Yesterday Talib Kweli came through the office for our weekly Spotlight Ustream show, and along with giving a dope interview (props to all parties involved), he offered plenty of food for thought. [Watch here] One particular topic that caught my attention was Kweli’s comments on Jay Electronica’s verse from “Just Begun.”
When Rob asked Kwe who he thought had the best verse on the Reflection Eternal posse cut, J.Cole, Jay, Mos Def or himself he explained the merits of everyone’s rhymes. As far as Elec, he said the Roc Nation signee’s words were the most vivid.
“Feelin’ out of place as I whistle a cab down/If I tip extra can I huff a cig/Blow my smoke out the window/Droppin’ ashes on the bridge.”
Although in my opinion, Cole undoubtedly had the best verse, my favorite part of the song is that one line. Why, you might ask? Because I saw that shit. Because I’m from BK; born, raised and still live in BK, probably ’til the day I die, and unfortunately I smoke cigarettes- and not much gives me more pleasure than a cabbie who lets me light up as we’re crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. I saw Elec, better yet, I felt Elec taking a pull of his cigarette, window down, staring out onto the Watchtower as he anticipated getting home. And that my friends, is some motion picture shit.
I love rap; I love books; I love movies; I love stories; I love art; I love shit that transports me to another world. My favorite MCs are the ones who at their best are doin’ just that— paintin’ pictures or as Khaled says, makin’ movies (IT’s A MOVIE!!!) like my man Martin Scorcese. And as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to illustrating portraits, nobody’s fuckin’ with Ghostface. Ghost is so ill, I’m surprised that Quentin Tarantino hasn’t done something with him. I mean I understand why he worked with Rza—Pretty Toney can’t produce no film score—but when that man gets in the booth, he might as well be pressing record on the friggin’ cameras.
Let’s view the highlight reel real quick.
On “Shakey Dog” Tone tells the story of a heist with his dopey partner in crime, gone wrong. We follow them in the car ride as they’re on their way to the jux (getting high and eatin’) and into the apartment building where it all unfolds.
“Clouds of smoke/Music blastin’from the Arab V blunted/Whip’s smellin’ like shit from 1-2-5th/Throwin’ ketchup on my fries/Hittin’ baseball spliffs/Back seat with my leg all stiff/ ‘Push the fuckin’ seat up!’ …”
“This is the spot/Yo son, your burner cocked/These fuckin’ maricons on the couch watchin’ Sanford and Son/ Passin’ they rum/ Fried plantains and rice/ Big round onions on the t-bone steak/’My stomach growlin’ yo I want some’/ Hold on somebody comin’/Get behind me/ Knock on the door/ Act like you stickin’ me up/ put the joint to my face/ Push me in quickly when the bitch open up/ Remember you don’t know me/ Blast him if he reach for his gun/ ‘Yo who goes there?’/ Toney!/’ Toney, one second homie’…”
“Walk Around” is about presumably the first time Ghost shot someone and how the experience affected him.
“It was him/ The corner store and the buttered roll/ The shit dropped when I gave him two stomach holes/ One to the face/ He fell sideways/ I was up close/ A part of his nose was stuck to my padre’s/Standin’ over him shakin’/ Kids screamin’/ He slapped my girl/ That’s the reason why I was fiendin’ and leanin’/ Everything got real slow/ I ain’t hear shit/ My word/At least 40 seconds I stood there stiff…”
This song goes through two scenarios in which Starks got caught red handed doing the wrong thing. In the last verse, he tells a story about his wife catchin’ him with his side girl at the Best Western hotel.
“Next thing she layin’ in the ’Tel lobby/Spotted me/ Tippin’ the doorman holdin’ hands with my bitch beside me/ My heart dropped/Everything stopped/Scared to death/ Told my broad to keep it movin’ ’cause I just got knocked/ Don’t turn around/ As soon as she did she bust a shot/ Course she told security drop when she touched the glock/ I had the dumb face on/ long face on/ Didn’t say shit/ not even cough or spit/ my bitch was gone…”
I could go on for days with examples of Ghostdini’s vivid pen game, but what I wanna know is, what are some of your favorite cinematic verses? —Jesse Gissen