You Pronounced Him
Alive on Arrival
Pardon me, and something about laughing at crack, but I'll play idealistic fool here:
Sampling a thematically stiff Scorsese flick (John Goodman and BX native Nestor Serrano in, ahem, wait for it...Bringing Out the Dead) as intro to "Intro" leads ponderous punks like me to think Green's titular ER "arrival" is none other than the deadest metaphor in the game, the quote-unquote Death of Hiphop. (And to mention: the title, and movie sample, implicitly cite Cube's identically named '92 joint which ends -- badly for its g.s.wounded victim-- in an emergency ward. And, okay, Inspectah Deck, who's been lyrically dead for years, now currently heard jacking his own late 90's swagger, a good look it's not.) Right, right, Oprah killed rap music and books, har-dee-har. But fuck a cynic for a bit; let's fuck with big ideas. I'm Curious.
Not buying rigormortis yet, but neither does Green ("You told me he was dead, flatlined." "Got better."), and not without a sense of humor ("Wake up Dr. Starks, tell him we're gonna need him, STAT"). But Green's Intro -- and the tape at large -- scans as vicious backhander to DJs who poison mixhuts worldwide with ephemeral radio somethings slapped together & "sponsored" by yr latest "Kill Dat Nigga!" Xbox jumpoff. No shit Green Lantern's one of the good guys, but headphone sessions with AOA reward re-listens, and remind you just how much most "DJs" skew Tanner rather than Premo.
"Speaks with his hands": "(B.I.G.) Niggas say I died dead in the streets/ Nigga, I'm getting high, getting head on the beach/ (Jay) Rumor has it/ (B.I.G.) Niggas say I died dead on the streets/ (Jay) Pardon me I had to..." (you know the rest). Something that peeps used to say about Premier, but fitting here since Green wields this artform as expertly as any DJ worth his decks should. It's bigger than that too (here's where I'm to be put on blast if I overstep): Lest we forget the equilibrium between MC & DJ wasn't always as orality-fixated as 'tis today. Hiphop-writ-large was once enjoyed as a strictly live performance medium, DJ-reverent and at first merely tolerant of the call&response that eventually ate the pie whole. Sure, DJ's won't ever return to being rap's end-all-be-all-central-entertainment (and to be honest, would we ever want that when Tip's got more charisma in his upper lip than Drama's got intrusive, self-promoting mixtape tics?), but Lant's skills reveal as pure an aesthetic appreciation for chaotic word salad as, say, any other Clientele you could namecheck, and they (re)assert a bit of control/artistry/whatever as an engaging entertainer.
New role, but kinda same as the old: surgical archivist, fiending for lyrics & beats, severing them from stanzas, reattaching and revivifying them in new schemes as exciting as the past ones. Its collaged orality that reveals the keen connective tissue in the selector's head, while learning y'all a li'l history lesson. Then again, later on the tape, Jay: "Green, fuck it, just become a producer already."
Only place I got to check ya, bruh, is on the 'This is an Album' tip: Nope, This is the kind of MIXTAPE that had cats quoting the DJ's scratches back in those Clue-some, Stretch-y days (Try listening to Ghost's "Survivor" freestyle here without catching yrself aping Juelz's "Call me a survivor/ C-Call me a grinder"). Mixtapes have their own ethic, their own scruffy-but-attractive aesthetic. Fuck it man, you made an "honest-to-goodness mixtape" as my mans Louie B was wont to say, and dope shit at that. Be proud of it; they're few and far between.