“Renaissance Rap Remix (feat. Busta Rhymes, Raekwon & Lil Wayne)” by Q-Tip (from [non-album tracks], 2009)
“Man, I ain’t gon give y’all my microphone no more! Cause y’all tear it up when you get it”
A far cry from the posse cut supreme, “Scenario,” but a welcome cut in 2009. Tip plays the maestro, serving up the first twelve bars and delivering a the lyrically dense flow we know and love; Busta Bus moves through like a freight train, albeit bereft of the fire that first wooed hip-hop fans; Raekwon The Chef trumps Bus with his atypical lyrical dominance, commanding the mic with a his lyrical gymnastics; Weezy brings up the rear with a subdued (for Weezy) sixteen lines. I copped this back when Tip was promoting his record (The Renaissance) and it ended up as a highlight on he and Bus’ mixtape, The Abstract and The Dragon (which you can—and should—still freely download, here.)
“Hit the Deck” by Ice-T (from The Iceberg: Freedom of Speech… Just Watch What You Say, 1989)
Ice-T isn’t exactly the most nimble MC, but he has his moments. “Hit the Deck” is damn near full throttle for Ice. While it sounds damn corny now—hell, it sounded corny then—you’ve got to give it to Ice’s bravado in the face of his (apparent) lack of lyrical originality. There’s not a thing that he’s saying that hadn’t been said better, bigger and deffer (see what I did there) before him. “Coolest of the cool, a mack on a mission. Step to me fool – you’re missin,” hits about as hard as a wiffle ball bat.
“The Soup” by Wale (from More About Nothing, 2010)
Man, iTunes is definitely in a mood today. I had to check to make sure that I didn’t start my shuffle in a playlist. —MP
“No soup for all you suckers while I’m re-ing up on me so”
Only Wale could take a played-out Seinfeld trope and flip it into a dope track. More About Nothing is actually the second Seinfeld themed mixtape in Wale’s catalog. I first encountered Wale when he featured on The Roots’ “Rising Up” and have been following along ever since. He’s a talented cat, despite his association with the Maybach Music Group.
“Heartbreak Dream (MS MR remix)” by Betty Who (from The Remixes, 2014)
I stumbled onto Betty Who via this free NoiseTrade EP of remixes. She just recently released her debut full-length and it might stand as one of my favorite pop records of 2014. Featuring solid tunes with enough hooks to keep them embedded in the back of your skull, the record doesn’t necessarily pander. A good listen for fans of pop female vocals, a la Robyn.
“Smile Like That” by Esperanza Spalding (from Radio Music Society, 2012)
What a perfect way to take this Friday Five out on a smoothed out tip. Esperanza Spalding is a gift. Her voice evokes shades of Billie Holiday without ever sounding put on. If you aren’t familiar with her, please remedy that immediately.
What’s on your shuffle today?