A TRIBE CALLED QUEST: We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service

RELEASED: NOVEMBER 11, 2016, Epic Records/Sony Music

Review by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

On this day, we are celebrating  5 years of promoting great music and gaining respect and credibility from fans and artists. To this I could say “We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service”. But we gonna keep going. Trap music? Mumble Rap? Freestyling from smart phones, WE DON’T DO THAT OVER HERE!

So as a celebration, I decided to review this album, which is a celebration of iconic Hip Hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest, when you mention the words Hip Hop, these are the guys that instantly come into people’s minds who define it and are mentioned in the same sentence with groups such as Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, Wu-Tang Clan, De La Soul.

March 22, 2016 was a horrible day to wake up to. Checking your social media has become one of the regular things to do in the morning with brushing your teeth and changing your brief. The loss of Phife Dawg rocked Hip Hop to its foundation and is up there with the losses of Big Pun, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and J Dilla, talking of which, was the first thing on my mind when I heard the news. I remembered Phife’s track ‘Dear Dilla’ which I consider very underrated and slept on. The lyrics in that, looking at it now made me think ‘whoa’… did Phife kinda know he was going? Almost like he dedicated the song to himself?

Hold tight, this ain’t the last time I see you
Due time, that’s my word, I’mma see you
Frontin’ ass rappers now here stealin’ intros
Posin’ like they hard when we know they all see through…” 

actq-new-albumWhile Hip Hop was in mourning for the longest since Sean Price, A Tribe Called Quest reconciled and secretly recorded a comeback album on the back of their recent reunion tour, and two weeks before the allotted release date, they dropped the bomb on us. Yes, half of admitted to be skeptical after the blemish that was ‘The Love Movement’, the rest of us were praising the most high that in the midst of this ‘mumble rap’ era, an album would come along to take us away from all that and take us back to the days of Midnight Mauraders. This is their first album after 18 years, and their ‘true’ final album. Have they gone out in a bang? Or will The Love Movement be the last image that fans will be forced to remember through the ages?

As you hit play on your iTunes (or in my case, CD which I highly recommend you do) you are instantly reminded of why you love ATCQ in the first place. ‘The Space Program’ does just that. You are glad that throughout the history, they finally made something happen here.

‘We The People’ is insanely amazing. The art of the Hip Hop anthem has not been forgotten… when this drop in a party or in a car – THAT’S A WRAP. What’s better, it could not have come at a better time in Trump’s America with Q-Tip’s tongue in cheek humor with the hook, while Phife brings a scathing verse.

The niceness continues will ‘Whateva Will Be’. So far J Dilla is up there smiling and thinking -‘my boys have done it again’ with the Nairobi Sister’s Promised Land sample, where the subject matter of social injustice and Trump’s America continue.

It’s from here now that ATCQ begin to diverse their music whilst keeping it them. A collaboration with Elton John would be the last thing on hip hop heads minds, but when you have been in the game as long as these guys, your exploration of music will branch out. Here a returning Bussa Bus appears in  a ‘Solid Wall Of Sound’ in his outta order Jamaican persona, it makes for a very interesting track for listeners to absorb a bit more than the first three tracks previous. It serves as a great intro  however to ‘Dis Generation’ where we see the whole tribe minus Consequence going line for line. Their diverse direction starts to ring the ears of Andre 3000 who comes through in ‘Kids’, blending in nicely like he’s part of the tribe too. The way he and Q-Tip describe the way we want our kids to believe something when in reality it’s harder to explain the harsh facts.

In ‘Melatonin’, Q-Tip goes for dolo while Abbey Smith provide extra vocals. great track but I strongly advise NOT to use the drug as it’s design is to help people who have trouble sleeping, and this is a project that 7 tracks in, should NOT be slept on.

I like the fact that ATCQ have maintained some nostalgic elements, like in ‘Enough!!’ The classic instruments used in ‘Bonita Applebum’ are brought back here to continue to please their long time fans and attract new fans in the process. This is one of those tracks that will become a favourite in the long-term after several listens. I also like te fact that ATCQ treated the project as if it was released some 20,25 years ago by including a ‘Side A’ and a ‘Side B’ in the project. Consequence kicks the B Side off with ‘Mobius’, but it’s Busta Rhymes who runs away with this one, channelling his inner Woo-Hah!! into the track! Very interesting how the rest of the tribe stand back and let these two go in, making it sound like ATCQ 2.0.

snl-a-tribe-called-quest-busta

Just as Bussa Bus tore up Mobius, Phife Dawg puts mumble rappers on blast in ‘Black Spasmodic’: “Trash rap the dead, pu$$y kill the chirping/No more f**k boys, sit down, sh!t can only get worse/And how do you touch mic with flows uncertain?
Speak game dry, boy, that flow ain’t workin’/Folks throwin’ items, them vex and cursin’
F**k made me wanna see these n!&&@$ in person?” Consider it the preparations for the ‘Killing Season’, which brings Talib Kweli and Kanye West into the mix, who thankfully for you hip hop purists has been relegated to just the hook. Also it’s great how they showcased Jarobi & Consequence here.

“Have you ever loved somebody?
Way before you got to dream?
No more crying, he’s in sunshine
He’s alright now, see his wings…”

Another track I consider a growing gem outside the obvious favourites is this one right here – ‘Lost Somebody’, where their expressions for their loss in Phife Dawg becomes very moving.

Even though ATCQ have moved forwards with their music, they decide to try ‘Movin Backwards’ one time and bring Anderson Paak with them. Here Jarobi throws shots at Fetty Wap and all the trap lords, leading by example set by Phife. Then Kendrick chimes in for a memorable, Source Hip Hop Quotable quality verse in Conrad Tokyo while Phife expresses his disdain for the presidential election. Imagine if he actually saw the results in the physical.

‘Ego’ sees Q-Tip going for dolo once again, bringing more nostalgic sounds into it provided by musician Jack White. Great to see him use the wordplay and break down various forms of Ego, even onto himself: “Ego make you violent or govern like a tyrant/Or switch a dictionary’s word from vibrant to vivrant/Fool the thirsty people, selling tap water in bottles/Fooled a girl with NYU scholarship and now she models
Ego has no ending, has people pretending/Religious zealots get jealous ’cause guys want their defending…”

Finally, ‘The Donald’. Which is a unique tribute to Phife which features the Trini Gladiator in his own ode. Salute the man known as Don Juice.

…And Phife Dawg is still not dun! His final solo album will be touching down in our stores sometime next year and that will be even more anticipated than ever now. Let’s keep it 100 – when his first solo dropped, not many of us noticed, all eyes were still on Q-Tip.

A part of me doesn’t want A Tribe Called Quest to end even though they can say they have on a great note. A part of me wants Consequence and Busta to become official and be ATCQ 2.0. They have successfully erased the lasting image The Love Movement had and crafted an album we never saw coming and were given just 2 weeks notice to prepare. 2016 has been a surprise year for the Native Tongues, when just a few months prior, De La Soul blessed us with new music too. Special mention to Busta Rhymes who really went in with this project, making both Dilla and Phife proud, an reminding us of how versatile he really is. While I personally would give the Album Of The Year award to Common, ATCQ is also worth deserving because of the story behind it.

TAKE A BOW GUYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

BUSTA RHYMES: The Coming (20 Year Anniversary)

Released: March 26, 1996, Elektra Entertainment Group

Written by Michael Grant (C.E.O. of RePPiN4U)

It is supposed to be a time of celebration, another great album of the golden era which has reached its 20th Anniversary. But 2016 hasn’t been nice to our public figures. Our idols and heroes passing away left right and centre, at this rate, Papoose’s 2016 obituary will end up being an extended 12 minute cut at the end of the year.

Busta Rhymes debut album ‘The Coming’s 20th Anniversary has been overshadowed by the tragic death of Phife Dawg of iconic Hip Hop group A Tribe Called Quest, and instead of Busta celebrating his ‘baby’, he found himself writing a heartfelt felt letter to his lost comrade:

“…DEC.5th 2015, I was able to have a dream come true in a way that it never had and that was to perform What’s the scenario (original and the rmx) for the 1st time ever back to back with all of the original members of Leaders of the New School and A Tribe Called Quest since we recorded these songs in 1991 & 1992. That night was so magical with all of the love that was under one roof that it’s too much to get into the details of but again please take another look at this picture, if u notice @iamthephifer had his hand on my back consoling me as I kneeled down to give thanks crying tears of joy because of how proud of a moment that was for me being able to end a 4 hour set with brothers who put me in a position where I was able to tell my mother she will not have to work for anyone over 20 yrs ago. The belief that they had in me puttin’ me and Leaders on that record, putting me last on the record because back then being last on the record meant EVERYTHING, I had no idea at that time what they were setting me up in life to be but thru out the years it was so consistent their love and concern for my well-being that it was no way I couldn’t see it…” (Excerpt from Busta Rhymes Open heart-felt letter to Phife)

Scenario was the trigger to jump-start Busta’s solo career, unlike Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and GZA’s Liquid Swords, I didn’t buy this album on day of release. It was a decision made after hearing a number of tracks on radio, and how he reminded me of Ol’ Dirty Bastard in terms of energy and delivery. I think it was roughly around May of 1996 when I brought it.

Busta Rhymes The ComingOnce again I take you back to when I was 16. I had quit my paper round after protest, and I was getting ready for my last day of compulsory education. This is Busta Rhymes: The Coming: MY STORY.

  1. THE COMING – Intro

Never before in Hip Hop did we encounter a voice which resembled a preacher… do not play this intro in front of Christians I can say that! Very amusing when Lord Have Mercy would reference Busta’s birthday but not reveal the year…almost comparing Busta to the creator himself. I can’t lie even I trembled when he said “We must bring the ruckus, to all you muthaf***az!” And saying it louder each time!

2. DO MY THING

What I loved about this album was Busta’s choice of wordplay: so feisty, energetic, animated and out of order: “When I step in the place you should keep your mouth closed
Take your fat finger out your nose
You should just pay attention, and watch how I wild on all the records
Make you sing, “The Lord is my shepherd!”

Yes pop pickers, before Eminem made your jaw drop with lyrics, there was Busta. (Sorry Tasker I had to steal your catch phrase!)

3. EVERYTHING REMAINS RAW

We need to bring back the belt… and beat down these wack rappers claiming to represent Hip Hop, they know who they are, I don’t need to state by name.

I officially have a driving license, but I don’t own a car. Everyone has a ‘things to do list’ before they die and in my list there is one where I sing ‘Everything Remains Raw’ with my crew going crazy in a car. It’s actually my theme when new year rolls around, while everyone else sings that other song in which I have no idea what it means or why it’s sung, I’d prefer to sing this hook, stating I will have a great, ‘raw’ year..

4. ABANDON SHIP

The other early aspect of Busta’s flow I missed was his ability to ‘break down the lyrics into syllables’. Rampage followed by example. The result – a synchronised tag team chemistry. It’s a real shame Rampage was next up from Flipmode, at least that’s how he was groomed initially.

5. WOO-HAH! I GOT YOU ALL IN CHECK

Yar-Yar-Yaaaar – Yarr -YAR! My last months at school were sent with me and my people singing just that… and everyone knew where it come from, and it spread like an epidemic.

True story – I first saw the video of this at my cousin’s house… come to think of it, I used to see a lot of hip hop videos at my cousin’s house! We were laughing our heads off all the way through… it wasn’t just Busta acting a fool, it was Q-Tip and Onyx in the video losing their minds. Q-Tip was gone!!! When the video finished, we were there holding our stomach because of the laughter and then I said, “Imagine if Busta did a remix with ODB?” 2 minutes later, the radio played just that – the remix! Gob smacked was not even the word to express that time.

6. IT’S A PARTY

I don’t think this is played enough at parties, thank goodness for DJs like Miss L Vibes who knows of the remixes to these tracks. This is the ‘calm’ Busta that we would get to know in his later albums. I’ve always prefered the feisty Busta though. Special mention to the little intermission that follows… it was another ‘go crazy in the the car moment’… I WILL do that with my clansmen before the po-po pulls me over.. after I show them my Hip Hop license they will understand… I saw them dancing with their truncheons to WHOA! at a carnival once for goodnesss sake!

Busta Rhymes The Coming 2

 

7. HOT FUDGE

Hot Fudge comin on in good lord…

I don’t know what I love more… the wordplay in this or the skit that follows! Can we say Busta was ahead of his time when he says this:

“Been in this too long to allow n!&&@$ to try to take mine
23 years deep and I still exist as BUSTA RHYMES!
Aeiyo, I’m in this to win this, gets down to handle my business
While I be Busta Rhymes you still be whoever your name is!!”

Up til now, certain artists out there talking nonsense in records and I don’t know who their name is, like that kid who is in love with the cocoa… (Er Grant – he’s signed with Busta’s Conglomerate label..) FOR REAL???? Er..Oh dear…!!!

8. ILL VIBE

Busta & Q-Tip have teased us with a few mixtapes lately… if Extinction Level Event 2 isn’t gonna surface for now, I’m sure the fans would love a full length LP from these two with Dilla handling most of the production. Yes Busta we are fully aware that Dilla left you a lot of beats like you was a vessel for him!

9. FLIPMODE SQUAD MEETS DEF SQUAD

Such a colossal record that a fan had to take it upon themselves to create a fan-made video. The jury is still out – who smashed the tune the most? For me, I think Keith Murray edged it for Def Squad, and Lord Have Mercy ran away with it for Flipmode. I can say this – if Lord Have was a local pastor, church would be packed to capacity crowd! Even the atheists and 5 percenters would be in attendance! Yeah I said it!

10. STILL SHINING

Personally I thought it was a good chess move to keep the track featuring B.I.G. off the album and had this instead which I feel is the better (and underrated Dilla) track as well. I remember playing this before what was my favourite track from the album…

Busta Rhymes tracklist

11. KEEP IT MOVING

To my knowledge this was the last Leaders Of the New School track before they unexpectedly reunited for ‘We Home’ recently. I remember Busta saying countless times in interviews that the Leaders would never reform. I believe now that Phife Dawg has returned to the essence it has made both the Leaders and the surviving members of A Tribe Called Quest re-assess their thoughts, it’s such a good thing that they all reunited on stage recently.

12. THE FINISH LINE

We all know that one person, who loves to talk all that jazz and we know they lying, and what do they hope to accomplish? Now its evolved to internet keyboard warriors, never left their basement, quick to talk slick, got no profile picture or never show their face. Back in the day, they would get a beatdown. Now? Yeah you could delete & block them, but then they pull a fast one, by making a fake account and proceeding to spy on people. You see those guys? They officially got no lives. Shame really…

13. THE END OF THE WORLD – Outro

Remember that? There’s only 5 years left? Ok be honest, who fell for that ‘Judgement day’ trick as it hit midnight January 1, 2000?!! I remember where I was at that precise moment though… let’s just say I was doing something you wouldn’t do!

This was the beginning of Busta Rhymes manifesting into the megastar hip hop legend he is now, and the best thing about his consistency, is when he performs on stage, he never forgets his roots. That’s why I know people cannot talk slick about Busta Rhymes in a negative. The man has the unique ability to work with anybody and everybody and be adapt. He also has that rare attribute of his sophomore albums (When Disaster Strikes, Extinction Level Event, Genesis etc) being greater than his solo debut.

TAKE A BOW BUSTA RHYMES, CONTINUE TO BRING THE RUCKUS, TO ALL THOSE MUTHAF***AZ!

Busta Rhymes - The Coming tray

 

CHEF RAEKWON – F.I.L.A. Fly International Luxurious Art

“I suppose your security is your success and the key to your success is a fine palate…” (Gordon Ramsay)

Raekwon FILA2I am a big fan of cooking programmes, Hell’s Kitchen, Masterchef, and particularly Nigella Lawson (for the wrong reason….) But these programmes and others I could mention have one thing in common: The cooks involved know how to cook a wide range of food around the world. You can’t call yourself a ‘Chef’ if you know how to cook just one dish. You gotta study, travel the world, understand different ways of how food is prepared.

This is what Raekwon the Chef has done. From 1993, he has come from cooking ‘fish’ in his Staten Island projects, to making his specialities only built for certain people in ’95, to becoming head chef in 2009, to becoming the boss in 2011. Now in 2015, he has mastered his craft… or has he??

Close your eyes. Imagine that Raekwon was but another MC in the game, and he was never in the Wu-Tang Clan. In fact imagine an alternate world where Wu-Tang didn’t exist. Not even the Chinese dynasty way back when. This is what this new album is: F.I.L.A. Fly International Luxurious Art is Rae’s reflection of loving life, travelling to so many places around the world that the airport cannot stamp his passport because there is no room on it.

The album kicks off at 4 In The Morning, with his long time partner Ghostface Killah up to their usual tales, then Rae goes ‘Mayweather mode’ with A$AP Rocky in ‘I Got Money’… both emcees coming through with street rhymes. Not exactly ‘Trillmatic’ but Rocky came through and stepped up his game.

Could Wall To Wall have been over saturated with French Montana’s presence? Perhaps…but thankfully Rae & Busta Rhymes recover the track well. Putting Busta on a track last always works. Proven since Scenario.

Heads will gladly skip Wall To Wall but will find it difficult to skip this one. Heated Nights is a standout track and is one of the few that features Rae going for dolo. This is that chill out on vacation – zoning out enjoying the night air music…the album flows nicely into F.I.L.A World, which has that Ludacris ‘Lovers Than Friends’ syndrome, or the Q-Tip Renaissance Remix syndrome. By that I mean it’s a great dreamy track until you wake up from the horror that is 2Chainz coming through for the third verse. This is one that might find heads hitting the skip button after Rae’s two verses.

FILA Single wallpaper1,2 1,2 sees Raekwon and Snoop Dogg going Tag Team Assault on the mic over an amped up sample of Issac Hayes ‘Ike’s Mood’. Expect a remix of this sure-fire single. Whereas Live To Die continues Rae’s stories from the real: “He was drunk spazzin’ on a young n!**@ with cash/They did the best to him, whooped his @$$/Bloody out, his ear was ripped, they know he loved his music/They poked him twice, his gear was ripped/Ninja style, n!&&@$ whipped him with a Benz belt, broke his arm…”

F.I.L.A. was an album in development that even began before the Clan’s A Better Tomorrow… two singles were released back then, this is one of them. Raekwon, Melanie Fiona and Assassin take the dancehall to the block party with ‘Soundboy Kill It’, sure to set fire in carnivals in the summer. Then in Revory (Wraith), Rick Ross puts in another stellar performance that even Rae almost adopts a style similar to Rosay. Finally Ghostface brings his vicious flow to the Bluerock production.

This was actually the first single to be released from the album. All About You Ft Estelle is a feel good track that sees Estelle on the hook admitting defeat and knowing her ‘man’ is making it big, yet she gives him the full support whatever the situation. Rae switches gears and goes Murder Spree mode in the epic ‘Nautilus’. By this time the dreamy vocals of Liz Rodriguez let’s Rae know that he well be his own Worst Enemy by the way he walks. The iTunes version has a bonus track entitled ‘Internationalism’ is his attempt to bring his 1995 hit – incarcerated Scarfaces into 2015. Rebuilding a classic like that is not easy and Rae struggled with that one and he knew it.

“See, it’s like, ok, where I come from, In my neighborhood, my people know me, youknowhatimsaying? See, if I try to come any different, they ain’t gon’ respect me no more…Youknowhatimsaying, but if you try to like jump and crossover to the other side, people won’t understand that, and they don’t like that…” (Ol’Dirty Bastard, sample taken from Raekwon’s Ason Jones, 2009)

Usually, the chef will tell their customers, what is in the dish that they prepared for them in detail. Raekwon has done no different in many interviews prior to this album coming out months in advance. So why didn’t Rae’s loyal heads not take heed? While this album has been received well by casual hip hop fans, the hardcore fan base are not so pleased, especially in a time where Raekwon most notably trashed the Wu album – A Better Tomorrow, saying it needed better production but FILA almost contradicts Rae’s statements in terms of guest appearances and production… which actually isn’t bad, but not the traditional Wu-Tang sound that loyal fans expected, and if they expected that…

badnewsbarrettRaekwon had already stated he wasn’t using that sound, that he was catering to a wider audience. So much so that not even the mighty Wu emblem is emblazoned on the album back cover. Has Rae done anything wrong? Should he be crucified? The answer is No. Rae already proved his point with the Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang album. After all, he’s a chef, he’s gonna try new dishes. He’s not gonna cook the same old dish … that would show no progress and growth in an artist. Raekwon has shown more versatility and current frame of mind than anything else in this album and try to open people’s minds. It may not work with the more hardcore fans because they remember that one line…

“Cuban Linx III coming, don’t know when, but the time is running…” (Raekwon, Silver Rings, 2011)

SUPERSTARS OF HIP HOP – METHOD MAN, REDMAN & BUSTA RHYMES @ Eventim Apollo, November 2, 2013

Method Man Redman Busta Rhymes Live‘WOW’. There is no other way to start this article than saying simply… WOW. What happened on this night was hip hop history. Other than Rock The Bells, these three emcees have NEVER stood on the same stage… UNTIL NOW. If there was a hip hop show that was more unmissable than all members of the Wu-Tang Clan coming together, it was THIS ONE. Upon this show’s announcement, it received mixed opinions from social media: Either it is the sheer excitement of seeing three of the most respected emcees of all time for a reasonable affordable price, or the skeptical reaction, doubts that one of them won’t turn up, or the fact that Busta Rhymes is now signed to YMCMB, and he’s no longer the same person that rocked Notting Hill Carnival in 1997. On this occasion, the doubters are wrong. DEAD WRONG. And now they are kicking themselves. BIG TIME.

Upon arrival of the Eventim (formerly known as Hammersmith) Apollo, the queues were set up as if you waiting for the new Smiler ride at Alton Towers or The Saw ride at Thorpe Park. It’s a simple philosophy; If you turn up early and secure your parking spot, you have a better chance of getting the best view – at the front. So why do ignorant humans think that they can push thru with pints in their hands??? Maybe that question was already answered.

The time management in the venue was very good, but not great. As it opened at 7pm, the DJ played quality hip hop to warm up the set nicely. As it hit 8pm, the opening acts began, it was a great chess move by the promoters to have four opening acts as opposed to one or two, usually after one opening act the crowd get very restless, checking the twitter or Facebook or instagram, and it feels like a millennia before the main event starts.

Knowing who their main eventers are, all four opening acts exploded onto the stage with immense energy, all with their flavour of hip hop, grime, beatbox, b-boy and dance hall, with 15 minute sets each. Notable mentions go to Clencha and Birmingham female MC Lady Leshurr who rocked the crowd and took full advantage of the energy and presence that the three MCs had that night.

Before the fans knew it, the clock struck 9 and all the crowd heard was Method Man’s voice before his physical being came through onto the stage with Redman opening with their Blackout! 2 hits ‘Errbody Scream’ and ‘A-Yo’… it wasn’t long before they went into their classics.

Highlights go to Redman when he tells the crowd if they are guilty of the most nasty things he couldRedman live think of before commanding the crowd to say ‘F**K You Redman’!!!! And then he would look disgusted….as if to say, why are you dissin’ me for?? Before he would go into his Doc’s Da Name 2000 hit – ‘I’ll Bee Dat!!!’ The other highlight would be when he performed his first hit single ‘Time 4 Sum Aksion’ The capacity crowd in the Eventim Apollo blew up. It’s amusing how fans think they can still film jumping and down like that, obviously they must have money to buy a brand new camera the next day in case their current one dropped out of their hands… Redman is a straight comedian on stage, and he knows it. It’s a wonder why he didn’t jump in the crowd like his tag-team blunt brother…. who ended up changing his shirt and tightening the belt on his jeans after women nearly succeeded in ripping his clothes off as he was crowd surfing!!!

As a fan of wrestling himself, crowd surfing is Method Man’s signature move. Every single time he performs, he will stand on the hands of fans, performing ‘M.E.T.H.O.D. Method Man diveMan’ before doing that dive. It will always be a highlight every single time. It’s an unwritten achievement for every Wu fan to have held Method Man afloat. Even though Meth claims to hate it, he knew full well that the women came to see him out of the three… the women love the track, the guys love the RZA Razor Sharp Mix of ‘All I Need’. It’s always good to see Streetlife make a surprise appearance and perform ‘Grid Iron Rap’ before Meth ‘Brings The Pain’. regular Wu gig followers see this combination coming but is always magic when it happens. The crowd went insane when the Blunt Brothers performed ‘Y.O.U.’ complimenting each other’s fast flow over the Erick Sermon funky beat.

A one hour set is simply not enough for these two… maybe they should have performed the original ‘How High’ track instead of ‘Part 2’, but the science behind it was to hint that a ‘How High 2’ Movie is in the works as according to Redman on the show. Finishing off with ‘Da Rockwilder’, they announce that the ‘main event’ was still to come…. a frightening thought considering they just electrified the crowd.

Let’s be real, there is NOT ONE hip hop artist that can out-perform Busta Rhymes. Some of come close, but can never dethrone the dungeon dragon himself. It is an unwritten rule in hip hop that when it comes to posse cuts, Busta Rhymes ALWAYS comes last to rhyme. If Busta is on your track but he’s not last (except Flipmode Squad), chances are your track won’t be a classic. There has only been one instance where that happened but it’s not considered a classic but more like a hidden gem and that is ‘The Points’ from The Panther Soundtrack.

Busta’s set started with that apocalyptic scenario (no pun intended) to get the crowd hype, and when he exploded on the stage Extinction Level Event style with ‘Everybody Rise’ that alone was enough to make anyone lose their voice. The striking difference upon his arrival was the absence of the original hype man – Spliff Star. This new hype man was unrecognizable to many, within two minutes of being on he took off his shirt hoping to impress the ladies. Whether that happened or not is a different story. He would be later identified as Reek da Villain. Following in Spliff’s shoes is not easy, and Reek had a hard time pulling it off. Simply put, there is NO ONE like Spliff. It sounded odd hearing Reek reciting Spliff’s rhymes on ‘Make It Clap’.

Highlights of the night included Busta putting the women on BLAST Jamaican Patois style! How did they manage to forget Mariah Carey’s lyrics in ‘I Know What You Want’??? The look on Busta’s face was priceless when he realised the women couldn’t sing along… maybe they were there hoping to ‘Twerk It’ on stage. Busta ranted about getting the album budget, the studio time, hooking up with Mariah, his deal with J Records, and the women couldn’t master those few lines. The guys wereBusta Rhymes live in hysterics, while the women felt had to laugh in embarrassment. He told them how the guys put it down – AND THEY DID – when ‘Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check’ and ‘Scenario’ blasted through the Eventim Apollo, and women wonder why guys suddenly made the venue a widespread mosh pit. It was Notting Hill Carnival 97 all over again.

Just as Red & Meth did their ODB tribute set earlier in the night, Busta went in with his J Dilla tribute set. Only true heads joyfully recited the lyrics of ‘Enjoy da Ride’, ‘So Hardcore’, ‘Live It Up’ and ‘Show Me What You Got’ respectfully in Dilla’s honor. Once again Busta noticed the uneducated fans who dismissed the Anarchy album which is highly underrated by RePPiN4U standards, and told them if they don’t know their J Dilla, Go Home And Do Their Homework!!! It was safe to say there were a quite a number of undergraduates in the building.

An hour set isn’t enough for Busta either, he didn’t care about the curfew, nor did the fans, and he just kept going. Right in the middle of ‘Party’s Goin On Over Here’ the Eventim management suddenly turned off the music and Busta’s mic, and the crowd response was irate. Busta took his mic and threw it across the stage. Busta knew he was wrong, and the management knew they were wrong. They gave Busta another mic so that Busta can apologize for his actions, but at the same time express that he, Redman and Method Man have been recording artists for over 20 years and they had continuous hits between them, which is why the time management was good but not great. Eventim need to improve on their closing time. The Nas & Damian Marley set at the 02 Academy in Birmingham started at 9 and didn’t end til after midnight. Red & Meth joined Busta on stage and what took place was HISTORY. Heartfelt hugs and embraces was the alternative finish to Busta’s original plan. Usually gigs are a 90 minute – two-hour set. Red & Meth knew that as energetic and as explosive their set was, they knew they could never go on after Busta.

All in all, it was an EPIC night and one for the ages. Show no sympathy to those who missed it because of lame excuses or they spent their Facebook time playing Bubble Saga or Bejeweled Blitz, or focussing their account around drama and act like they didn’t know, or even doubted the stars turning up. It’s a show that we may never see again, and for those who seized the opportunity and witnessed history, TAKE A BOW.

Method Man Redman Busta Rhymes

METHOD MAN, REDMAN, BUSTA RHYMES: SALUTE.

TALIB KWELI: PRISONER OF CONSCIOUS

Talib-Kweli-Prisoner-Of-ConsciousPRISONER: a person deprived of liberty and kept under involuntary restraint, confinement, or custody; especially: one on trial or in prison.

CONSCIOUS: capable of or marked by thought, will, design or perception: relating to, being, or being part of consciousness <the conscious mind>

This is Talib Kweli’s dilemma. Such a credible artist and respected in the eyes of many, but they only see him as just a conscious rapper. After Black Star, Reflection Eternal, Quality, The Beautiful Struggle, Eardrum, Revolutions Per Minute and Gutter Rainbows, Kweli now wants to show a more diverse side, but still deliver that consistency that he has shown throughout, and in this album, he has succeeded…. and all without his #1 producer Hi-Tek. Is it a risky move I hear you ask? Well put it this way. Ghostface Killah has produced many albums without RZA production and look how well that turned out…

Violins and pianos kick off the album in epic fashion. Talib is preparing his ‘Human Mic’ check… great to hear that he is on top form ready to go, even paying homage to Slum Village at the end …“to take a child you gotta raise it up…raise it up…”

By the second track Kweli demands that this album be ‘Turnt Up’…. with a T!!! No shame in hearing an opera singer blasted out of your car stereo while cruising. Talib and producer Trend is those guys that can take a classic (Eric B & Rakim – Paid In Full) and bring it in to 2013 in glorious Technicolor.

‘Come Here’ featuring Miguel is officially the first single from the album, it’s not exactly true and I will explain why later. This has that blend of that mature grown sound combined with that relevant, current sound that can be played in all the clubs or in your home when you’re having a romantic moment with your half, and has that potential to be a timeless classic like Snoop Dogg & Pharrell‘s Beautiful.

Talib shifts gears swiftly and lives the ‘High Life’ with Rubix & Rajah. Producer Oh No gives the track a hint of a Tribal African twist and produces a feel good sound while letting the beat ride out. Here Talib has managed to change the flow of the album without making it sound out-of-place. Rubix and Kweli go tag team in a frantic pace in one of many stand out tracks.

Talib continues to switch lanes in ‘Ready, Set, Go’ featuring Melanie Fiona. His lyrical prowess hasn’t slowed since the album started: “The deviltalib kweli try to deny us the highest of elevation/They keep us at sea level so I’m staying on my A game/They local like C when I express like the A train/My A-alikes take what I write, use it to maintain/We be alike see alike cause we got the same brain…” Then he goes on to throw darts at the mainstream as he shows them how it’s done… “Rappers nowadays are confusing you/I know you tired of the usual like Trey Songs and Drake/That’s why I’m keeping the faith/Keeping the pace although it’s all about the winning it’s never about the race…” If Drake has any Common Sense left he won’t go against Talib… see what I did there???

If Jay-Z can have a Moment Of Clarity and wanted to be lyrically Talib Kweli, then in ‘Hold It Down’, Talib returns the favor. If he was ingredients for a soup, he would be a young Raekwon, a bit of KRS-ONE, some Q-Tip, some Rakim and a bit of Ice Cube…. Talib continues to slay the rappers who think they have it held down. Then he continues to ‘Push Thru’ with Kendrick Lamar & Curren$y, in the albums many collabs with new hungry MCs. This track was actually released as a single last year, and had heads ready for the album, and after a long wait, it is well worth it.

The album has many highlights, but ‘Hamster Wheel’ might be the crowning jewel. Talib tells a story of a woman who broke up with a dude and barely escaped with her life, then finds herself involved with a guy who she thought she could confide in, but her paranoia and insecurities lead to her being put out in the streets. The heartfelt flow continues into ‘Delicate Flowers’, where Kweli speaks on women’s feelings and how men need to be careful where they walk on the minefield.

Going from smooth, heartfelt sounds to the Wu-Tang sound, Talib & Busta Rhymes spazz out on the RZA produced ‘Rocket Ships’, but’s it the ever  animated Busta who steals the show by cussing the woman for cooking pork in his house while the woman has no awareness to why pork is unacceptable in the 5%.

Talib has received flak by putting a returning Nelly on the track ‘Before He Walked’. Clearly these fans who were quick to call Kweli a ‘sell-out’ didn’t not grasp and understand the concept of the Prisoner Of Conscious. The result: a great track that is misunderstood. It is the next track ‘Upper Echelon’ that will raise heads eyebrows at first listen, but this is the sort of beat that lyrics are over looked by the casual fan. Lyrically it is amazing: “See I be listening to real sh!t/real spit/my die hards feel it/type of sh!t the fake n!**@$ find hard to deal with/I’m on a higher plane I’m destroying it while I’m building/my threat can’t be contained/so my name on Obama kill list…” How many mainstream artists you know can come with complex word play like ‘incorrigible’ and ‘valedictorian’ on a beat like this??? As I thought, not many.

‘Favela Love’ is a sure-fire single/video waiting to happen. Talib takes it to Brazil with Seu Jorge, whose native vocals are so hypnotic it puts you in another zone. This would have been nice to end the album. But Kweli goes one better.. and ‘It Only Gets Better’ with Floetry’s Marsha Ambrosius. The song tells the nieve that just because there is a black man in the White House does not mean that racism no longer exists.

The iTunes version has Ryan Leslie returning the favor hoping to make an ‘Outstanding’ track with Kweli for the ladies. While this is another achievement for the pair, it just falls short of the previous collab they did called ‘I’m Ready’, not taking away from this track of course. Then there is the amazing ‘Can’t Barely Breathe’. I have to criticise Talib for making this a bonus track and not on the physical copy but I understand.

Prisoner Of Conscious has just entered Talib Kweli into the Album Of the Year 2013 race. There are not many who can test Kweli’s complex lyrical wordplay, over tracks that keep him current, at the same time delivering fresh sounds, and real life stories. Even the physical copy has one of the best inlays that hip hop has seen in long while, from his name written in Arabic to the different definitions of the album’s title. This is a definite purchase in either physical or digital, anything less makes you a Prisoner of Ignorance.