A few years ago I stumbled across Mr. Green. If you’re a fan of old school hip-hop, you’ll freaking love this dude. He basically records street musicians, samples their music, then gets a hip-hop legend to drop a verse or two over it. His “Live from the Streets” album is an absolute masterpiece. Hooks from Peruvian pipe bands, ukulele players, random people he hears singing in parks, it’s a really remarkable work.
One of the songs on the album starts with him talking to a street musician named Kevin Brown. He sings an original, Green records it, then makes it into a sample. He then adds drums and bass, and takes the beat to Malik B, who as most people in Philly know used to be a member of the Roots. Malik B dropped a verse over it. I love his lispy voice, his verse a free association rhyme that somehow all loosely ties together:
I’m like a horse with it, Darth Vader force with it
I hope the double XL or fucking Source get it
Career a Porsche with it, on the stoop you bullshitted
Nineteen pages I google to hear some more critics
It’s more headaches, pure ridicule gimmicks
Fuck a poor image we ready to get some more spinach
And be fortunate, official and authentic
Meet Trina down in MIA and get lost in it
It makes no sense, which is part of what’s great about it. And if you dig poetry, how can you not to love the rhyming of critics, gimmicks, spinach, and authentic?
The entire thing is as beautiful as it is unlikely, and the video is a love letter to the city of Philadelphia.
Kevin Brown apparently died a few years ago. Malik B. died yesterday. Both lived hard and died young. But before they left they created art. And at a time we need our artists more than ever, we thank them for it.