What the fuck! Wears embracing mandala patterns in a myriad of colors off the American spectrum. Mala beads swinging and absorbing lost qi emitted through exotic metals on fly medallions. The rebellion is cocky, the imagery seems selfish and pandering but the intentions are still completely daring. Daring innovation because oppression is still completely suffered and ideas of counter-creative acts against the establishment is still the mandate. And Freddie Merkury is a statement that shines on the lapel while the universal flag banners through the lyrics. Ness, one of A-Alikes militant lyricists, goes trap digi with Iraq producer/vocalist Baghdaddy, for a trap fight bio wrapped in the break bounce of today and the Funk elements of tomorrow. A good fucking tomorrow.
So what the funk is this? To understand the Funk you got to dive into it in all its parts. Classically, it’s when James Brown guides your ears through Black Soul sisters and Fred Wesley horns and Maceo intros the break. Or it’s George Clinton throwing you in raw to drown in abstract choruses on concrete issues, wallowing electric guitars and the groovy slop chop basslines. These are obsessions Herc shined us on to and Bam called it all. And it’s where MCs are reminded they can flow free and let the funk flow. When Ness rhymes on Freddie Merkury, you don’t hear the pop in the doubled up bass or the overly ticking high hats that are all used for commercial mistakes. Instead, you hear an MC furiously putting a hellish life into stanzas and making himself a new life—And if he don’t make a new better life he’s gonna fuck this one/bitch over real good!
A-Alikes are not just Hip Hop music—they are necessary scores that uphold classic Hip Hop sounds. With anthemic war chorus chants and verses that release fight spirits focusing minds out of ignorance, Ness is a willing soldier, in line with the revolutionary regiment, along with K, that continued with a supreme EP, Us Against Them. With Freddie Merkury, he is honorably awol, never losing the sincerity of his ultimate cause, while diving in and out of countless MCing techniques. It’s the perfect example of an exploration of the Funk by an MC.
The double time flow is a major MC flow used to disgust by the pop. Here, Ness works it with the cape of savagery—that Nessquik strand—and cleverly engages the expected details counting bread (“Money Machine”). However, the dynamic acknowledgement of the drug dealing redundancy (“NO$E”) is attacked with cleverness (“…seen Scarface too many times/trap stories, too many rhymes/felonies to petty crimes/bitch od’d in the bathroom, too many lines/ship off the old block/razor blade shaving it/may sell more but she’s USA’s favorite/life’s a bitch, that’s why we escaping it/crack, crack, same rock Cain killed Abel with/six sex tillion tons/last year we sniffed six hundred tons/rub it on your gums/Pause/make sure that shit numb/nigga sold that cop a jum/ahh shit, here they come/nigga run nigga run/out here trying to make a living/one foot in the coffin/my rock in a hard place/my coke…..”). There is fluctuating pacing in speed, volume and emphasis turning it a frustrated everyday conversation reaching a feverish peak. The verse is filled with dynamic references and witticisms without losing the rugged edge. When it’s real it must be acknowledged as the success of a near impossible feat. Something pop hearers assume is in the charted bars but is really with Ness. There is intensity of flow that matches the wild Funk as the “UUUGH” intro where he rapidly rails ill on this devilish society with macro-points while taking it to the hypocrisy thrust on his daily living. Ness also is a chorus master particularly because he interpolates so ingeniously. From the Doo Wop work on “Clockworkin,” he makes the heinous activity a catchy tune that musicalizes survival or the entire arena banger make over on “W$ Will Rock You.”
The balance is in the introspection of “Maliah” lyrically playing over a failed relationship, the smooth turn of “Trapper Keeper” or “Demons” charting the destructive domino cycle that one capture by the law can (and does) lead to for Ness. The equality of ideas is fulfilled with the centerpiece build of “Grace” where he’s gon through “so many phases, so many good rhymes/so many run ins with the law/ so many cases/so many droughts/so many doubts/so many dates waiting on that weight shit/unless we had fucking patience/Fuck, nigga! I been patient/Nigga, I’m my own patient/I be escaping/self-medicating/I ain’t a doctor but I’ll prescribe you the same shit that I’m taking/sick of fuckers faking/fake love worse than hating/that’s my word, it make me/lose faith in basic human nature/so many interpretations/God, the devil, Jesus, Satan/she on her knees/she praying/preacher preaching/Mama save me/the souls of abortion’s babies/where do they go?/been on my mind lately/ex-ladies/and them baby mommas/that be together, we premeditated/so many tears/so many tears/Tupac song my second favorite/photo album from the 90’s/baby pictures from the 80’s/it’s too many memories/Mama worked in Crystal’s but couldn’t afford that Sega, Wilson Goode, the mayor/Ronald McDonald, Ronald Reagan/told Mama, Jesus not my savior on that road trip/that road trip/told her I was G-O-D/she cold flipped/ now I’m a pagan/play me like an atheist/but naw, Mama, I’m just changing/losing my religion/gaining Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding/still ain’t save me from the streets/but probably the reason I’m still standing/can’t forget the pen and pad/ these poems help to keep me balanced/these poems help to keep me balanced/ these poems help to keep me balanced…” Through it all, Ness is an MC stylist with content, a rare breed that needs an even more oddly rare score.
Musically, Baghdaddy achieves what Kanye has failed with realistically and succeeded with monetarily. The wild Funk, with electronic stimulation and digital enhancement, is an almost unusable tool that fucks up Hip Hop music. Baghdaddy can’t save the rotten trappings of trap style bounce but his Funk is victorious in originality. An originality that reveals a producer aiding an MC as Ness, draw out even more of his talents, and completing the rebellious, stylist approach. From the subtle snare and high hat tack over a sinister bell on “Break Spinal (Interlude),” the expected high hat soldier drills of “Bat Phone,” the funk womp and hand clap snare on “NO$E,” the accelerating video game blips and booming bassdrums on “Clockworkin” or the slow dirty G-funk’d bassline with howling whistles on “Demons” will get the young thugs open. For the seasoned listener, they will have to study the seasoned depth in Ness and see the score for Freddie Merkury really is right for Weekend Money to triumph a powerful experiment Hip Hop can actually use. That’s the ill currency of the Funk.