December, Christmas left trees gift-less
Looking like Santa lifted all the kids' gifts from their wishlist
Persistent, Stan had a scheme up his sleeve
To get paid and hide away since Y2K New Year's Eve
This year's hype, the price of clothes designer Donna Karan's ice
Worth more than the one Kobe bought his wife
Times square, dressed as cops they let 'em in
Where Donna settled in, Stan had a friend at Con Edison
So 11:59 the ball dropped, ABC...Dick Clark...
When it hit 12 o'clock it went dark
Pandemonium, police pleading: "Please don't run"
Emergency lights, by 12:01 they're done
Donna there, stripped to her brassiere and underwear
Neck and ears clear as Stan and Jerry disappear
Happy New Year!

Wordsworth—from "12 Months", Mirror Music

If you watch MTV, you probably know Wordsworth from The Lyricist's Lounge Show, a sketch comedy program where the sketches were rapped in rapid-fire New York style (my guess is that the show didn't last because listeners who were not used to the best lyrical rap just couldn't follow quickly enough). My favorite LL skits include Mos Def's political debate with Master Fuol ("Fuoliani"), the one with the thug trying to convince St. Peter to let him into heaven (I forget who played the parts now), and the one with Wordsworth trying to rap Mos Def out of a suicide bid on a supposed high-rise ledge.

Wordsworth uses his B.A. in English (from Rutgers University) to full effect, but he puts a very hard-core battle-rap edge on his articulate flows, and it's all quite well polished on Mirror Music. It's almost a no-FF record (meaning that I'm not tempted to skip any tracks), and coming close to that status is very impressive for any record. "12 Months" is my favorite, though. W shows off his very tight story- telling in this yarn of two broke kids who try out bottom-of-barrel jobs, and then take up petty theft, and finally pull off a big robbery of Mrs. DKNY. Probably nothing kids would be assigned to listen to at Sunday school, but, hey, entertainment is rarely much for morality. The point is the writing: past-paced, and yet with enough detail to paint a vivid picture, with clever little touches such as the mention of Y2K, which suggests that the New Year's gala attendees would have assumed the blackout was the result of the infamous bug, rather than a pair of stick up kids and their accomplice at the electric company.

If you're the sort that cares about music reviews, you'll find that I'm not the only one loving Mirror Music. On Amazon it nabs 5 stars over 13 reviews. See also (1 2).

Lest I forget to mention W's superlative record of guest spots on other records, check out the lyrics to W's part in “Twice Inna Lifetime” on Blackstar:

“Yo, we fortified live, supporting allies
The wack is trying to shorten our lives, it sorta waters my eyes
But here is something the crying talk about
The verse on that cassette you and cousin fought about
That led to God and Satan's falling out
Encourage the liquor for those who ain't here that you pouring out
On 3-way, your parents, preacher and spouse called my house
Revive or ruin, my theories of mics
Sony or Aiwa, black or white, I fit in all stereotypes
Search for a cast to plot, I make you a laughing stock
So shook, I could walk a half a block and feel the aftershocks
Rain of acid drops, seek some help
Now don't rewind, get it the first time,
Shouldn't have to repeat myself
Eternally verbally, I have numbers, succumb to time outs
In rhyme bouts you'll dial 9, just to get a line out
Known fact or factors and non-rappers fractured
Results in more cast appearances than a hundred actors
Emcees I'm testing like diseases injected in gerbils
Wordsworth, Kweli, Hi-Tek, Reflection Eternal..what...

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia