The list of ten artists most appealing to me included Beyonce’s Countdown, Jay-Z’s Takeover, and the classic tracks Mathematics by Mos Def, The Magic Number by De la Soul, and 1,2, Here’ What we Gon’ do with KRS One, RZA and True Master ripping up the rhyme. Of course I have to show some love for The Firm’s Affirmative Action and Talib Kweli and Dilated People’s Live on Stage due to their continually great lyricism and fast paced beats that blend beautifully. In the words of BOOMBOX site, “A clever play on words and the right flow can make any equation sound like a hip-hop quotable.”
“The Magic Number” by De la Soul is just like any other lighthearted, fun and eclectic track only the focus is on the power of the three. The fact is, it is hard to defeat the group of the three De la Soul members, Maseo (Vincent Mason), Posdnous (Kelvin Mercer), and Dave (David Jude Jolicoeur). "Three forms the soul to a positive sum/ Dance to this fix and flex every muscle/ Space can be filled if you rise like my lumber/ Advance to the tune but don't do the hustle/ Shake, rattle, roll to my magic number/ Now you may try to subtract it/ But it just won't go away/ Three times one? What is it? One, two, three/ And that's the magic number.” The lyrics though simple and easily flowing aren’t like most recent songs that over focus on the rhyme and forget that true lyricism isn’t all about the words rhyming with each other every other verse.
The last song I feel deserves mentioning is definitely not in the negative sum of the total respect deserved for this mathematical list. “Mathematics”, by Mos Def displays his talent for being able to talk about and reflect on things that many are a part of but do not know how to communicate. Def effortlessly talks about social ills while keeping with the theme of the track. “Yo, it's one universal law but two sides to every story/ Three strikes and you be in for life, mandatory/ Four MC's murdered in the last four years/ I ain't tryin' to be the fifth one, the millennium is here/ Yo, it's 6 million ways to die, from the seven deadly thrills/ Eight-year-olds gettin' found with 9 mills/ It's 10PM, where your seeds at? What's the deal.”This line from the extremely well written and performed track isn’t as much of an equation or reference to geometry as it is a simple countdown in which he describes the negatives of ghetto life and his avoidance of being consumed by the fame he has received over the years through his rap career.
All in all the use of equations, geometric note and just plain numbers to discuss things far more complex than one plus one equals two makes these artists that much further from today’s artists that can only repeat what has already been said and continue to make it even more cliché.