Earlier this year one of the last artists I saw live before, well, you know, was The Gift of Gab, the rhyming half of the Bay Area rap duo, Blackalicious. Gab came through with Lateef The Truth Speaker of Latyrx, who was handling the boards and spitting dope guest verses, and let me tell you, Gab was in his bag delivering some of Blackalicious’ best listens! His set was a marvel, the dude just having fun while flexing some incredible wordplay and lyrical heatwaves. He also made the awesome announcement that he’d be getting a long-awaited kidney transplant, having dealt from complications of kidney failure for eight years while still touring and putting out music. It was an all-around memorable set, but thinking back on it tonight, there’s one song of his that I’m sitting with.
So, part of the Solesides (later Quannum) collective of artists from the Bay, which also includes DJ Shadow, Blackalicious emerged in the early ’90s with smart, spiritual, and lyrically sharp rap that earned Gab and producer Chief Xcel critical acclaim and underground hype. I mean really, ’99’s Nia and 2002’s Blazing Arrow are tremendously thoughtful and forward-looking albums, offering something for everyone. Gab’s subject matter is substantive and far-reaching, and Xcel’s beats are funky, inventive, and really fun. Following Blazing Arrow, Gab issued his debut solo record, 2004’s 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up, which furthered Gab’s pedigree with critics and fans.
Rocketships was not as big a burn for me when I was getting into Blackalicious in college. While Jake One‘s production on the album was fine, I preferred just how perfectly suited Gab was with Xcel. That being said, there’s one song here which has remained a highlight listen for me after all these years.
“In A Minute Doe” is akin to Nas‘s “One Love,” the song taking the form of a letter to a locked up nephew who Gab considers more like a brother. Gab absolutely pours his heart out on this listen, reminiscing about good memories and urging his fam to stay strong and keep pushing. The production here is weighty, subdued but absolutely resilient. I love the chorus of voices which come in on the breaks. It’s an emotional and vulnerable listen which speaks to the harshness and disruption of incarceration. It also hits a bit differently post-pandemic, thinking on family and friends you haven’t seen this year but you know when you finally do you’re all gonna party “like it’s two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine….” But I’mma see you in a minute tho.