The Blackbyrds

This is a fun one.

First, I have to say thanks to Lacy, wherever you are, for damaging this copy of City Life enough that it ended up in Deep Groove’s sidewalk sale but not so much that a wood glue peel couldn’t bring it back to life. That’s the sidewalk sale sweet spot.

Second, I want to share the lyrics “Rock Creek Park,” the album’s impossibly funky opening track:

Doing it in the park
Doing it after dark, oh, yeah
Rock Creek Park, oh, yeah
Rock Creek Park

That’s the long and short of it. Direct, concise, perfect. Extra credit for how much I’m looking forward to playing this for Mrs. YHT’s parents, who live in Northern Virginia and drive through Rock Creek Park regularly. I’m positive they’ll get a kick out of it, if they’re not already fans. It’s hard to imagine people listening to this song and not digging it.

Speaking of widespread appreciation, I’ve also been having fun looking through WhoSampled at all the songs that incorporate snippets of “Rock Creek Park.” Here’s a partial list — see if you can pick out where it appears in each of these:

And here’s the real deal:

The Blackbyrds — “Rock Creek Park” [Spotify/iTunes]


I Am...

One more quick thought about visiting the big apple. I’m pretty bad at the geography of New York City. It seems so overwhelming that I’ve never done a terribly good job of getting my bearings (though I did retain a tidbit this time about even streets heading east). But I realized while riding (not driving, thank god) around the city that many of the places and names that I do recognize (me sounding real white in 3… 2… 1… OK I’m just gonna say it), I recognize from hip hop lyrics. It sounds lame, but it’s true. It hit me most on Saturday when we were heading to our hotel in Long Island City, Queens, near Queensbridge, a neighborhood that instantly sounded familiar. After incorrectly guessing rappers from Queens (I’m not saying who, it’s more than a little embarrassing) I went ahead and asked the interweb, and the list of artists from just that one borough is astounding. Nas. 50 Cent. LL Cool J. Mobb Deep. Q-Tip. There are many more. Ja Rule is one of them. It’s truly amazing to think about how the genre of hip hop is so closely tied to the city of New York, and how beautifully hip hop artists provide an oral history of their hometown. Just like the relationship between soul and Detroit or jazz and New Orleans (hear that Utah??), it’s hard to imagine the place without the music that’s blossomed there. With that in mind, I’ve included one of my favorite Nas tracks below, “N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II,” which brings the big city to life, both in terms of its lyrics and its beat, which makes you feel like you’re walking down a busy street (east, if it’s an even one), with your head on a swivel, surveying the scene. Listen below and buy his 1999 album I Am… here.

Nas — “N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II