July 15, 2011
The first rap tape I ever owned was G Funk Era by Warren G. I dubbed it from a friend and was hooked from the jump. The drums, the kicks, the loops, the samples, the funk, the rhythm, the bass. Not to mention the rhymes. And I had to listen to it discreetly because my parents had read in the paper that “Gangsta Rap” was poisoning the ears of our nation’s youth. Needless to say, that fueled my obsession even further. (To be honest, until I heard G Funk, the only curse word I had heard on an album was when Eddie Vedder said “fuck” on “Jeremy”). Soon I was spending almost every cent of my weekly allowance on rap records: Doggystyle, Me Against the World, Illmatic, Reasonable Doubt, 36 Chambers, Liquid Swords, ATLiens, Strictly Business, Stakes is High…. and Beats, Rhymes and Life.
Fast forward almost fifteen years to last Friday night. The adolescent in me was geeking the fuck out when I went to see Michael Rapaport’s new film about A Tribe Called Quest. It’s a loving tribute to one of the most influential groups in the genre’s history and a celebratory portrait of an era in music the likes of which we may never see again. Sure, Tribe had their troubles as a group, but that shouldn’t diminish the impact they had on everyone from Pharrell to the Roots. A lot of people bitch and moan about the state of hip hop today and don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to throw a parade for the next Waka Flocka record. But that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy all of the gems that hip hop has given us throughout the years. If nothing else, go see Beats, Rhymes and Life because it’s a poignant reminder of what hip hop is supposed to be: creative and fun. Then go listen to Low End Theory again and pretend it’s the first time. Boomin in ya, boomin in ya, boomin in ya jeep…
October 19, 2008
Released in 1996, Reasonable Doubt was Jay Z’s debut album and most critically acclaimed. Gritty lyrics and simple beats provided the medium for Jay Z’s retelling of his life in the hood and his dealings with crime. After listening to Reasonable Doubt, it’s difficult picturing Jay Z rapping in “Big Pimpin” and “Crazy In Love” with Beyonce.
There’s no doubting Jay Z’s skill on the mic and his legacy as one of the greatest East Coast Rappers. If you do, dust off Reasonable Doubt and give it another listen or just check out the vids below. Enjoy.
Dead Presidents –
Can’t Knock the Hustle –
Brooklyn’s Finest –