[HIP-HOP VERSE OF THE MONTH] Mos Def-Respiration via @TenthLetterMed

In Hip-Hop the manuscript has always been the sole responsibility of the MC. With bravado and lyricism, these spitkickers further cultivate the genre. Most Hip-Hop heads can easily recite a hot 16 of their favorite artist and not have Google at the ready for help.

When it comes to a good track, one can get lost in the beat and not even hear what’s said. A dope track is when the artists themselves get lost in the beat and you can’t help but to hear what’s said! In that vein, TenthLetterMedia and Straight Official Magazine present our HIP-HOP VERSE OF THE MONTH where we take a good listen to bars from our favorite MC’s.

This month we take a breath from one half of the movement known as Black Star in MOS DEF. He alongside Talib Kweli and Common painted beautiful pictures of their surroundings in the classic single Respiration.

Riding the pulsating tempo of the beat resembling of an ancient mating call, Flacco describes the climate of his hometown with all of its charms while trying to acquire inspiration.

The new moon rode high in the crown of the metropolis
Shinin’, like who on top of this?
People was tusslin’, arguin’ and bustlin’
Gangstas of Gotham hardcore hustlin’
I’m wrestlin’ with words and ideas
My ears is picky, seekin’ what will transmit
The scribes can apply to transcript, yo
This ain’t no time where the usual is suitable
Tonight alive, let’s describe the inscrutable
The indisputable, we New York the narcotic
Strength in metal and fiber optics
Where mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips
For profits, thirsty criminals take pockets
Hard knuckles on the second hands of workin’ class watches
Skyscrapers is colossus, the cost of living
Is preposterous, stay alive, you play or die, no options


Mos beautifully placed us within the center of New York. He goes on to highlight the absence of Gotham’s heroes and discrepancies within the justice system. His storytelling is compelling and the overall desire to be the scribe of his surroundings is stated eloquently across backdrops of the Empire State:

No Batman and Robin, can’t tell between
The cops and the robbers, they both partners, they all heartless
With no conscience, back streets stay darkened
Where unbeliever hearts stay hardened
My eagle talons stay sharpened, like city lights stay throbbin’
You either make a way or stay sobbin’, the shiny apple
Is bruised but sweet and if you choose to eat
You could lose your teeth, many crews retreat
Nightly news repeat, who got shot down and locked down
Spotlight to savages, NASDAQ averages
My narrative, rose to explain this existence
Amidst the harbor lights which remain in the distance


Check out the rest of Respiration down below to hear just how difficult it was for us to narrow it down to one verse, and stay with TenthLetterMedia and Straight Official Magazine as we continue to bring you more Hip-Hop Verses of the Month! #GetSOM #DueSeason

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It’s the year 1997, and when it came to Hip-Hop, I was all over the place. I dressed as if I was from the East Coast but could recite almost every West Coast rap song that was out. To say that I was heavily influenced by the movement was a gross understatement. If you haven’t been paying attention for the past few weeks, I LOVE Hip-Hop!

It was also during this period of the genre’s renaissance that I heard three acts that made me recognize unique talent. It could’ve been their delivery or content, but they were the ones that you couldn’t help but notice.

In keeping with our Thursday tradition of highlighting 40 albums turning twenty this year, we take a look at a few X-factors that diversified Hip-Hop.







The Lady of Rage- Necessary Roughness

In June of 1997, we finally received the début album from the lady MC that was all over a number of acclaimed Death Row classics including The Chronic and Doggystyle. Robin Allen rocked with her Afro puffs and hit MC’s like Ryu (ha-uh-ken!!) with her mastery of composition, and it made her stand out amongst her male counterparts. While it was odd that her hit single Afro Puffs wasn’t on the album, the production of Daz Dillinger and DJ Premier helped to prove Rage wasn’t a one-hit wonder but a student of the game.



Mia X- Unlady Like

There was also another femcee that despite the baby voice, was a significant influence in the South’s rise to power in 1997. Also in June of ’97 Mia X stepped back up for her sophomore project with them No Limit Soldiers. No jinx here as the album reached #2 on the top R&B/Hip-Hop album charts and rested in the top 25 on Billboard. With production from Beats by the Pound and Master P, as well as the entire No Limit Family as features it was another round out the tank that did damage. Even with no officially released singles, the album still went gold and progressed Southern Hip-Hop.



Three 6 Mafia- Chapter.2 “World Domination

While some give credit to Lil’ Jon for birthing Crunk music, myself and Pimp C beg to differ. Memphis Tennessee’s own DJ Paul, Juicy J, Gangsta Boo and the late Lord Infamous and Koopsta Knicca released their 3rd studio album in November of 1997. Perhaps the last real dark album we got from T6M, it was indeed a classic with the infamous “Tear Da Club Up ’97” single doing exactly what it advertises. This was also the Backyard Posse’s first gold-certified project, prepping them for future successes in the genre’s growth and popularity.



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