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 witchaThat's three tracks, different styles, times, and tempos, but with a connection.
Selling crack witcha, half and half on a pack witcha
My pen and pad paint a black picture
Here's the answer: "Wild Gremlins"
AZ f/ Nas: How Ya Livin'
Nas & Ruc: Real Niggas