Hot 16…Or More…”MY, NAME’s MALIK; I’MMA BLOW!!!”

This month, since it’s the month that begins everything and kicks off the year, I saw it fitting to set the first Hot 16…Or More… of the year off with the verse that kicked off the very first track on my very 1st mixtape, which began everything for me.

Like most of the material on the Crazy 8’s mixtape, I wrote this in the fall of 2003. I was in college and hungry to make my statement. I can still remember being in my homeboy’s dorm room laying this down. I had just finished with my earlier collection of songs from that summer and I was unhappy with the fact that I didn’t attack every song and that I never released it to the campus. So I set out to record a short set of tracks over industry beats to keep up with the rising trend of artists rhyming over whatever was hot at the moment and in order to reach a broader range of my peers. I also figured the low-risk move of rapping over other artist’s stuff was a good way for me to sharpen my skills and test new flows. And that I did.

The kid who’s dorm room I’d be in was a young rapper going by the name of Blaze, who I called myself taking under my wing. I liked his dedication to what he was doing. He made his own recording set-up at his desk and started putting a few sampled  beats together on his own to start pushing an album he began. He was a little younger than me, and because he lived in the same exact room that I had stayed in the year prior, I felt like it was all kismet  and my obligation to be his mentor on all things rap, dorm and girl related. What was funny is that Blaze is one of the most clever and independent young dudes I had encountered, so he never really needed me, tho he kinda took to the apprentice role at times. That relationship played into that dynamic here and there, when he would find himself asking me for advice, or credit me for putting him on to something. Needless to say, I was feeling myself during that time. My status on campus was that of an O.G. at that point, and new kids were looking to make their mark, bumping me out the way ever so slightly while showing respect. Blaze represented that. And because he was nice with it musically and enterprising, he actually inspired me and provided a kind of friendly competition. A little bit more than my usual partner in rhyme, Brandon Carter, because this was closer to home; 2 New York kids with similar rhyme sensibilities. Seeing the little following Blaze was gathering, coupled with the esteem that the younger cats were holding me to, motivated me to exceed whatever reputation I had built, but introduce myself properly since I had never officially released anything. I wanted to kill it on a high energy beat and showcase the flexibility of my flow. I thought Peedi Crakk‘s “Fallback” was a great choice because the pace matched that hunger. It sounded like something crashing in. Plus it wasn’t a beat that I had heard a million rappers over, but it was still current and garnered instant head-nod reaction. I wanted to sound technical but effortless. I wanted to start off A-typically. I wanted to impress new listeners and validate the beliefs of all the folks who had been looking at me as the man.

I wanted to make a statement. And this was it.

As you can see, the response was so good, that I thought it would still be the best possible intro 3 years later when The Crazy 8’s hit the world.

 

“My,

name’s Malik; I’mma Blow,

change the beat – I been so,

pa-tient-ly waiting for,

ways to lead off – I’m so…

Dynamic – you cannot Hammer the flow,

less the nail is in the coffin – the coffin is where you go!

So close the box,

I can go off the top,

I can blow off your top,

have you with your head in your hands – tell you hold your thought…

Better learn how to swim,

or be floatin’ pon de river – like you Elephant Man!

I put the river pon dem,

Niggas thug, til their Lifestyles go POP! Like them little condoms.

But my style stop, all them niggas flossin’,

Like ‘Lights Out!’ Pop! – got it gettin’ all dim…(hmmnnn…)

And I ain’t tryin’a set the mood,

cause half the time, these dudes homosexual

-but no, I don’t gaybash,

I stay grabbing their girls – bring ’em back; now that ho’s mo’ sexual

-aaanndddd…

I think, therefore Iam,

and cause I think about Pussy, niggas think Iam Pussy!

No young,

I’m a kid who thinks out the box,

Mighty Joe Young,

I Gorilla-Pimp out the box – and oh! uhmmm…

Your girl like the fact I write rhymes,

And when I call her crib, she call it the HOT line,

cause I’m good at spittin’ all of them layin’-the-pipe lines,

we did it in the kitchen – I fixed her pipelines!

With a 2 finger movement,

if she got a leak – bring a tool in, to fix the pipes,

I tie her tubes – get a kiss goodnight,

if it’s plumbing, I’m the Super Man! – No Kryptonite.

It’s no spliffs tonight…

cause I do not smoke,

I do not drink…

But I hope…

That ya’ll do not think…

Cause I don’t drink,

and I don’t smoke,

that I won’t put a piece by your throat!

The punishment’ll fit the crime I figure,

cause it’s obvious that Lik is not the grimiest nigga,

In this business of industry thugs,

no Malik isn’t a thug,

Lik ain’t no dealer of drugs,

Liky is ill – just because!

They say the flow is heaven sent,

so if you wanna test him it’s your death an’ I’ll make sure you’re Heaven-sent!

So keep on bringin’ that bull to me,

and you won’t need Red Bull to give you wings!!

 

Hope you learned something.

To heardownload this track, click on the image of the cover below

Hot 16…Or More… “WANT THAT”

Another installment.

Like I said in last month’s post, I can’t get as intricate as Jay-Z did in his Decoded memoir, but follow the spaces, italics and emboldened letters to see where my points are emphasized.

This excerpt is actually the entire set of verses and the hook from the track which appears as number 2 on my very first mixtape released as a solo artist, The Crazy 8’s. It’s titled “Want That” and was instantly a favorite among listeners and always has been. It’s actually a song that I wrote in 2003 when I ventured out on my boy Terence, The Politician‘s equipment to record myself for the first time. With nothing but alot of free time on my hands, I was determined to make a collection of songs that showcased every side of my 2003 self and finally hear my voice on a fully recorded project. I used some of his original beats, some industry beats and even spliced some of both together with my limited knowledge of the programs at my disposal. I sat there, day after day, and wrote, recorded and edited everything myself. I still have that collection. The subject song of last month’s post, “Talkin’ Bout” actually spawned from that collection as well. I sharpened punchlines there, tried my very first singing track, vented about the chic I was dealing with, and tried to come to an understanding with my Father and my little sister, all on the same 17 song compilation. Who knows how many didn’t make it! But I vividly remember the inception of this track…I wanted to make something effortlesly catchy, but I wanted to rap in a revolutionary way that hadn’t been heard before. Or at least not heard too often. I spent that summer looking up this artist that Timbaland was supposed to be bringing out. Her promo material was everywhere on the net at the time. She was a singer named Kiley Dean; a White girl with a soulful voice who was poised to fill in the void left by Aaliyah the year before. Why she never really saw the light of day, I don’t know…But the musical backdrops that Tim was providing her made the perfect candidates for beat jacking. He had the usual Timbo r&b fanfare, a 50’s inspired tune, even one that borrowed from a Jay-Z song that he produced. But nothing hit me more than this guitar and violin based beat that sounded like nothing I heard before from her song “Keep It Movin'”. I loved what Kiley did to it as a song, and I found a way to loop it immediately. The rhythm actually lead me to flow the way that I did, on top of my predetermined mission to flow super creatively, so ….Mission accomplished. I wound up coming up with the hook first, which lead me to write a song which centers around a story of me pursuing a woman who’s playing hard to get. It goes into the delicacies of seduction, mutual attraction and respect. This one is not as full of complex rethorical devices as some of the other entries…I wrote it down more so because I want you to be able to follow the words that may get lost in the speed or delivery of the flow.

And with no further adieu, I give you

“Want That”

“Maybe it’s just your size,

the way you shape out those jeans,

that make me just want your thighs, and everything in between.

And I ain’t one of those guys, who cannot say what they mean,

but when you talk with your eyes, I cannot say what they meeaaannnnn – Leaning…

I’m tilting – you walking away,

feeling so awkward – I play stupid, cause Cupid must’ve been sick,

or just off for the day.

Cause you ain’t lookin’ in my direction,

except to ask for directions,

I think you lackin’ direction.

So let me pass the suggestion,

I start by asking the question; (How you Doing?),

Your reaction was so, Passive aggressive.

No need for talking out your neck,

if that’s too much of a question, we can act like we never met then.

But then you turn and do something so unexpected,

We conversate but then end doing some sex shit!

So now I’m back to just leaning,

because you back up and leaving,

a nigga backed-up

-I’m fienin’ to lean your back up…

Against the wall,

you say it won’t be too long – and I’m,

tryin’a be strong, but my back’s against the wall.

So I’m waiting,

excersizing my patience,

but you being inconsiderate with all of this time that you takin’.

You say it’s all up in my mind – sayin’ ‘haste makes waste‘,

I can fall on my behind and misplace my face.

Girl I hate the pace, that you movin’ – But still…

It makes me laugh, cause I know what your doin’ – now do it!

HOOK

Stop what your doin’ cause when you do what you do – it makes me want that,

I should persue it, but somethin’ tell me that you don’t really want that!

What, you want me to play it….

Coooollllll….

You wanna have me when you’re ready but not too soon,

So I listen to what you tellin’ me not to do,

and I just follow, and I try not to break the rules.

You -say -what -you -wont -but -you -do -it -and -do -what -you -say -but -you -say -what -you -don’t -do!

So how you expecting a nigga to follow whatever the way he’s supposed to?? You know you’re hopeful,

that I hold you close, and go through all the motions…

But look here, you’re holding on to

– that,

Golden Rule, that the old folks use that says;

‘don’t give it up, til you know your cue’.

Stay on your,

toes and Q’s and your P’s and O’s,

and O.P.P.’s – Don’t leave nothin’ exposed.

So when we get heated I unbutton your clothes,

(but)

you got your own reasons so that’s why you say ‘no!’ – and I know…

I know we just met…

But somethin’ about you spells sex,

your lips say ‘Hell Yes!’

-And I know…

You won’t be happy til you covered in sweat – so mami…

Let’s hit the covers and rest – that’s when you jump up and step,

and put a brother in check,

like ‘ain’t ya mama ever taught you respect?!’,

I say yes,

but see, as a man-I got needs!

It’s not in my plans to fold up my hands and twiddle my thumbs,

I’m finna fuck,

You gettin’ me up, til you get enough, you giving me up!

And then I’m like

What??!

Did,

I do?

To make you not wanna do,

what it is you wanna do!

And I’m a nigga that’s full of patience…

But it don’t change the fact I’m anxious,

told me wait – but -I’m -afraid -I -might -end -up -with -my -dick -up -in -a -bunch -of -other chics’ waists – but wait Miss!!!

My mistake…

The dangers,

of strangers – they be Callin’! (Callin’!)

See with you, it’s safer, but you stallin’! (Stallin’!),

I ain’t too much in favor of this nonsense! (nonsense!).

But I’mma play it your way,

cause even tho I’m complaining, I’ll respect you much more in the morning!”

Hope you learned something…

You can download this song by clicking below on the cover to the original mixtape where it’s featured. 

(8) Classic Sounds…

Like…

Sometimes a little organized ignorance is needed to balance things out. I like Dipset by default of my location, but their ignorance is far from organized. I like 50 Cent, but his ignorance is overwhelming.

When it’s carefully orchestrated, a sprinkle of niggerdom can be entertaining and thought-provoking. What the debut album from East Oakland’s premiere duo presents is just that. The Luniz came out busting with something to prove in 1995, putting their area on the national map in a way that hadn’t been done before…While the flamboyant characters of their Bay Area predecessors like Digital Underground, Dru Down and E-40 had amassed regional Icon status, The Luniz represented a more down-to-Earth look at the Yay and came with relatable personality types that the hip-hop audience outside of North Cali could identify with. This was highly important considering the Hip-Hop climate at the time, which was just beginning to rumble and bubble with the media-hyped East Coast/West Coast frenzy.

When “I Got 5 On It” dropped, most listeners weren’t fixated on where the Luniz resided as they were more interested in the subject matter of the track itself, being that it’s a universal topic in the rap world, and the song was so damn catchy!

The delivery they employed, tho definitely Yay area rooted, was in line with the multi -syllabled yet even-paced style that was prominent in the mid-90’s. Everyone from NorthEasterners like Redman to MidWesterners like Doe or Die and Southerners like OutKast were using this kind of flow, so it all fell into a hodgepodge of simply good music in those quiet radio moments between the polarized coastal giants like Snoop and Wu-Tang whose sounds were almost branded with where they were from undeniably.

Having that said, somewhere between the styles of Def Squad and Bone Thugs, came a flow from this up-til-then unknown group from a land that had been kind of closed off to the rest of the world outside of the West. The Luniz wrote the song that had the whole world singing…at least most of the country. Maybe an unwittingly genius move, seeing how their album is one big tribute to the hoods of Oakland and their entire mission is to introduce you to the mentality of themselves and the niggas you’re bound to meet on those very streets who are just like them. I think they may have succeeded, giving the rest of us a glimpse into a section where the other rappers couldn’t entice us enough to go to musically.

And this is where marketing and perception come into play. Somehow I think the Luniz got a bad deal. Often you hear them referenced as clowns or Comedic rappers. I take it that part of this comes from their logo being a cartoon condom or from their cadences, but Yukmouth and Knumskull are far from The Fat Boys or The Pharcyde. Maybe some of that stigma can be blamed on their choices in visuals when it came to videos. Or maybe it was the fact that this album is littered with silly skit-like preludes in the beginning and endings of tracks – but that was the popular norm on mid-90’s rap albums. Or maybe it’s because people weren’t so keen on what exactly punch lines were back then before the mixtape “freestyle” boom and took them as simply jokes. Or maybe it’s because, much like another duo that saw itself plagued by the comedic label, Field Mob, their use of animated adlibs brought down the seriousness of the skill and content they brought to the table.

Whatever the case, however, by the same token…like Field Mob, The Luniz’ chemistry on the mic together is super complimentary and unmatched by any other duo out of the West Coast yet. They represent that tried and true tested formula of light and dark (flow-wise and literally) that has worked for every other historic tag-team,with Yuk’s nasal rapid-fire delivery and knum’s cool, casual flow balancing each other out. The flows are distinct, but similar to Heltah Skeltah on their first album, are close enough that they almost blend into each other. It was clear that the 2 spent a good amount of time around each other. Their synergy is their strength here. Although Yukmouth has gone on to have a highly visible solo career independently, you almost don’t want to hear one without the other. Ironically,they stand out more when they stand together.

Much to the contrary of the aforementioned Comedic reputation, Operation Stackola is a an album based around the theme of getting rich through a series of scams, thefts and larceny. Mix that in with the occasional pit-stop to put a hating fool or a trifling hoe in check, or to dabble into creative territory or make an ode to getting high, and you have a Classic. Not since Spice-1 has Bay Area gangster rap been so mainstream. Then there comes the question, how gangster is this particular gangster rap? The Luniz aren’t your typical street spitters. What I appreciate about them is that they always implement a sense of where they’re coming from – and you can tell it’s just natural. They take the time (maybe without even thinking) to explain why they may be speaking how they speak or involved in what they’re involved in. You never leave the song wondering ‘well, damn, why did they say that??!’ So if it’s a song like “Yellow Brick Road” where they describe their exploits as your friendly neighborhood drug dealer, or even one like the title track, there’s an open door into their motivation and mind state that’s more understandable than the average rapper who glorifies. This is where the organization of the ignorance is exhibited. Make no mistake – it is still most certainly ignorance…But there’s a reason to the rhyme.

Besides the street aspect of the album, the other sides even things out by bringing in r&b elements that break things up with humor and Melodiousness. It’s actually pretty well sequenced, not giving you too much dark or too much smooth at one time, switching gears right when necessary. Capitalizing on the cryptic synthesized funk sound coming out the Bay at the time, the album is full of some of the best production of that era. It starts off gangster, from the intro going into one of the best songs on the album, “Put The Lead On Ya” featuring Dru Down, who introduced the Luniz. If ever you doubted these kids were niiiiiice with it, this track should clear things up for you. Violence aside, they go in! 

However, not too far after that, it gets real groovy with joints like “Pimps Playas & Hustlas” featuring Dru Down again, and Richmond representative Richie Rich, and “So Much Drama”. While both tracks contain street content as much as the harder songs do, the music behind them allow the boys to approach things less aggressively and have more fun with the tones and choruses. These moments separate the group from all of their peers and make them stand out as who they are. They have a knack for whiny sing-songy chants that are usually parodies of popular ditties or things that are easy to find yourself singing along to to – no matter how ignorant.

This leaves space for some redundancy tho. As quintessential Oakland dudes, you are going to hear tons upon tons of local slang from that time period. And with the theme soaking throughout the album, it’s not uncommon to hear words like “Lick” and “Greenery/Creamery” circulating countless times amongst the hundreds of “playas”, “Ballas” and “Scrillas” thrown around. Also, the focus on being on the lower side of the economic spectrum is prominent as evidenced by repetitive titles like “Broke Niggaz” and “Broke Hos”. While both songs are 2 of the doper songs on the album, they add to that feeling of the group being a little limited in subject matter. The former is like a gangster rap credo with one of the most profound choruses in history, “Broke Niggaz make the best crooks/ya best look…over ya shoulder, if you’s a high roller!/”. The latter, on another note, is a more focused taste of the misogyny that you’ll experience later on during the album on the song “She’s Just A Freak”. These are the kinds of songs that incorporate the language that made C. Delores Tucker raise hell, but even there, the group explains the type of female they are talking about. In this case, it’s not women per se, but Scheming chics out for monetary gain, and then all around whores. Too bad they didn’t have a regular female-friendly song to level the playing field. But this isn’t the album for that.

The gems here are the conceptual ones where the duo really flex their skills and show you how they can tell stories in creative situations that pertain to their lifestyles. On “5150” featuring Shock-G, they weave a tale where they die for being dirty on Earth, and wind up in the afterlife contemplating and then ultimately carrying out a mission from “Shock Jesus” to kill the Devil and earn their way back up. Nuff said.

On “900 Blame A Nigga”, they get about as political as they’re ever going to get as they sound off on haters, racists and the powers that be who aim to blame rappers, niggas from the hood, or just Black folk in general and use them as scapegoats and examples. It’s pretty damn creative stuff – especially with the redneck voice impersonations between verses.

And finally, toward the end of the album, “Plead Guilty” finds the group facing prison time and voicing their thoughts on that.

My absolute Favorite song on here is the single, “Playa Hata” which borrows the beat from the Bobby Caldwell classic “What You Won’t Do For Love”, and borrows it’s hook from the early 90’s Chucky Booker song “Games”. It just rapes both songs and makes it its own, doubling as a dis track to fellow East Oakland rep and pioneer, Too Short. It goes down in infamy, but for me, it’s one of my favorite rap songs with some of the best explanatory verses towards haters and gossipers ever. Also the delivery and intro are impeccable. 

Overall, the Luniz made 1 of the best albums in 90’s Hip-Hop history, and while they may have lost a lot of the chemistry that they had on this album in their subsequent efforts, they knocked it out the park here. It was a perfect look into their world; a great intro to the Bay area for New Yorkers like myself and other outside regions, and lyrically and flow-wise it’s what great rap is made of. Besides the repetitive words and dated sounds on some tracks (which should be expected by now from anything that I review before the new millennium), the only other fault that I can think of is an obvious lack of deep, meaningful content. As Ol’ Dirty proved, not all classic albums have to have some weighty social commentary included, but based on where the duo ventured on their conceptual songs and their potential, perhaps they could have afforded to squeeze something on there. If there was a rating between 12 and 16, I would be giving Operation Stackola a 14, whereas E.1999 Eternal would’ve gotten a 13. But for the sake of this site’s scale, I give this album 12 Candles out of a possible

4812 or 16.

4(Classic Just because where it stands in Hip-Hop, whether it be the time of it’s release, it’s influence, or the popularity of it’s singles overall)

8(Classic because it was solid for it’s time, but may be a little dated or less than amazing by today’s standards)

12(Classic as a complete release and probably celebrated widely on the surface, but possibly lacking one key element – be it one song that doesn’t fit, a wack guest appearance, lyrics, lack of depth or beats)

16(Classic all around)