Tag Archives: Kanye West


And I thought I was slick catching Bootsy’s raucous bass explosion at the beginning of “Royalty” – the homie and DRIVE SLOW contributor mattisonherenow just pointed out to me that hometown heroes The Flaming Lips once provided the source material for a small snippet of Jay-Z history!  I promise this is the only time I’ll ever ask you to listen to a Flaming Lips song here.

The Flaming Lips – She Don’t Use Jelly

Luckily you only need the first 0:05 of the video to catch it, it’s the opening intonation of this nearly insufferable song.  Upon reflection it makes some sense that Kanye would be aware of fellow egomaniac Wayne Coyne’s early musical efforts (rock and roll fans out there confirm my suspicion – Wayne Coyne is the Kanye West of his genre, no?), at least to the level where he could grab that goofy guitar swoosh from the track above to punctuate every 4th bar of the “Izzo” beat; a song which unfortunately has been not-so-mysteriously wiped from every corner of the Internet.  Hopefully your Blueprint CD isn’t too scratched so you can pop it in your Discman and hear this new perspective on Jay’s “Izzo“; I would feel terrible asking you to listen to 90s Oklahoma alt-rock and join Tizzidal in the same post.

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Fans of this post will appreciate this recent update:

J Dilla – Anthem (feat. Frank-N-Dank)

I originally knew this song as “We F’d Up” from the lost Dilla MCA album (thanks again to Tim for hookin’ me up with that) with a beat by Kanye that was alright, but to me always stuck out a little bit from the rest of the production on the album, and honestly sounded like a recycled version of “Takeover” in a lot of ways (also produced by Kanye around the same time).  This new beat, which is actually an old beat crafted by Dilla himself, makes the track even more enjoyable and lively to me, I think it’s a welcome addition to the now heaping catalog of posthumous Dilla releases.

As a bonus, here’s a link to the B-Side of this version of “Anthem” Rappcats is putting out, also from the lost MCA album (now being referred to as The Diary?), and definitely the funniest Dilla song of all time.  If you need some extra motivation to click that link, just imagine Dilla in this scene and that’s pretty much what “Trucks” is like.

Gary Numan – Cars

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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.

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It’s been while since I heard anything from Kanye where it was in any way apparent that J Dilla was one of his foundational influences.

Kanye West – Mercy (feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, & 2 Chainz)

You gotta hand it to Kanye, regardless of how you feel about his music, he’s put out some really cool-looking videos lately.  It was real crazy to hear sounds that I’m used to experiencing in the outro of this track on mainstream rap radio.

Jaylib – Champion Sound

Bonus track:

Kalyanji Anandji – Dharmatma Theme Music (Sad)

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GIRL YOU KNOW I – I – I – I – I –

It’s been a while since I did an old-fashioned sample discovery post, I guess I’ve just been listening to tons of new rap lately and not stuff like this.  Maybe I’ve been fuckin’ up…

Lenny Williams – Cause I Love You

If you need to know where this is used, you clearly weren’t at the same parties I was at in the early 2000s.  Check this post for clarification.

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I’m often surprised by how long many rappers have been rapping, how young they were when they started, and how long it took a lot of them to become really successful.  Seems like there are very few that were out of their teens before they had their first albums in stores and videos on MTV (or YouTube or World Star Hip-Hop or wherever) and in some cases, they’re successful right off the bat.  But sometimes, there’s just an initial flare up that dies down as quickly as it popped up.  Then come the true trials, where the artist has to decide to bow out with their last shred of dignity and success or keep pushing over and over again, hoping to regain that spotlight with a little more longevity.  Some are able to achieve this, some aren’t.

Today I found out that a rapper that I really like a lot is one of those long-term success stories that should really put hope in the heart of anyone trying to make it as anything.  I stumbled across this video today of Twista (then called “Tung Twista”) in his first video way back in 1991, when he was only 19 years old.  It was in this era that he set the Guinness World Record for fastest rapper, rapping 598 syllables in 55 seconds.

Tung Twista – Mr. Tung Twista

But raw speed ended up not being enough to keep his fame going.  Neither of the singles from this first album charted at all, but he kept trying.  For a long time.  It wasn’t until many years later that he really had some large-scale success with his amazing 2004 album Kamikaze.  I imagine a lot of you will be more familiar with this one than that last one.

Twista – Overnight Celebrity (feat. Kanye West)

That same album had the possibly even more popular “Slow Jamz” on it, as well as the song I talked about back in this post, but I chose to feature that one because if there’s somebody who didn’t have overnight success, it’s Twista.  His early stuff didn’t chart at all, he had some notable guest appearances and a couple of his songs barely make it into the top 100 in the late 90s, but Kamikaze hit #1 when it came out — 13 years after that video you saw at the beginning hit MTV.  That’s a long time to go with no guarantee of grabbing that top spot, but Twista kept at it and got there.  You’ve got to admire that determination.

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Happy New Year everybody!!

For those that aren’t on the REDLite email list, first of all let me invite you to send an email to REDLiteDJ (at) gmail (dot) com and get on it, it’s where I inform everybody of shows I’m playing, new mixtapes I’m working on, and all kinds of things of that nature.  It’s a little more personal and in-depth than these blog posts tend to be, and I’ve had quite a few people that don’t even live in the same city as me and never are able to come to my shows or anything tell me that they are really glad to be on the email list.  So get on it!

Secondly, let me fill you in on how special today’s post is: this is officially the 100th post on this blog!  And not only that, it’s also the first post of this brand new year we’re starting, so I wanted to do something kinda special with it.  So I’m going to do a week-long series (or maybe it’ll go longer, who knows?) of my favorite tracks that, as Weezy puts it, “let the beat build, beeitch.”  Part of the reason I fell in love with rap in the first place is its repetitiveness and it’s often perfectly simple large-scale structure, I think that the way hip hop artists handle those features of the music are often what make it really beautiful.  There’s an honesty and a boldness in saying “No, you know what?  These 2 bars of this old track right here are the best ones of the whole song, and I’m going to loop them for you for 4 minutes straight and keep your interest the entire time just to prove it to you.”  That’s badass to me.  But I have to admit, I also have a soft spot for those songs that change and shift over the course of them and really take you on a dynamic journey from beginning to end.  Maybe that’s the music school in me, maybe it’s my weirdly long attention span.  Either way, these songs just make me real happy, and I figured it would be an appropriate time to share them with you all in this time of new beginnings and new directions in life.

So enough explanations, let’s get to the damn tunes.  I’ve got to start it out with the most obvious example, the song that provided me the name and the inspiration for this series.

Lil’ Wayne – Let the Beat Build

I feel like I kinda ruined the surprise on that one by mentioning the hook from this song in the explanation for this series, so that might have been a little anticlimactic for you, and I don’t want the first post of 2012 to be in any way a let-down.  So here’s a nice little chunk of history you might not be familiar with.

Eddie Kendricks – Day By Day

Stay tuned for more, y’all!  There are plenty of great ones to come.

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