Lookin’ handsome in our Helle Hansens

Thirty six years of age

Starin’ at this blank page

I just wanna say ‘Wassup!’

To all my friends from back in the day

Some of us were rich

Some of us were poor

None of us gave a shit

All we wanted from life was more

Slumber parties wake up on the floor

Parents kicking us out the door

Before we raided the fridge

Got the munchies for your biscuits

Just kids livin’ this life for free

Little did we know how hard this life could be

If you didn’t pay attention

Spending more time in detention

Than concentrating on those grades

We were F-this and F-that

Ignorant to the significance of straight A’s

Watching skate videos  and listening to mixtapes

 

Studyin’ the slang of Mobb Deep and Wu Tang Clan

It would be untrue to say gang life was something we knew

Even though we liked to act tough with our little crew

Lookin’ handsome in our Helle Hansens

Kickin’ back in class whilst all the other kids advancin’

 

To bigger and better things

We traded college halls for concrete walls

Painted by graffiti kings

Hours spent in the streets

Claiming allegiance to the underground

Then at night we’d creep home

To sleep in our flats Uptown

Life was so easy back then

If I had to do it I’d do it again

Same flow, same clothes, same trends

I dedicate these memories to all my friends

Mispelt Yoof Ch.06 Pt.2

Max led the way through the gap in the fence and Tommy followed him. The bottles clinked in the plastic carrier bag as they dropped off the low wall into the undergrowth. The two boys hesitated for a second with baited breath to make sure the coast was clear before heading through the pine trees and onto the path. Max had been to the park several times during the middle of the night and he had only ever met random stoners or the odd fox during his visits. One time Max, Tommy and Buster were hitting bongs on a bench somewhere near the rose garden when the bush next to them shuffled and came alive. They all jumped and yelped at the sight of a homeless man heaped in grubby clothes creeping out from under a bush. He grunted in their direction and shuffled back down into the shrubbery. The boys high had evaporated in an instant and been replaced with seeping paranoia as they left the scene staring at every bush along the way. Max thought it was pretty funny with hindsight but it freaked all of them out on the night.

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5 Verses

I listen to a lot of rap music. I even spent a few of my teenage years jotting down lyrics of my own and performing them at various open mic sessions. The thing that amazes me the most about rap music is the skill certain rappers have to describe everyday life, the extraordinary people they know or their superior skills on the microphone with melody and high definition clarity. I must quickly make the clear distinction between a rapper who simply lines up rhymes and catchy choruses along a beat and the emcee alias M.C. a.k.a. the Master of Ceremonies a.k.a. The Mic Controller who is more of an orator with a message that carries more importance and substance that a simple call to dance. A lot of people can use complicated metaphors and technical rhyme structures in their lyrics, but the true masters of the art form are the emcees that talk to you without you realising they are rapping. The descriptions and attention to detail reach a point where the listener almost forgets about bars and hooks and simply listens to what the mic controller has to say. Flow is critical for a good emcee, but the real skill is when they can match words so naturally that any other combination or syntax seems illogical. There is no need for repetition, ad-libs or proverbial mannerisms. The emcee talks and you listen.

On a side note, I remember having heated debates with friends about the real talent of 90’s duo Group Home. My peers adored their album Livin Proof, but I had difficulty listening to Lil’ Dap and The Nutcracker rapping their tales of inner city life because the lyrical clout just wasn’t there. That said, Lil’ Dap had one of the most recognizable nasal deliveries and DJ Premier’s beats and production are what really place Group Home’s album among the classics of a bygone era in Hip Hop. Maybe it’s because I wrote some of my own rhymes and felt I had an idea of how difficult it is to lace lyrics together, that I saw through the strength of a good instrumental.

Here are a few verses from the Nineties that still have me in awe. The rhymes, metaphors, delivery and flow come together to create some of rap music’s strongest lyricism to date. The first is Nas with New York State of Mind – the opening song from his debut album “Illmatic”.

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