This one takes me all the way back to my first bakery job at Cafe Plaid in Norman, Oklahoma. Back then, the bakery was in a completely separate building from where the food was actually served, so I got to hang out by myself all morning baking bread and cookies for the inevitable lunch mob, blasting whatever music I wanted through this crappy borrowed boombox someone had left in the bakery years ago. This was before I had any kind of mp3 player so I was burning CDs of albums and bringing them to work, so a pretty small number of albums got some really heavy rotation in those couple years and there are a few albums that to this day still feel like the soundtrack to those way too early mornings back in 2006/07. One of those briefly but heavily used discs was the album this Method Man track came from that contains the line that gets this whole journey started.
Method Man – Is It Me?
The line I’m talking about comes right around the 2:00 mark, and I remember it distinctly being one of my favorite lines from the track, even before I knew anything about its history.
My flow’s no holds barred, Holy Jihad
It’s the head nigga in charge, Meth, back on the job
Like back in the days, back when the game was hard
And when they reminisced over Wu, my God
It’s one of those lines that perfectly punctuates the end of a verse and you just barely have enough time to grin and appreciate it before the hook drops back in. For a while it was just one of the hundreds of memorable lines from rap songs I’d had stored away in my brain, but then Kanye‘s Graduation album came out, and the end of that third verse (around 3:15) made me do a double take.
Kanye West – Can’t Tell Me Nothin’
I never fully accepted the idea that Kanye had borrowed the line from that Method Man track, it just didn’t quite seem like something he’d do. But I never took the time to explore the issue deeply until yesterday when I heard Common drop the exact same line in this song!
Common – I Want You
Even though Common and Kanye have worked together plenty, it still didn’t feel like the kind of line that Common would have lifted from Kanye after he lifted it from Method Man, I knew there had to be a single source they were all drawing from. Now that I’ve taken the time to root out the source of this beautiful turn of phrase, I feel foolish that I never took the time before; it’s truly one of the most disarmingly sincere, heartfelt rap songs I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)
Some of you may be familiar with this track from that weird controversy that cropped up this past May. If you’re lucky, you just know it because of its beauty.