Mos Def – “Champion Requiem”
(Click On Art Work Above To Play Your Part In This Hip Hop Culture)
Sidebar: The art work for this album was stupid! And by “stupid” I mean dope. And by “dope” I mean fresh. And by “fresh” I mean creatively stupendous.
I remember this session like it was yesterday. The day before this session I was informed (thru the grapevine) that Mos’ was putting the finishing touches on his next album. What?!!?!? I didn’t even know he had been back in the lab at all; no one informed* me.1 So I made a few phone calls to find out which studio he was working out of. If memory serves me correctly, he either recorded the majority or mixed the majority of his album in Florida with m’man DURO. Fortunately for me, I caught wind that he booked a little bit of time at The Cutting Room Studio (NYC) just to do some touch up vocals & what have you. Oh you have? Good! Me too. I get my beat CD together & ‘make tracks’2… Get it?
So Mos’ was notified that I was there & the studio let me in. So I chop it up with Mos’ a bit just catching up. Then… Time to get down to business: “Man… So where you at with your album right now Mos’?” I ask. He was telling me that he’s pretty much done with it & was just there to re-do some singing parts & lay some adlibs on a couple of songs. I then started to cry (on the inside). I told him I wanted him to hear a few beats I’d been working on. He was like, “Cool. Let me just finish these few parts first.” Now now I’m there watching him do his magic while getting a sneak peek of the album.
So Mos’ finishes. I’m praying that there’s no instruments in the studio at this point because, if anybody reading this knows Mos’ or has had the absolute pleasure/privilege to be in the studio with him while he’s at work, then you already KNOW what happens if there’s ANY instrument just lying around in the studio with Mos’. Mos Def instantly becomes an unofficial member of The Legendary Roots Crew. Bass, piano, xylophone… guitar, squeezebox… a pair of muh’f*ckin’ SPOONS… whatEVER! Mos’ will play that sh*t for a minimum of 2 hours straight. Oh & don’t let there be a drum set in the studio. You might not be able to make eye contact with dude. If there was a Japanese kyoto in the room & Mos never saw one before in his life he won’t leave the studio until he’s mastered the instrument; he’s pretty amazing like that.
Think I’m over exaggerating? Well here’s your proof in the pudding… Bill Cosby:
So, thankfully, there were NO instruments in the room.3 So Mos’ is focused (even though I had to remind him that I brought beats with me… & that I was there.) So now the spotlight’s mine. I take center stage (even though there were only 3 of us in the room: Me, Mos’ & our boy Supastar Dave Dar). So I put my CD on. What would become “Champion Requiem” is the very first beat out of the 10+ beats I burned to disk. When I first played it, they were playing on the NS-10 monitors. Mos’ stops the beat & asks for it to be played, “on top” (meaning the big speakers… which I like to refer to as ‘the big boys’). So now it’s up top & Mos’ cranks it to maximum volume. I hadn’t heard this particular beat this loud before. I was having a Steve Urkel moment: “Did I do that?” This sh*t BANG’D! Holy sh*t! The beat sounded really crazy (in my own humble opinion of course). Apparently Mos’ (& Dave Dar) agreed. Mos’ went into his head & started whispering to himself. He had that ‘crazy look’ in his eyes again. It’s kind of like a glazed-looking empty stare. Again, those who know him well & his studio prowess knows exactly what this look means: Caution! – Ingenuity Taking Place.
So Mos’ stops the beat & asks Dave Dar (you can’t say this dude’s name without saying his last name, I swear) to burn it in the computer. Once done, Mos goes into the booth. Now… I kid you not & you could hit up Dave Dar (see?) on Twitter & ask him yourself… Everything you hear or will hear once you cop this song, was done in ONE TAKE!!! He said his piece in the top of the song & just started rapping & didn’t stop. Never ran out of breath. Never asked to punch anything in. One straight take & it was obviously a keeper. *insert mouth drop here* (oh yeah… *pause*)
Now, I have to admit I was a bit concerned that Mos’ didn’t adhere to my song format with my calculated verse/chorus sections broken down into 16′s & 8 bar sections. I was afraid that he was going to make this some type of mixtape song being that he didn’t stick to the traditional song format. But, then again, who was I kiddin’? There’s nothing really “traditional” about Mos Def including his approach to this culture of hip hop, which he has clearly made an outstanding mark for himself. So, that being said, my mind was at ease about this placement actually happening… Which it did. *duh* Now if only “That Dude” ft. Foxy Brown which I produced made the US version of the album as well. That’s an entirely different blog post though. Stick around for that one kiddies. Until then… Please show your support & cop this album if you haven’t already & ENJOY! It’s dope!
- Lesson #1: Don’t expect to be ‘put on’ just because. You still got have to work & hustle even IF you’re friends with people in this business. (Okay… Jewel dropping: check)
- My double entendre game is pretty on point.
- I had taken the liberty of removing all plastic spoons from the room which came from food delivery. I’s smart.
- “Mighty Mos Def style’s fresh like baby breath” Ultimate thanks for helping to make me significant in this industry.
- Supastar Dave Dar thanks for being… The INFORMANT*!
Post Script: Just my 2¢ but uh… Mos kill’t that performance on Letterman. Man… *kudos* Also, come to think of it, Mos’ didn’t listen to the other 9+ beats I brought with me that night. Ahhh… the possibilities are endless. *sigh*