Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Just Give me the Countdown...

When people talk about an emcee’s “flow,” they’re usually referring to the rhythm of the lyrics and how rhymes are delivered, but the truth is, a lot of emcees don’t flow. Let me explain. If you were to close your eyes and listen to Aesop Rock, DMX, or Luda, you’d realize that they spit, growl, or drawl more than they flow.

Each emcee has their own lyrical style, but what I like to hear most are flows. Why? Because they just sound better. To break it down a little more, flows are typically packed with internal rhymes, end rhymes, assonance, consonance, repetition, alliteration, and too many other literary devices for me to recognize. They’re called flows for exactly that reason, from one word to the next, one line to the next, the transitions are absolutely seamless. When an emcee is flowing, the words roll out like butter. If you listen closely, a true flow has probably twice as many rhymes in it than conventional lyrics and are true ear candy.

When it comes to flows, quite a few emcees come to mind, but only a handful stand out. One of them is AZ. With one of the nicest deliveries around, AZ not only gets your head bobbin', but he spouts street conscious lyrics that set him apart from the rest. While I wouldn’t say he’s been slept on, AZ was always overshadowed by the at times overrated Nas (I’ll save discussion on that for another post). No doubt AZ and Nas share certain similarities, but where Nas falls short (consistency and not quite knowing who he is [Nastradamus?!?]) AZ shines. Yeah, he has his share of throwaway joints, but give AZ a sick beat and he’s onlike no other, classic East Coast street style flowing with head nodding lyrics that just can’t be touched. Case in point:


One in a million, I'm strong young and appealing
Was born son a villain, put on in front of my building
Peeping how the street structure decease brothers
Critique, but I was placed here to reach others
Incomplete, stand feet from the deep cover
Eternal sleep, I wonder if the Beast love us
The frail weaken, the stronger be in jail eating
The average male will make it home if the bail's decent
I inhale frequent, it alleviate great, to be a part of the game
Can't be a day late to be a part of the same
Need a g' a day take, five if you live, slide mines on the side

One word about “The Come Up.” You may have heard the original, but this Primo remix is absolutely sick and really highlights AZ’s lyrical dexterity. Seriously one of my favorite remixes everrrrr. Now go and download it before I smash you over the head.

[MP3] AZ :: The Come Up (DJ Premier Remix)
[MP3] AZ :: Paradise

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

While AZ is a great rapper, I don't think of him as having a necesarily great flow. He's more "punchy" I think. Meaning when he hits a punchline or the end of a bar he puts emphasis on his words, leaving you to think about it. When I think of flow I think of CL Smooth, Snoop Dogg, Sonnie Cheeba/Geechie Swé, Bootie Brown, Fatlip, Busta Rhymez. Those guys have a continuous flow that doesn't stop.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AZ's flow and delivery is impeccable and untouchable... He is what I call an intelligent MC who maintained his identity and refrained from from the "izzay for shizzay" Snoop nonsense...

However, at the same time I must credit westcoast heads like Bootie Brown, Fatlip for their flows, and MCs like Rappin4Tay and Too Short for their smooth dumbed-down/plain yet real cool delivery...

2:10 AM  

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