Malice & Pusha T (photo courtesy of TheSource)

“…Malice he think he hard, tough guy of the clique. and Pusha? he walk around like he swear he the shit. you right on both counts, bitch, Clipse is US.”

There are often moments you never forget, especially when they involve the universal language; music. Then there comes those moments that change your life to the point that they become a part of you as opposed to just a part of the story. “Lord Willin” was one of those moments for me.

First and foremost, the amount of carpel tunnel and permanently bruised knuckles as a result of recreating the “Grindin” beat has to be staggering. That song not only changed each and every lunch period, it changed hip hop forever. The content being pushed by the Thornton brothers was just as hard as the production itself. The video, with throwback Squires and Kings jerseys during the height of the Mitchell & Ness craze made it an instant classic. Not to mention the PeeWee Kirkland cameo as Pusha delivers the legendary “legend in two games like I’m PeeWee Kirkland” bar.

My grind about family never been about fame, on days I wasn’t able; there was always caine.” In one of the most creative Cain and Abel play on words, Malice illustrates how cocaine was always there as a safety net if he was ever in need of monetary gain.

Virginia“, from the very first time I heard it, made me feel as if I could see Virginia soil with my own eyes from Detroit. The imagery in lines like “ironic, the same place I’m making figures at. that there’s the same place they use to hang niggas at.” shows how far we’ve come as people, and how much further Malice had to go personally. We all miss Shampoo, and his grams too, to this day because of the conviction in Pusha’s voice as he reminisced over a fallen friend and obvious hood legend.

Virginia’s for lovers, but trust there’s hate here; for out of towners who think that they gon move weight here.”

Clipse (photo by Shane Nash)

I’m Not You” f/ Styles P. & Jadakiss is in contention for all time greatness talk as it pertains to Hip Hop particularly. From the brilliant “no no noooo. I told you, I live this shit. I ain’t just up here rappin and tappin. spittin and skittin and shit. Naw. Uhn uhn. Not me, I’m not you. I’m not you, rapper. I’m not you.” intro, to Kiss saying “probably think I won’t murder you the way I smile, but ima take a lot of shots A.I. style.”; this is excellence. Throughout the entire album you get the sense that one-day Malice wants to wash his hands of the same game that once was a way of life, but none more than this verse:

rappers is talking to me as if…we in the same boat. I tell them quick, NO, I move coke. And you and I don’t share no common bond, so forgive me if I don’t receive you with open arms. It shames me to no end, to feed poison to those who could very well be my kin. But where there’s demand, someone will supply. So I feed them their needs; at the same time cry. Yes, it pains me to see them need this. All of em lost souls, and I’m their Jesus. Deepest regret and sympathy to the streets. I seen em pay for their fix when their kids couldn’t eat. (the “so sorry” in the background is so heartfelt). With this in mind, I still didn’t quit; and that’s how I know that I ain’t shit. My heart bleed, but that’s aside from the fact I live for my kids and theirs and them youngins after that.”

Not only is it one of my favorite verses of all time, but it illustrates the effects drugs have on both sides of the transaction better than I’ve ever heard before. It’s absolutely brilliant.

Fabolous on “Comedy Central” was a real moment. It remains one of his greatest, most recognizable feature verses of his career. I can still remember where I was the first time I heard that beat drop because of his verse in particular.

the government know the kid been lovin’ the dough, since I was movin’ White off the curb like shoveling snow.”

Ma, I Don’t Love Her” and “When The Last Time” absolutely captured what the early 2000s sounded like on a club level and the trials and tribulations of a drug dealer’s home life with the Mrs. in a nutshell.

All in all, “Lord Willin” has aged very gracefully and is without question a timeless Hip Hop album. It changed the way I listened to all music that followed because of the vivid pictures being painted. They spoke the language that was all too familiar when you grow up around a certain crowd, and hearing them on the radio made me feel like I was listening to family. What’s even crazier is that for every well-deserved accolade this album receives….*leans in* they only got better from here. Do yourself a favor and go revisit this classic right now as I do weekly.

15 years later, the Lord still willin. *plays “Gangsta Lean” on the way out as the credits roll*



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