this guest post written by Matt Hall (@mattisonherenow)
First of all, I’d like to tip my hat to my good friend Rick/DJ REDLite for not only starting this blog (which is consistently every bit as real and honest as it is entertaining), but also believing that my silly-ass thoughts are worth consideration. My late night nonsensical emails to Rick about songs I’ve been thinking about have long predated this blog. I guess I’ve sent him so many YouTube links and asked him so many absurd questions that he had no choice but to ask me to write another late night note for all of you to read.
One of the most recent emails I sent him was to ask the question, “What is your favorite single word in any rap song ever?” I feel like this is a topic that is pretty solid for my first post here.
I can honestly remember the first time I ever heard “Verbal Intercourse” from Raekwon the Chef’s first solo record Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. I think it was the first Wu-Tang album I heard after Enter the 36 Chambers. Nas’s verse was the first time anyone from outside the Wu-Tang camp had rapped on one of their tracks, and in that era (almost 20 years ago!) that really meant something. Raekwon talks a little bit about recording that verse and his choice of bringing in Nas to feature on the track here.
Nas has the first verse, and he opens up with some of the best lines of his career, in my opinion, and when he gets the line
“Smoke a gold leaf I hold heat nonchalantly”
the way he delivers the word: “nonchalantly”; gets me every time. It’s got more syllables than anything else in the verse, and the way he says it, totally cool and unconcerned, is the very definition of the word itself. To me it is the gold standard in flow.
Raekwon – Verbal Intercourse (feat. Nas & Ghostface Killah)
I really love everything about the song though, Raekwon and Ghostface have excellent verses as well, and the RZA’s production was at its all-time peak in this era. The way he loops the, “but WHAT,” from The Emotions song “If You Think It You May As Well Do It,” is brilliant.
Interestingly enough, Nas didn’t write that verse specifically for the Raekwon track. It actually first showed up on a song called “Déjà Vu” on a demo recorded for his second album It Was Written. Some rap fans at the time felt like that album was kind of a let down after the undisputed classic that is Illmatic, but I think it’s aged well. I’m not sure why “Déjà Vu” got left off. There’s
speculation that the label wanted Nas to go in a more radio-friendly direction, and that song definitely has a grittier feel. Either way, it’s a classic verse, and it features my favorite single word in any rap song ever.
Nas – Déjà Vu