Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Guess What?

Usually when I post multiple songs, I try and connect them all with a theme: a shared producer, rapper, subject matter, etc. Well, for today's entry, the following three songs likewise are all connected, though not so obviously. But in order to try and inspire replies, and mostly because it's the middle of the week and I'm just about braindead, I'll let you figure out what they all share.

First we'll look at How Ya Livin', released on AZ's 1998 sophomore album, Pieces of a Man. As the track reunites the nearly flawless duo of Anthony Cruz and Nasir Jones, LES's production finds just the right match for their debonair but gangsta tone. Better than pretty much anything the two had quite recently done with The Firm, save for Phone Tap, their chemistry is even noticeable in the closing ad-libs. All in all, with its R&B-ish beat and complimentary rhyming, How Ya Livin' is a respectable precursor to the later Grammy-nominated The Essence.

Next, Real Niggas, from the again-I'll-repeat-it overlooked QB's Finest LP, finds Nas joining up this time with a rapper further off the map, Ruc. (No, not the Heltah Skeltah MC.) While Blitz's duet with Nas on the same album, coupled with his Stillmatic appearance, did make him more of a name, in the years since Real Niggas, Ruc has remained a relative one-shot, though not due to lack of effort. For Nas' part, his verse is a salute to a New York lifetime ranging from Bumpy Johnson's style to Malcolm X's speeches. Then he ends with a well-executed extra-long list of shoutouts.

Finally, there's High. And although High is unreleased going back some years, it really would make sense coming from Nas' pen now. He begins by commenting, "it's good to be back", and later notes a new position of stature, "I elevated up, since snakes in my circumference." Then, in the face of other rappers clamoring to get their name in a lead story position, Nas retains his calm routine, "Niggas rushing to the top not knowing what it takes to be / King of the industry, the wise move patiently." Yet, because his every move garners attention and often anticipation, he knows scrutiny too is only step away:

Y'all niggas hating me, won't be happy till I'm back witcha
Selling crack witcha, half and half on a pack witcha
My pen and pad paint a black picture
That's three tracks, different styles, times, and tempos, but with a connection.

Here's a hint: "____ ________"
Here's the answer: "Wild Gremlins"

Nas: High
AZ f/ Nas: How Ya Livin'
Nas & Ruc: Real Niggas


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wild Grimlins" homie it THugspoet by the way jus passin through.I'm out

September 21, 2006 11:42 AM  
Blogger Fletch said...

Well, that was sort of quick. Yes, all three songs do find Nas mentioning the "Wild Gremlins": "Back to back Benzes, with the Wild Gremlins", "Wild Gremlins who-bust-lead-friends", and then a shoutout on Real Niggas. The Wild Gremlins, I believe, were a Queens crew that Nature ran with for a while; Nature also brings them up on Banned From TV and even released an album bearing the name. I just think it's interesting that you could probably listen to these songs and not really have an idea that "Wild Gremlins" meant anything in particular, like maybe it was just a description. But if you connect the dots, with the music as a map of sorts, you see this behind-the-scenes story start to emerge.

Barkim (RIP) is another example of a name Nas kept running through his raps. So yeah . . . Wild Gremlins.

September 21, 2006 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you get that many comments normally. But i read your blog religiously. You have well thought out, intelligent writing- definitely separates you from the rest. Thanks for continuing to write.


September 21, 2006 7:49 PM  
Anonymous EnSi said...

I agree with the poster above, I love your blogs man, continue to do what you do, I check this ish on the daily. Great stuff.

Peace and Blessings

September 21, 2006 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since u brought up Barkim I thought I’ll ask u what u know about the death of Todd "TJ" Muchita aka killer B aka killer Black aka TJ Black. Havoc older brother, he was in the Halftime & Aint had to tell video he also was with Jungle and Nas for the illmatic preview they have on youtube plus Nas would mention him a lot on his older songs so I guess they were mad close.

September 22, 2006 6:55 AM  
Blogger Fletch said...

Nice drop . . . I've been meaning to do an entry on Sometimes I Wonder for a while now, because, as I'm sure you know, in Nas' second verse, he goes through a virtual obiturary. I don't know if you (or anyone else reading this) could fill in more details, but if you're willing, contact me via email. At the very least, the extra info is good.

"I can't replace you, but in me Havoc will always have a brother."

September 22, 2006 8:26 AM  

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