EDITORIAL: Who Killed It – Fat Joe Featuring Nas, Big Pun, Jadakiss, And Raekwon (“John Blaze”)
If you’re not familiar yet, “Who Killed It?” is a new editorial series we’re introducing to the site in which we break down various posse cuts and rank the verses according to lyrical technique, flow, and “wow” factor, among other things. In the 1st edition, we profiled the classic “All About The Benjamins (Remix)“, for this edition I’ve decided to revisit Fat Joe’s classic 1999 cut “John Blaze” Featuring Nas, Big Pun, Jadakiss, And Raekwon off of his “Don Cartagena” album. Now that we’ve got all of the formalities out of the way, let the debate begin!
“My son cool out, dont beef you, throw the tool out/Lets run these niggas, kidnap they work, make em move out” and “Crush hash, hands is like glass, keep the heat in the stash/did some dirt for some work, caught a gash” might be some of the few standout lines in this verses, as the verse is high on abstract lyricism, but short on any “WOW” moments in my opinion. “”The flick’er rocker, wicked sneaker rocker, footwear” is a pretty dope line also and takes a real listener to actually decipher WTF he was saying right there lol. “Relentless, the anthology consolidated with the quickness” and “Specialist, Ice Sickle-ist” are also cool to say, but fails in comparison to the other bars on this track. Sorry Rae, but you took the L on this one.
4. Fat Joe
“It’s simple mathematics, you gotta love us/Cause Joey Crack plus Gat equals allot of dead muthafucka’s” is an early sign that Joe refused to Get Murdered On His Own Shit this time around and came in tip top lyrical shape (by Fat Joe standards) for this one lol. He then reflects on his renewed life and standing within the game with “Just when you thought I was done, I recruited Pun/Terror Squad, Enterprised, Undisputed Dunn” before coming with the catchy couplet “And go to church like a mobster/Discuss ya death over shrimp and lobster, with my Cuban partners”. He then continues to heat up with nods to his Boogie Down beginnings with “Lucheez with the cartridge, twenty shot/Run up on any block, disrespect any cop” then fast forwards to the now and his success as a entrepreneur with “Used to run many spots, now I own shops/Gortex with the lock, 564, four bill’s a pop”. He then closes with the catchy and memorable finisher “You best learn to parlay, I had a hard day/Fuck around with the Don, and get John Blazed”
After coming in last place on our debut edition of “Who Killed It”, Jada came through in the clutch this time with a strong showing, and might’ve took the top spot if not for two all-time greats (but we’ll get to that later). He displays why he’s regarded to have one of the greatest lyrical first steps (aka opening bars for the uncool/uninformed) of all time with “Ayo, my attitude is subject to change/I’ll mess around and spit 12 at the driver side door of ya Range/6 hit you, the other 6 up in ya dame/Mafia style, leave you with ya watch and ya chain” before throwing a nod to Missy Elliot’s late 90′s hit with “So take heed that, not only can I flow, I can aim/cause y’all Misdemeanor niggas cant stand the rain”.
He then continues to spit that hard knock, Y-O shit with “Hardcore, like shit you get kicked out the yard for/Kiss ain’t the cops, but I lock niggas up” before paying homage to the longtime prison warfare tactic with “You can meet me in the cell, I soap-in-sock niggas up”. He then goes on to call out all challengers, spitting “Far as the flow go, you can let your dough show/Put your money on the table, we can battle on cable” before dropping one of my fave double entendres with “Y’all Hot Dog niggas get Nathan’s” referring to the famous brand and at the same time to wack cats that wont get any kudos from Jada anytime soon before concluding with a matter-of-factly “Fucking round with Jason, shorty from the Lox, John Blazing”.
“My stripes show like regimens, military intelligence/Murder game, I leave no evidence” is as about as strong of an opening as you could hope for from an MC, but that’s just child’s play when it comes to a poet the caliber of one Nasir Jones. He then goes into vivid fictionary story telling mode with “Go ask my Pre-School, even go talk to my old principal/ He’ll tell you how I used to packed a #2 pencil/Stabbing Students, grabbing teachers, catholic preachers/In the school staircase cutting class, passing my reefer”. The next line applies to many people of color’s experience with an education system stacked against us with the simple, yet effective couplet “Emoji class, operation return/They tried to say “I was incompetent, not able to learn”.
He then revels in his growing status in the game for a sec while throwing a nod to the classic mid 90′s film Dead Presidents (starring Larenz Tate, Chris Tucker, etc) with “The tables turned now, got my own label, I earn/Like the nigga said in Dead Presidents said, money to burn” before getting back to the script with “Queensbridge, pay homage, respect, Nas is a vet/Acknowledge the rep, polished baguettes, niggas is ‘this and that’, I just the best”. He then drops a few jewels in typical Nas fashion with “Putting all violence to rest/between Latin King and Blood lets ?/Blood and Spanish, so many thugs vanish, unite the system/The fight within the street wisdom, to help teach the prison”.
1. Big Pun
Pun won this one by a SLIM decision, as Nas’ verse was flawless in it’s own right, but Pun took this one off of wow factor alone. Even his opening bars were nothing but laid back, pure confidence, like he knew he already took the show before it even started spitting “My crew puff lye, anyone test the Pun must die/Just give me one try, now you know you done fucked up right?”. He continues to toy with the beat for a few more bars before getting in rare form with black belt lyricism such as “Grand imperial, college material, insane criminal/The same nigga that’s known to blow out your brain mineral”. He then goes on to son many so called “lyricists” with “I rhyme subliminal inside the visual/Try to supply your physical with my spiritual side of this lyrical” displaying he can kick that high science if needed, but would rather embarrass other MC’s for the hell of it.
He then proceeds to kick one of the illest punchlines of all time with the legendary “I’ll appear in your dreams like Freddy (Kruger) did, no kidding you/And even if I stuttered, I would still Shh-Shh-Shit on you” literally stuttering on the track seamlessly without losing track of his flow in the process. He then continues the verbal assault with “Soon as ya chitter chatter,ya shit will shatter/I’m the kid out of the Bronx that will stomp you to death like it didn’t matter” before finishing strong with “I’m even better than before, iller metaphors/Killers bet it all on Pun, cause one verse will dead em’ all”. And lets not even mention the flow and breath control and keep in mind Pun was possibly one of the heftiest rappers in history, making this even more impressive.
So there you have it. Big Pun is crowned the winner of the 2nd edition of “Who Killed It” with Nas coming in second, and Jada taking honorable mention. If you have any suggestions or request for songs you would like me to feature for “Who Killed It?”, do so in the comments section and I will get to it as soon as possible. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next edition!
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