“Clear Blue Skies” by The Juggaknots was on repeat at the start of this pandemic. It’s been a favorite for many, many years but I just so happened to throw it on in around April and it never left the turntable (the whole release is excellent, just peep “Romper Room” for another stellar example). I called up the always gracious Breeze Brewin to get the stories behind the making of their classic cut; read it HERE.
Spoke with DJ Premier about the making of one of the best songs ever, “Mass Appeal.” Another one for POW fam, read it HERE. More dissections of important classics to come.
My column for POW continues with Freestyle Fellowship’s masterpiece, “Inner City Boundaries.” I don’t necessarily, or automatically, value virtuosity over a gut punch, but FF has often times been able to be both; sometimes a challenge to listen to but obviously bound with confounding ingenuity. HERE’s how it was made.
Passion of the Weiss (POW) is currently one of my favorite music blogs and is ran by my dude, prolific journalist Jeff Weiss. I was asked to write about one of the year’s best cuts, “Nas Album Done” by DJ Khaled ft. Nas. Read my review below and check the rest of the thoughtfully compiled year end list HERE .
[#31] Forget the song’s 8-minute video featuring Khaled in different brightly colored satin shirts—here’s the real major key: Nas’ agelessly nimble tongue and the track’s underpinning “Fu-Gee-La” sample. Here, Nasir sounds like he just finished a Gandhi marathon, successfully tricking his wisdom with the system that imprisoned his son. He’s on fire, backed by bombastic drums and a voice that’s gracefully aged like an Argentinian malbec; textured, smooth yet robust.
In an era where dexterous bars are seldom celebrated, this has enough energy to keep both the millennial and aging classicist happy. Both self-referential and forward moving, says Nas: “To every baby on the album cover existing/This trend I was setting came to fruition.” Seemingly full circle for the MC who at 16 boasted about kidnapping the president’s wife without a plan.
The minimalist production knocks while Nas himself even proves a bit clairvoyant, touching on our now president-elect’s cheap pursuits while shouting out the marginalized: “Celebrity Apprentice a devil show/Big up to Africa, Mexico.” So when exactly will Nas’ album actually be done? He’s recently had fire moments and for whatever reason seems reinvigorated. Dismissing any new hip-hop that came after you is decidedly very non-hip-hop, but there’s nothing wrong in relishing older cats whom are shockingly spry. The song title itself is at worst inaccurate, and at best premature, but it shows why we still owe the prodigious one our due patience. — DAVID MA