Sometimes all it takes is 60 seconds or less to get your point across. Rare as shooting stars, rappers throw down a single verse on a beat that eclipses everything else recorded.
Here is a short selection of one bangs that stick in your brain harder than the album singles.
Words from the Nutcracker (Gang Starr, Hard to Earn)
Gang Starr albums have always featured the various affiliates of the Gang Starr Foundation. On their fourth studio album, Hard to Earn (1994), this was no different. One of the more recognised posse cuts was ‘Speak Ya Clout’, a triptych featuring Guru, Jeru the Damaja and Group Home’s Lil’ Dap.
The other half of Group Home, Melachi the Nutcracker, got his own track to shine on. ‘Words from the Nutcracker’ is a raw and powerful 90 seconds of relentless piano loop and gutsy lyrics.
Even if Lil’ Dap confirmed Guru’s theory that it was “mostly the voice” that set a rapper aside from the rest, Melachi didn’t beat around the bush to get his point across. It came as no suprise that Group Home’s debut album Living Proof proved a success when it was released the following year (1995)
Rockafella R.I.P. (Redman, Dare iz a darkside)
Redman’s second album, Dare iz a darkside, is a twisted fantasy. For 30 seconds though, the album is pulled back to the rugged reality of freestyle battle rhyming by Rockafella. on ‘Rockafella R.I.P.’
There isn’t much background info on Rockafella apart from the sad fact that he is deceased. Google searches mention a murder victim whilst others mention AIDS..? Either way, Redman’s buddy went straight to business with this fast firing freestyle.
Untouchable (The Firm, The Firm the album)
When a Hip-Hop legend such as Nas introduces you like a Godfather introducing his new Capo and Dr. Dre co-signs your beat, you had best deliver the goods. With a strumming bass, snapping snare and relaxed piano loop composed by Mel-Man, Wizard gets 60 seconds to drop a verse retracing his journey from the tough streets to the lavish lifestyle of a successful hustler.
‘Untouchable’ fits perfectly with the rest of tracks on The Firm’s album even though the rapper, Wizard , is not an official member of the super group. In fact, Wizard as he is credited on The Album is in fact Grand Wizard of Nas’ protégés The Bravehearts.
I can’t say I am a huge fan or that knowledgeable of The Bravehearts, but Wizard’s moonlight with The Firm has me wondering why he wasn’t promoted to full membership status?