Word is Bond (2018) Movie Script

[train clattering slowly]
[clattering continues,
train whistle blowing]
[J. Cole]
I just wait for a feeling.
When I get a... a chill,
when I get, "Whoof. Oh!"
That's how it is
when you in the zone.
'Cause, like, it's not
really you speaking.
It's you speaking,
but it's, like, the real you.
It's, like, the...
the non-ego you,
the soul you, you know?
The part of you
that's connected to God.
It's like, it's wiser than...
than the physical you.
[ tranquil hip-hop music ]
[Rakim] I was always
kind of private
with my method, man.
Sometimes I'll have
something on there
where I felt how it would feel
if somebody seen it.
They'll figure out
how I put that rhyme together.
[Nas] A thought
can become a reality.
What you speak
into the universe
can come true.
You gotta create a rhyme
like a theater in your mind.
It has to be something
that when you say it,
people can see it.
[Nas] I'm just happy that
I was coming up at the time
where the American language
was being shifted
by young black people,
poor righteous teachers,
in the streets.
Hip-hop MCs have spoken
a new America into existence.
While the Jesse Jacksons
of the world
were on their way down
from their fight,
it was time
for a new soldier to get up
and change the direction of,
"How do we get out of this?"
Hip-hop did it verbally.
The power to hold a mic,
to take 16 bars,
and in 16 bars,
you were influencing
a whole world.
Maya Angelou, she said,
"Words are things.
Guard them."
[Styles P] Words are the man's
most powerful weapon
in life, period,
whether you rap or not.
Like, you could be a father.
You could be a husband.
You could be a brother
or sister.
You saying the wrong words
to a family member
can affect
whether their life
goes negative, positive,
whether they have
a good day or a bad day.
So definitely,
words mean everything.
[Killer Mike] Lyrics don't
always mean complexity.
The simplest of rappers
have made the grandest
of statements.
[Erick Arc Elliott]
When your pen is that strong,
you want everybody to know
all the nuances of the words.
Don't ever delete your rhymes.
Don't ever.
That's my word...
that what I just told you
is my bond.
[hip-hop music playing faintly]
...need more people,
my heart is so evil
Now I'm trying
to get elite-lite
Talking 'bout your strap,
how you carry that
Said you had the packs,
3,000 Sour Diesel
You said you had the bitches,
but I never see 'em with you
You said you like the pipe
but always huntin'
For the pistol,
a bitch told me 'bout you
Yeah, I think
her name was Crystal
She said you gave
a short screw
She could never forget you,
you got a chain
But you ain't get it
from a jeweler
I have to really be moved
to go and make something.
You had A Bronx Tale.
I wanted A Queens Story.
I could see that
as a film, actually.
"Rest in peace
to Black Just,
riding through Jamaica, Queens
in his black truck."
I could see myself
in the truck with him,
you know, playing his records
and... we rocking,
driving through
Jamaica, Queens.
He's showing me blocks...
back blocks
where everybody's gambling,
and I'm meeting dudes
from 40 Projects, Baisley,
and we over here
and over these backstreets
and all that.
He's showing me
the ins and outs,
and we just talking,
having a good time,
and I'm writing,
"Timbs was 40 Below,
waves to the side of his dome."
I'm describing him,
but I'm seeing it.
It's not just me
writing a rhyme anymore.
It's like,
"This is a serious moment."
After my first album,
I had no time
to sit down at home
and write.
I am a writer, but...
it's spontaneous.
A studio's a bathroom,
a place I go to release...
unless I get into my pocket
and I set aside time
to be in here
and not do anything else
but record until I get it done.
At that point,
it becomes my spaceship, man.
Uh, rest in peace
to Black Just
Riding through
Jamaica, Queens
In his black truck,
Timbs was 40 Below
Waves to the side
of his dome
of good nigga, yo
Gangsters don't die,
niggas only become immortal
Angels don't only fly,
they walk right before you
[Rapsody] When they were
bringing slaves over
on the boats, you know,
they didn't have a way
to write down their history,
so they had to tell it
to one another...
and they had to memorize it.
So you're memorizing.
You tell it to the next.
And to me, that's kind of
what an MC does.
They documenting everything
that's happening.
[ gentle piano melody ]
[Pusha T] It's the initial
impact of the song
that grabs you,
and it locks you in.
The first few bars,
cadences, whatever it is...
that feeling is felt
throughout, man,
from beat one.
I remember having
an argument with a girl
about Biggie and Pac.
You know, I spit one
of Big rhymes,
and I'm like,
"Yo, did you hear that?
Like, that's why
I will go with him.
Now you tell me
one of Pac rhymes
that's better than that,"
and she said, "'Dear Mama'!"
That's all she said,
which meant that that song
meant something deep to her.
Lyrics, yeah...
in hip-hop, deep.
Whenever we write,
we trying to change something.
You know, we get
this feeling inside
that we can't really explain...
them chemicals in our body
that-that-that make us
feel awake.
You know, I'm bald-headed,
so a lot of times,
I can almost feel,
you know, the hairs
on my head growing,
or I just, you know,
can feel my heart pumping.
My heart start beating
that adrenaline,
and as I'm rhyming, I just...
you know, I just feel it.
That's when I know that I got
something that's electric.
When rap came through
the neighborhood,
it took the hood by storm.
It was like, the next day,
everybody was rappers
and break-dancers and DJs.
I was...[laughs] I was using
the rap name Tony Tee.
Like, "I'm the T-O-N-Y,
the T-E-E.
Your hands can't hit
what your eyes can't see."
I thought I was,
you know, killing it,
and then I remember my man Swan
played Cold Crush for me.
Other MCs
can't deal with us
'Cause we are the four
known as the Cold Crush
Six-one and a half,
no good at math
Say rhymes to myself
when I'm taking a bath
Got true clientele,
finesse, and clout
And I don't get into nothing
that I can't get out
Yeah, I ripped
all my rhymes up,
started my whole life over.
I played the sax
coming up in school.
I took what I learned
from that...
reading music... and started
pouring it on the rhymes.
My first rhyme was,
"Mickey Mouse built a house.
He built it by the border.
A earthquake came
and rocked his crib,
and now it's in the water."
[Brother Ali] One of the
things that I really learned
from you... you know,
you would write a rhyme,
and then we would
come back to it later...
that you might forget
exactly how
these words are
supposed to land.
Whether we're writing on paper
or typing on a computer,
that the first space in a line
is always the one.
If you come in before the one,
those words go
on a line above,
and then that syllable
that hits on the one
is the first space
on a line.
And if you miss the one,
which has become
the style more...
so Chuck D was really big
on hitting the one.
"Back, caught you looking
for the same thing."
You know, and other people
might, you know,
come in before the one.
"Don't call it a comeback."
- So "come" is on the one.
- Mm-hmm.
And nowadays,
people miss the one most
so when you miss the one,
you put a dot there
to hold that place
to let you know.
But then underlining
where the snares are...
- Underlining the snares.
- That Rakim does something
similar, in the sense
that he knows
where all of the end words
are for the lines,
and so he would put dots
on the paper
where the end was gonna be,
and he would write
the last line first.
Measuring it out
almost like sheet music.
- Mm-hmm.
- So that, like you say,
if I come back
six months later
and look at this rhyme
and go, "Oh, you know,
this one isn't so bad.
It actually is good.
Let me try spitting it,"
I know exactly how to spit it.
I don't have
to sit there and go,
"Aw, that didn't work.
Wait, maybe that wasn't right.
Hold up.
Let me stare at it."
You know, I could look
at it and immediately
jump right into spitting it.
I would put the dots
on the paper first
to show me, um,
how many bars I had,
where the 16th bar was.
As I start incorporating
different, um, styles
and-and trying to just...
complicate my rhyme
with so many, uh,
big words and syllables and...
you know what I mean?
Like, the-the-the wordplay
was so crazy.
After a while, I had to put
a dot on the paper
to know where to take a breath.
It's not easy
to rhythmically say things
that, in some cases,
make chronological order
and rhyme it
with precise timing.
Like, most people
can't do that.
I don't think people
had a respect...
the same respect
for rap lyrics as, like, say,
a Bob Dylan would get
for that genre of music,
simply because they don't
see us respecting it.
They don't see us
respecting our own shit.
You know what I'm saying?
We...'cause all we do
is criticize each other.
It's cooler in hip-hop.
Somehow it's like,
it's cool to criticize.
Yeah, it's cooler
in hip-hop to criticize.
It's not cool to give props.
I wanna give people
their fucking props.
- That's what I want to do.
- Yeah.
I want... artists need
to hear that.
Why you wanna fucking
take away from the art?
You know what I mean?
Like, this is an art form.
Lyricism should be an art form.
It should be lyrics first.
You got lyricists
scared to be lyricists.
Rappers are never
given the credit
with falling in love
with language.
These are kids...
most of the time
from urban environments...
that literally
fall in love
with language.
What we would call, um,
you know, bars and verses,
you know, in poetry,
they call them stanzas.
And it's participating
in the development
of the English language
- Absolutely.
- To this day,
even just hearing something
as silly and funny as,
"Put a quarter in your ass
'cause you played yourself,"
immediately teaches you
something about metaphor
and about comedy.
The contribution
is often overlooked
and I think,
sometimes, purposely.
Rappers stepping to me,
they wanna get some
But I'm the Kane so, yo,
you know the outcome
Another victory,
they can't get with me
So pick a BC date
'cause you are history
[Big Daddy Kane] You know,
when you talk about an MC,
it could mean
several different things.
You can have someone
that just basically works
as an announcer,
or you can have someone
that's, like, a party rocker,
or you could have, like,
you know, your lyricist
who's spitting bars,
and that comes from battle rap.
I used to go
to different schools...
Eastern District,
Erasmus, Brooklyn Tech...
to battle their best MCs.
MCs would come
to my high school.
I mean, I could be in class
and I see my man La Son
come to the window
at my door... he'd tap
on the door, go like that...
letting me know,
and I'd get a bathroom pass
and bring it back
maybe three periods later.
You know, I'm a big
Muhammad Ali fan,
so first thing
I would normally do
is destroy you before
we even start rhyming.
I will do to Buster
what the Indians did to Custer.
I'm gonna wipe him out.
"It's just you,
or it's all three of y'all?
You sure?
I mean, they can go too."
Embarrass you so bad
that your friends
are laughing at you.
'Cause, you know,
they your boys,
they gonna cosign you anyway,
but what you gonna say
after you just been laughing
at your man, you know?
- He know he lost.
- [male announcer] It's live
from the world-famous
Apollo Theater...
the future all-stars
in concert.
The one and only Biz Markie.
Biz come to me, and he already
knew what he wanted.
He came, was like,
"I wanna do a song
called 'Pickin' Boogers.'"
And I'm like, "About what?"
He's like, "I don't know,
but just do me one favor.
Somewhere in the song,
just say,
'Hey, Ma, what's for dinner?
Go up your nose
and pick a winner.'"
He had the idea, so it's really
just trying to figure out,
you know, "Okay, what
stupid stuff can I write?"
So I decide to just
go story format.
You know, just tell stories
about a situation
where you got caught
picking boogers.
Yo, don't try to front
like it's so gloomy and gray
'Cause we all
pick our boogers
Sometime every day,
whether out in the open
Or on the sneak tip
With a finger, tissue,
or even a Q-tip
You aren't who you are
without your influences.
You hear, and you say,
"I like that.
I wanna do that."
Pac was the first rapper
that I remember hearing
that it was like,
"Oh, I feel that.
I feel what he's saying,"
and was way too young
to be feeling it...
the pain coming from it.
I could feel whatever it was
he was trying to express.
In "Brenda's Got A Baby,"
he's telling a story.
I'm like, "Damn,
I feel that story."
...went out and had
a church of kids
As long as
when the check came
They got first dibs
[Killer Mike] You know,
when you talk about lyrics,
you think about
storytellers, man,
like KRS, Slick Rick,
you know, Ghostface.
You know what I mean?
The amount of different styles
and, I guess,
different influences
I've had
has been amazing
thanks to rap.
You know, the same way
that people argue...
you know, great writers,
Frost, Chaucer.
You know what I'm saying?
- We argue the same.
- [El-P] And the chick
- who wrote Harry Potter.
- [Killer Mike] Oh, yeah.
[laughing] Yeah.
[ eerie hip-hop music ]
[Zombie Juice] All right,
so I'll start off. Eminem.
[Meechy Darko]
Notorious B. I. G.
[Zombie Juice] Nas.
- Tupac.
- Jay-Z.
- DMX.
- 50 Cent.
This nigga said DMX,
took my shit.
- Big Pun.
- Jadakiss.
[quietly] Wow.
I'm just gonna say
Bizzy Bone.
- Tech N9ne.
- Mos Def.
- Twista.
- Kanye West.
- Fuck.
- [laughs]
- Did someone say Kanye West?
- [both] Yeah.
- [all chuckle]
- Andr.
- Common.
- Andr 3000... and Big Boi.
- Tech N9ne.
- I said that.
- Tech... you said Tech.
- Okay.
- Twista.
- I said that, motherfucker.
- No, you didn't.
- UGK.
- Kanye West? [laughs]
- You said that already?
ODB is in the back.
We're children of hip-hop.
We really are.
We're not the new age, like,
"We just found out
about rap music."
[man] You left out
Jerry Garcia.
- Oh, Jerry Garcia. [laughs]
- Is he a rapper?
Kids call me the black
Jerry Garcia. I don't know why.
[Meechy Darko] 'Cause you look
like a black Jerry Garcia.
Damn, we definitely left
somebody out.
Love's gonna get you,
love's gonna get you
[J. Cole] Some stuff
I'd go to, I was like,
"I remember when
this sounded old to me."
Now I hear it differently,
like, "Okay...
yeah, it's old,
but what if I put myself
in the shoes of somebody
who had never
heard this before?"
Like, I went and listened
to KRS's album...
I'm in junior high
with a B-plus grade
At the end of the day,
I don't hit the arcade
I walk from school
to my mom's apartment
I gotta tell the suckers
every day, "Don't start it"
'Cause where I'm at,
if you're soft, you're lost
To stay on course
means to roll with force
...I was blown away, 'cause
I remember a point in time
when I literally was looking
at KRS in that era like,
"Aw, them dudes old."
Like, "Ain't nobody trying
to hear that,"
to when now, as a grown man,
I'm going back, listening,
and like, "Oh, my God.
This went platinum?
This dude is dropping
Like, every bar, this dude is,
like, firing off knowledge."
You know what I mean?
'cause it was fresh back then,
so to hear that
for the first time was like...
[imitates explosion]
My brother's five years
older than me,
and I told my brother,
like, you know,
"No, MC Hammer is
the best rapper, man.
You gotta check this guy out.
I'm telling you."
I'm dope on the floor
and I'm magic on the mic
And he was like, "No, man."
Like, "MC Hammer's
the best entertainer.
There's a big difference
between what MC Hammer says
and what..."
at the time,
it may have been,
oh, Rakim or Run-DMC.
"What do you mean, like,
it's a big difference?
No, do you see him?
He's, like,
doing the typewriter
across the stage.
This is everything."
And he was like,
"Nah, it's cool.
there's a big difference."
I started listening
Uh, uh, uh
[Styles P] All right,
let's do it.
Fuck the frail shit, uh
Yonkers is like a gumbo...
of... all of the boroughs.
We got a little bit of Bronx,
a little bit of Harlem,
a little bit of Queens.
- But we different.
- Yeah, but...
a whole lot of Yonkers.
...furnished, I'ma take it
My bathtub lift up,
my walls do a 360
We got the shit
that the government got
Talking money,
then you rubbing the spot
Real niggas say
that they be wilding
We on the Cayman Islands,
on a yacht...
We keep our foundation here.
As you see,
our studio is right here.
You know, we have...
It's important to show...
the youth here
that they can make it,
you know what I mean?
It's important to show them
that it's not far-fetched.
- It's not...
- Impossible.
You know, your dreams are...
your dreams are right there.
You... you know, if you wanna
pursue a rap career,
you can do it.
You got all that nice shit on.
- Who?
- You.
I got the same gear
from last night, D.
[Styles P]
It sure look like today to me.
'80s hip-hop beat
I wanted to be Lee
from Beat Street.
That was probably
the first person
I ever wanted to dress like
- or have... live his lifestyle.
- Beat Street was so edgy
to me, compared to Breakin'.
- But I loved them both.
- Breakin' was dope,
but I think
Beat Street hit us.
I wanted to be in Beat Street
more than I wanted
- to be in Breakin'.
- Yeah, for sure.
But I love watching Breakin'.
I love Breakin'.
I didn't like Breakin' 3.
I would've rather be
in Krush Groove
- more than any of them.
- Krush Groove, definitely.
- [upbeat music playing]
- A kiss on the spine
Do things we never do
[Jadakiss] I was nice
in break-dancing.
All over the town,
all different basements,
wherever the best
linoleum was at.
[ groovy hip-hop music ]
I won a few talent contests.
My name rung around Yonkers.
- Hip-hop's a Ferris wheel...
- [Styles P] Mm-hmm.
...that's just constantly
going like this,
you know, sonically,
the fashion...
- [Styles P] For sure.
- ...and the haircuts.
The hardest part of that
is staying on the Ferris wheel.
On this particular beat,
maybe I say...
I'll drag a word out
and he won't drag the word out.
Like, you know what I'm saying?
Maybe he says it
at a pitch that
I wouldn't say it at,
or the word before,
which becomes...
a whole entity
of creation itself
within one line.
Last time, I just
sat next to him
while I was hearing his verse
as he was making it up.
I kind of made the verse up...
the next verse off of that,
and then I just could hear
what I... what I want to say
when he's mumbling,
or sometimes I hear it out,
or he hears it out.
You might listen to it
and think we're going like,
I'm doing a part,
and he's doing a part,
we're doing the whole song...
either he's doing it or me...
and then we gotta fill it in.
Say a couple lines,
you gotta leave some out,
you gotta come back in
with the same energy
like the lines were there.
- We don't punch.
- We don't punch, yeah.
We don't punch in here.
We get through the whole verse.
We don't get... we don't give you
one or two of the lines,
tell the engineer to stop,
and then fill it in.
Like, if we don't say
the whole verse
from the first word to
the last word of the verse...
[Jadakiss] We going from...
we go back to the top.
...we go back to the top,
to the top, to get it...
[man] Why's that?
We just... that's how
we was raised.
MC is a craft.
This shit is like basketball,
boxing, mixed martial arts.
I move up a couple pounds
and fight a upper weight class,
or I lose some pounds
and fight a lower weight.
You conversating with the beat.
When that beat comes on,
there's somewhere distinctively
that you're pulling from...
people, ancestors, spirits,
energy, friends.
I could crush you
whatever way you wanna do it.
I still could demolish you.
You stand no chance at all.
[Styles P]
You won't live at all.
[ bright music ]
Bright as I ever been
Brighter than
the predecessors of Edison
This African
effortlessly wrecking shit
The exorcist
is checking them
With a crucifix,
rebuking the devilish
I'm clearfully heaven-sent
Eh, I'm done, man.
[laughing] Oh, my God.
That's ridiculous.
To me, there was always
a difference
between an MC and a rapper,
you know what I mean?
And to me, the MCs
were the lyricists,
and the rappers were
guys that were here
for the monetary gain
and here for the fame,
here for the camera time,
et cetera.
Those were those guys,
and, like,
the lyricists
were guys who, like...
who never really
cared about that,
people who really
worked on their craft
and really, um, emphasized...
cadences and finesse
and style and, like, um...
choice of words and vocabulary.
To me, rappers don't
worry about that stuff.
They just have fun.
And so "lyricist"
is more of a...
I don't know.
You kind of gotta
drive yourself insane
just to be...
just to have your...
just to justify
calling yourself a lyricist.
You know what I mean?
My desire's everything
that I acquire
Means nada if I'm not
one of the ghosts
Built the convocation
with this gospel I spoke
Am I not someone
you quote?
Prophesied I would
profit off what I wrote
Popular as the pope,
unlock and then I unload
[Killer Mike] By 1986,
I was seeing, like,
my world turn upside down.
And everybody talks
about crack, and...
Nobody was talking about it.
It was just going down.
It was kind of necessary
for MCs to say something.
The hood was so conscious
at that point.
Rappers that wasn't conscious
started digging in and,
you know, picking up a book.
[Killer Mike] These kids who,
you know, through Reaganomics
and through a lack
of funding for music
got everything kind of
snatched from them
found a way to make music
with electronics
and to... to...
like jazz vocalists
that played and teetered
on the keys and notes,
found a way to make
the English language
an instrument within itself.
Once rap started to mature,
the 16-bar format came out.
But soon
you start to suffer
The tune'll get rougher
when you start to stutter
That's when you had
enough of biting
It'll make you choke,
you can't provoke
You can't cope,
you should've broke
Because I ain't no joke
[Rakim] Now I had to get
my point across
within 16 bars.
I mean, before,
I would take
30-something bars,
and I would
complicate the rhyme,
give you little, um, ideas
of what I was getting at,
but not give you the sum of it
till the end.
Word, yo,
what up D-Nice?
Yo, what's up,
Scott La Rock?
[Scott La Rock]
Yo, man, we chilling
It went from the "huh to
the huh to the"...you know,
Run-DMC style of, like,
cadence, back and forth,
to this new... these guys
had different nuances.
I mean, it was different
bounces within
just the traditional end
of your rhyme.
There was rhymes within rhymes
and different style patterns.
That's when that started
getting explored.
So for me, '86 is the year.
It's like the big bang theory,
'cause that's
when everything changed.
Many people tell me
this style is terrific
It is kinda different,
but let's get specific
KRS-One specialize
in music
I'll only use this type
of style when I choose it
You got guys that are, like,
watching all of this happen.
They watching the Salt-N-Pepas,
they watching the KRSs,
they watching the MC Shans,
they watching Rakim,
they watching LL for years.
They don't never get
the opportunity
to blow up quick,
but they're crafting.
They're working
and rehearsing.
And all this time
they're not getting found,
they're, like, getting nice.
"First, I'm starting
to copy Rakim,
and then I mix
my little bit of Rakim
with, like, Kool G Rap,
and then I'm mixing that
with, like, my original
LL thing that I had."
Before you know it...
you got Nas.
Packing like a Rasta
in the weed spot
Vocals will squeeze Glocks,
MCs eavesdrop
Though they need not
to sneak, my poetry's deep
I never fell, Nas' raps
should be locked in a cell
It ain't hard to tell,
it ain't hard to tell
You know, I'm the guy
who said hip-hop is dead.
J. Cole makes people
like me go, "Wow.
This thing of ours...
of J. Cole's, of mine...
this thing, it's serious.
It's real."
Freedom or jail,
clips inserted
A baby's being born
same time my man is murdered
The beginning and end
As far as rap go,
it's only natural
I explain my plateau and also
what defines my name
Yeah, long live the idols
May they never
be your rivals
Pac was like Jesus,
Nas wrote the Bible
Now, what you 'bout to hear
is a tale of glory and sin
No ID my mentor,
now let the story begin
I used to print out Nas raps
and tape 'em up on my wall
My niggas thought
they was words
But it was pictures I saw
"But let me do it slick
like this, on a, um...
on a sheet of paper
and on a song."
It's creative.
I never intended
to write that song, mind you.
You know, it's not like
I had a, like, "Oh, I got
a idea for a song.
I'm gonna do something
called 'Let...'"...nah.
I just started writing,
and that's what came out.
[Pusha T] Yo, yo, yo, yo.
My process of writing,
a lot of times,
starts early in the morning,
in the shower.
Water. [chuckles]
Water in the shower is, like,
the best freestyle session.
Off-the-cuff, creative,
just my thoughts running wild.
We used to drive
from Virginia to New York,
pile up in, uh, Chad's car,
it was at the time.
Drive up here thinking
that we're coming to meet
with some VP of A&R,
and probably, it was just,
like, the mail guy,
by the time we got up here,
who was trying
to raise his position.
But, um...
you know...
that was the game back then.
Young, hungry... you know,
creatives, man.
Um... people who-who
had ambition,
they always, you know,
were the ones
who connected with, um...
with our movement
musically, man.
Always. Always.
We gonna take
this music shit
back to where we all began.
Yo, I go by the name
of Pharrell...
- I'm yo' pusher
- ...of the Neptunes
Come on, come on
[Pusha T] Put out a record
like "Grindin',"
with no formulaic...
structure of a hook
at a time when Pharrell
was at his height,
singing on every record
on the radio.
And he didn't sing on ours,
and "Grindin'"
is the cult classic.
From ghetto to ghetto
to backyard to yard
I sell it whipped, unwhipped,
it's soft or hard
I'm the neighborhood
Call me Subwoofer
'Cause I pump bass
like that, Jack
On or off the track,
I'm heavy, cuz
Ball till you fall,
'cause you could duck...
The "Grindin'" beat, man...
Pharrell was at the studio,
and he basically called me
and told me
if I didn't get to the studio
in 15 minutes,
he was going to give
a beat to Jay-Z.
I was like, "All right, man,
I'm coming."
Like, he was like,
"No, listen.
If you don't come,
I'm giving this beat to Jay-Z.
I'm telling you,
you better get here.
Don't sleep. Don't do nothing.
Don't hesitate. Don't stop."
He knew that would
get me there.
It was so unorthodox to me.
I think that might've been
the first time I had
to rewrite... rewrite a verse.
It took a while
to, like, get it.
You know, once I got it,
it was history,
and I knew it.
Radio DJs would say,
"Look, man,
I ain't gonna play this, man.
I mean, if you let me remix it,
I'll play it.
I mean, it's all drums.
Where that...
where's the synths at?
Where the Neptunes
stuff at, man?
It's all... you know,
it's only, like, a few sounds.
Like, what-what are you doing?
Why-why they give you
this beat?"
Hip-hop dictates
everything, man.
- [man] Yo, Pusha.
- What's up, G?
All right.
Hip-hop dictates
everything, yo.
And it's been like that
for so long.
Um... shout-out to...
shout-out to Kanye West, man.
[laughs] You know?
Sometimes a artist be so big,
and it takes a...
it takes a long time
for people to really, um...
to really admit the impact
of-of-of hip-hop and rap
on the culture,
but when you got someone
like Kanye spearheading
and being
the forefront of it...
you can't deny that truth.
[ bongos playing ]
[ J Dilla's
"The Creep (The O)" playing ]
[ staccato electronic beat ]
[Tech N9ne]
I used to be a dancer,
so I can enjoy Young Thug.
He fucking cracks me up
'cause I can't understand it,
but he has melody that works.
And I know melody,
and I know harmony.
And I argue with Krizz all
the time 'cause he's a singer.
He's like,
"That shit is off-key."
I said, "No it's not."
All those notes
that Young Thug hit
work within that beat.
Best friend,
best friend, best friend
Best friend, best friend,
best friend
Welcome to my car wash.
It's called The Wash.
Strange Music's own car wash.
Who the fuck in hip-hop
has a car wash?
I don't know.
I ain't never heard of one.
Fans, they'll travel
from Texas
just to come
wash their car here, man.
They'll travel
from all over the world
to Kansas City
to get the car wash.
It's top-notch.
This is something
to be proud of, though.
You know what I'm saying?
We can literally walk
to headquarters right here.
Strange Lane
is what I call it.
Pretty soon, we'll own
all this shit.
Next is gonna be a hotel,
then it's gonna be
a concert hall.
We're gonna keep growing.
- [line trilling]
- Hello?
I want to party,
you want to party
- We need to party
- Grazie
Let me get up.
- Saturday morning
- Yes
I ain't gotta work
Last night's show
sold a lot of merch
Bad bitch in my bed,
so I ain't gotta jerk
Forbes' list caught me
So it's hard
to make a dollar hurt
We are now inside
Strange Music headquarters.
This is the house
that rap built.
This is our warehouse.
Every time I come in here,
I trip out.
This is where
all my colleagues work.
It's Strange Music
everywhere, man.
Funny that we started
with just a hat and shirt,
and now look at all this, man.
It's so wonderful.
This is what I like the most.
I like ladies.
"Kali Baby."
Where are the G-strings at?
I... had nothing...
but talent...
to be able to write a song.
I thought my way
onto the Forbes' list.
When I first started rapping,
I sounded like Ice Cube.
I been mad ever since
my date of birth
My mother told me I'll be
a threat to planet Earth
Now I'm living up
to that title
[mumbles] Some shit
I used to say. I forgot.
It was a long time ago.
I been mad ever since
My date of birth,
my mother told me I'll be
A threat to planet Earth,
now I'm living up
To that title,
black with a rubber, yell
"Fuck Billy Idol,"
the shit's too vital
I had to tap into what I was.
"Why do I have
these weird thoughts?"
You know what I mean?
So I gave them to my fans.
Gobble the track up like
I'm grubbin' at Mama Naka's
I can pop at you proper
'cause I'm partners
With Waka Flocka,
give me the top of hip-hop
And watch him make 'em rock
with a showstopper
The sick people that listen
to it, they connected.
[man] Why do you call them
sick people?
Because I'm sick... mentally.
I stole books because
they wouldn't give me
the classes in high school,
you know?
I stole psychology books.
I started doing drugs,
you know, and sizzling.
I almost died on those drugs.
I've been clean for,
like, 11 years.
What I realized
is that me writing my life
and telling people all
is totally my therapy.
Going through all the things
I went through
with my mom passing,
I noticed that over the years
that I'm my fans'
I was talking
about Krizz Kaliko
and my brother Makzilla,
you know, and I'm sizzling.
They're with me all the time.
Krizz is always with me
on tour.
Me and Makzilla lived
in the house for some years.
We're a writing team.
- How do you like the sriracha?
- [Krizz] It's hot as hell.
It's hot as hell,
but it's good, though, right?
Man, you got his mouth...
you got his mouth on fire.
Yelawolf ain't make these hats.
[Tech N9ne] Yelawolf
can't make what?
Yelawolf ain't make these hats.
- No, he did not make that hat.
- This is my Black Amish.
- [Makzilla] What you doin'?
- Aw, I'm in here
talking shit about y'all,
about writing.
You telling secrets?
- Oh, yeah.
- Ain't no secrets.
[Tech N9ne] How we did
with "Fear"...
only my brothers
could write a chorus
to that personal song
about my mom.
- Mm-hmm.
- You know what I'm saying?
We experienced
a lot of that with you.
You know what I'm saying?
Even if you was in a dark place
when you write it,
look what came of it, though.
That time that you have
to go to them places
in order to pull
that type of stuff out
is like, you wanna try
to get in there
and get out as fast as you can,
'cause you don't want
- to dwell on it too much.
- Aw, yeah.
- Wonderful.
- [Tech N9ne] That's why I'll
never do a totally dark
album ever again.
'Cause I didn't know I had
all those dark stories to tell.
Reoccurring dream
I was falling,
dropping from something tall
And Jesus' name
that I'm calling
This is pretty deep
I'ma decorate
the city street
Little bitty pieces,
there's really gonna be
Some chalky drawings
I been doing this
for so many years.
We write our music
to perform it live, dude!
The youngsters
don't do that nowadays.
You know what I'm saying?
I mean, that's cool.
You know, they didn't have
no OG teachers teaching 'em,
"Uh, how are you gonna
rap that onstage?
You just rapping
and rapping and rapping.
[stammers] When are you
gonna get a breath?"
"Um... I don't know."
I'm taking a breath.
I take a big breath. [inhales]
Follow me, all around
the planet I run the gamut
On Sickology, they could
never manage, we do damage
With no apology,
pick 'em off the panic
A little manic 'cause
I gotta be, frantic
I'ma jam it 'cause
I'm an oddity [inhales]
[rapping frenetically]
You know what I'm saying?
I got all that breath
to do that
'cause I took a breath.
I wrote it like that.
I want the fan
to come to the show
to hear what they love.
[Tech N9ne]
This is 904 Michigan.
From birth to ten years old,
I stayed in this house
with my mom, her mom,
her sister Suzy,
her sister Ivy,
her brother Ikey,
other brother Ricky.
We all lived in this house.
I used to ride my Big Wheel
down these steps...
over and over.
What's up, bro?
Kickin' it like a donkey?
- [laughs]
- I don't think they knew
- I was from down here.
- I knew you're from down here.
- You knew?
- Yeah. [laughs]
[woman] Did y'all wanna
come in?
[Tech N9ne] Wow.
Ooh, I don't know
if I'm ready for that.
Sarah, you letting us
come in here?
You know my grandma's name
who lived here?
Uh, Sarah Lee Yates.
How another Sarah
live here now?
Wow, that look way better
than when we lived here.
[women talking indistinctly]
- How you doing?
- [woman] I'm all right.
I'm Tech.
- I'm Hazel.
- [Tech N9ne] Yeah.
My grandma had
a couch right here.
Our kitchen table
was right here.
I remember fried bologna
in the morning.
It feels smaller
because I was little.
You know what I'm saying?
I was... I was a baby.
This is where I grew up, dawg.
I ain't think
I'd ever be back in here.
It ain't no roaches in here
like when we had roaches.
[woman laughs]
I used to have to do this
every morning.
I was about to put on my shoes.
I used to have to do this.
[distant train horn blowing]
[faint indistinct chatter]
[crossing bells clanging]
[faint laughter and chatter]
[train horn howling]
[J. Cole] I didn't
view myself as a writer.
I didn't appreciate
even writing
until I started writing raps.
I didn't care, actually.
Anything I would write
would be maybe a paper
for school or something,
you know?
Middle school,
you gotta write a essay
or-or something like that,
but it was more like a job.
Even as I started
writing raps, it was like,
"Now I'm a rapper."
I wasn't really appreciating,
like, the-the skill level
that you had to have
until later.
When I first started rapping,
I got challenged.
It was, like, battle raps,
you know,
like, just rhymes.
I'm-better-than-you raps.
A bunch of those.
How can I go to school
on Friday
and tell five people
that I'm better than them
and how... you know,
how much better than them I am
in these ways,
with these metaphors,
in these type of flows
and rhymes?
When I started trying
to make songs,
there were some-some
older guys...
some guys that
were older than me
around the city
that I linked up with,
trying to learn.
Really, trying to get
beats from them.
One of them was like,
"Yo, you gotta start
telling stories.
Like... all of
that shit is cool,
but, like, that shit
can't make no song."
It clicked.
I was like, "Oh, man.
He's right."
And I remember
when I wrote,
I was like, "Whoa."
It had, like, a beginning,
a middle, a end.
It had a climax.
It had suspense.
It had foreshadowing.
All the shit that I had
kind of learned in school.
And it changed
my whole perspective,
'cause I realized that
that's really what... moves me.
The braggadocious
is just like,
you know, it's-it's cool,
but it's just like...
[stammers] It's a...
it's a box around that.
- Yeah.
- [ heavy bass beat ]
[ distorted singing ]
Why every rich black nigga
gotta be famous?
Why every broke black nigga
gotta be brainless?
Uh, that's a stereotype
Driven by some people
up in Ariel Heights
Here's a scenario
Young Cole pockets is fat
like Lil TerRio
Dreamville, give us a year,
we'll been on every show
Yeah, fuck, nigga,
I'm very sure
I was up one night
reading the dictionary,
and I came across "rhapsody,"
with a H.
And the definition,
in a nutshell,
is poetry spoken
with great emotion.
Wrote a Hallmark,
a couple line
To touch your feelings,
stared at wall art
Some days I feel like
Three Stacks
Up at that altar,
international player
Like DeRozan,
I can ball hard
Real friends
always pick up...
I came from
a small country town
in North Carolina.
Population: 1,200.
Everything hip-hop-wise was,
like... this magical place.
You know, I'd sit
in front of the TV
and-and watch the Fugees,
and I'd watch Nas and Biggie,
and I'd watch MC Lyte
and Queen Latifah,
and it was like, "Wow."
And I didn't have anybody
that I could go out and touch.
I think it was just the fear
of being judged
and not even thinking
it was possible.
It was Charlie Smarts
from Kooley High.
He was like, "You here
at the studio every day.
I know what you want to do.
Go write a rhyme
and get in the booth."
Talking big game,
you ain't Torry, homey
I don't drive pickup,
but I do dodge Rams
It's really all wolves
all clothed as lambs
I'm really superhuman,
y'all just pose like Cam
I used to have a tendency
to overthink it.
You know, instead of
letting it come naturally,
I would focus way too much on
trying to say the most witty,
intricate punch line.
It's like basketball.
you know when somebody's
in they zone.
You see it when they come down
and they got this crazy,
special rock.
When they rocking like that...
"Oh, he about to pull up,
'cause he in his rhythm."
So when I'm overthinking
the game,
it's like, I lose my rhythm,
and that shot don't fall
like it's supposed to fall.
Don't overthink it.
Don't try to make it perfect.
Just do you.
- Heavyweight champ
- [ swelling orchestral beat ]
Mm, rocking Amsterdam,
got the U. S. coasting
Rapping like I'm golfing,
got the U. S. open
The beast has awoken,
his speech is ferocious
Here our drama, leave beef
with the ghost-es
When it comes to flows
I'm the rapper
with the mostest
Shut down the party, it
don't matter who the host is
Now it's 'bout money
and it's all about the cars
It should be about bars
It don't matter
who the brokest
Heavyweight champ
with the heavyweight chip
Ball all four quarters
[Freeway] My writing has
changed my life tremendously.
Before this,
I was a drug dealer.
Only other job I had
was sweeping hair
in a barbershop.
My gift of speech provides
for me and my family
and several other
people's families,
and so it's definitely
a blessing.
So Freeway in the past,
you know,
he's looking back
at some of the mistakes
he might have made or
some of the paths that he took,
and he's going through this
and saying,
"You know what?
If this Freeway didn't exist,
you wouldn't have this Freeway
that we have here now."
Yeah, so, basically, you know,
the color and everything,
I definitely think
it-it works well.
I mean, I'm glad you let me
listen to some of the...
some of the lyrics
in the... in the album, man,
but I honestly think
this is gonna be
your best album cover,
especially for this classic
- you about to drop.
- Do me a favor too.
Make sure I get
a little prostration mark.
[laughing] I got you, bro.
I got you.
[Freeway] I was a huge
Naughty By Nature fan.
I thought Treach was,
like, one of the dopest.
I loved Dres from Black Sheep.
Course, Biggie, Tupac, Jay.
She listening
to new God MC
I'm something
you'll never doubt
[soulful vocalizations]
I hate rap right now.
But... all right, I'm sorry.
I don't mean to say that.
The competitiveness is gone
because there ain't nobody hot
to even compete with.
You start chilling,
like, "This shit is wack,
and I don't even wanna
do this shit
'cause these niggas
is horrible."
I need somebody to put
some pepper in my shit.
You know what I'm saying?
'Cause it's, like,
ass-backwards right now.
The dope people gets no credit,
and just the wack niggas,
it's just like they throwing...
[stammers] There's, like,
a party for these dudes.
You know what
I'm talking about!
You be like, "Yo, this nigga
sounds just like so-and-so."
But they don't know... the kids.
My son like,
"Dad, you're crazy.
- He's hot."
- [man] Mind-blowing.
We did the shit
that nobody could do.
Like, we had Jay-Z
on the same block,
and then we put it on TV.
[Peedi Crakk] That's crazy.
Talkin' owe Sparks five
Ride for a dollar bill
Famous up in Hollywood
High in them Holly-hills
As a kid,
poetry and rhyming was my vent.
You know what I mean?
I wasn't good
at expressing myself.
I didn't know how to deal
with my anger too good.
Words and poetry
just turned into...
uh, it just turned...
it just opened up
a whole new world to me.
I'm a poet.
You know what I'm saying?
[soulful beat playing]
[Freeway rapping indistinctly]
I don't rock with
these other rappers
They be rapping wrong,
all them niggas sound alike
They should do a rap-along
I let 'em over here 'cause
I'm light-years past them all
They acting,
so I split a clip
Wheelchair, cast them all,
gunmanship, man
I run this shit
like a triathlon
Wanna go outside and play,
you gotta ask your dad
You wanna grind
and get this pay
- You gotta ask the Don
- [man] Mm!
A psychic read
on my mom's palm
Said your son gonna live
and grow to be a born leader
I'm about to drop
these torpedoes
- We a score leader
- Was floating on it, though.
I'm on the north side
Of Philly with a seorita
I will never leave her
'Cause a papi got
all the pops
[grunts rhythmically] Yeah!
[Freeway rapping indistinctly]
[grunts rhythmically]
'Cause I'm light-years
past them all
They acting,
so I pull a clip
cast them all, gunmanship
Man, I run this shit
like a triathlon
I used to try to fit
a lot of words in a verse,
and Jay was like,
"You don't gotta do that.
You don't gotta fit everything
into one verse.
You can let the beat
breathe some."
It's unorthodox.
It separates me
from everybody else.
What's good, everybody?
Happy hump day.
[machine beeping]
We out here.
[medical devices beeping]
Well, I just came
from dialysis,
the process that you go through
that cleans your blood
when you... when you got
kidney failure.
You know, I didn't know
what was gonna happen.
You know I'm a devoted Muslim,
so the first thing I did
was, I went to the masjid,
and I prayed
and asked Allah to help me
get through whatever it is
that I have to deal with.
Then I went to the hospital,
and, you know,
they diagnosed me
with kidney failure.
And they cut my chest open
and put a port in my chest,
and then the next day,
I was doing dialysis.
Four hours a day
three times a week.
And by the grace of God,
I was healthy enough
to get on the transplant list,
so now I'm active
on the transplant list.
So they could call me anytime,
day or at night,
and then I gotta rush
to the hospital,
and they're gonna do
the transplant for me.
I just wanna show people
it's not a death sentence.
New things happen in my life.
That's just more content
and more ammunition
for me to put in the music.
Tell me, how could you
take my smile away from me?
You said you love me
But you lie,
you lie, you lie
Tell me, how could you
take my smile away from me?
[ melancholy electronic beat ]
This is Betty's old house
right here.
He was a creative child.
He liked to draw.
He liked little artifacts...
LEGOs and things like that.
When the hip-hop bug hit him,
he-he became consumed
with that.
And everybody that
he associated with,
they were consumed
by hip-hop as well,
so... uh, it was different.
I wasn't a big "being consumed
by hip-hop" type of parent.
See, I came up
on the Sugarhill Gang.
I remember when
hip-hop first got here,
so I said, "Okay, how long
is this gonna last?" you know?
The hip,
the hippie to the hip
Hip-hop and you don't stop
Rock it out, baby bubba
To the boogity-bang-bang
The boogie to the boogie,
the beat
[Gregory] He was supposed to do
an assignment.
It ended up being
some poetry that he wrote
that he converted into a song.
The teacher was so impressed...
first, she was
kind of offended.
Something had to do
with a toilet stool
- and things like that, so...
- Oh, yeah, yeah.
- I remember that.
- Do you remember?
You're talking about
"The Little Miss Muffet."
"The Little Miss Muffet."
That's what it was.
I got a "A" on that?
I thought we... she was mad
and you had to go up there.
I thought she got mad at...
she got mad at me.
- She got mad?
- Didn't I get in...
didn't I get in trouble
with her for that?
- Uh, yeah, you did. [laughs]
- Yeah, yeah.
But he still got a "A."
- [Judy] I don't know.
- [Royce Da 5'9"] It was,
"Little Miss Muffet"...
"Little Miss Muffet
sat on her caboose,
and then she drank
the toilet juice."
- [Gregory] That was it.
- [Royce Da 5'9"] And then
I, uh... I drew a picture
of a toilet...
a toilet
with the toilet lid up
with a lady
with her head in it
with the feet sticking out.
She was highly offended
by that,
so my mom went up there
to talk to her.
I came up and I fell in love
with hip-hop,
and I came into the game
as a battle attack artist.
You know, open mic,
battling other artists.
Yo, I came out
naked at birth
Making it worse,
making a verse
and shaking the Earth
Niggas got plenty
opinions about Royce
But they ain't got a voice
I'm doper than them,
so they ain't got a choice
I met Marshal,
and he pulled me into hip-hop.
That was my introduction
into the game.
Stay on the shelves,
playing yourself
Promising threats
to test y'all
Just doing this rap shit
until UPS calls
I never thought of myself
as an artist
going on to sell records,
to have to think about,
"How can I sell this music
to all of these people?"
That wasn't on my mind.
I just wanted to be
lyrically superior.
It's the feel of the beat.
I stay in the studio
for 30-plus hours straight.
I almost don't do songs
unless I rewrite something.
[choir vocalizing]
What we're doing right now
is a benefit concert
for the crisis that's in Flint
right now, with the water.
[Colberg] It's got
so bad where it's affecting
kids and grown-ups
at the same time.
I have spots on my legs.
My ribs are swole up.
I don't even drink this water.
I don't even cook
with it no more.
If we can't cook with it,
can't bathe with it,
can't drink with it,
why do we have
to come out of our pockets
and pay for it?
I'm 45 years old
and I be scared to bathe.
When my grandson...
he comes over,
I mean, we just... we're itching!
We're constantly itching,
you know?
It's just like
having scabies or...
I don't know what it is.
It's just this... I dig.
I scratch until I draw blood.
They say it's the water.
[Colberg] It even affecting
how the trees and stuff turn.
All this used to be
greenery in the summertime.
[Tracy and Colberg]
Everything's dying.
[Tracy] I pray a lot about it.
- [Colberg] Mm-hmm.
- [Tracy] You know?
You got people that just
don't even live here,
they coming in
to help us out.
God bless them.
God's touching
everybody's heart
to come here, 'cause
we definitely need help.
[Royce Da 5'9"] Everybody's
donating a performance.
So it's for a good cause.
I'm just glad
that I got invited
and I'm able
to help out somehow.
- [crowd cheering]
- [male announcer] Yeah!
Flint, make some noise
out there!
Shady Records
is in the building.
What's up, TJ?
Let's go!
[both] Hey, hey, hey, hey
- [TJ] Come on!
- [Royce Da 5'9"] Hey, hey
Get 'em up, get 'em up
Everybody say 5'9"
- Hey
- [crowd] 5'9"!
- [both] Say 5'9"
- [crowd] 5'9"!
- [both] Say 5'9"
- [crowd] 5'9"!
- [both] Now make noise
- [TJ] Come on!
I'm the verbal-spit
Smith Wesson
I unload with sick spit
The quick wit could split
a split second
Bomb with
a lit-wick expression
You hear a tick-tick,
then you testing
My saliva and spit
Could split thread
into fiber and bits
So trust me,
I'm as live as it gets
Everybody claim
they the best
And they head the throne
since B. I. G. is gone
If you ask me,
they "Dead Wrong"
[Rhymefest] I used
to always say, "Man,
Chicago is the consciousness
of hip-hop."
If you... think about this:
everybody who really
sustainably made it
- in hip-hop out of Chicago...
- [man] Was conscious.
[Rhymefest] ...was conscious.
- [man] Yeah.
- [Rhymefest] You know
what I mean?
Like, Chicago has a spirit,
and the spirit will not
allow you to, like,
leave if you just
on bullshit, period, right?
- [students] Right.
- You can be on bullshit,
but you gotta have something...
substance in yourself...
or this city will not
let you...
[students murmur
Everybody you know
from Chicago that's sustainable
is, like, ill,
like Barack Obama, Lupe...
[man] That's it right there:
That's what Chicago is.
If you've been born
and raised in this city,
you travel through these hoods.
Chicago makes you.
Donda's House started
two years ago.
My wife is a high school
English teacher.
And I said, "I could use
my creative
and my resources
and people I know,
and you use your skill
to create curriculum,
and let's create
a hip-hop curriculum.
Let's teach creative writing,
studio etiquette,
conflict resolution.
That's the same thing
that Dr. Donda West,
who's Kanye's mom,
gave to me: a safe space.
I remember me and Kanye was,
like, making some rhymes,
and I was talking about
how many bitches I fucked,
how many people I killed,
how many drugs I sold.
And Dr. Donda West
pulled me to the side.
She didn't know much
about rap.
She was like, "Rhymefest,
did you really, like,
have sex with all those women
and kill all those people?
And, you know,
I know you, like, 15.
I'm not judging you.
I'm just asking."
And I'm like, "Nah,
I'm just trying to get famous.
Like, that's what is
on the radio."
And she said,
"Would you be comfortable
living in a lie
you told on yourself?"
She was like,
"You should tell your truth,"
and changed my life.
Every young person need that.
Dude, rap don't mean nothing,
music don't mean nothing
unless you're combining it
with some kind of movement.
This is my movement.
Even if you got good music,
who are you?
Everybody rap.
Everybody got beats.
You gotta be... well, you have
to be somebody before the music.
- [woman] Right.
- Yeah.
Now Che bustin' in
to hit 'em
Fuck the cynicism,
I'm quick to give
Y'all niggas
constructive criticism
Like, "Wait,
you basically suck"
His mother said,
"My son wanna rhyme"
I'm like, "Ma'am, I don't
agree with that decision"
I don't believe
that I write for anyone.
Everyone that I work with,
I consider a collaboration.
You're gonna be in the room,
and I'm gonna say something
to the track,
and you're gonna say, "Ooh!
But what if we..."
[speaks gibberish]
And I'm like, "Yeah!"
And then we're gonna
build something together.
We're gonna build that.
You know, in the case
of "Glory,"
me and Common
sat on the phone.
Common was like, "Yo, man,
we gotta make
something glorious.
We gotta have something
that's, like...
man, from the heavens."
And I was like,
"Yo, you know
what we should do?
We should pray
to the ancestors."
Now, this is the first time
this ever happened.
"Let's ask them
to write the song."
So we asked Dr. King,
Fannie Lou Hamer,
Mike Brown,
Medgar Evers,
Emmett Till,
Eric Garner.
We asked all
of the recent martyrs
to guide our hands
and write their story.
[snaps fingers]
Two hours later, it was done.
It was so fluid.
Hands to the heavens,
one man, no weapon
Goes against,
yes, glory is destined
Like, one of my favorite lines,
you know, is, uh,
No man can win a war
It takes the wisdom
of the elders
And young people's energy
This is the story
we call victory
Coming of the Lord,
my eyes have seen the glory
A human being can't write that!
Yo, I got a shorty, man...
15 years old,
living next door to me.
Every time I step out,
he's like,
"I can't believe you live
next door to me."
But what does that do
for where he think he live
or who... like, that...
that's what we lost
in integration.
We lost the doctor
that live next door,
the artist
that live next door,
the lawyer
that live next door.
As black people in America,
we so traumatized...
that we're always trying to run
from ourself and our community.
Che "Rhymefest" Smith says
that he was robbed today
at gunpoint.
It happened about 7:30
this morning
as Smith was sitting
in his car
at 43rd and Cottage Grove.
Smith says someone
got into the car,
put a gun to his head,
and threatened to kill him
before taking his wallet.
The Grammy-winning performer
had a message for the robber.
I help so many young people
in this city.
You don't have to rob me.
Come to me.
Contact me.
I will help you get a job.
[man] Smith also
expressed frustration
with the Chicago police,
saying that officers
were distracted
and even swore at him
as he tried to make a report.
Flexing like your
toothpaste, Arm & Hammer
You ain't, trippin' like
your shoes ain't laced
Got so many bars, I need
space, it's gonna come to me
No rebate, I'm macking it
like a clean slate
I'm always up on it
like I'm not a teammate
I reap success, and so
I progress, so it has to
Be fitting, I seem great
I'm too big
like Sean and Rihanna
Stay sharp
like teeth of piranha
Honor me like I'm a Ghana,
Africa, I'm a Shaka Zulu
Who you know can step on
these sounds?
Ain't never been a problem
'specially when I can
Knock 'em down like
a lower octave
Down like a frown
when no one's watching
- [applause]
- I say I rap until
My fingers bleed, I write
until my throat is sore
Check, I wrote this
in my sleep
Woke up,
then I wrote some more
I wrote this in a cell
Surrounded by 1,000 niggas,
I hope to cultivate
My people like bees
from pollen, flowers, givers
They say that there's
a mental illness
Planted deep
within our culture
Many free
but still enslaved
And waiting till they
sentence over
So I encourage you
to make a change
And don't wait until I end
this sentence
And if I ever shown
you love
I just hope you know
I truly meant it
[students murmuring
in approval]
Watch me back up on you,
'bout to back up on you
Watch me, watch me
back up on you
'Bout to back up on you
So we are in the Bronx.
We are in the Boogie Down,
which is the birthplace
of hip-hop.
Queen of the bodega,
real Garcia Vega
Throw it back
like it was Sega
Her papi be the plug
and her mama from Grenada
she say, "Dime, dmelo,"
but she never do no favors
- Hay la negrita
- [horn honks]
- She winding up the time
- [Nitty Scott] Annoying.
Ba-ba-di-da, she like
the wave up above us
sigue la negrita
Excuse me, papa.
This is B. I. C.
It's the homies.
We had a show where it
was us first and then her.
- [Nitty Scott] Mm-hmm.
- It was at Southpaw too.
- Downstairs.
- [Nitty Scott] I'm so mad
- that shit closed.
- With Q, right?
With Q.
You remember that?
- Yeah.
- Oh, you was on that day?
Yeah, she went after.
She killed that shit.
So early, yeah.
That's, like, Baby Nitty.
And when you opened up
for Kendrick.
- Mm-hmm.
- You're able to-to grab
the crowd by the nuts
and just make sure
that they pay attention to you.
Nobody wants to give
a shit in New York.
Yeah, like, and you can't
get by off being cute.
You know what I'm saying?
New York is not
gonna turn up because you're
a bad bitch or something.
Well, if you try
to just live off...
And to my exes that
regret it, that's enough
Go send another email
and handle my nuts
'Cause I'm in
another chapter
And I left you
where you are
I guess you didn't know
That you was fucking
with a star
[man] 2 Chainz, Young Thug.
- [man] And Lil Wayne.
- [Nitty Scott] Me too!
I let the 808s in.
- [man] Yup, 808s in.
- [all talking simultaneously]
You need to let the 808s in.
- You need to let them hit.
- [Nitty Scott] Stop resisting.
The bass in trap music,
like, you can feel it
in your chakras,
and I feel like that...
that-that's what it is.
It's like we're feeling
- this rumble in, like, our...
- Bass is always important.
Yeah, it's, like,
in your, like, muladhara.
- And that's-that's...
- [laughter]
That's why it's speaking
to you, and, you know,
and you're getting
in this trance or whatever.
So it's like... you know,
I-I see it now,
- and I respect it.
- You see what we...
[man] You need
a ghostwriter.
[man] I don't care anyway,
to be honest,
because I feel like
music in general...
I mean, if you look
at singers in R&B
and pop and everything,
they ghostwrite to make
- a bigger...
- [Nitty Scott] Record.
...a bigger record
for the world.
It's bigger than one person,
bigger than one hood,
bigger than one...
[Nitty Scott]
It takes a village sometimes.
[man] Royce Da 5'9"
wrote a song
about Dr. Dre's brother dying.
So I answer the phone.
Dre identified himself.
I didn't know who he was
at the time.
I knocked on
the bathroom door, and I said,
"Ryan, there's somebody
named Andre
on the phone
wants to talk to you."
"Dr. Dre is on the phone?"
I was like, "What the fuck?"
So next thing I know,
the shower door falls off.
There's all kind of slipping
and sliding going on.
He comes out of the bathroom
[Royce Da 5'9"]
And I was like, "Hello?"
And he was like,
"Yo, what's up? It's Dre."
And I was like,
"Yo, what's up, man?"
It was literally
my first time
ever talking to a celebrity...
even coming close.
If you only knew
the way I felt
Before they ruined
the crew
I thought I learned
from Eazy
Now I'm going through it
with you
He said he liked my music,
and he wanted to know
if I was interested
in coming out to LA...
and just kind of helping out,
you know what I mean?
They was working on
The Chronic at that time.
Would I be interested?
And I was like, "Would I?
- I would love to."
- "That was Dr. Dre."
I'm like, "Dr. Dre?"
At first, I thought
he was kidding.
Like, "Yeah, right.
Go clean the bathroom up."
- No, that was Dr. Dre.
- I got on a plane
- and went out there.
- And I do think
that's a skill, to be able to...
like, if you ghostwrite...
yeah, to be able to kind of
fall into their persona
and be like, "This is what
I would say if I was you,"
or be like, "So what are you
feeling right now?
What are you going through?"
And take that and be able
to do... like,
that's a skill too.
So I think it's like,
different skill sets
have different roles
in the game.
A lot of these pop artists
and everybody got writers...
you know, Beyonc got writers.
This is hip-hop
we're talking about, though,
and in hip-hop,
it's from the streets,
and you're supposed
to write your story.
So there might be a problem
if somebody else
is writing your story.
An MC having someone else
write his rhymes... is wack.
An artist having someone write
their rhymes is understandable
because every other artist
in any other genre
of music does that.
With me, I call myself both...
but MC first.
What is allowed?
My friend that I do music with
my whole life can't tell me,
"You should say 'the'
instead of 'that'
at the end of that bar"?
Is that him...
now I have a ghostwriter?
Am I wack now?
And no other genre is like...
would they even, like,
think to have
this silly conversation.
Like, "Is it oaky to get help?"
And this is the only reason
I will say maybe it's not okay
to have people write your raps:
it's 'cause rap is rooted
in authenticity.
Rap is rooted in, "I did this."
- [students] Right.
- "I went here
and did that there,
and this is how I came up."
You rap about what you know.
You rap about, you know,
what's going on outside.
I try to rap in real time
all the time.
You don't gotta...
you don't gotta make up stuff.
But what's crazy
in hip-hop now is,
there is no rule.
Like, Rick Ross don't have
to be a drug dealer
to say, "I'm really
a drug dealer."
And then kids
is listening to it.
[woman] Right,
thinking that it's...
[Rhymefest] Be trying
to act out different things.
Like, rap is like the Bible, G.
Like, there was this one point
in hip-hop where
it was like, "You have
to write your own shit."
But that was only
a point in hip-hop.
- [man] A phase.
- [John The Author] Right?
You know what I'm saying?
Well, a lot of people bought
into that belief, but, like,
now we out of that stage.
[Rhymefest] Nobody believe
that rappers should write
their own rap?
Well, somebody like Puff
don't care,
so if someone like Puff
asks you to write,
- he don't care.
- Stop right there
for a minute.
The heat of the game is now...
the people don't care.
If you're calling yourself
a rapper and an artist,
you should be able
to formulate your own lyrics.
And if there's somebody,
for example...
[Rhymefest] But what if
you found out
Quincy Jones wrote
for Michael Jackson?
[all talking at once]
If somebody's writing for you,
you should let that be known.
And then it's a...
it's a fair shake.
But when it's going on
under the table,
you're really, like,
cheating the people.
- You're cheating the...
- [P Styles ] That's wack.
That's wack, but...
- You're tricking the culture.
- But as a writer,
I take the gig.
I've ghostwritten
numerous times.
[sighs] This is the thing:
it's when the artist
puts themself
on a pedestal for being...
the artistic great
it's not their composition.
I ain't got no problem
with ghostwriting
until we start talking about...
if you can't write
your own lyrics,
then you can't come
sit at the table.
That's how I feel about it.
Who wrote "Rapper's Delight"?
Not the motherfuckers
rapping it.
So who cares?
People are entitled
to handle their business
and their art craft
how they want to.
You know, Michael Jackson
didn't write his songs.
You know, the actors
don't write the movies.
I feel like it's...
everyone plays a part
in whatever they want to do.
I personally write
my own things, but...
I don't, you know,
judge the next man.
Flatbush Zombies'
"This Is It" playing
All you fools
just sound the same
Ain't no credit
to your name
Ain't no credit line open
That's discrediting
the fame
Form your business
in the name
Something unique,
like a slang
Make a difference,
make a change
But ain't no puppets
on a string
I won't feel cool or good
going onstage
and performing a song that
aren't lyrics that I wrote.
I would feel
like a fucking idiot.
I would feel like a faker,
a fuckin' actor.
Not a fan of pointing
fingers at men
It's dependent on who
can pay for academics
Homey, your chemists
are missing appendages
You're back into handling
business, no kidding
My head's at the clinic,
I need a prescription
My vision is clear
but there's smoke
In the mirrors,
I can't be compared
To them niggas you hearing,
so don't be offended
When niggas don't feel you
If you're in the studio,
everybody that's there
helped write it.
Their energy is contributing.
But then if your pen
is coming off the paper
and you're handing me
the paper
and I'm reciting it
after you wrote it for me
like I wrote it?
Like, if it's not one
of these guys, you know,
then it's kind of weird to me.
Like, it just...
it's just part of something
to me that's like,
hip-hop is the only genre
that really is all about you.
I get my joy
out of the creation,
so I gotta be creating it.
You know what I mean?
That's just me personally,
but anybody is entitled
to do it how they want to.
Everybody morals
ain't my morals.
Everybody goals
ain't my goals.
Everybody has
different intentions.
My intentions
with this music shit
is to just be...
to get chills from my shit.
That's what I want.
I'll put it to you like this.
Hanging out with Will Smith...
we were labelmates
on Columbia Records
at the time...
and he was working
on, um, his big record,
Big Willie Style.
The song "Gettin' Jiggy
wit It," I got...
people credit me
as the writer sometimes,
but really, I just hung out
in the studio with him.
He was writing
the song himself,
and I'm just there
having fun with him,
just rapping to the beat
with him.
No love for the haters,
the haters mad
'Cause I got floor seats
at the Lakers
See me on the 50-yard line
with the Raiders
Met Ali, he told me
I'm the greatest
I didn't necessarily write it.
I'm just sitting there
having fun with him,
finishing a line for him.
Will Smith is an MC.
There's ghostwriting,
and then there's...
there's creating, um,
with-with your people
in the studio.
[ bluesy hip-hop music ]
[Siddiq] Rhymesayers
pretty much started up
from a group of local cats
here in Minnesota.
You know, just started out
of my basement
for the most part.
We recorded
our first three albums
out of my basement
in my house.
You know, we put together
a core unit of people
that really believed
in a common goal,
and it lasted.
It's like, we've got
a rich musical history here,
whether it's Prince
or Flyte Tyme or Bob Dylan.
I think a lot of the artists
that we work with
had a lot of different
and I think those influences
also then shaped them
as songwriters,
more so than just
as MCs or rappers.
Fifty percent is the beat,
and 50 percent
is the lyrics.
Either you better have
hella style,
or you better
be saying something.
Shining right up
in my face
Everyone's a critic
of the minutes I waste
Got me waiting in a line,
got me running in place
I don't really know
what to tell you
Say I spent
too much time in the cellar
I've experienced a life
full of accidents
Trying to write it all down
before it vanishes
[Slug] I like
to think of things
to write about
while I'm driving.
This is my theory.
But having
my peripheral vision
it allows me
to start thinking in a way
that I can't do
when I'm just sitting
at a desk.
It allows me to start
thinking around the story
or thinking out
certain parts of it.
And I like to write that down.
Driving is problem solving.
It's my favorite thing to do
in the whole world.
And I'm really good at it.
I don't hit things.
I don't get in trouble.
I study my surroundings
and I analyze them,
and I'm thinking moves ahead.
Writing is very similar,
because if I want to reach...
the end of the song,
the end of the story,
I've got two,
maybe three verses
and a hook to figure out
how to get
from the beginning
of that story
to the end of that story.
And I can't just freewrite it
and start here,
and then hope that my character
gets to the end.
I have to consider the whole
trajectory... while I'm going.
Like, it's not just about
getting from point A to point B,
but you have to actually
visualize the route
that you're gonna take
to get there.
You gonna take
the scenic route?
You gonna get there
in a hurry?
You got time?
What are you doing?
Anthony would have
different artists
to his... to his house to...
to record,
so we would end up
writing together
and working together,
and it was, uh...
it was organic in the sense of,
we wouldn't come together
and be like,
"Oh, here's what we're gonna
do tonight.
We have this plan."
We would just get together
and let things happen
as they happen.
I would sit and I would write
100,000 bars
and be ready to spit that
over a ten-minute beat,
but it was...
it was in times like this that
slowly shaped me and refined me
and taught me how to actually
write a song,
an arc.
Here's how the story starts.
You want to hit your ending.
A big part of it was Ant
but also working
with somebody like Ali.
Not just exchange ideas
but also to exchange
So this is
the home and, uh, work space
of Ant,
and he's the anchor
and he's the center
of what we do at Rhymesayers.
All of the founding artists
came through him.
[Ant] All right.
That was a four-track
over here.
A couple of them, actually.
One of them is Slug's
from back in the day.
There's even a old picture
of my basement.
It's kind of tight.
This is all hip-hop right here,
and I think over here is just
things I might rip off...
well, I won't be
ripping them off
now that I showed you that.
I have, like, choice things,
you know what I mean,
like... that are in the front,
like my DST,
pretty much made me
want to start scratching.
I grew up in the military.
I, uh, traveled around a lot,
moved around.
I didn't move here till 1990.
Well, I had my four-track,
and I put a little flyer out
saying, like,
"I'll record you."
Everybody was working
their jobs
and doing whatever they did,
and on Sunday,
they would come over here.
They would just freestyle
on a beat.
If I thought we connected,
I'd be like, "Oh,
let's be Tribe Called Quest
or whatever the hell."
They had a ritual
of just working
at an amazing rate.
Everybody in the crew
would write,
minimum, five to ten songs
a week,
and Ant would make somewhere
in the area of,
like, 30 to 50 beats
in a week.
You know, come together
and figure out
how to turn beats and rhymes
into music.
Slug was a lot different
at the time,
but the big thing
with me and him was
his dedication and work ethic.
If he would show up
at 3 p. m.,
he would stay till 3 a. m.
He wanted just to say
a bunch of shit.
He just wanted to say
all kinds of stuff.
When I started performing,
I started realizing that...
that I could say things
to groups of people
to make them hear me
and see me
and set me aside from
all the other MCs in my city.
Well, who's you
with the braids?
Them shits is too tight
What the fuck
you even trying to do?
Come and grab the mic
I come all the way down
to the Sin City
From the Twin Cities
To show you
you can't get with me
Shit, your flows
is shitty
Shitty twice, twice
Made me say the shit thrice
It pushed me
to go into myself
and look for
the parts of myself that...
would stand out,
and a lot of that,
I think,
came down to, um,
showing vulnerability.
It just happened.
We knew that your rhymes
were a reflection of you,
like you could never separate
the art from the person.
It gave you permission
to redefine everything
and to reexamine everything.
We have a lot of, like,
really similar things
in common.
We both moved around a lot
when we were kids.
You know, we both were
kind of, like, outcasts.
We both didn't really look
to people like we should be
doing the things
that we love to do.
I mean, obviously,
I'm albino.
I'm not, you know,
the Kentucky Fried Chicken man
or anything.
You know, being a kid
in the Midwest,
not that many people knew
what a albino was,
so from the time
that I was really little,
you know, I was
really outcasted
and I was really
treated like a nonperson.
Black elders and friends
and peers and enemies,
like, recognized me
as a person
and also had some wisdom
to help me navigate
what it... what it's like
to have this presentation
that's so unacceptable
to people.
I grew, like,
this appreciation
not only just
for my friendships
and my relationships
and all that stuff
but then also
for this particular type of
approach to life
that to me is really precious.
Raising a man
You're slipping
through my hands
Like grains of sand
And here I stand
Trying to wrestle
with the hourglass
Maybe see how long
I can make an hour last
Dear black son
[Ant] You create
these relationships,
and then you can get
the deeper songs.
You're gonna write
some very delicate songs,
and you need
encouragement sometimes.
- [Brother Ali] Mm-hmm.
- [Ant] You just do, you know?
The courage to do
those very sensitive songs.
- What's up, man?
- Oh, my man.
- My man.
- Good to see you, brother.
- Good to see you too.
- All right, now.
- What's up, Ali?
- How you, bro?
Good to see you, man.
I go by Dem Atlas.
I'm a new artist
signed to RSE.
I remember Atmosphere
bringing me
on my first shows out of town.
It's really dope
to see you come out with
all of the energy and all
of the newness and, like...
like, for us, we get to kind of
almost relive those moments.
Everybody know
we do it with love
We do it with love
We give love
and we get love
Come up in the place
And we ain't trying
to get our dicks up
We do not spend our money
at a fucking strip club
Take it home
and feed the babies
That's how we get love
[Lil Bibby] Y'all ready to
word for word this, New York?
What do you say?
I be with pistol-toting
Kush-smoking, lean-pouring
Crazy-ass niggas
Nigga want some work,
just pull up
Make sure you bring
the cash with you
I be blowing money fast,
Try me,
that's your ass, nigga
Nigga talking down
about Buckz
Probably 'cause I don't
fuck with that nigga
I say I did this shit
for my dogs
Just make a call,
they risk it all
Or if it's that
I just send them a text
Have my young uns
come through
Make it rain on your set
Sleeping on couches,
have pains in my neck
Now I got three or four
chains on my neck
Bitches be tripping,
I can't fuck with that
Cut that bitch off 'cause
I ain't for the stress
These niggas be
set tripping
Switching sides,
set flipping
Eminem is one of my
top three favorite lyricists
ever, man.
I think he got the craziest
flows of everybody.
What he say...
I sit back
With this pack
of Zig Zags
And this weed,
it gets me
This shit needed to be
the most...
[laughs] Kendrick probably
is in the top three
right now too,
but I think he, like,
study Eminem.
Eminem, he had to have, like,
one of the biggest waves...
like, you know
what I'm saying...
in hip-hop history.
He wasn't even black.
I have to be
going through a lot.
I come up with the best stuff
when I'm stressed out.
When I'm mad or, like,
stuff like that,
I make turn-up club music,
you know? [laughs]
[man] What about
when you're happy, though?
When I'm happy...
I don't like the music
when I'm happy.
I'm not gonna lie to you.
But I got so many problems,
man, you know.
It's a lot to rap about.
I gotta keep my head
above water
I've been going hard,
gotta go a little harder
I've been thinking smart,
gotta think a little smarter
All I know is hustle,
get that shit regardless
Real hustler,
I'ma get that shit regardless
I will not starve, bitch
Work hard, my palms itch
I seen some garbage
that fucked up my conscience
Niggas, they talk shit,
but these niggas harmless
You can hear it in the...
- in the way my voice was...
- Yeah.
...and then the lyrics
and everything.
So, like, from the outside
looking in,
everybody would think, like,
you know what I'm saying,
they think that's glamorous,
you feel me?
But there's still shit
that we go through
on a day-to-day basis,
you know what I'm saying,
that we gotta keep our head
above, you feel me?
[rapping indistinctly]
[Nas] It was a rhythmic way
of bouncing from one paper
to this ripped-off
piece of paper
that the handwriting's
different there,
dropping the pad
and dropping this,
holding this paper
right next...
People like,
"Yo, wouldn't it be better
if you just did it like that?"
Words going down
in one book.
That's not how
it's coming to me.
I don't want to see it
looking so calculated
and nice and pretty
and perfect.
No, it has to be graffiti.
The angst that's in me,
it has to look like
that same energy
on the paper, and...
Oh, man, those were the days.
Those were the days.
There's a lot of rappers
out there
who I'm sure you looked up to
over the years,
but right now,
a lot of new rappers
and old rappers
are looking up to you.
How do you feel
to be like a...
uh, a living prodigy?
I mean, it's a prop.
It's a blessing.
I'm a product of hip-hop,
you know what I'm saying?
I'm a product from...
of the old school
and the newest of the new.
I'm dedicated to this music,
you know what I mean?
Respect everybody
to get respect,
you know what I'm saying?
Now, your... your style
is considered very hard-core.
Would you consider
doing, like,
remix things
with R&B artists?
I'm saying whatever,
as long as it's...
you know what I'm saying,
as long as it's real ill,
you know what I'm saying?
Long as it's clever,
long as I...
I-I did something good,
you know what I'm saying,
and it sound right.
A'ight, is there anybody
you'd like to work with?
Is there anybody that
you'd like to work with?
Yeah, I want to work
with, um...
I want to work
with the Beatles.
The Beatles?
[ soft hip-hop music ]
[Rakim] We out here
in Connecticut, man.
This was my, like,
home-away-from-home spot
where I used to come out
and have free time and...
and peace of mind
to do my thing,
and my man right here
is a studio owner.
His name is Johnny,
and, um, he became real cool
over the years, man.
You know,
good cat, man,
and his family's my family
and my family's his, man,
so, you know, it was dope
to come from New York
and to come out here
and find a place
like, you know,
covered with trees
and... and just, you know,
peace and quiet, man.
I ain't have
nobody leaning
on my studio door
like this the whole time
while I was recording,
then you open the door
and then three people
fall in your studio session.
I ain't have that here.
Stand-up dude, man.
Good cat.
And I don't even like
rap music.
And he don't even like me.
He's just...
- Actually...
- You know what I mean?
Cool dude,
you know what I mean?
- You're like family.
- But you... you like it now,
- though, right?
- I put up with you.
You like rap music now, right?
See, check... check out
the house that rap built.
The... oh! [laughs]
That's true.
[Rakim] Check out the house
that rap built.
[Johnny] That's the house
Rakim built.
- [Johnny] Yeah. Thank you.
- [Rakim] You know what I mean?
Well, word up, man. You gotta
like rap a little bit now.
That's the truth. I...
Okay, I love rap.
Like, word up, man.
Gotta like it
a little bit, Johnny.
Okay, all right.
I think rap writers
and lyricists
are a pretty brave
batch of guys
over the last 30 years.
When you listen to R&B now,
you're listening to a hybrid
of rap.
I'm such a fiend for...
for what you can do
with the form
that whenever I hear anything
that's new,
be it different
or be it in
a different direction
than something
that I liked before,
I get something from it.
Rappers always wanted
to sing.
We finally stopped
being scared and did it.
[ melancholy guitar music ]
Six years old, I try
my first pair of Jordans on
Mama, can you carry?
It was late in the fall
I caught a glimpse
of my first love
My God
Knees hit the floor,
screams to the Lord
Why'd they have
to take my ma?
Gather round, hustlers
That's if
you're still living
And get on down before
the judge give the sentence
A few more rounds before
the feds come and get you
Is you gonna smile
when your date gets issued?
You know the feds
taking pictures
Your ma's in prison
Your father need
a new kidney
Your family's splitting
Rivalries between siblings
If cash ain't king
It's damn sure
the incentive
I was one of two black kids
in my whole high school.
I was just used to that.
I just stayed in my room,
made music all the time.
[choir singing]
I grew up playing in church.
I got a lot of soul
influence and everything,
but I consider myself
someone that's coming up
out of the hip-hop culture,
and when I really was trying
to write music,
I was... I thought
I was gonna be a MC,
thought I was gonna be
a gangsta rapper,
you know what I'm saying?
I was influenced by
Snoop and Dre, and that was...
there was nothing
bigger than that.
What's the meaning
of my fortune dreaming?
When I cracked the cookie
All it said was
"Keep dreaming"
When I look at my tree,
I see leaves missing
Generations of harsh living
and addiction
I came to visit during
the seven-year stint
But they wouldn't let me in
because my license suspended
Now I'm scraping
the pennies
Just to kiss you
on your cheek
It's gonna be
a couple weeks before I
Six years old, I try
my first pair of Jordans on
Mama, can you carry me?
It was late in the fall
I caught a glimpse
of my first love
My God
Mama, can you carry me?
Knees hit the floor
Screams to the Lord
Why'd they have
to take my ma?
To the early morning
I love Radiohead stuff.
I like sad
white boy music too.
That stuff is all
important to me,
and it all goes
into my artistry.
To the early morning
But it's coming from
a hip-hop perspective.
I feel like it's coming from
a drummer's perspective.
Like, that's my first tool,
so that's kind of
how my brain hears music.
Cadence is huge for me,
and tone is probably
what I'm thinking of
even more so
than melody-wise,
and then I'm putting
the pieces together
after the fact, but I want
to figure out the pocket
where I'm gonna be
and even I gotta
take something out.
I want to be able
to fit perfectly.
I can feel
when it's not right.
It's like I feel
when it's rubbing.
I think, as a artist,
you're building
more of that ear as you go.
It's important to me,
the top line, how I come off.
The very first thing I say,
just that first, like,
it's not always the hook.
It might just be
just some phrase
you blurted out,
you know,
but it sets the tone, you know?
I feel like people
like Ghostface
and people like Raekwon
do that really well, you know?
Just, like, even, like,
Bob Dylan
and the Beatles, you know?
They... the first phrase
that they drop
is just this heavy, like,
statement that just puts you...
puts your mind right...
you know, in the right place.
[Anderson] Hey!
I be catching you staring,
be careful
The idle mind is a dangerous
place to be left in
But keep your eyes on me
Your heart
don't stand a chance
It feels like
it's been far too long
Your heart
don't stand a chance
Your feet just wanna dance
Your eyes keep me
all in a trance
And let me ask you
Bases loaded...
Hey, yo, Johnny, wake up, man.
I'm ready to do
my vocals now, baby.
[Johnny] Yeah, wake up.
Wake up.
This is the Telefunken
right here, man.
You know, I get in this booth,
man, and zone out.
Like, I'll cut
the lights off out there
and I wouldn't see nothing
past this glass.
I'm actually looking through
at Johnny right now.
Even though he's right here,
it's taking me back.
One time, he said to me,
"What... what's this red stuff
over here?
I said, "That's
Diana Ross' lipstick."
Word up, man.
You know what I mean?
So yeah, I was kissing
on the mic that day.
I rubbed that shit
on my cheek.
You know what I mean?
You know, I never believed
in writer's block,
but it'll be times where
you know, I'm stuck, so,
um, you know, you're listening
to the track, and, you know,
course, as the track
is rocking,
sometimes you know
how you want your rhyme to end,
so if I couldn't think of
how the rhyme
was supposed to start,
I definitely knew
how it was supposed to end,
so I would start on that bar
and work my way
all the way back
to the first bar.
I would never let nobody
know I was doing that
until I seen this thing on TV.
I think it was Martin Scorsese.
He said, "If you want
to write a good movie,
you start at the end
and work your way
to the front."
[distant siren wailing]
[John The Author]
They love me like religion
When I pull up
in the coupe
All I hear is "amen"
when I step up out the booth
I gave you niggas truth,
the whole truth
And nothing but it
The meek shall inherit
Everything they tried
to covet
Look me in my eyes,
see the anger in my soul
I gave you niggas goals
Through the rhymes
I done wrote
I gave you niggas guidance
from a spiritual alliance
And all I got in return
was a lyrical defiance
Messiah of writers,
they say that
I'm inciting riots
and they right
'Cause I'd be lying
if I said I wasn't trying
Vicious as a lion
in the jungle
With a mouth full of teeth
And a stomach
full of hunger
Boy, you better
feed him something
Look at all the pictures
I done painted
in these scriptures
Look at all the men
I done made out of knickers
Look at all the queens
I done made out of sisters
Look at all the road
I done paved out of inches
You can't argue with the fact
that, like, that kid
just said that,
both poetry-wise...
You can put it up
against anybody.
You can put that up
against Rumi
and you can put it up
against Shakespeare,
but then also,
like, spiritually
and cosmically,
it's evident.
It's all there.
The proof is all there,
and if other people
are able to grasp it,
then that's just what it is,
but even if
they never grasp it,
I know I saw
how it changed my friends.
I saw what it did
to the people that I love,
and I saw what it...
I know what it did to me.
[J. Cole] When you in
that zone and when you know
it's coming from, like,
a higher power,
it's like,
"Oh, I'm tapped in right now."
That feeling is, like,
You know what I mean?
So, like, I'm forever
chasing that.
[Meechy Darko]
Twenty years of my life,
I had no windows in my room.
I was in solitary.
I was trapped, you know?
All your energy is bouncing
off these four walls
that are so close to you.
It's like you can't breathe,
you're suffocating,
but at the same time,
if you focus,
you can use that energy
and harness that energy
and get the fuck out of there,
and that's what we did.
For sure.
[Zombie Juice]
Deadass, I hung out
in a fucking staircase
for years.
[Meechy Darko] Trying to
figure out what we're gonna do.
[Zombie Juice]
Nasty gray walls.
That's pretty depressing.
I try to tell myself
that I still don't got shit.
We don't got shit.
We still don't have shit,
All we got is music.
DJ Shadow's "Nobody Speak"
I ain't lying,
kick a lion in his crack
I'm the shit
I will fall off
in your crib, take a shit
Pinch your mama
on the booty
Kick your dog,
fuck your bitch
Fat boy dressed up
like he's Santa
And took pictures
with your kids
We're the best
We will cut a frowny face
In your chest,
little wench
I'm unmentionably fresh
I'm a mensch,
get correct
I will walk into a court
while erect
Screaming, "Yes, I am guilty,
motherfuckers, I am death"
Hey, you want to hear
a good joke?
Nobody speak,
nobody get choked
Get running
Start pumping your bunions,
I'm coming
I'm the dumbest
who flamethrow
Your function
to Funyuns
Flame your crew quicker than
Trump fucks his youngest
Now face the flame,
[Styles P] Yeah,
Juices For Life 211,
we up in here,
Yonkers, New York.
We got wheatgrass,
fruits of all sorts,
protein powder, sea moss,
You consider this
Cheers for healthy folks.
Like, you know what I'm saying?
[Jadakiss] What are those?
The knowledge is different
from when we first came in.
We was young boys from Yonkers,
you know, from the hood.
If you wasn't at home,
you was eating fast food
or snack foods or,
you know,
some type of bullshit.
It's the balance.
This is the equalizer.
I feel totally different.
I feel better.
- I feel healthier.
- Yo, what's these?
Armies or waves?
I feel like, um...
I feel like... I feel great.
I think it's hard to find
somebody that you could say
been spitting for a dub.
And we were spitting
before we was on.
But we been spitting
for a dub, legit.
I don't think you could find
a bunch of other people
you could say that about.
Very few.
There's definitely a few
you could say,
but not a bunch.
So at the end,
I think, with us,
I think that what sets...
sets us apart is,
we still getting better.
[ orchestral music
with hop-hop beat ]
- Word is...
- [Jadakiss] Word is bond.
Word is bond.
Word is bond!