Westside Gunn – Brains Flew By (1964 Version)

I was riding the Thames link train from the suburban southside of the city, up to Kentish Town on the north-west side, en-route to a gig and when this track came on I spazzed out. I was listening to Hitler Wears Hermes 6 and this track must of crept into the playlist after it finished, you how Spotify do.

https://open.spotify.com/track/7FAIbXzdXDjOccdMaTxmwz?si=wvgQ7Lk3Rum_OGqYipV7iw

I couldn’t help but start the track from the beginning about 5 times after hearing the first few lines of the first verse; so poetic, graphic and moving. Time after time I kept going back, reliving the graphic imagery in my head, admiring Westside Gunn’s unique ability to talk about Drugs, Murder and Violence so elaborately; painting the beautiful fresco murals in our imaginations.

Ayo, the graceful gun in his mouth like it’s tasteful, bricks on bricks like Rayful… Wearing gloves when we weigh up in Goyard aprons scraping yay up.

Gunn’s emotive and pensive scenes of violence are set against a cinematic backdrop of gritty drums sitting peacefully beneath a thick layer of blues and jazz samples. There’s no elaborate method to the cutting of the sample; it’s simply intricate the way they choose the perfect part and just let it ride, looped up to then become the dramatic canvas that inspires Westside to paint with his words.

Investing in a vest is a waste, my aim bad I still knocked off his face.

This is the epitome of why Rap is such a powerful form of communication. This guy directs a movie with his choice of references. In this day and age you’d be hard pressed to find Rap as hard as this in the mainstream because judging by all the triplet flows, auto tune, cookie-cutting sound-a-likes and biting of styles, you’d think Rap and Hip Hop culture as a whole had softened up. Yes this isn’t positively uplifting music in the slightest but nor are none of our favourite Gangster movies. It’s a candid and often witty news-reel of those cold Buffalo streets

Why do I love this song so much and why have I been listening to this and his discography consistently since Wednesday evening?

Because I remember a time when Rap had a gritty and hardcore sound with emotive and moving samples, that was a time when Rappers painted some of the most beautiful pictures in their lyrics -violent at times but poetic. With someone like Westside Gunn and his partner in Rap, Conway The Machine, I find their songs, outlook and story so fascinating because listening to them is a cinematic experience. It really is luxurious Gangster fly-ish which upon listening -don’t hold me too it- doesn’t seem to contain much misogyny [I didn’t pick up on the degradation of women]. This guy is all about the £££.

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