A Hip Hop Biography

What up world? This is Lazy Pen of I left My Ipod in El Segundo, finally dropping a post on here. I figured what better way to introduce my self, than give a musical biography of sorts.

Growin up in the 90s I didnt pay particular attention to music, I was more concerned with video games and tv. I didnt have any older siblings or relatives schooling me like it seems everyone else did so I never took a particular interest in music. I heard popular songs on the radio and while some of them sounded nice my main focus at the time was my Nintendo( and SNES/Genesis later on).

1996 might have been the year when i started paying closer attention although still not getting into anything really. When the Fugees dropped the Score, I had no clue who they were but their songs were being played nonstop. I liked the vibes and lyrics of Fugee-La and Ready or Not like most of America.

Later on that year, Nas teamed up with L-Boogie for "If I Ruled the World", a song I would grow to hate(at the time) because it was played so damn much.

I was pretty so to get into hip hop and music an general because I could never stand the practice of repeated the same songs day after day on the radio and music video channels. Which made me pretty anti mainstream, in addition to all the clich├ęd raps beginning to dominate the airwaves around the late 90s. Despite my stance on mainstream music, I copped Jay-Z's In My Life Vol.2 around the time of my 12th birthday I think. This was the first album I had ever bought, I think I wanted to impress people at my party or something. When I played it in the loud speakers, after 2 or 3 profanity laced tracks my dad broke the cd and I didnt listen to Jay for a while after that incident. I pretty much ignored mainstream hip hop and turned to mainstream/shitty rock instead (brilliant, right?).

Then late sophomore year an album changed everything for me. A friend sold me Clipse's Lord Willin album.

This album really opened me up to how complex the wordplay and imagery of hip hop could be. The dark nihilistic laced raps really spoke to me more than the materialistic themes they also touched on. Everyone also touts Pusha T as the better Thorton but early on Malice was definitely my favorite of the pair.

These 6 bars toward the end of Virginia are something I had to rewind constantly:
I reside in VA, ride in VA
Most likely when I die, I'm gon' die in VA
Virginia's for lovers, but trust there's hate here
For out-of-towners, who think that they gon' move weight here
Ironic, the same same place I'm makin' figures at
That there's the same land they used to hang niggas at, in Virginia...

On the surface Clipse would've seemed like any mainstream act I typically avoided, but their lyrics definitely distinguished them as something "different".

Again Malice, this time I'm Not You(one of my favorite verses ever)

Rappers is talking to me as if (come on)
We in the same boat I tell them quick no I move Coke! (uh uhh)
And you and I don't share no common bond,
So forgive me if I don't recieve you with open arms (No)
It shames me to no end,
To feed poison to those who could very well be my kin (uh huh)
But where there's demand, someone will supply
So I feed them their needs at the same time cry
Yes it pains me to see them need this
All of them lost souls and I'm their Jesus

Deepest regret and sympathy to the street
I see no pity for they fix when they kids couldn't eat (so sorry)
And with this in mind, I still didn't quit
And that's how I know, that I aint shit (I aint shit)
My heart bleed but that's aside from the fact,
I live for my kids and theirs and them youngins after that

Hearing this track was probably one of my first exposures at rap being introspective, to hear Malice express some remorse, however fleeting, to his "coke dealing" felt raw and it put another perspective on things.

So the dust had settled after Nas vs Jay battle, and in my eyes Nas had won. Before Stillmatic, Nas was pretty much the dude who made "If I Ruled the World", "Nastradamus", "Oochie Wally" and "Hate Me Now" to me due to what the radio played. But when the beef with Jay started saw a whole different Nas, more passionate and definitely more lyrical. And even though I loved "Ether" and "Got Ur Self A...", I didnt bother to check out Stillmatic(not then anyway). But around the same time I copped Lord Willin, I decided to take a chance on the new LP he dropped.

God's Son. My path into his music was definitely a weird one; he went from an artist I couln't stand to my most favorite and I got introduced to him on his 5th studio album. God's Son was recorded when Nas was dealing with the death of his mother, causing the album to have a pretty somber theme. I finally heard what I was missing and it struck a chord. I think "Get Down" was my introduction to a story rap(not counting Children's Story), Nas' cautionary verses combined with one of Salaam Remi's best beats had me hooked. "Last Real Nigga Alive" was the perfect track for me to get acquainted with Nas' history and progression. I always loved the concept of "Book of Rhymes" and wished he completed tho, only Nas could have throwaway rhymes so memorable. I still have a sentimental attachment to this album even though its not that old, because it put me on the path to the rest of Nas' library.

Jurassic 5's Power in Numbers also played a part although not as instrumental as Lord Willin or God's Son. Golden put me on to the old school aesthetic and did get me curious about checking out the old school and underground hip hop I wasnt aware of before. J5 was different than anything else I was aware of at the time, with their focus on group dynamics, the heavy old school influences, and overwhelming positivity.

After listening to these albums I slowly became more aware of music outside of radio and tv. I finally turned to the internet to seek music and to learn about the music I was missing out on. My taste has definitely evolved from those days and I think I caught up with the general populace a few years back keeping my ears open to mainstream and indie influences. And thats basically the abridged version of how my hip hop knowledge and taste has grown.
Posted on 2:34 AM by LazyPen and filed under | 3 Comments »


Guy Fawkes said... @ October 30, 2008 at 11:19 AM

The last two quoted lines of "Virginia" are among the best ever made in hip-hop history.

Then "Dance" is probably the best song ever dedicated to anybody's mom.

And the song featuring Nelly Furtado on "Power In Numbers" has been on repeat in my car for a while now.

Nice post, I enjoyed it.

LazyPen said... @ October 30, 2008 at 7:11 PM

Thanks man i appreciate it.

dck said... @ March 15, 2009 at 1:43 PM

ty 4 sharing (feel like im in group...lol) welcome 2 hip hop homie