At long last, I present the Daniel Nester battle rap, “Now You Know” performed by Kentucky Prophet, with lyrics from Richard Allen and Jesse from Rap Rebirth.
The backstory to this track goes like this. Back in April, I wrote about a post at We Who Are About To Die about a story in The Awl, which tells the story of Jesse Kramer’s startup company Rap Rebirth, which provides “custom hip hop lyrics.”
You can shell out $24.99 for a “custom 16-bar sample,” which sounded like fun. So I did. In the add ask about “expectations” (see right), sort of a design brief. I asked for a “battle rap.” Self-referential and stuff. Here’s part of what I wrote:
If you could integrate my name somehow (Daniel Nester), mention I am a professor, a writer, a husband and father of two little girls, and otherwise include as much profanity as you can, that would be great. PS Oh, and I am strictly LL and Tribe and PE. Just FYI.
In the comments box, fellow writer and occasional We Who Are About To Die blogger Richard Allen wrote, “Although I think $25 is much too cheap for a 16-bar verse, I would write you one for free, Dan.”
So he did.
The Rap Rebirth lyrics came, then Richard’s, complete with guide vocal. I had 32 lines of battle rap lyrics. But I can’t rap. I lack flow.
A couple days later, I tweeted how I would like to find and MC to make this shit come alive. Writer Erin Keane mentioned her friend Kentucky Prophet, and after checking out his stuff and emailing back and forth he seemed to be a perfect candidate. I sent him my Queen books.
A couple weeks later in may mailbox comes an mp3 file entitled “Now You Know.”[audio https://danielnester.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/kentucky-prophet-now-you-know.mp3]
“You will find a neat bit of sampling on this song,” he wrote. “You’ll know it when you hear it.”
Of course I did. They sampled and sped-up a snippet of Freddie Mercury singing “now I know” from Queen’s “The Prophet’s Song,” from A Night At The Opera.
His friend Russell Brooks helped him produce this. “I should mention that I took a minor amount of liberty with the verses in order to make them fit the meter and tempo of the song. I would say I got it about 95% accurate.”
Hearing one’s own custom-written and -rapped hip hop anthem has many layers and signifiers and signified, I’m not sure how to unpack it at this point. All I know is, I rule Albany.
I might be pushing my luck on the work-for-free-front, but a video for this would be pretty cool. We’ll see.
Here are the lyrics I presented to Mr. Prophet all those weeks ago.
Richard Allen’s lyrics
It’s motherfucking Nester from the woods of Jersey.
When I do a reading, better reimburse me.
Freddie Mercury? Own every LP.
Penning many poems like my name was H.D.
My goddamn students are overjoyed
To take my classes and to avoid
A professional curriculum, and then annoyed
To graduate and be unemployed.
But it’s still my objective each semester
To touch more kids than a child molester.
Though I don’t play. GPA? Don’t tempt me.
The name is Nester, but the threat’s not empty.
I got a wife and I reproduce
So I blow a lot of dough on apple juice
And disposable diapers. When the kids get hyper,
It’s time out, bitches. I’m a time out sniper.
But my rhymes stay tighter than a lit mag stiffing a writer
Out of two bucks. I do not give two fucks.
Criticize my op-ed? Fuckers, you can drop dead.
That’s my policy. I run Albany.
Rap Revival Lyrics (i.e., the $24.99 one)
Check it motherfuckers sucker bloggers call me sire
Finger fucking words til the day that I retire
Higher than ya lame brained self-inflated ego
Spitting acid rain while you tryna take a free throw
A crazy rap animal, a cannibal of brilliance
A lazier Scorsese with mechanical resilience
Ill since A Tribe played it live on Arsenio
Married dad of two spittin’ game at a skinny hoe
Name’s Professor Nester, I chronicle my own life
Sharp as a rusty fork cutting through a butter knife
Much to your chagrin I win, I’ve never heard of sin
Potent as a pickled fart, you farting in the wind
Inappropriate on opiates with Opie drinking goat’s milk
Shitting on your sofa without an ounce of guilt
Silk smooth, I move like a tampon in the Red Sea
Coffee with Gaddafi, and Ill Kim brought the lychee
- Rap sample. (wewhoareabouttodie.com)