More Songs About Television and Food and Coke Dealing

Why the library won't invite rap's greatest storyteller to children's hour

The love-gone-bad lament from Fishscale is "Back Like That," a catchy-as-hell sell-out single (his sellouts are almost always great, purists be damned). The childhood remembrance is "Whip You with a Strap," produced by J Dilla around a Luther Ingram sample. Perversely, the MC argues that kids today are incorrigible 'cause they're given time-outs, not beatings—while he remembers "that belt stinging after I wet the bed" and going "outside for free lunch with welts on my legs still leaking." "Besides the alcohol I had a great old mama," he insists. It's beautiful and haunting. Then there are less complicated bangers: "Kilo," loping Blow 101 funk with sniffs providing one of 42 hooks; "Be Easy," which Pete Rock produced with the bounce gods smiling on; "The Champ," with Just-Blaze's beat demanding to be way louder than its surrounding cuts. "The Champ" uses a stock motif, the rapper as heavyweight, but Ghostface finds life in the moribund, and the more he rhymes, the more the competition seems doomed. Not only will he knock 'em out, he will pick the round.

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