While jetting in between crackhouses and vacant lots, I came across LordFinesse.net, which is one of the nicer websites I’ve seen around. This guy does not play; you can stream a bunch of his old music videos and every week they put up a new tape of a live performance. The music videos are pretty great to watch – “Strictly For the Ladies” is on some serious early ’90s corny suave shit, and Finesse sounds really young. In one part there’s dialogue between him and a young woman and she tells him that she doesn’t kiss on a first date. It was a more innocent time, haha. I like the later stuff better, when his production got darker and less goofy. His work on Big L’s first album is a great example of this; so is the video for “S.K.I.T.S.” which has those Average White Band bells jangling and Finesse’s more subdued and depressed rhyming style. His voice is a bit deeper and more serious, darker and a lot more eerie. Whatever that melodic sample is, it’s shiver-enducing. The introduction in the video shows Finesse’s (sorta-dated) “Man it ain’t about the dough, man” mentality. I can’t think of many rappers these days who say “fuck the fortune I want the fame” like Finesse was back in the day.
If you go right now, the live performance is a video of Finesse and Biggie. Biggie doesn’t actually drop a verse, and most of Lord Finesse’s rapping is muffled due to poor sound recording and a lot of atmospheric noise. He gets a big cheer when he says he holds his mic with one hand and his dick with the other. Big stands there and does some crowd interaction stuff but they don’t actually show him dropping a verse. Its a pretty cool video to watch. I think maybe they were having sound problems.
I like the little sidebar on the bottom right that has “Actual Facts,” including “Lord Finesse was actually Signed to Zakia Records before being Signed to Wild Pitch” and “Lord Finesse’s DJ Skills are Just as sharp as his MC Skills.” Good to know.
Another great thing about the site is the photo gallery, which has all these great amateur photographs of Finesse with Dr. Dre, Rakim, Kid Capri, Big, Treach, Big L and the whole DITC crew. Its amazing how strong the bonds seem to have been between from all these NYC cats in the early 90s. Erick was talking in his post on the new Trick Daddy CD about how there’s this huge network of southern cats who go on each other’s records, and it was like that in NYC around this time.
Its weird visiting this site because Finesse’s career cut across that strange divide in the early 90s where all the rappers lost their innocence or something. At the beginning you have faster breakbeats, lots of horn hits and rappers accentuating vocal inflections, more naive subject matter, and then somewhere in like 93 or something – maybe it was the arrival of Wu-Tang, I donno – everyone became HARD and world-weary and the rapping style became a lot cooler, more laid back, the snare hits echoed more and the production was more minor key and percussive, less emphasis on partying breakbeats and more on tunnel-banging drums. It was like the difference between Step in the Arena (Guru is lovesick and you know the meaning of the name!) and Mass Appeal(“Suckas Need Bodyguards” cuz of “the code of the streets”) or Breaking Atoms (“and I like to hang out and hustle with my friends”) and Illmatic (“Got younger niggaz pullin’ triggers bringin fame to they name.”)
Anyway back to Lord Finesse…check his website right now, its really low-budget but its full of great content, a serious slice of musical history.
Here’s a song for y’all to check if you don’t know how dope Finesse is yet. So def you need a hearing aid with an equalizer (although I’m pretty sure this track was actually produced by Showbiz, but whatever Finesse’s verse is killin it.)
Lord Finesse, Big L – “Yes You May (Remix)”
Buy Funky Technician.
Buy Return of the Funky Man.
Buy From the Crates to the Files: Lost Sessions.
I really like that loss of innocence idea, but I think it’s kind of flawed. It’s not like G Rap was talking about sitting on the stoop eating Sno-Cones and playing stiock ball. And while he didn’t exclusively roll with that crew (he was obviously a bit older) there was a lot in-the-street, hard-nosed, closed eyes shit going on before that.
Ah yeah you’re right of course Schooly D was gangsta before gangsta etc. but I guess what I mean is more that Finesse’s generation, DITC and all them were going through a lot of development then…I guess I think of the Cold Chillin stuff as being the cats before them, and these guys were the next dudes coming up, starting out soft and then moving into more bangers.
didn’t nas brag in live at the bbq about going to hell for killin’ jesus? that’s not an innocent verse. good post otherwise.