Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rough Around The Edges

Produced by Hi-Tek, here's Nas joining Busta Rhymes for Rough Around the Edges. This is from the brand new Green Lantern and Kay Slay mixtape, On My New York Shit.

[NAS]
Mossberg on me, up early
Now what's the verdict?
Perspiring, paranoid, peak from curtains
Hearing voices, church lady gave me holy water
Plus some stuff to smear ointments
All over the skin, I hear it over again . . .
Voices blow in the wind
Telling me foes is coming for revenge
Giving me choices, there that voice goes again
No applause, no air time
No need for the floss or "I don't care" rhyme
No studio session needed to air mines
Here lies a dude who did it
I'm a fool at the pulpit
My jewelry dripping
My uzi slipping
I interrupt his eulogy
Excuse me y'all--sipping
Something to soothe me
Talk about my dude, I miss him
Father's a pimp, his mom a Christian
Laying there shivering, what's his religion?
The choir's a liar, songs they singing are repulsive
Preacher man tell it how it was, it went . . .

Rough around the edges
And the edges stick way out . . .

Busta Rhymes f/ Nas: Rough Around the Edges

11 Comments:

Blogger Fletch said...

For starters, this beat is real good, as Hi-Tek manages to bring some sense of murky soul. Busta leaves the rah-rah behind and delivers well himself. As for Nas' particular verse, this being a Nas blog and all, here are just a couple quick thoughts:

a.Use of alliteration is great: "Perspiring, paranoid, peak" / "some stuff to smear ointments"

b.To fit that aforementioned "murky soul" feel, Nas' verse, with allusions to Malcolm, sets up a paranoid feel, "up early", quite well: "now what's the verdict?". This transitions nicely into a picture of organized religion that is a darker than most of Nas' other trips into this world. Esco a la Angel Heart

who else?

May 17, 2006 9:17 AM  
Blogger Subculture said...

Truthfully I think Bustas rhyme is a bit more solid than Nas on this song. It gives more of a feeling of remorse and Nas gives a more of a feeling of paranoia witch is a bit more cliché in hip hop. But both verses are dope.

May 17, 2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

i don't know if i agree that Nas' verse is that of paranoia. sure, he says it in the begining, but then seems to slip into his own version of rememberance & remorse.

not his verbal strongest effort (IMO), mostly due to his flow. to me, it seems a bit off in places, he doesn't feel completely at home in this beat (to my ears). busta does a better job of coasting on the beat & keeping his flow the same as usual, while Nas tries to rock w/ the ebb & flow of the slow twang (pauses after the "smear..." line). the verse ends kinda roughly, but then again it sounds like this is a rough mix. who knows. it's a pretty decent effort.

May 17, 2006 5:23 PM  
Blogger Fletch said...

I had some time and work today and got a little carried away. To anyone, just because this is lengthy and has a lot of ^'s, don't confuse it absolute accuracy ("it's just my interpretation of the situaiton"). Also, don't let the size scare off a reply.


Mossberg on me, up early
^^defense mechanism steady by his side
^^at dawn time so he can be prepared
^^extra cautious

Now what's the verdict?
^^what's the next move?

Perspiring, paranoid, peak from curtains
^^anxious, got that Malcolm feel
^^foreshadows "foes is coming for revenge"

Hearing voices
^^something physically absent is haunting him

church lady gave me holy water
Plus some stuff to smear ointments
^^suggests a mystic potion of sorts
^^a resolution, a cleansing is needed

All over the skin, I hear it over again . . .
Voices blow in the wind
^^he attempts to cleanse his body, entirely
^^but that anxious feeling is still there
^^still talking to him

Telling me foes is coming for revenge
^^the source of his paranoia

Giving me choices, there that voice goes again
^^what are the choices? go or be got?
^^"voices" could be interpreted as the talking dead
^^who maybe didn't go far enough or in the right way

No applause, no air time
^^so what's he gonna do w/ his choices?
^^his fight doesn't entail fanfare or pub

No need for the floss or "I don't care" rhyme
^^no gimmicks or excess

No studio session needed to air mines
^^the fight, that feeling is internal
^^it doesn't need to be drawn out by a mixing board

Here lies a dude who did it
^^"here lies" sounds like the description of the deceased
^^who did it w/out gimmicks

I'm a fool at the pulpit
^^interesting idea with "fool"
^^I get the strongest sense of regret out of this line
^^the pulpit has replaced the studio session

My jewelry dripping
^^I know "dripping" here could have a decorative connotation
^^but I'm reminded of his line from the Black Stacey remix
^^"rubies like Diallo red blood on my pinky"

My uzi slipping
^^while he's changed weapons from the first line
^^and he was clutching the Mossberg out of nervousness
^^now either the nervousness got too much and he's fumbled it away
^^or he's looking to relinquish it all together
^^slipping here may really be liberating

I interrupt his eulogy
^^"here lies a dude who did it"

Excuse me y'all--sipping
Something to soothe me
^^the moment is too much, so he has to interrupt
^^and the only thing to calm that rush of adrenaline
^^is a concoction, a drink to temper the anxiety

Talk about my dude, I miss him
^^so maybe Nas is the fool because the jewelry dripped blood
^^his uzi proved out of grasp at a moment most needed
^^and he's left with guns and gold that are still around
^^but that do nothing when his man is gone at the same time
^^"what's it all worth, can't take it when you under this Earth"

Father's a pimp, his mom a Christian
Laying there shivering, what's his religion?
^^very cold description of religion here
^^raised by a man who lived in the street
^^raised by a woman who lived in a book
^^both outlasted their son, he's dead
^^and you get an idea with "shivering"
^^that even death doesn't offer some warmth or closure

The choir's a liar, songs they singing are repulsive
^^songs of "Hallelujah"" or "Amazing Grace"
^^deceive the real emotion of the moment
^^they anesthetize the pain, they're cold themselves

Preacher man tell it how it was, it went . . .
^^the pulpit speaker, fool though he may be
^^at least has the decency to tell it honestly

I think if you take a look at something like Jean Toomer's depiction of Christianity as "pray and shout", where it has no creative response to the social ills of the day, but only offers theatrics, you can see how the choir, the orchestra of pray and shout, could be "liars." All that "applause" and "floss" and his man still shivers. So Nas sees this, the pressure mounting, and he has to weigh those choices in his head, from the voices of the deceased. If the church lady's ointments don't quell the anxiety, if the choir's singing only distracts it, if the option for standard weapons are slipping, if all of this and the uncomfortable feeling still persists, how does he face his choices? That only a single "preacher" is able to tell it honestly might imply that this is gonna be a solo mission, where the whole congregation can't help out here. "Facing this cold world head-on"

--
Just on the subject of Nas' flow . . . I've been trying to think of an appropriate comparison. See, in '96 Escobar mode, his flow was one of the most lively. I've used the word "gliding" to describe it before, a kinda of verbal swagger. While that "spark" got gradually taken away, except for a couple instances on SD (War, Rest of My Life) his delivery as of late has been rather industry standard. However, on this track or something like Road to Zion, he's changed it once more. It's as though it's absent of any self-consciousness, removed from the stylized. I don't think that means it's bland, but if the 06 Nas is more "Nas the man", then the flow matches that too. It's not intense, it's not done up, it's not laborious, it's just deliberate. If you can imagine Nas on the park bench laying out "street scriptures" on Illmatic, or spitting from some sedan drenched in Manhattan lights during IWW, he's got an indoor flow here. The delivery is very exact. No need to get your attention, you're in the room already. No need to yell, the room is rather calm. It escapes the dramatics and the boldfaced, because the strength is internal. It's the verbal equivalent of concentration, "directing and drawing toward a . . . center", not for the streets, not for the gloss, not for the comeback, not for the loss of his mother, but inward, for his own health.

May 17, 2006 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like this. Hi-Tek really brings it with the production, I've been a big fan of this mans beat since the Reflection Eternal- Train of thought album (classic).

I've also become a hater of Busta's music, really since the more commerical collaborations he's done (I was a big fan back in 96). But, Busta comes in with a dope verse.

Nas' verse is also very good, one of the better verses I've heard this year. Fletch analysed it very aptly.

Peace

May 18, 2006 1:39 AM  
Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

nice break down fletch. just comment on the flow. i didn't say (or mean) it was bland, it just sounds a bit off in places. i like how he just lets the words flow and flow in the begining, the pause throws me off. makes me want to think about what happened just before it (perhaps this is because i am mainly a poet & i deal a lot in phrasing and line breaks and inner pauses,etc...). so it just threw me off a bit.

May 18, 2006 9:16 AM  
Blogger Joey said...

Fletch, you're a monster blogger!

Saw your boy in concert last night. I had never seen him before. I had a great time. Hearing Illmatic performed live was a holy experience.

May 19, 2006 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been listening to this on repeat, and Nas' flow really grew on me. It's somewhat unorthodox, so its understandable how some people may have problems with it.

But his flow is smooth throughout, especially following the "Here lies the dude who did it..." line. The only problem I have is the last two lines...he didn't really finish off the verse too strongly.

May 22, 2006 3:11 PM  
Blogger Fletch said...

Flow is almost conversational. It's absolutely absent of all dramatic style. I'd be curious what his body lanaguage was like when he was spitting this.

The "d" sound alliteration sounds good, as you mentioned.

The ending two lines, mostly because they don't really rhyme w/ anything are poor, I guess, but they set up the chorus well enough, "it went . . ."

I'm ready for a CDQ version now.

May 22, 2006 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to my previous post, I just wanna say that Nas painted the picture perfectly.

"Here lies a dude who did it/
I'm a fool at the pulpit/
My jewelry dripping/
My uzi slipping/
I interrupt his eulogy/
Excuse me y'all--sipping/
Something to soothe me..."

I honestly can't think of one emcee who does it like this...you can just visualize it...

May 23, 2006 11:10 AM  
Blogger Fletch said...

According to the tracklistings I've seen and the leaked versions of Big Bang from thus far, this track isn't on there. Instead they've gone with Don't Get Carried Away for the Nas/Busta collabo. Oh well, not what I would have done . . .

May 28, 2006 7:34 PM  

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