The Hip-Hop mixtape DJ is a little like the Fox News ticker: he takes attention away from the main feature but ideally gives you the latest breaking news. Establishing a relationship with the listener based upon equal parts hate and love, DJ Clue fits this description perfectly. You hate that echoing, overly enthusiastic yell, "Clue! Skane! Duro! Desert Storm! Exclusive! Woo!", but then love those very same exclusives, the fact that he even has the song in the first place, when you know no one else does. Hate him or love him, you have to respect the hustle. It's this hustle that has transformed Clue from just another mixtape DJ into a TV and radio personality, an in demand producer, and a platinum selling artist in his own right.
Nas respects Clue and vice versa. Back when Illmatic rocked out of every ragtop, Clue had those exclusives. When It Was Written was winning, so was Clueminatti. Even when the streets went sour over The Firm flop, the Question Mark Man continued to support him. In fact, during this 96-97 period, many of Nas' most prestigious freestyles blessed Clue's tapes. Naturally, come '98, when it was time for Clue to do his first album on Roc-A-Fella Records, Nas had no problem returning the favor.
Released in mid-December of 1998, The Professional featured Queensfinest, by none other than Queen's finest, Nas Escobar himself. The Self produced song, not to be confused with the self-produced, was an ode to the "borough that Gotti was made in" (John, not Irv, although he's from Queens too). Like AAA for the boom bap crowd, here was Nas giving shine to a couple Queens spots, Jamaica, Far Rockaway, Long Island City, East Elmhurst, and Corona:
Bentley Azure, yo, we on the world tourColiseum and Gertz refer to the Coliseum Mall and Gertz Plaza respectively, both located in the Jamaica Avenue area, a sizeable shopping district and around-the-way hang out. The line about School of Hard Knocks shirts is a nod to the designs of Von's Sportswear, over on Northern Boulevard in Corona, incredibly popular at the time. Unfortunately, Nas' precision with his hometown facts got a little shaky in the second verse, "Sunrise movie theaters to chill with our ladies." Sunrise Multiplex Cinemas, although close in proximity to Jamaica by bus, is actually located near Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, which is in Long Island. It's another place to go hang out and shop, however, you don't really want to big up a Long Island locale if the song is supposed to be about Queens.
We got a show on top of the Coliseum, open doors
Let them Rockaway niggas in
Queensbridge starting' shit
Chill, calm it down we got to blend it in
School of Hard Knocks shirts
Shop at Gertz from the 'Hurst
Yo, Corona play the sideline, yeah it works
When we put it all in the same fam
Yo, round up the Queens click, check out the game plan
Clue didn't seem to care about the slip up though, as he invited Nas back for 2001's The Professional 2. And this go 'round, we got a bit more lyrical grit. With tenacity replacing the previous tour guide tone, the change had to do with the fact that, at the time, Nas was on the defensive. The entire Roc-A-Fella crew, particularly the State Property set, had just gone on New York radio station Hot 97, Clue's then-place of employment, and unleashed freestyle after freestyle shooting down the character of not only Nas but of Queensbridge Houses as well. 40 Side's own, obviously a little offended, felt obligated to let them really know about life from Live At The Bridge:
I talk it and live itWhile not quite on the Ether level of "oh my", then again it wasn't a full fledged diss record either. As a matter of fact, the song, like a decent portion of Nas' output post-Nastradamus and pre-Stillmatic, sounds uninspired. But again, with all his exclamations in the background, Clue didn't seem to care. And thankfully so, because with news of The Professional 3 set for sometime soon, Nas is scheduled to be back on the block. Now that he has buried the hatchet with Hovi's home label and signed to the house that Russell built, maybe the third time will be the charm. Maybe Nas will get his facts right, cut the fat away, and give all of us a performance worth shouting about.
Y'all weak dudes should offer forgiveness
'Cause fronting like you ill, get yourself tortured by killers
In New York, I'm the realest, predicted by fortune tellers
Sick with the talking methods, AK's, Berettas
DJ Clue f/ Nas: Live from the Bridge
DJ Clue f/ Nas: Queensfinest
*NOTE: Far Rockaway's own Chanson is responsible for the bulk of this entry. He also runs his own blog, via myspace, where everything from the brand new (Timbaland, Clipse) to older rarities (Biggie, Cool J) are covered.--Fletch