A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Welcome to our series highlighting the music we have here at Thomas Ford Memorial Library. Each week of 2013 we will discuss one of our favorite songs from the collection. Classical or Country, Hip-Hop or Heavy Metal, we’ll be blogging for every taste.
Back in the late 80’s Rakim took brag rap to it’s greatest heights—and it’s not just because he could be vicious about other rappers when he needed to be, nor is it just that he could be self-aggrandizing on a level previously only known to third-world dictators—it’s because he could tell you a story at the same time, and then weave clever thematic elements into his lyrics too. What you end up with is not just all the thrills of a rapper spitting insults and brags, but a coherent, often compelling lyric as well.
“Lyrics of Fury” is my favorite. It doesn’t show off his storytelling ability quite like “Know the Ledge” or “In the Ghetto” but it has an extra dose of venom that makes it perfection in my book. It also taps into my own personal taste in film. You see, challenging Rakim on the mic is like stepping into a horror movie. Rakim not only makes the right references, he sets the scene perfectly too:
But don’t be afraid of the dark, in a park
Not a scream or a cry, or a bark, more like a spark
You tremble like an alcoholic, muscles tighten up
What’s that? Lighten up, you see a sight but…
Suddenly you feel like your in a horror flick
You grab your heart then wish for tomorrow quick
Music’s the clue, when I come your warned
Apocalypse now, when I’m done, you’re gone
OK, OK, so the Apocalypse Now reference might be just a little out of place in a song that otherwise references Death Wish, Nightmare on Elm Street, Firday the Thirteenth, and Faces of Death, but the “Music’s the clue” line makes up for that, and there are very few rappers who would take the time to create the atmosphere Rakim does here.
All this would be moot if Rakim’s voice and Eric B.’s DJing weren’t just as mean as the lyrics. But Eric B.’s beat is raw and raucous: a reverb laden “Funky Drummer” sample paired with some distorted guitars and an occasional burst of dissonant, squealing horns. And Rakim’s voice… Well, just check out the CD and take a listen. I’m sure you’ll be convinced he’s just as furious as he claims.
Review by Matthew