Sunday, August 06, 2006

Flowerpots and Things

I don't get how one man hits another man with a flowerpot. I mean, I understand the physical act of raising your hand holding said flowerpot and bringing it down to break against another--the mechanics of the premise make sense--but as to how the flowerpot even appears in the scene in the first place is a little curious. However, that's the story surrounding Nas and Noreaga, when, reportedly, in 2005, the latter rapper struck the former rapper with that aforementioned weapon of choice. Still, unless the rumble broke out in the middle of a Home & Garden section, I think I'm missing something. Either way, it's not like that was the first time the two had ever feuded. In 2002, on New York's Power 105 radio station, Nore was told, rather randomly, by Nas, to step his rap game up. Soon after, a similar on-air response was made by Mr. Melvin Flynt. Then a couple years came and went, and, all of a sudden, flowerpots started flying. Beyond the ridiculous nature of the incident, the inflamed differences between both rappers highlight the end of what had been, for some time, an intriguing collaborative relationship. With a handful of released winners and a couple left in the vaults, during the mid-90's to just before that '02 rant, Nas and Noreaga had shared more than mere hostility.

Released in late 2000, B EZ is one of Nas' finest pre-Ether etherous moments. Like the Stillmatic Freestyle or the Eye for an Eye Freestyle, its attack against those who would seek to treat a legend as if he could be written out for good would later also materialize in the almost-morbid defiance of Ether's second verse. Full of distrust and anger, this is a look of careful revenge, "I heard you fags wanna catch me off guard / put techs in my heart / the death of Escobar / under your breath, whispers in the dark." Beyond that, here Nas also manages to break down his life (girls, glamour, drugs, raps, and fights) using an inspired 5-fingered metaphor. For their part, Capone and Noreaga, reunited on the album, do their best to stay along.

Blood Money PT 2
As a sequel to the War Report classic, Blood Money PT 2 appeared on the soundtrack to the 1998 movie, Ride. (Ride's soundtrack, more memorable than the actual movie, also boasted the Wu-Tang / Onyx track The Worst.) With a AAA-endorsed rap, Nore starts the song down an I-95 trek, most likely attempting to tie his verse in with the plot of the film itself. Fellow Queensite Nature, who no longer is friendly with the Esco'd one either, goes next with a NBA-studded verse, leaving Nas to finish out the song. Nas' turn ends up a kind of different third-person bit of braggadocio. It's decent, but, ultimately, Blood Money PT 2 is perhaps the most forgettable of all the Nore-Nas collaborations. Verdict: shouldn't have made the movie, didn't need the sequel.

Body In The Trunk
Noreaga's solo 1998 debut N.O.R.E. has its place in the Hip-Hop pantheon for several reasons. For starters, it features one of the last, great NY-centric posse cuts, Banned From TV, and also served as the first major breakthrough for the since-then-ubiquitous Neptunes production team. In addition, N.O.R.E. is the home of the back-and-forth storytelling saga, Body in the Trunk, guest starring Nas. Beginning with an argument and then ending up with, well, a body in the trunk, Nas and Nore trace the crime from confrontation to cover-up. In doing this, both rappers successfully capture the frantic feeling of the scene, with Nore tapping into a "I had to" mind state, contrasted by Nas' apprehensive but committed passenger, "yo, you hiding it, let a nigga know what he riding wit'." A follow-up, Body In The Trunk PT 2, was in the works at one time, but plans have since been deaded themselves.

Calm Down
The story goes that Columbia wouldn't give clearance for Nas to appear on Capone-N-Noreaga's War Report, and thus Calm Down was recorded, leaked, but never officially released on that 1997 album. Because the song would have only bolstered the reputation of the LP and all MC's involved, it remains another unfortunate lost tape. For the middle verse, flanked on either side by Tragedy and Noreaga, Nas provides a focused story rap, while his offbeat yet effective singing also manages to push the hook to memorable status. Moreover, the song's very lineup is notable itself. Trag, in the leadoff position, was, at one time, poised to have a career that could have mirrored Nas' own--the beginning at least. A Queensbridge resident and rapper starting in the late 80's, the "Intelligent Hoodlum" design that Tragedy carved out was a worthy precursor to the mold Nas would later create on Illmatic. However, collaborations between the two, no matter how obvious they might seem to the outside, have been quite rare. And although jealousy has been speculated in the past as the cause of this apparent rift, whatever the reason, that two came together, when QB was still in its prime, and the song didn't get released, makes Calm Down even more of a let down.

Queenstyle / Triple Threat
Queenstyle and Triple Threat are the same but different. Both are moved by an identical mildly dark, piano-laden beat, and both feature four of the same verses, two of them by Nas ("sex and money go together like techs and nine shells" / "death followed him, before it swallowed him whole") and two of them by Nore ("since a young sibling, had every flavor Timb'land" / "we still in Queens, same place where we used to be"). However, whereas Nature made his way onto Triple Threat, Queenstyle is merely a duet; seizing the moment, in Nate's place, Nas and Nore do entirely new verses each. But guess what? Both versions have never been released. Overall, if I had to pick between the two, since it's more rare to get a track where three MCs, who all share good chemistry with each other, switch off like this, Triple Threat sets itself apart.

Queens Freestyle
Some of the so-called Queens Freestyle may sound familiar. For instance, Nore spits his bit from I'm Leaving, the overlooked Firm track, and also a portion from his self-self-titled N.O.R.E. Likewise, Nas' redoes his part from the Firm Biz remix. However, it's his first verse on the freestyle that proves to be an otherwise-unheard-of double-rhyme winner, "real things happen for a reason / you flashing or squeezing / could tell when you stashing and cheesing / could tell when you--yo, you bleeding / could feel when you scheming / could kill you / you chill with the demons / but hustling and beef shouldn't cross together / 'cause we could go to war and beef last forever / have you ever felt a slug pass through your leather? / many thugs know / drug wars reduce your cheddar / some real jewels to follow / you choose not to swallow / understand, no man is promised tomorrow / bullets made of Teflon, some made of hollow / yo, yo, what's the deal? what's the saga?"

Nas, Nature, Noreaga: Triple Threat
Nas, Noreaga: Queenstyle
Nas, Nore: Queens Freestyle
Noreaga f/ Nas, Tragedy: Calm Down
BONUS: Capone-N-Noreaga f/ Nas: B EZ
BONUS: Noreaga f/ Nas: Body in the Trunk
BONUS: Noreaga f/ Nas, Nature: Blood Money PT 2


Anonymous Colin said...

On 'Body In The Trunk' and 'Triple Threat' I'm getting a file not found message. First page loads nicely on both, I get the countdown, then it can't find the file.

Anyways, nice overview of the tracks. "Calm Down" is one of my favourites.

August 06, 2006 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Colin said...

I guess my connection didn't like me this morning, because the downloads just worked again.

August 06, 2006 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Bridge Dyson said...

"Triple Threat" is one of my fav. Nas mixtape songs of all time! Thanks for posting it. I have it on a Clue tape from back in the day but I needed it on MP3 for the iPod Nano. Cheers.

August 08, 2006 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good one. i had both queenstyle and the other track (TT)but never knew it name just had it as unrelese thank for the lesson.BTW why ya aint come to killa board yet it needs some ppl like u (no homo)Jay z son vamp is still there though.but its give up the goods & s.f.k free

August 10, 2006 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Stu -- Top Dude said...

I remember B-EZ got me mad hyped for Stillmatic... I played that everyday in like 9th grade...

August 10, 2006 11:41 PM  

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