The week that found hip-hop looking into the past, both for inspiration (peep the artists on our list, many of whom would sound perfectly at home on a Group Home album) and for the music itself, as a recently liberated eight-year-old Kanye West freestyle made headlines. Below, the lines of the week.
5. “Those who fit description, spitting fiction/Altering fact, they're inconsistent/They've never seen the belly of the beast within the system/They're just talk, no street credentials” — Cormega, 'Ruff Town' lyrics
On this tune, Mega joins with Roc Marciano in a meeting of the minds sure to make every underground fan do a dance of joy. The boasts here are straightforward and powerful — perfect for the sound and subject matter of this incredible number.
4. “Bitch, I'm kidding — I'm only sticking women punani/BBD, bad boy I'm dirty — Mike, Rick, and Ronnie” — Redman, 'Dis Da Shit' lyrics
Our memories of Bell Biv DeVoe's early hits are incredibly strong and tied to some of the most fun (and awkward) moments of our adolescent lives. Thus, we loved hearing this tribute to the group from Brick City's finest. The way he changes their acronym around makes us smile every time we hear it.
3. “So if you do it like me, then you could do it like this/And they say that I'm a teacher like the one called Kris/That's KRS, but nah it's Kanye West/And every time I spit the rhymes, it's straight off the flesh/I could bring it down to the bones straight from the heart/And from the heart is where I did it before I ever chart” — Kanye West, 'Tim Westwood Freestyle' lyrics
This epic Yeezy freestyle (and, given how awkward it is at times, it seems to really be a freestyle), as mentioned, dates from 2005. Kanye talks a TON about diamonds and Africa — thoughts that would come out shortly afterwards in much-condensed form on his song “Diamonds From Sierra Leone.” But the best parts of this rhyme don't deal with that at all. The shout-out to KRS flows seamlessly into a line that reminds us of when Kanye West still had something to prove to the world.
2. “This wizardry deliver me the flyest flute/What I summon have 'em dumbing like a cauldron and some eye of newt” — Ka, 'Our Father' lyrics
It's a rare thing in rap to have a reference to spell-making that doesn't remind us of K-Solo. But Ka brings in another kind of “spell” here, to bizarre and hilarious results.
1. “I spray nines on foes, but if you pick five emcees/Ever, ain't gone flow like me/Nigga, I'm two-six/I mean too sick, sent to Earth just to shit” — Joey Bada$$, 'Word is Bond' lyrics
Joey and his Pro Era crew excel at bending words to fit their whim. Here, “foes” doubles as “fours,' and “Ever, ain't” is made to sound like “Seven, eight” to continue the numerological puns. The two-six is what they're drinking, though RG users have found other, more esoteric meanings in the digits used here.