Speak with criminal slang, begin like a violin/End like leviathan. It’s deep, well let me try again -Nasir son of Olu Dara Jones
Imagine being a 45 year old Black man from one of the most notoriously dangerous projects, Queensbridge, performing your, and arguably hip hop’s greatest, 25 year old album backed by the fourth oldest symphony orchestra in the nation. Imagine that. In a country where we have more Trayvon Martins and Khalief Browders than Nasir Joneses and Shawn Carters… it can be a hard thing to imagine, let alone dream. But dreams do come true.
Imagine a young boy with an amazingly dope skill and talent making his way out of the scratching and surviving many on his block still live in or died from to the stage in a tux, conductor Leonard Slatkin behind him … getting ALL the way busy do you hear me… cueing violins, cellos, and a bass, being almost able to touch the music in the air, and then freaking the shit outta that beat by seducing it with your poetry. You are in what was once known as the murder capital of the world, yet can look out into a sea of faces, the first ten rows full of all the Black Excellence you could handle in our best fur headbands and velvet blazers (It was like a Renaissance High School reunion and the University of Michigan Black Celebratory in one room #soarphoenixsoar and #goblue). All of us just like you, once children familiar with the sounds of booming systems, gum popping, chicken frying, gunshots, and the ice cream truck song in simultaneously sonic synchronization. We are now successful adults with assets and investments quoting every lyric of your songs, and getting lit af when the orchestra exited, the DJ cued up, and you put on a hip hop concert in the same position Sergei Rachmaninoff once performed his masterful Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.
Street Dreams are made of these…
Last night was magical… symphony going up on a Tuesday. It melded our generations greatest gift to the culture, hip hop, with the tradition of classical music. It makes sense that hip hops influence by African call and response and griot storytelling would interplay so well with classical, which is based in Greek music theory learned from ancient Egyptians. It’s Black mixed with Black.
At one point Nas referenced word choice and how the harshness of the words was to reflect the real harsh reality of the streets he was telling stories about… speak with a criminal slang
Yet the play between the violins and his words was like playing cats cradle, your fingers maneuvering around the strings almost rhythmically changing shapes until you pull it apart, destroy it… begin like a violin end like leviathan
It’s deep …it’s (a) deep well… his lyrical ability is mathematic it’s so precise, and you gotta dig deep to get to the source, the meaning. Dude’s wordplay is legendary. He definitely studied at the school of Kool G Rap.
Didn’t get it? Well let me try again…
“Wisdom be leaking out my grapefruit, troop”
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Because he once was a student of not only hip hop, but the ancestors, the culture, history, he is now a master teacher with so much knowledge it’s leaking outta his head like juice… and the juice we need isn’t guns and drugs and sex, it’s knowledge, which is power.
“I dominate break loops, giving mics menstrual cycles”
And so he’s about to give you all this good juice in the form of these lyrics that will pour over this break beat… and when dude is done, the mic will bleed cuz he breathed fire on it, sliced and diced it, split its wig. It’s over. End it. Period.
Nas is like…
He left us with an experience. The only thing he didn’t do is perform “Hate Me Now” with the orchestra… but that might have made the roof cave in. Perhaps he saved us like Khalessi. It is winter… dragons and such. It’s lit🔥 … but let’s not go too far with the fire. Nonetheless, at 45 he finessed that mic better than he ever has, and with a confidence and long stride that had the ladies like…
and their dudes just understood. The sexy was palpable. It rode on top of the music notes like…surfboard. And as a connoisseur of hip hop , it’s rise to perhaps the most popular form of music worldwide, and fine men… I was inspired. Inspired to write more and to dream more #fortheculture and for myself. And equally inspired to King our brothas when they show and prove, hold their own, and get a classical music conductor to swag surf with his baton. Cuz dreams do come true… live at the BBQ!