For part Dos in this series, I stayed true to the original criteria - songs that exemplify lyrical prowess before the hook-and-beat era took hold. Have ya thesaurus as we take trip into time..
Black Star - Definition
Ultimate ceremony masters Mos Def & Talib Kweli are unique dudes - both feel underground but spit at par with the best of all time and entertain in the same breath. This jam from '98 is just one specific example of the skill each exhibited during the Black Star years.
Mos meticulously pronounces "From the first to the last of it, delivery is passionate/The whole and not the half of it, vocab and not the math of it/ Projectile that them blasted with, accurate assassin shit/ Me and Kweli close like, Bethlehem and Nazareth" then Kweli articulates "Brooklyn New York City where they paint murals of Biggie/In cash we trust, cause it's ghetto fabulous, life look pretty/What a pity - blunts is still fifty cents, it's intense/Tree scents is dominant can't be covered with incense."
The duo dominates through the remainder: Mos' diction during "When the cock crows, my crop grows, enable me to rock flows/Strivin for perfection ever since I was a snot-nosed/Colossal, true original b-boy apostle/Standin on the rooftop with the Zulu gestapo" and Kweli's prolific wordplay with "Consider me the entity within the industry without a history/
f spittin the epitome, of stupidity/ Lovin' my life, expressin my liberty/It gotta be done properly/My name is in the middle of e-Kweli-ty" lead up to the big finish.
As a finale, Mos silences the critics "In miles or kilometers, most cats cannot proceed us/In the jungle with the leaders we the lions you the 'cheaters'." Damn, those were the days.
Wu-Tang Clan - Triumph
Words cannot describe this Staten Island flame-broiled lyrical onslaught. Well, maybe Wu-Tang words can.
Inspectah Deck's eccentric intro "I bomb atomically, Socrates' philosophies/And hypothesis can't define how I be droppin' these" or Meth's stone-cold demeanor on "As the world turns, I spread like germs/Bless the globe with the pestilence, the hard-headed never learn/It's my testament to those burned/Play my position in the game of life, standin' firm" that catches you. Though Cappa and U-God wander a little, they hold it down on lines like "My deadly notes reigns supreme/Your fort is basic compared to mine/Domino effect, arts and crafts, paragraphs contain cyanide" and "A jungle junkie, vigilante tantrum/A death kiss, catwalk, squeeze another anthem/Hold it for ransom, tranquilized with anesthetics/My orchestra, graceful, music ballerinas" respectively.
Then, like an arsenal of martial art weapons, RZA, GZA, Masta Killa, Ghostface and Raekwon slice. The Abbot's enters: My beats travel like a vortex, through your spine/ To the top of your cerebral cortex, Make you feel like you bust a nut from raw sex." The Genius follows suit: "War of the masses, the outcome disastrous/Many of the victim family save they ashes/A million names on walls, engraved in plaques/Those who went back, received penalties for the axe" Masta intrigues: "Givin' sight to the blind/The dumb are mostly intrigued by the drum," Ghost dices: "Sound convincin', thousand dollar court by convention/Hands, like Sonny Liston, get fly permission/Hold the fuck up, I'll unfasten your wig, bad luck/I humiliate, separate the English from the Dutch." And Rae executes: "The swift chancellor, flex, the white-gold tarantula/Track truck diesel, blaze the weed God, substantiala/Max mostly, undivided, then slide in, sickenin'/Guaranteed, made em jump like Rod Strickland" to finish the listener - fatality.
Drag-On & Twista - Twisted Heat
On the often-overlooked Ruff Ryders 2000 compilation Ryde or Die Volume 2, Chicago newcomer Twista and virtual unknown Drag-On went bar-for-bar and wouldn't back down. Twista sets the stage "Thugs with the Chevy's, thugs with the trucks/ The real gun runner never run when he bust/Henny and he mobs in the front, smoke a 'dro blunt/sippin' with a fifty sack under the nuts" and "Cause I be squeezin' ass/ That'll make a full glass disappear like a genie/Move to the LOX and Beanie, while them hoes backin' that thang up on my weenie."
Drag-On then steps up properly with "All I rock is E-N-Y-C-E, in the NYC with the white T/All I really do is R-U/Double F, R-Y-D-E, D-R-A-G, to the dash O-N/Catch me, smokin' potent, bet I leave y'all/ Niggaz soakin' with your insides open."
Just as the energy subsided, Swizz Beatz drops and turns the already frantic instrumental to warp speed. 8 bar verses from each MC ensue, as Twista opens "Whether murder or bouncy beat, my flow be philosophical/ Smokin' on tropical, achievin' all Missions Impossible" and Drag terminates with "I'm tired of silly clowns/Spittin' out weak shit, sound like me shit/You gon' make me pull a all nighter/Standin' infront of your crib with that gasoline and that lighter/That way we won't miss ya, Drag-On and Twista." The definition of adrenaline.
Big L - Ebonics
This one gets a nod not just for his lyrics but the concept behind the song - for this late great Harlemite (R.I.P.) to to illustrate the language of slang just as the millenium hit.
Schooling the novices, Big L breaks it down with phrases like "A radio is a box, a razor blade is a ox/Fat diamonds is rocks and jakes is cop/And if you got rubbed, you got stuck/You got shot, you got bucked/And if you got double-crossed, you got fucked," "The food you eat is your grub, a victim's a mark/A sweat box is a small club, your tick is your heart/ Your apartment is your pad, your old man is your dad/The studio is the lab and heated is mad."
Topping it off with urban education like "The iron horse is the train and champaign is bubbly/A deuce is a honey that's ugly/If your girl is fine, she's a dime/A suit is a fine, jewelry is shine/If you in love, that mean you blind/Genuine is real, a face card is a hundred dollar bill/A very hard, long stare is a grill."
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