| Hip-Hop |

That's a Rap: Nofrendo pays tribute to Gil Scott-Heron, Qknox takes on Nas and more

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This week in rap, the beat makers are holding it down. We've got Nofrendo, with his KMD drum-and-bass remixed track featuring a Gil Scott Heron sample that's most appropriate with the poet laureate's passing. Mass Prod from Food Chain shows a bit of his Donald Byrd/Roy Ayers influence with his own hip-hop swing on a track called "Mind Right," while Qknox gets his groove on as Q'Nas for an album of remixes, and the lone MC in this week's rotation, newcomer Tr3Cooh, offers up a clenched-jaw type flow that recalls Kanye in his early "Through the Wire" days with a track called "Go Off."

As most of the community is still reeling from the passing of Gil Scott-Heron this past week, Nofrendo released this drum-and-bass mix of a KMD track called "Fakers meet Your Maker," which includes a prominent sample from Scott-Heron. Nofrendo says this was "the illest Gil Scott-Heron sample I ever heard on this KMD track, so I mixed with DNB back in 2003."

Qknox, on the other hand, took a completely different approach with his remix of several Nas tracks. The only thing that remains the same on these joints is the lyrics. With "You're the Man," Qknox takes one of Nas's most lyrically introspective songs and brings the MC out of his shell with the new production. Famed lines like, "I'm the N, the A, to the S-I-R, and if I wasn't, I must have been Escobar," sound more like a gregarious proclamation than the MC's young need for self-assurance in the original.

Speaking of introversion, Mass Prod, the Food Chain's typically reserved producer, completely let's loose on "Mind Right," a joint that is full of funky beats and twinkling keys. It's perfect for a sun-roof top and a gangsta lean with its super hero horns and solid rhythm. The cut rides out for a euphoric 5:30, and every second is worth hearing.

Tr3Cooh gives off a clenched jaw type flow that's recalls Kanye in his early "Through the Wire" days with a track called "Go Off." The comparisons to Yeezy stop there, though, as Tr3Cooh spits lyrics that are earnest yet not entirely backed by substance. It takes a few moments in the song for his rapping to really get underway, and even then, the metaphors are way too easy. And there's a piercing bell line in the production that sounds like someone is holding down the "shift" key for an inordinate amount of time. While worth a listen, "Go Off" surely isn't his best effort.

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