a kid could write a song, one song, one catchy song, and boom, they have a career. Good for them. That ain’t how the pre-2007, before YouTube rap world worked. …


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I do my top MCs list differently. First of all, I don’t do em. But if backed into a corner, I relent and this is how I do it — by decades. It makes absolutely no sense in the world trying to compare Drake with Grandmaster Caz. That’s like trying to compare the iPhone 12 with a DynaTAC, crying out that the iPhone sold more copies and has more advanced technology. Bitch, there would be no iPhone without the DynaTAC, and there would be no Drake without Caz.

But alas, once in that corner if I had to give a (not The) a top five MC of the aughts, Ludacris has to be all up in there. I had stumbled on one of his Rap City in the Basement freestyles and was stank face. Which made me look at some of his performances from them years...first of all, he was an Emcee for real. He had stage presence, breath control, his shows varied, he got the crowd hyped and Luda had hits. …


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I’m a grown ass man. Been one. Since I was sixteen. Grown in the sense that I was serious. Serious about life. Serious about the condition of my people. Not that I didn’t (or don’t) have fun. There’s tons of fun to be had. But as us Muslims say, “everything is real.”

Which is why I’ve always rocked with Phonte. He be joking, having fun, but it’s plain to see — Phonte is a grown ass man.

One of the greatest faults that I find in most Rap is the music has no relationship with the life of the person writing the rhymes. The lack of realness creates a disconnect between me and the artist. …


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Like most fans of Rap music, I fool myself sometimes. Sometimes I think that I would be a good A&R. “I have a good ear,” I tell myself and revel in the few times when a pick of mine becomes a hit.

But that does not an A&R make. I first realized that when I championed songs like “Unbelievable” over “Juicy.” The second and final time I realized that was when I saw early Nicki Minaj and like KC Green’s dog in a burning room thought, “this is fine.” I had no idea how big she could become.

Wherein I admit my blindspots. I’m blind to theatrics — theatrics and voice changes. Which is why I could have never predicted the rise of Nicki. She has both of those in spades. Those are the things that make superstars (see: Lady coming-into-an-awards-show-in-an-egg Gaga). When I read statements like Portia Kirkland’s, “we didn’t position her as music but as a lifestyle,” the Rap purists in me winced. …


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The fact that we even knew Black Moon says a lot. Enta Da Stage came out sandwiched between Souls of Mischief’s 93 ’til Infinity, KRS One’s Return of the Boom Bap (both released on Sep 28 1993) and Tribe’s Midnight Marauders and Wu’s debut Enter the Wu Tang (both released on Nov 9 1993)…and this is back when we carried CDs or cassettes, so space was limited.

It was also a time when you LIVED with an album, meaning you played it first song to last, flipped it (in the case of a cassette), and played it again. An album could easily run close to an hour back then (93 ’til clocked in at 54 min and 38 sec). Therefor, if you ain’t have a long commute, you may only get to listen to a few songs — the others you would have to make time for. …


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Say what you want (I Know I have), but KRS ain’t going no where. No, he’s not taking on the rap patterns of the newest rapper. No, he’s not changing his subject matter or backing off of his self-proclaimed title, The Teacher. And no, you might not be exposed to his recent music, but it’s there (I clicked on “Don’t Fall for It” from Dec of 2020 — it’s Jan 2021 — almost 700,000 views — pretty good).

And, I have to say, if KRS is on the mic, he’s saying something. He’s got coherent lyrics that draw you in:

Yo, me, I’m not a fake dude, I’ma keep it real real
They see through it all, that “America needs to heal” deal
America ain’t really sick, this is what it really is
Gunshots and cages for black and brown little kids
Now they acting like they not the cause of how we live
Do not tell me what you gonna do, I can see what you…


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Everyone has their requirements for what makes an Emcee great. For some, it’s how fast the person raps. Some people like when a rapper changes their voice. While others only care about how many units said rapper moves. I can’t say I give much merit to the criteria drawn up by others.

I’m with Guru, “it’s mostly the voice.” That, and can I remember (and do I recite) your lyrics. And of all the rappers that I can think of, the one that I find myself returning to the most is Prodigy.

I’ve taken to using Prodigy lines the same way I use movie scenes — as teaching modules. …


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Let’s be clear, as long as there’s been recorded Rap there’s been so-called conscious Rap. Brother D and the Collective Effort put out “How We Gonna Make The Black Nation Rise” as early as 1980 (but it got no burn). Duke Bootee and Melle Mel released the ever-popular “The Message” in 82.

So when we’re talking about the impact of Public Enemy, we’re talking about something different — we’re talking about the culmination of technology, lyrics, and visuals — we’re talking about the highest level of the genre.

It was the summer of 1987 twelve inch and a song released on the Less Than Zero soundtrack later that year that hooked me — those songs are “Rebel Without a Pause” and “Bring The Noise” — and after that my views on what Rap could be would be altered forever. …

About

mauludSADIQ

b-boy, Hip-Hop Investigating, music lovin’ Muslim

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