"What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rakim"
Listen to El Keter
"By now you should have already heard "Classic ( Better Than I've Ever Been )," the DJ Premier produced collaboration between Rakim, Kanye West, Nas and KRS-One, recorded to honor the anniversary of the Nike AF1. You might not have seen the video though. So check it out.
"Classic (Better Than I've Ever Been DJ Premier Remix)" featuring Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rakim
The video actually improves on the track a lot in my estimation. The whole concept, with Primo putting the beat together, and the inter-spliced acapella sections just add something. You can also watch it in streaming Real Media and Windows Media formats as well.
More importantly, you can win one of four vinyl copies of the "Classic" 12'' single from us right here on Okayplayer! Reply to this oost with what you think makes a song a classic, or instant classic. The 4 answers we like the most win!
One lucky winner will also receive an AF1 poster (with lyrics) signed by Kanye West.
contest ends this Sunday March 31 and the winners will be announced Monday April 1
1. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-O..." In response to Reply # 0 Mon Mar-26-07 08:52 PM by NYyankz225
What makes a perfect song? I'm more interested in what makes a perfect album because most hip hop artists are trying to make the next big single rather than a great album. Fortunately The Roots don't have that problem.
But for this discussion I'll try to stick what makes an individual song a class. To me, it's got to have some sort of impact or lasting impression. That's essential. That impact doesn't have to necessarily be an in your face message like "Fight The Power" (although it works in that case) because there are plenty of imitators who have been forgotten. It doesn't have to be the greatest lyrics ever put on wax (Canibus might be a technically skilled rapper but I'm lucky if I can stay awake to hear it). It has to be...memorable. Like Rakim said, a classic song is a timeless song and it needs to have this impact so that it's remembered. Because of this, it is a very individual idea. What may impact one person may not impact another.
To use the artists in this song, all of them had a large impact on me personally, but even moreso on the general scheme of things in hip hop. They've all been imitated, they've all been copied. Rakim is the foundation of what rappers are doing today. Nas upped what he did to make beautiful street poetry. KRS...continues to speak complete and utter nonsense. Kanye defies all the rules of physics as his head continues to swell to unbelievable levels. I'm sorry about those last two...I'm not the biggest fans.
But in all seriousness it's always been a difficult thing to judge for me. It's not about having the absolute greatest lyrics or the best produced track. This song, "Classic" will never be a classic to me. Even though it has the dream team of artists on it I won't ever consider it a classic. There is more to it than that. It's almost indescribable. T.R.O.Y. is the culmination of some AMAZING production in hip hop with some tight lyrics, but there's some intangible goodness that makes it THE greatest song of all time for me (...as I said this is all subjective). Is it the premier showcase of lyricism? No. Is it the best produced song? ... actually it might arguably be so (damn, doesn't help my argument!). But together, somehow it has this indescribable impact that will be permanantly imprinted in my brain and makes it my favorite track of all time (?uest you need to do a version of this song when you play live now).
...after all that, the answer is obviously...I have no idea. Maybe someone older and wiser (?uest?) can explain exactly what this "indescribable" impact actually is. Frankly I don't care...as long as I can continue to get that undescribable feeling every few years or so when I hear something that just blows me away, I don't care what the hell that thing actually is. In fact it might even be worse to know it, it might take the enjoyment out of it. That's the one fear I have had when deciding whether to pursue some sort of musical career; will it lose that magic if you are actively trying to achieve this so called "classic"-ness? Sometimes artists become so wrapped up in this goal that they can never achieve it. NaS is a great example. Hip Hop is Dead is easily his greatest achievement since Illmatic because he finally stopped trying to recreate Illmatic. He finally got some proper motivation even though it had to take the demise of hip hop to do that.
I think I'm done. I just got this...indescribable urge to sit back and listen to TROY for the rest of the night. Peace.
4. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
timeless lyrics and the vague type of storytelling that makes you want to say- what were they talking about? this lends itself to more of your own interpretations and can mean any number of things depending on yer emotion during your most recent listen to the track. ofcourse you need good music, any style will do. if it doesnt move you how can it take you anywhere. other then that get a smooth voice(s) and throw in atleast one postive phrase so no matter what yer thinking about during the song, if its negative, you feel a sense of impowerment, to help the soul a lil bit. no matter what gotta have soul.
"Its just me and tariq with ahmir on the beat" - mos def
5. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
What makes a song classic?
The single most thing that makes a song classic to me is that "feeling" you get when you hear the song years later. Kinda like a good memeory it always takes you back and allows you think and fall into that good space. No matter what is going aorund you, hearing that opening horn, voice, note, drum, scream whatever it may be takes you into another place and allows you to escape for 2 minutes.
--------------------------------- <----DAMN! Straddling the Line Between Genius and Insanity
6. ""this hip hop shit ain't that hard man." (c)Tay" In response to Reply # 0
dope beats, dope rhymes, a good hook.
the beats, whether looped (East Flatbush Project - Tried By 12) or not (The Pharcyde - Runnin'), should be something you can guess on Name That Tune in 3 notes or less.
the rhymes don't have to be hip-hop quotable line for line, but at least have lines that people can't forget: "i came in the door, i said it before..." (c)Rakim; "i met this girl when i was 10 years old..." (c)Com Sense.
the hook, whether sung (The Fugess - Fu-gee-la, The Roots - What They Do) or not(ATCQ - Bonita Applebaum) MUST be something people can't get outta they head.
i guess the word here is MEMORABLE. shit that's timeless. one of the three parts being a masterpiece won't cut it. each of the three must contribute for the song as a whole to be classic.
9. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 8
A classic song is whats special to you.. not necessarly the masses. A perticular event/moment in time that takes you back. Whenever the song resounds in your head from the moment you first hear it until your god knows how old... each time you hear it the memories flood back... Who cares if it got to #1 or the source didnt like it... if it means something to you then thats all that matters
10. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
Forever stay Fly. Relevant. For music its whenever you hear it, it be album or song, you listen. Not because it reminds you of of a particular time, its because you dont want to miss it, afraid it might be the last time you hear it. And that will suck. There are few albums that can claim the title of a classic. Fifteeen, maybe twenty. Some you have slept on. Only Built For Cuban Linx, anyone? Ever heard a song on the radio, and you crank it up even though you have the cd right there?! As for gear, its the fact that you can still rock it today the same way, same way, you did in 1984. The Wheat Nubuck Timbs. All White AF1. Adidad Tracks.
Yo I'm tryin to make a dollar out of what makes sense Add it up, told my daddy I'd be a rich man
11. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
a classic is that song that u never get sick of hearing, and u always hear something new in. Its that song that may not have gotten much air play, but then years later u hear it on the radio and its the best thing they've played all day. A classic brings you to that one point in time, or that one mood, when u first heard it. A classic is that song, that even when u hear just a line from it in passing, u have to go home and listen to the whole thing. A classic gets your head nodding even when ur not paying attention to the music. A classic is the song u play for your kids and friends and know they'll like, but don't care if they don't cause u know its dope. A classic is timeless.
15. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
What makes a song classic? Well that's kinda tough. Rarely ever does a true classic gets noticed in its own time. An example of this would be Marvin Gaye's music. He was to his time as Nas was/is to his time. Yeah they made good music during their period but people doubted whether or not they could keep going and stay relevent with the times. They did but, one has transcened his era to inspire future generations and the other has questioned the relevence of the music he creates, which will undoubtly have a profound effect those in the current era......
To me something classic effects and directs; nothing more, nothing less. ____________________________ The Destruction of All Homosapiens
22. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
Classic. A word misused over and over to describe a feeling one gets after listening to an album/song for the first time. We get so caught up in who made the track, who is rappin/singing, who is the guest artist and whatever emotional feelings we just happen to have at that time. We rock our heads, stomp ou feet and wave our arms shouting "Classic!" "damn its a classic" "he/she dunn it again". We let our expectations of the artists previous work, our belief in what is hot at the time, what the weather is like, even what kind of system we hear it on determine what is classic. A true classic album/song is one that can reach many different types of people and have an effect on them the first time and every time. It is that cd that you can't take out of your car for 3 months until you know every word, every chorus even every cymbol crash. You finally take it out and put in a new one and wait for that same feeling but it never come. You know not all art is going to move you the same but you feel if it doesnt then why bother. The classic is hard to find but when you do you will have a friend forever. You can put that cd in your ride 20 years later and get that same feeling. We like the word classic and we like to think our favorite artist puts out nothing but classics, but in reality we all know what the classics are and we praise them everyday. Be it a new artist trying to envoke that same feeling by reusing a classic sample or simply redoing the same song, or just a 40 year old dude humming a wu track, we respect the classic. Respect the classics and listen with your heart for the new classics.
23. "Makings of a classic song..." In response to Reply # 0
Of course, replay value is key. You wanna be able to look back 10,20, even 30 years from now, blow the dust off your 12" or CDS, sit you kids down for some quality time, and just jam. In fact, skip the "blowing the dust off" part. If a song really is a classic, you probably be throwing that song on whenever you can.
Besides that, the production has to be simple (not too simple, not too layered), infectuous, and it has to get the body moving. Whether the artist is using an MPC, drum machine, synthesizers, live instrumentation, or some old paint cans from the garage, it all has to mesh together and create a timeless melody that artists from many generations to come are going to look back on, admire, and use as a model for their songs.
If vocals and samples are being used, make sure the go with the concept of the song and aren't just thrown in the song because you love that song or think it'll make it a hit. A classic song can be a hit song, but don't let that be the origin of where this song is born. The lyrics should fit the song. They should gracefully dance alongside the production, never missing a step. If one partner falls, the other may fall on top of him or her and you've turned the song into a mess. Lyrics also shouldn't be too simple, but not overly complex or metaphorical. Otherwise, the listeners will focus more on what the hell you're saying and miss how well the vocals and lyrics compliment the song. You can't have one dance partner doing windmills on a flattened cardboard box and the other looking nervous and ending up doing "The Twist."
The sum of this all is a song for the ages.
"Jesus died at age 33. But what he didn't do is forget his niggas." (c) Sir Bumpy of Knuckles
25. "DEFINITION OF A CLASSIC" In response to Reply # 0
Okay what makes a classic (IMO) is;
A classic song can be referenced by an individual ( or a group of indivuals) so that they can re-live the moment of when they first heard the song.
eg. from one year to 20 years upon hearing a song that person or persons can remember what they were doing( major event ie. 9/11, MLK shot, etc.), what they were eating, what they were wearing (you get the idea)
_______________________________________ http://www.myspace.com/junyar ______________________________ "...winter days more likely that you notice heat/when im gone more likely that you notice me" Gift of Gab
26. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
A classic is singular and unique. It is so well-crafted that the listener's affect is exactly what the songwriters, producers and performers want it to be. Music and lyrics are inextricably combined, and both are genuine and expressive.
Since "classic" is such a subjective quality, and many songs some would consider classic or not and vice-versa, I think the above are encompassing enough to apply to both "Baby Got Back" and "God Only Knows" and still hold true.
27. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
"Be the universal language that's embodying all..."
- Common, "I am Music"
A classic song isn't so much capturing a feeling, thing, or moment in time - it literally is that specific moment in time. Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" wasn't just a song about lynchings - it *is* the renaissance, the anguish, the horror, resilience, and reality of a people. The classic song is as much a part of... as it is a testament to. "Say it loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" is the voice of the black power movement. "My generation" is the 60's just as much as Jimi's rendition of the "Star Spangled" banner is the contradiction of ideals still present in our country. "Planet Rock" is literally built by the 5 pillars of hip hop. Stevie Wonder...just pick a song. Prince's "1999" is *every* new year. "Like a Virgin" is us all knowing Madonna's ass was grimy as hell. "Microphone Fiend" is the next evolution of the M.C., forever injecting flows into your mind. "The Bridge is Over" epitomizes the birth of battle rap. And then born from that tradition "The World is Yours" reminds us all of a time that somehow we'd forgotten the world was ours. B.I.G's "Juicy" is the 'come-up' anthem and Pac's "Dear Mama" is as much his story, and has a piece anyone who was in a womb can identify with (sorry test tube babies). Everytime you piss off your girl...best believe "R.E.S.P.E.C.T" is flowing through her veins and synapses. "Rebel Without a Pause" is the epitome of the rebel yell from a generation robbed of Huey, Fred, Martin, and Malcolm...and then sampled from literally and figuratively that same tradition as "Say it Loud" which sought to give a new identity to the faceless...which in itself was influenced by the realities of a young black boy, who no doubt heard whispers of "strange fruit" in rural Georgia. And there's hundreds more from Fela, Common, EPMD, NWA, MC Lyte, Jimi Hendrix, Outkast, Bob Dylan, etc... hip hop especially in its ability to reach back and like a supersonic oral tradition revive classics of the past and extend their relevance to a new generation in a slew of cuts, breaks, mixes, and samples.
A classic song is more than representing a genre, or even the artist who created it - a classic song is a moment in time brought to life through verse, lyric, rhythm, cadence; a classic song immortalizes us, itself, and everything it makes us remember.
28. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
A classic hiphop song is similar to a classic song from other genres. For example Jimi Hendrix to me is one of the best if not the greatest to ever play the guitar. He died many years ago but I will teach my children about him. His music and leagacy will forever live on, his music is truly classic.
One quality the song has to have it has to be timeless, for example tribe called quest's scenario remix sounds as hot to me right now as it did the first time I heard it. A classic song captures the time and era at which it was made without be trendy and following fads.
Another quality that gets highly over looked today in all music but espeacially hiphop is lyrical content. Myself being an MC and Poet it is very difficult to listen to wack lyrics, the lyrics have to be tight and the mc has to be saying something. Today hiphop is global and everybody is an mc but there isn't alot of people on the mic saying anything worth listening to.
Another quality is the production. It doesn't have to be overproduced it just has to be hot. Producers like Madlib, Preemo, Dr. DRE, Pete Rock, RZA and many others have a cartain quality to their beats cause they do it from the soul and they keep it original. R.I.P. one of my favorite producers J-Dilla He is the perfect example what it takes to make a classic. J- Dilla would be on that next level. While alot of the mediocre beat makers would be trying to capture his sound and his essence.
The last thing but definitely not least it has to be from the heart if your desire to make money is stronger than to make music at that end of day people can read through that.I know every record executive in the back of their mind have a time tested formula to make hits.Thats good and everything but there is too many hits out there and not enough "CLASSICS"!!
31. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
Personally I already have my copy of "Classic." I don't think it's a classic for the simple fact that Kanye West is on the record. I feel he was probably used as a connecting link to this generation of Hip Hop to promote this song and get it recognition. It's good to hear Ra, Nas, and Kris over sooo badly missed beats by Primo! Now that's Classic! I know I didn't answer you question but I just wanted to express my feelings about the song. As I stated earlier I already have my copy. Peace.
32. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
What makes a track a classic?
Its that feeling you get once the beat fades out. Me personally it is when you hear a song and instantly know it is gonna withstand the test of time. The song will touch your soul and you feel it, I mean really feel it. Mostly for me it will be something you can relate to a particular time in your life. When ever you hear that song t envokes that feeling you had when you first heard it. It doesnt happen that often but when it does you know instantly. The beat has to bring about some sort of emotion and the lyrics must do the same also.
33. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
I think there are a few things that make a song a classic. For one, I think classics never get old... the radio can't over play it, and no amount of suburban 14 year olds singing it can get to you, a classic is a classic, its timeless, its perfect in its own right. A 67 Chevelle never gets old... its a classic, it captures its little moment in time, and lives on forever, just like a great track.I also think a classic song has to either influence your thought process in someway, or just be so amazing musically or lyrically that it just moves you. I can think of few songs that do both, but if I had to, I would list Ex-factor by Lauryn, G.O.D. by Com, The Message, My Philosophy by KRS, and finally Clock With No Hands, by some group whose name i cant remember... I think its the branches or the leaves.. or something that has to do with a plant, im not really sure. =O Finally, i think for a song to be a classic, it has to have that emotion behind it, no matter what emotion it actually is, you have to be able to feel what the artist or artists are trying to say, it cant just be some bullshit made for radio track, though radio play doesnt detract from the quality of a track, or its classicness, but then again, theres a difference between a song being on the radio, and being made for the radio. So lets review... Classics A) Never get old, B) Are moving musically, lyrically or both, C) Contain and convey emotion, and finally D) Usually involve a certain afro'd fellow chillin in the cut, playin the drums.
34. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
Even if youíre a Tougher Than Leather College Dropout, a Criminal Minded Nigga 4 Life or just In Search OfÖsomeone to Doggystyle you should know that A Classic is an Illmatic Hard To Earn 3 Feet High And Rising Low End (Game) Theory that Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Back.
35. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 34
To me there are several rules to what makes a "Classic" song, or even album for that matter.
-Beats: beats are so essential to any song. Most times, it the beat that draws people in before the lyrics of a song. For me, a "classic" beat is one that either puts one in a reflective mood or gets you hype, rowdy.It either nod your head, or causes you to put that ugly face on like you just sucked a lemon. For my classic beats, I usually look to Premier, Pete Rock, Dilla, 9th wonder, the Ummah,the RZA, Kanye and Just Blaze.
-Subject matter: there's more out there to rap about outside of sex,money,drugs and murder. Be innovative. And if you're going to rap about it, please put a new spin on it. "Kick, push" and "Bird's Eye View" are newer classics that steer away from these issues.
-Hunger: Most artists put out their best work when they're trying to get on, or they're feeling thereatened-i.e. the battle rap. Look at most artists we consider great-Rakim,KRS-One,Nas,and Kanye for example. All of their best albums for the most part, were their first or the first few. Many rappers, before they got on, came from undesirable situations,-i.e. poverty-so they made a focused effort on creating the best album or songs they could.
In ref. to battle raps, they either rebirth rappers careers or destroy them. Many times they also bring the best lyrically out of rappers. MC Shan/KRS one, Ice Cube/Common, Nas/Jay-Z, all of these were examples of battles were these rappers were at their lyrical apex. And for most it gave new life to their careers, for a few-Ja Rule/50 Cent, for example-it destroyed them.
-Age: Most rappers seem to put out their best album when the first come out, mainly when they're young, primarily between the ages of 18-22. Eric B and Rakim were 19,20 when "Paid in Full" dropped. Nas was 20 when he did "Illmatic". Common was 22 when he did "Ressurection", and so was Big when he did "Ready to Die". Usually rappers are at their creative best during their youth. Exceptions to this rule are Jay-Z and Kanye-they were 26 when they dropped their debut albums.
-Story: Most "classic" songs-i.e. Bonita Applebum,T.R.O.Y, Runnin, Juicy, Paid in Full, New York State of Mind, I Used to Love Her, Elevators, etc,etc tell a story. I believe a "classic" hip-hop song should tell a story, whether it's about rags to riches, the life of a hustler, the song, told in story form, usually works best, in contrast to spittin' a bunch of unrelated metaphors.
-Lyrics: The most important, yet most overlooked area of hip-hop today. Not only should a "classic" song have a beat that invokes a certain feeling, it should have lyrics that are comparable. The problem with most songs today is that they're made for people to dance to, have sex to, get crunk to, but nothing is made for the listner anymore.
37. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
A classic is universal, timeless and comes straight from the heart. All the albums that cats have put out throughout musical history where the pure, raw necessity for expressing their personal reflection of reality is blatent in every sound wave.....thats Classic.
38. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
READY OR NOT, here is MY PHILOSOPHY on what makes a CLASSIC (so LISTEN UP):
Of course THE CHOICE IS YOURS, but IT AINíT HARD TO TELL what makes a song classic. First the artist makes you CHECK THE RHYME and ponder HOW MANY EMCEES can provide the proverbial CRITICAL BEATDOWN or make you feel like you have to PROTECT YA NECK? A classic lyric is the MOST BEAUTIFULEST THING IN THE WORLD and nothing makes you feel SO FRESH AND SO CLEAN. But SIMON SAYS there AINíT NO HALF STEPPIN on the production either, artists must always be LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT BEAT; a beat that makes you SLAM and want to JUMP AROUND and say DAAM! (but sometimes YOU GOTS TO CHILL). The sound can vary too, sometimes IT AINíT NUTHIN BUT A G THANG, sometimes it has that SOUTH BRONX feel, other times itís just COOL LIKE DAT, then again sometimes itís a CHILDRENíS STORY like PETER PIPER.
HIP HOP JUNIES know THE BEST KEPT SECRET is you can enjoy a classic with anyone; FRIENDS, your POSSEE ON BROADWAY, or even the BOYZ IN THE HOOD. A classic catches your attention anywhere and anytime, I can listen to the classics at 6 IN THE MORNING while Iím putting on MY ADIDAS. You can also recite a classic anytime, whether ON THE RADIO, or LIVE AT THE BBQ, or even while being TRIED BY 12. Although I donít enjoy a classic ONLY WHEN IíM DRUNK, it helps if Iím drinking GIN AND JUICE, or maybe smoking MAD IZM and BROWN SUGAR. Regardless of my mental state, a classic track is far from PAPER THIN, itís like a THE SYMPHONY and it makes me think I USED TO LOVE H.E.R.
Some have said TIMEíS UP for the REAL HIP-HOP, but I say SLOW DOWN, there is still TIME 4 SUM AKSION and time for some more classics.
Now that I GOTCHA OPIN, there you have it, I was ON A MISSION to find the RE-DEFINITION of a classicÖI hope you got THE MESSAGE.
44. "RE: What Makes A "Classic" Contest, win Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rak..." In response to Reply # 0
It's a spooky alchemy cooked up between a skilled DJ and sharp MC. If the DJ has the ear to catch greatness in the beats and the MC can lay down some sharp, intuitive lyrics, if all brews up right they might just have a classic on hand