Song 254: Blackalicious, “A To G” (2000)

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Nia is such a dense, substantive record that highlighting the relatively silly “A to G” is kind of misleading. But the track, on which Gift of Gab raps in alphabetical order, is just immensely satisfying.

Of all the styles of rapping—lazy, rapid-fire, behind-the-beat, etc.—Gab’s kind of flow is my favorite: he’s fast, but not the fastest, and he’s right on the beat, but he also plays with the rhythm in unexpected ways. Listen for when he stresses odd syllables, such as “con-COCT-tions.” Gab also plays with your attention, like when he starts the “D” verse with a bunch of nonsense sounds, only to follow them up with “domination don’t dignify diction.” He knows exactly what he’s doing, even when (or especially when) it doesn’t sound like it.

My only complaint is that, during the “E” verse, Gab says “Eons of energy, everyone affected.” The wrong use of affected/effected? Have you no shame, Gift of Gab? Have you no shame??

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