Who Stole the Show? – Overlooked Guest MCs Stand Up
Back in the days when I was just freelancing for XXL, I interviewed stic.man, one half of dead prez, about his book The Art of Emcee-ing. Really interesting guy to speak with—he’s full of sharp insight and candid expression.
One point in particular that he made, though, has always rang bells in my head, especially when I glance at a new album track list. I can’t recall his exact quote, but his sentiment was this—you can tell a lot about an album’s artistic creativity by reading the song titles on the CD’s back cover.
I agree to a certain extent, just not completely in terms of song names reflecting an LP’s artistic merit. Jedi Mind Tricks are the kings of creative titles (look no further than “Razorblade Salvation” or “The Executioner’s Dream”), but Stoupe’s ferocious production is rarely paired with anything other than Vinnie Paz’s incessant death threats. Nevertheless, stic.man’s thought still comes into play; even though JMT’s “Tibetan Black Magicians” might offer little lyrically, that title is tough to bypass. It triggers curiosity, at least.
Yesterday’s post covering my favorite soundtrack cuts brought stic.man’s philosophy to mind, specifically from the inclusion of Wu-All Stars “Soul in the Hole.” The first MC on that track is Killa Sin, who to me is the strongest member of the Wu-Tang offshoot group Killarmy.
What’s the connection here? Seeing Killa Sin’s name labeled as a guest star on past Wu albums always forced me to skip directly to said song, or songs. Though he’s pretty much missing in action nowadays, there was a time when the Killa Bee in question would massacre WTC records, from RZA’s “La Rhumba” to Ghostface’s “Strawberry.” His flow was, and I’d hope still is, incredibly rugged, slathering concrete atop a nimble flow and witty bars.
A song featuring Killa Sin could’ve been some lazy ish like “I’m So Hood” and I would’ve no doubt approached the track with extreme anticipation. (Bonus Mention: Killa Sin’s brief yet epic verse on Bronze Nazareth’s “The Bronzeman” is worthy of a standing ovation).
Using Killa Sin as the catalyst, here are three of my top frequent-guests, the consistent standouts within rap crews that have long inspired me to skip right to their album contributions. The format is as follows—one example of each rapper’s ability to avoid being bodied on a more prolific person’s track, and then a solo joint from each, to prove that they’re capable of more than one verse at a time.
These are based on personal preference, so, by all means, show love to your own regular-guests-who-always-stole-the-show in the comments section. I’ll start with… Killa Sin. —Matt Barone
(Wu-Tang affiliate; member of Wu-backed Killarmy)
“Strawberry” (from Ghostface’s Bulletproof Wallets)
“Have Mercy” (Killa Sin solo record, with La the Darkman on the hook; from Mathematics’s Love, Hell or Right)