Black Thought & Rahzel Made Us Want More With This 1994 Freestyle (Audio)
It was 1994, and The Roots had delivered their first offering via the previous year’s Organix. Released independently, it was stripped-down yet fully developed, and helped land the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania crew a place alongside artists like G. Love & Special Sauce in providing the City of Brotherly Love with a Jam-Band inspired take on Boom Bap. By early 1995, The Roots earned major-label exposure from DGC, who released the group’s sophomore LP Do You Want More?!!!??!, a bona fide Hip-Hop Jazz album which featured the masterful talents of Rahzel.
Appearing on the LP’s “Lazy Afternoon,” and “The Lesson Part 1,” Rahzel was a Philly musician whose inventive beatboxing and MCing skills perfectly fit the extemporaneous, improvisational sound that Black Thought, Questlove (who was still stylizing it ?uestlove then), et al were creating at the time. But it’s his appearance on “? vs. Rahzel” that really showcases Rahzel’s ingenuity. Five years before he would release Make the Music 2000 (a title which likely serves as a nod to famed beatboxing talent Biz Markie’s 1986 record “Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz”), the album which houses his signature record “If Your Mother Only Knew,” Rahzel partook in a tête-à-tête with not only ?uesto but also himself. Incorporating his beatboxing while simultaneously speaking, Rahzel became a standout feature of Do You Want More?!!!??! and was on hand for media appearances and interviews as a full-fledged member of the Square Roots.
In ’94, Berkely, California’s 90.7FM KALX radio station was home to Oliver Wang’s weekly Sunday afternoon program. Also known as O-Dub, Wang started his journalism career that same year, and has been documenting Hip-Hop for publications like Wax Poetics and Vibe. By complete chance, as Wang describes on his Soul-Sides blog, he “inherited” Black Thought, ?uest, and Rahzel as guests on his still fledgling program thanks to their being late for their appearance on KALX’s morning show. The Roots Crew had performed their first San Francisco show the night prior, which Wang attended and calls “one of my top 3 live shows ever.”
With his unexpected opportunity, Wang was able to snag a freestyle from the two, which Heads can peep. In it, Rahzel (who calls himself Godfather Noise) kicks things off, lacing an early-20s Thought with a beatboxed platform on which the young MC delivers the kind of bars that make him one of the greatest to ever do it. “Mr. Black Thought is doin’ tours all across your nation/In your record store, you can pick up/the record called Do You Want More?!!!??!/Do you front? Neva, my style’s cleva/Well put together, aye yo, I’m butta like leather jackets/MCs wanna step but couldn’t hack it/I get ultra like magnetic, your Rap style’s pathetic,” he spits, off the dome.