Could It Be That It Was All So Simple Then?

Godfather.jpgRainy Dayz

{+} There’s been much talk amongst nerdians about the greatness that may be Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. . . II. There’s also been a great amount of revisionist history going on surrounding the orginal. Because most of you children started listening to hip-hop when Tupac died, you may not know that the Purple Tape was not always deemed the classic that is it seen to be now. True indeed, when the Wu-Gambinos dropped the now-classic LP, it was as divisive as anything this side of All Eyez On Me. During an interview back in the days when most of you were still shiiting in Pampers, KRS-One told me that the album changed the gravitational center of hip-hop. Any album coming out that wanted to be taken seriously, the Teacha opined, had to respond to Cuban Linx. Point-in-fact, the Haitian Sicilians on The Score were a direct riposte to the Wu’s pasta eating dons. As was De la Soul’s Stakes Is High (a/k/a Ground Zero for the Playa Hater Movement). See, back then, the birth of uncut cocaine rap was not viewed as a good thing.

Just as problematic as the Wu’s philandering with Colombians were the shots (on the record, on the radio and in interviews) that the Chef and Ghost Deini took at the Notorious B.I.G., right when he was engaged in so-called beef with you know who. Many accused the Wu as coast-traitors for this act. And, off the record, there were many artists who claimed the album’s production to be sloppy, noisy and all-around uncouth. (I won’t mention any names, but I still have the tapes in my closet.) It didn’t help matters that the Notorious “Greatest of All Time” B.I.G. was, himself, accused of destroying hip-hop, which caused a small ruckus with the Boot Camp Clik(a), who would go on to record with 2Pac, which would have further convoluted the mainstream’s neat picture of an East Coast/West Coast rivalry, had they cared to dig any deeper. But I digress.

All around, it was a messy time in hip-hop, and the Purple Tape was at the epicenter of subliminal jabbery. If you were paying attention, you’d have noticed that Rae, Ghost and (to a lesser extent) Rza, had been taking shots at Jigga, right up until his “retirement,” for supposedly appropriating their Cristal talk. (An idea which I’ve always found Chris Bridges.) Similarly, Outkast accused Diddy of swagger-jacking their whole playalistic vibe while their best album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (which is undoubtedly their best album, mind you) was snubbed by the East Coast elemental-types.(b)

This is not to say that I, myself, have always been able to declare a classic outright. Da Shinin’ took me 6 months to like. I even wrote a bad review of it in the immortal One Nut magazine. (Peace Connecticut.) But one night I was high, pumping iron(c) and it hit me like nothing else. How could I have been so stupid? Sometime later, when I was playing pool (very badly) with Dru Ha and them in D&D, I had to confess that I came around. Da Shinin’ is an album that I can still listen to ‘til this day. Yet, I’ve never thought Illmatic was a classic based on its music. I’ve rarely been able to listen to it all the way through. (As a matter-of-fact, I tried to recently and couldn’t make it.) I can’t ignore its place in history and the momentum it still carries to this day, but you’re more likely to find me bumping Fruits of Nature, Mr. Hood, Dead Serious or Staright Up Sewaside front-to-back than Illmatic. As for Midnight Marauders, it took me a few years to get into that one. (Could be becuase it came out on the same day as Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers and my true Wu-Tang story—which begins on a slow Tuesday at Bondy’s Music and includes grabbing gratis alcohol under a bar as shots ring out in a Staten Island club—deserves its own space.)

Reasonable Doubt, I fell in love with instantly. (Classic—shoulda went triple.) As I did with the second first Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, Death Certificate, Cypress Hill and One For All. But I wasn’t bowled over by The Chronic—it was music to drive by, not a headphone masterpeice. Besides, I was into Black militancy back then (power to the people, honor to the Earth) and as a good revolutionary, it was my job to boycott the best beat on the album (“Bitches Ain’t Shit”), not to mention that Dre had that little Dee Barnes incident.

In other unpopular opinions, I still Hold Wu-Tang Forever as a classic; one of the few double discs worth its dual Soundscan numbers along with Life After Death and All Eyez On Me.

And, while we’re being honest, it wasn’t until 2000 that I appreciated the bleak beauty of Hell On Earth and I originally preferred Project: Funk Da World to Ready to Die.


Gunshots In My Cookup

{+} In other news: I’ve actually listened to trust fund recipient (Lil’) Romeo’s “You Can’t Shine Like Me.” I wouldn’t be surprised if T.I. wrote that one as well, which would make him the first rapper to try to, as the kids say, ether himself(d).

{+} Stop snitchin’, you asked for the life you’re livin’/ This act is not permitted nowhere on the map/ It is forbidden to send a nigga to prison/ If you’ve been in it along with him and then snitch and become hidden. . .

Obie Trice (real name, no gimmicks) gets it right. And Akon is the new Nate Dogg. (Except people actually buy his albums.)

{+} My young fam, Rah’Saan got so much swagger. Caught him live the other night. The young god went for twenty minutes straight, dolo with no loss of stage presence, sore throat and all. Please ignore the fact that he’s aiding in the destruction of society by being on Myspace and cuff with him.

{+} Children, thirty people wearing a rapper’s promo shirt as he gets “Treached,” while technically being his entourage, is most likely, in all reality, his street team. So, if you’re gonna appoint yourself as some sort of media watchdog, barking uniformed information—even if that has become your stock in trade—is not a good look.

The moral of the story, children: Support online hip-hop, not suckers online doing hip-hop.(e)

{+} It’s a little late in the game to be thumbing through The Art of War, young homey. The generals have been dispatched, the armies are on the battlefield, and your officers are turning allegiances as you read. The laws of power been mastered since Slick Rick’s first chain. Rival crews, get your black suits up.

{+} My legal team has advised me that I can attract more fruit flies with honey than vinegar, to which I asked if a moldy banana would do, to which they said, the analogy being beside the point, that I would be better served by feigning a desire for dialogue and community—even if I could care less—which could easily be done by ending my posts with a question, sort of like an invitation for conversation. I don’t know—what do you fruit flies think of that?

P.S. – If Tara and Bol keep blirtng(f) with each other, I’ma get jealous(g).

PlayStation 2 – I plan on starting my DITT (Diggin’ In The Terabytes) series once Brendan “Snow Business” Frederick teaches me how to upload music. Elliot “Breakaday” Wilson can’t have all the fun.


(a) There are some things you know or you don’t.

(b) And you thought it all started with “Laffy Taffy.”

(c) You know I had to be high to be pumping iron.

(d) This does not include rappers voluntarily signing to Bad Boy.

(e) I only link to people I respect. The rest of the suckers on line doing hip-hop can die nameless.

(f) Blog flirting; get a chat room, already.

(g) If you think it, you must be it.

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  • 50 Cent

    You fucking suck. Your posts are lame. Look i’m the only one even commenting cuz you suck so bad. I suggest continuing your job at Churches Chicken, cuz your a lame ass nigga.

  • Jack Swagger

    This is a blog.

  • Kyle

    ^^ you’re free to spit your opinion, but that means you’re free to look like a douche when your opinion is that other’s shouldn’t be free to spit theirs. I liked the post, it’s nice to see somebody with the respect to acknowledge Illmatic’s role without declaring it the rap gospel. Keep it up kris, “your” alright by me.

  • khal

    LOL @ “Treached”… I’m feeling that. Also feeling what you said about Wu Tang Forever. A kid I know bumps that album religiously at the job. Some serious classics in there.

  • Zilla

    good look on the “Illmatic” and “Da Shinin’.” I know you’re going to be getting “ethered” because of your stance on those albums but there’s some merit to it.
    I remember when the Source used to pump “Illmatic” as this overlooked classic that they gave 5 mics to once Nas blew up. They championed the “ILLMATIC IS THE BIBLE” campaign that runs rampant through “real hip hop headz.” It’s a damn good album but I didn’t see the hype myself until after I had it for a few months. Same thing with “Da Shinin’.” I think hip hop critics and pundits reach a point where they are ready to proclaim classic status to artists and albums when the climate of the culture isn’t to what they want. Hence, Nas and Smif-N-Wessun, who made 2 gritty-as-fuck NY records during the height of the Death Row days. A recent example is Little Brother, a solid group who just rehash all the classic sounds and vibes of “golden age” hip hop that isn’t being represented prominently now.


  • Danja29

    Yep… delusional new-jacks would like to think all was good in the mid-90′s and there was nothin’ to bitch about. I’d beg to differ, as even Wu and Big caught their share of hate. Not to mention how many people scoffed at the five mics for ‘Illmatic’. ‘Cuban Linx’ was either the dopest thing ever, or the poison of hip-hop depending on who you talked to. I guess time heals all wounds and makes everything all good, though. Or at least, that’s what they’d have you believe for the sake of ‘real hip-hop’.

    I’ve said time and time again, that if the internet was as rampant with fans posing as critics like it is now, there woulda been just as much hatin’ and complainin’.

  • G Off

    Best piece you’ve written so far. Good insight and I’m looking forward to reading your real Wu-Tang story.

  • Roc the Trashman

    I was wondering how do you journalists always claim to know when someone is ghostwriting for someone i.e, TI for Bow Wow? Isnt the point of ghostwriting for it not be known? so either you supposedly have connections or youve heard it thru the grapevine like the rest of us gossips. The latter is much more believable.

  • Hashim

    Media Chin-Check:
    “Why are 30 people rolling with him to an interview? I bet Gravy doesn’t even know all them dudes.”

    Good journalists should read the first and second sentence.

  • r

    and then Outkast is booed at the Source Awards…”the south got something to say.”

    and then Biggie changes-the-game by making a West Coast album with no West Coast artists…

    and then suddenly NY critics become hip to gangster shit (as long as it’s from NY)…”don’t be mad UPS is hiring.”

    and then somebody from the BCC sends a letter to the Source regarding the 3.5 “Da Shinin” receives. wildly the letter is actually published in the next issue.

    and then NY Dickriders here in the Bay are found stroking “Cuban Links” in Junior College Quad areas while shitting on “Me Against the World” saying, “they don’t do gangster.” “i say fuck em!”

    and then Method Man is found rapping on “All Eyes On Me” and the NY Dickriders here in the Bay are perplexed…

    and then De La draws THE line in the sand. years later they try to step over said line unsuccessfully…a shame…

    and then Jigga Man is doing a show in SF opening for Conscious Daughters and Smooth da Hustler…”Rome tells a young R “that dude Jay Z was alright tho.”

    and then Nas is seen onstage at the Grammy’s wearing a gold satellite dish around his neck while Hammers’ ex-entourage of 43 dancers is coordinating steps… (true story)

    and then Wu Tang Forever is ahead of its time…anytime…

    and then Outkast actually benefits from revisionist history as the new story says they hail from the BK and are actually the most important group “of all time!” Eddie channels Ali as fans rejoice.

    and then Kris Ex (from Atlanta) says he likes “Southernplaylistic” the best…”you say we’re country but we’re only southern.”

  • d rock

    im so dam tired of yall old head talking but how hip hop was so much better than it is now. man f** raekwon album, he was hot in 94′ but son couldnt change with the times. like a nas or ll cool j did. so he is not relevant therefore he dosent exist

  • Danja29

    D ROCK: you kinda… missed the point, didn’t you?

    Most of the blog is about how easy it is for some people to look back and talk all that ‘classic’ shit, but it wasn’t that simple back then. Did you not get that part?

  • gerv

    This shit was boring and i remember all the shit this blog is talkin about.Get over it the 90′s are over and the east coast ain’t runnin hip-hop no more just complaining alot well the fools in they late 20′s and thirties anyway.You might as well respect these youngstas commin out now because it iz what it iz they the new generation of hip-hop.

  • Scott La Rock

    Fuck this nonsense gibberish. This is a retarded post. So Cuban Linx wasn’t universally revered when it came out. Looking back it’s easy to see that the album totally changed the game and remains one of the most influential hiphop albums ever. And even if you think Illmatic is overrated, saying that you can’t listen to it front to back (considering it’s less than 40 minutes long and is so widely recognized) can only mean that you’re just trying to make a statement purely for “shock value” to cause “controversy” OR you don’t actually like hiphop.

  • exo

    I don’t engage in circular logic, so. . .

    Scott: Does your mother know you’re this stupid?

    Gerv: Ditto.

    Roc: It’s called listening.

  • daesonesb

    I never really made the connection between stakes is high and OBFCL…
    “them cubans dont care what ya’ll niggas do/ columbians never rolled with your crew/ while you actin all spicy and shiesty/ the only italians you know are icies”

    Now you mention it, seems pretty damn obvious though. It puts some of those
    songs in a funnier light as well.

    ^Rock — to like hip hop you dont have to dig on illmatic. It was monumental, but I could see about how some people wouldn’t say it made nas the GOAT.

  • Mr. Grey Ghost

    Wu-Tang Forever a classic? Debatable. But if so, than I guess “Black Shampoo” (arguably the worse Wu cut ever) is in the same boat as “Chinese Arithmetic”.

  • thatkidnero

    This nigga is the G.O.A.T of this blog shit….called out Illmatic and everything….wow.

  • Lyric Assassin


  • kiki

    Fuck You ass hole!!!! That was no little incident w/ dee barnes!!!!!! How could you even talk about it so lightly……my mom (yes my mom) didn’t just get slap she was assaulted, kicked down the stairs, and battered in the woman’s rest room. I am sooo fucking tired of hearing people making rude-ass comments about her so SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!!