For our second show we bounced around a couple ideas for what to play (most of those ideas will become future shows, so stay tuned). Eventually we decided that it would be fun to look for records where the subject matter is the rapper, either the artist themselves or another rapper. This of course included dedications to other fellow rappers, posthumous memorial tracks, the ever popular diss tracks, and the “How fly am I” self-tributes. While each of these could have easily be a show of their own, we thought a broad overview would be a fun introduction and would translate to the radio well. If you missed the show, or are interested in hearing it again, you can play it from the WMBR archive here. To make our list we grabbed some old, some new, some classic, and some more obscure tracks. Without further ado (the videos for most tracks are unedited, so maybe NSFW):
Jay Z A Star is Born
Jazzy’s tribute to his contemporaries was one of the less popular tracks off the third and final installment in his Blueprint series. While it certainly isn’t one of his more lyrically interesting pieces of work, it does read as a Who’s Who of the Rap World (at least for the last few years) for the burgeoning hip-hop head. Joined by fellow RocNation member J.Cole and using a sample of “Touch Me” by Mother Freedom Band, Jigga proceeds to kiss a whole lotta ass, but is still clear that he’s the Messiah of the game and that he still has some unresolved beef with Mobb Deep’s Prodigy.
Talib Kweli Ms. Hill
T and I are in dispute as to whether or not this is actually a diss song or a tribute. Talib and Lauren were friends before either achieved notoriety, but unlike Talib, Lauren went cray-cray after stepping into the spot light (it was that same craziness which ironically led her to step out of the spot light). The title is a reference to the fact that when she would preform she would demand that people call her Ms. Hill…like I said, she was a crazy person (when the Fugees tried a reunion she insisted they call her Empress Hill…everyone…including Wyclef and Pras). Crazy or not, she was amazingly talented.
Grandmaster Flash & the furious five Fastest Man Alive
Let’s not lie to each other; if I say Melle Mel, Kidd Creole, Cowboy, Mr. Ness/Scorpio, and Rahiem you’d probably think they were the new lineup for Young Money; however, these five furious lyricists made up the Furious Five, the Supremes to Grandmaster Flash’s Diana Ross. Recorded and pressed when DJs ruled the game and MCs were their hypemen (interestingly enough, it was actually Melle Mel who first started using the term MC), Fastest Man Alive is an ode to the turntableist’s skills, delivering five minutes and 18 seconds of scratching glory.
Jay Z Izzo (H.O.V.A.)
Remember when everyone and there mother was talkin’ about shizzle wizzle bizzle my nizzle? Though made popular by Snoop Dogg, Jay couldn’t help but use the -izzle cant to let the world know that he is (je)Hova(h), the god of rap.
Long before Nas was managed under Jay Z’s Def Jam there was some serious beef between these two titans.
Tupac Hit Em Up
Being shot five times by two armed men in army fatigues would make anyone a little paranoid. It was a busy couple days for 2Pac who was in NYC the day before he was to face sentencing for sexually abusing a fan (along with members of his entourage). Immediately after entering the lobby of the Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan to meet Biggie and Poppa Diddy Pop, 2Pac was assaulted, robbed, and shot twice in the head, twice in the groin and once through the arm and thigh. Wasting eight of his nine lives, Shakur checked himself out of the hospital, against doctor’s orders, three hours after surgery, and in the day that followed, appeared in court and was found guilty of three counts of molestation, but innocent of six others, including sodomy (which as we all know is between God and me). Needless to say things were more than a little tense between the east coast Bad Boy Entertainment and 2Pac, but things finally erupted with the release of Who Shot Ya?, a Biggie track that was recorded months before the accident (and originally written for Mary J. Blige), but 2Pac (along with numerous others) took it as mocking his assault. In response Pac released Hit Em Up which took no prisoners, calling out B.I.G, Puffy, Bad Boy Records, Lil’ Kim, Junior M.A.F.I.A. (mainly Lil’ Cease), Chino XL, and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy (who was mocked for having sickle cell anemia). While it wasn’t the start of the East v. West feud (which you can thank Tim Dogg and Fuck Compton for that), it is thought by many to be the incident that would turn the feud violent and claim the lives of, most notably, B.I.G. and Pac.
Eminem The Way I am
The second single off the Marshal Mather’s LP (which I would argue is his best album) goes to a much darker and emotional place than the first single, The Real Slim Shady. What starts off as a defense of his demeanor and actions quickly becomes a rampage against over zealous fans, his critics (from those who call him fake to those who call him obscene), absent parents who he believes are to blame for the actions of their children (the Columbine High School massacre had occurred the year prior, which his music was blamed as a contributing factor to), and his role as a pop star (as opposed to a hip-hop star).
Puff Daddy I’ll be missing you
Not the first time, nor the last time that P. Diddy would cash in on the deceased B.I.G.
Ego is about Jay Z’s penis. The double entendre goes from painfully obvious at the beginning, to just plain painful by the end.
Kanye West Big Brother
Kanye’s honest tribute to Jay Z shows just how much like brothers the two artists actually are, moving quickly between his adoration for the man to antagonism. I guess sibling rivalry is the same, regardless of how many platinum records you have.
MC Lyte 10% Diss
Vodpod videos no longer available.
It’s a classic story: Audio Milk puts out a record Top Billin’; Antoinette records an eerily similarly produced track, I Got An Attitude (which also samples the Honey Dipper’s Impeach the President); Lyte, the sister of Audio Milk’s Milk and Giz, steps in to shut her down for jacking beats (keep in mind the game was different back then) and the battle is on. Interestingly enough, 10% Diss uses the same drum loop from Top Billin’, and Antoniette’s response track Lights Out, Party’s Over continues with the tradition by using the drum loop again. Welcome to the birth of the “Impeach The President” sample craze.
Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff
Sure Jazzy Jeff only achieved the occasional cameo on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air while Will went on to become an acting superstar and the most likely rapper to write a Diet Coke rap song, but when they were together it was Jazzy Jeff who got top billing.
In this humorous track off the Raaaaaaaady Mixtape, Aziz Ansari calls out some of today’s most popular rappers for not getting their verses to him for his Forever-esque track on his mixtape. I hope that if Drake ever had a hotmail email address that it was email@example.com.
If it wasn’t clear by the end, yeah, our tribute show was actually also a Jay Z tribute. Gotta’ love recursive radio.