Yasiin Bey and Golden Rules

Eric Biddines (rapper) and Paul White (producer) make "Golden Rules."
By    June 16, 2015

Art by uzaigaijin

Thomas Johnson chills with a moon-booted cat named Amber

Eric Biddines is a South Florida rapper. Eric Biddines is a devoted fan of the Dungeon Family, and I’d bet large sums that Eric Biddines’ favorite rapper is Andre 3000. It goes without saying that 3 Stacks is far from the worst MC to be compared to, but there’s a greater difference between derivative and definitive than two consonants and a vowel. The drawl of southern-fried delivery is so clearly not his own that it takes a few spins just to realize that’s not a sample from Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.

Mos Def never sounded like anyone on his own fucking album or anyone else’s. But as he stays elusive, he sounds less and less like everyone else. (Your koan for the day). Hot off a series of guerilla DOOM covers and the penultimate verse on Rocky’s At.Long.Last.A$AP, the original Flacko’s become hip-hop’s cool uncle. Eccentric enough to warrant devoted fan attention, but grey enough to know the very distinct difference between weird and outlandish.

The relationship between rap and its African roots have long been a recurring theme of Mos’ music, and pertinent parts of his legacy. His catalog is peppered with references of his ancestral roots from the subtle (“Umi Says”) to full-blown Fela Kuti interview samples (“Quiet Dog”). Rarely though has he ever integrated them to such a succinct message. His opening—“they say the chief of the tribe took a handsome bribe/now his face is everywhere but he’s hard to find”—can apply to nearly every young rapper who’s prospered commercially. Every bar is a loaded answer to questions no one wants to ask. What’s the relationship between a hustler and the block? Is he talking about the music industry or America? This is dichotomy done right. Most would shove it in your face; Yasiin Bey’s just wondering out loud. Advice from one of the few who entered the belly of the beast, and came out the other side wearing a wrap from Ghana.

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