Nas, Ice Cube, Jadakiss, T.I. & Bun B Teamed Up For A Hip-Hop Grand Finale (Audio)
In 2004, Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz released their fifth and final album, Crunk Juice, which featured a host of Rap’s elite. Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Pharrell, Ludacris, and Suga Free all made appearances, as did 8Ball & MJG, Gangsta Boo, Jazze Pha, Lil Scrappy, Usher, R. Kelly, Chris Rock, and others. Buoyed by its four singles, “What U Gon Do,” “Real N**** Roll Call,” “Lovers and Friends,” and “Get Crunk,” the LP closed with a nearly seven-minute monster in the form of “Grand Finale.” Featuring Bun B, Jadakiss, T.I., Nas, and Ice Cube, there is no hook, allowing each guest the time and space to get busy.
Each of the rappers is a legend in his respective way, and all put forth memorable bars for the patchwork posse cut. Bun B starts things off with rhymes about the drug hustle: “We yayo experts, we been whippin’ the yola since the crackas decided to take the coke from Coca-Cola.” Up next is Jadakiss, whose street-savvy mentality is a fitting follow-up to the verse preceding his, and he flaunts the luxuries it has afforded him (“Try to figure me out dawg, I’m light but I’m heavy/Yellow lemonheads in the bezzie of the presi'”). Tip plays center field on the song, and uses the middle ground to deliver a verse longer than B and Jada, and that’s when the show really starts. Addressing a weaker man and lesser rapper, T.I. shows out and drops plenty of barbs, including the particularly memorable insult “At your funeral, just your parents and the preacher was there/Hollow television name-dropper reachin’ for help.”
Arguably, the song’s biggest names are Nas and Ice Cube, so it’s fitting they are up to bat last (and second-to-last). Unsurprisingly, Nasir elevates the song to a higher conceptual level, managing to mention Ancient Egypt and Billy Dee Williams in his opening. “Who besides the Egyptian-walker, fuckers have a conniption/My existence persistent to bring foes misfortune/I dazzle ’em, like the alderman, Billy Dee in Mahogany, minus the perm/From the tiniest sperm that the mightiest The Almighty can muster/Project prophet, chronic blockage gives Alzheimer’s to youngsters,” he brilliantly spits.
But it’s Ice Cube who delivers the proverbial mic drop in the form of his aggressive verse, which opens with “Who the fuck is that? It’s Ice Cube motherfucka/He’s a maniac, no I’ma fool motherfucka/Old school motherfucka, blow through a motherfucka/What you heard about a n**** so true motherfucka!” By the time it’s all over, he’s mentioned the murder attempt against 50 Cent, the braggadocious nature of Terrell Owens, Kobe Bryant’s rape trial, and he closes it all out with “that’s my report comin’ straight from Cali,
Ice Cube is the shit on this motherfuckin’ grand finale” (a nod to his appearance on the original “Grand Finale,” by The D.O.C.
Crunk Juice would go double-platinum, but it also capped Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz’s early 2000s domination. The Atlanta crew would dissolve shortly after the album’s release, ending a career that began in 1997. But as “Grand Finale” proves, sometimes it’s best to go out while you’re on top.