428: Deuce and a Quarter

Goldnigga (1993)
I seem to be rattling through the Goldnigga tracks at a rate of knots in these lower registers of the list but don’t underestimate the warmth held in my heart for them. I once heard somebody say that songs were a puzzle and had a hold over you until you solve them. Overexposure in my youth makes most of Goldnigga feel solved, causing its songs to fall behind ones that still have hidden corners and untapped reservoirs of provocation. But there’s no denying the quality, especially as in 1993, the year The Roots’ first album dropped, live musician-led hip-hop was a bold new construct and sounded subtly subversive. Like Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, this album has become an old friend that I have huge respect for despite not having contacted for years. Germinating from Call the Law and sharing a similar bassline, Deuce and a Quarter (the nickname for a Buick Electra 225 – the car on the CD’s back cover) is a mellow, summer earworm with a chorus so catchy it gets reprised again on the album in the middle of Johnny. It’s also in my opinion Tony M’s finest moment – the unhurried pace and lips-close-to-the-mic throaty timbre suiting him much more than his frantic crowd gee-upping. Confident and unfazed by the musicians downing tools for several beats to throw him off, he rides over the punched holes of silence like that quick brown fox leaping over the lazy dog. I could gush over the horns on this track but as he’s not often shown much love I’m leaving this as a Tony M showreel.