Stream: 2Mex ft. Prince Po “What You Know About”
Nas’s “Where Are They Now” paid homage to the semi-obscure rappers of the late ’80s/early ’90s scene that so many of hold in great esteeem. The original song was dope enough, I thought, but Nas outdid himself and recruited a whole bunch of these veterans, ranging from Monie Love to Tito to Threat, for three remixes respectively dedicated to the ’80s, ’90s, and the west coast.1 Since then, listeners have been subjected to numerous inferior homages to hip hop’s past. Many feature annoyingly tepid and/or lyrically deficient modern day rappers stumbling over classic instrumentals as if rapping was a painful community service requirement and not their chosen art form. Other see overly earnest, allegedly skilled, self-proclaimed preservers of tradition cram too many syllables onto tracks that their more capable predecessors knew to let breathe, or flex shallow lyrics in tribute to songs noted for their poignance or radical stance.
2Mex’s “What You Know About”2 takes us away from such drudgery. Some may be inclined to dismiss the song for being too similar in concept to “Where Are They Know,” but 2Mex’s approach and execution are different enough to warrant a fair listen. The song does not attempt to explicitly recreate the sound of any particular era, nor does 2Mex confine his praise to a single scene or time, even though he emphasizes the mid to late ’90s west coast underground scene exemplified by Project Blowed and their affiliates. 2Mex simply rattles off a partial list of rappers that made music that he found enjoyable and/or inspirational, suggesting quite reasonably that they deserve to me mentioned now and again and heard by a new generation of listeners. Prince Po jumps on the track for a too-brief verse that will only inspire you to dust off the old cassettes. I cannot be angry at this. — Thun