I gave up on my unspoken dream of becoming a rapper a long time ago. There are enough decent white rappers and Aesop Rock is already Aesop Rock. But there was a time when I wrote rhymes in the margins of college ruled notebooks, more focused on crafting punch lines to spit in the lunch line than whatever significant declaration or treaty my history teacher was droning on about.
If memory serves me correctly, I was roughly 16 or so when rhymes and poorly drawn Wu logos consistently covered more of the page than whatever might’ve qualified as ‘notes.’ Having been exposed to Freestyle Fellowship in middle school, I was a staunch supporter of the underground, a backpacker’s backpacker. Amoeba visits for Rhymesayers, Stones Throw, and Hiero CDs were bi-weekly.
This mix is dedicated to my 16-year-old self, who, in my mind, would probably be watching Scratch or Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme right about now. Given that it’s springtime, I’ve chosen songs that are a bit lighter, brighter at least in melody if not lyrical content. There are, of course, 16 of them. Enjoy.
1. Blazing Arrow – Blackalicious
2. Avantcore – Busdriver
3. B-Boy Document ’99 – The High & Mighty
4. DEFinition – Black Star
5. Hot Bars – Felt
6. Drop – The Pharcyde
7. Jayou – Jurassic 5
8. Inner City Boundaries (Bomb Zombies) – Freestyle Fellowship
9. Batting Practice – Souls of Mischief
10. The Red – Jaylib
11. Happy Pillz – Murs ft. Aesop Rock
12. Mistadobalina – Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
13. Quest to Find – J-Live, Kenn Starr, & Oddisee
14. You Never Knew – Hieroglyphics
15. Worst Comes to Worst – Dilated Peoples
16. What’s Up Fatlip? – Fatlip