1. I have waited since I seriously started collecting vinyl in 2005 to buy this, hoping that some label would reissue it, and here it is. I bought this on my computer at work because I flipped to find out it got reissued via Get on Down. Even when it came in the mail, I was sort of expecting it to be a hoax. I’ve waited to make a video just like this for a while. Here it is, my favorite rap album of all time.
3. Back when MTV2 first came on, they would play music videos that they wouldn’t play on regular MTV, and one morning I was getting dressed for junior year of high school, and I heard the beat for “Grindin’,” and turned around and was like, “What the fuck is this?” It became apparent to me in that moment that though I didn’t know how to pronounce the group’s name for sure, but they had just made my favorite song.
It happened to be a Friday, and it also happened to be the day I got paid from my job making pizza at a driving range/mini golf course. Right after I picked up my check, I drove straight to Target and bought Lord Willin. I put it in the CD player in my 1995 Dodge Spirit, and queued up “Grindin.” For the next 7 months (till summer) that CD was always in my car. And I always listened to “Grindin.” When I hear “Grindin” now, I have trouble separating what it sounds like on a proper stereo on vinyl and what it sounded like through the 4 speakers in my rattling Dodge Spirit.
If you want to trace back to when I fell in love with music, and hip-hop more specifically, that was it.
4. I think it took a month before I even bothered listening to the whole album. I think it’s a good thing a 16-year-old me didn’t have Rap Genius; I had to figure out what “attack the chocha” meant on my own.
5. My best friend Matt can rap the entirety of “Grindin’” owing to the fact that I drove him around everywhere in 2002-2003. So, needless to say, I did it at karaoke a month ago, and I spent a lot of time doing Rap Squats while I was rapping because I know all the words. I think only one person in the whole bar even knew the song.
6. When I was 15 through 17, I had the very cliche radical politics phase that most people have as college sophomores. For me, this meant reading Howard Zinn all the time, and I read Che Guevara’s Guerrilla Warfare and did multiple papers about it. I wore two different Che Guevara T-shirts. It was cool because I was the only person in my high school that could pull Camilo Cienfuegos out of a lineup, teachers included. But it was uncool in that I was alone in this radicalism; my friend Nick was reading Thomas Paine all the time, but he was too concerned with trying to get a date for prom—which was 2 years away at this point—to join me in wanting to talk about being leftist as a 16-year-old. I felt alone, basically. Which is I think part of being a teen.
So imagine a 16-year-old me, wearing a Che T-shirt, and reading People’s History of the United States in my bedroom and hearing Pusha T say “I’m a rebel like Che Guevara.” He’s one of my favorite rappers of all time solely because of that; the fact that he makes great music is gravy on top.
7. I played drums in band for seven years, including six in the marching band. Because I was only OK as a drummer, and because I feared public failure, I played bass drum all six years. While this was pretty lame most years, during drum rehearsals for the 2003 Memorial Day parade, me and the lone black kid in all of band, Brie Foston, spent most of our time playing a double bass drum version of “Grindin” instead of what we were supposed to be playing. We got threatened with detention—we would deploy “Grindin” during points when our teacher would want total attention and want us to play our right parts—but it was a case of friendship and rebellion. He couldn’t believe I would know the song, and I couldn’t believe that I had found the only person I knew on earth who had heard “Grindin” and loved it as much as I did. I saw him the last time 4 years ago when I was home in Oshkosh, and we banged out “Grindin’” on a bar counter.
8. It’s a well known fact amongst my close friends that I can’t resist the urge to rap every word to “Grindin’” when I am drunk if someone puts it on. So, after Taste of Madison two and a half years ago, Matt put “Grindin” on our TV when I was drunk, and proceeded to tape me gliding around our living room dancing to it. I didn’t realize he put it up on YouTube till the next morning, and I vaguely remembered them taping me. To date, it’s still the only YouTube video of me that I know exists.
9. Because Clipse spent most of my concert going years in label limbo, I never got to see them live. But last May, my friend Joel and I drove to see Pusha middle a bill that featured Lil Durk as the opener and Fabolous as the closer. Thankfully, Pusha did every Clipse song you’d want to hear, namely “Grindin’” and “When the Last Time.” I think I texted Matt that I could die happy; I had seen “Grindin’” live. I still feel that way.