Every time a new album drops first I "1 Listen" review it, then I go hunting through the liner notes. Really digging through the credits on an album can be a powerful way to see the vast web of connections that spread out from every album far beyond the guest verses and production credits.
That's how I realized Soulja Boy could end up with a GRAMMY for Beyonce's Lemonade album, how DMX ended up making his biggest music paycheck in years after Drake's Views dropped, and now looking at the credits for ScHoolboy Q's new Blank Face LP, it was easy to spot one name in particular - Tupac Shakur.
Tupac is credited as a songwriter on "Str8 Ballin," and since we don't hear his voice on the song, that could only mean that Q quoted a Tupac line. (Substantially and directly quote someone else's lyrics in your song and they get a songwriting credit, and a split of the publishing.) Sure enough, the first words of the hook to "Str8 Ballin" are, "Picture me rollin," a phrase they clearly attributed to Pac's song of the same name.
And just like that, Pac, or more accurately Pac's estate, gets a check and credit on an album made twenty years after his death. For me, the way that music can live on for decades through quotes and samples is one of the most powerful aspects of hip-hop. Who knows, maybe in 20 more years some new rapper will quote Q's "Yawk yawk yawk!" in a song and the circle of musical life will continue.
Now if I could only figure out why Three 6 Mafia has a songwriting credit on "Dope Dealer"...
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.