Lyricist Lounge

'Lyricist Lounge, Volume 1' Turns 25

'Lyricist Lounge, Volume 1' Turns 25

Published Fri, May 5, 2023 at 3:30 PM EDT

In May 1998, Rawkus Records released the Lyricist Lounge, Volume 1 compilation which featured De La Soul, OC, Wordsworth, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, Kool Keith and a host of others.

The double disc set was inspired by New York's Lyricist Lounge open mic Hip-Hop showcases, which were started by Danny Castro and Anthony Marshall. The lead single from the compilation was "Body Rock" by Mos Def featuring Q-Tip and Tash of the Alkaholiks. The Shawn J Period produced "Body Rock" featured a jazzy instrumentation over a snappy boom bap drum pattern. Mos Def Tash and Tip pass the mic back and forth flawlessly with a hook inspired by "Rappin Blow" Kurtis Blow. "Body Rock" was accompanied by the b side cut, "Manifesto" by Talib Kweli, which was literally a manifesto on the direction that Kweli wanted Hip-Hop to go in.

The second and last single from Lyricist Lounge Volume 1 was "CIA (Criminals In Action)" featuring The Last Emperor,Zack De La Rocha and KRS-ONE. The slow-tempo track produced by Keith Horne speaks to the criminal activities of the government's Central Intelligence Agency with the hook lifted from KRS' "Sound Of Da Police" — "You claim I'm sellin crack/but you be doin' that."

Other stand out songs from the project include "Be Ok" by Bahamadia and Rah Digga, "Blood" by Sarah Jones, "Da Cipher" by Punch & Words, "Action Guaranteed" by OC and Rass Kass, "Live From The DJ Stretch Armstrong Show" featuring Common, Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch and Absolute and "Jayou" by Jurassic 5.

The skits contained on the project give the listener the feeling of actually being at a venue witnessing live performances, and the subject matter of many of the songs are reflective of the backlash against commercial rap and the "Shiny suit era."

Lyricist Lounge, Vol. 1 is a solid compilation featuring some of Hip-Hop's most lyrically acclaimed MCs.

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