#1034: Drop the Needle by Maestro Fresh Wes

Peak Month: June 1990
3 weeks on CKLG chart
Peak Position #15
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~did not chart

Wes Williams was born in Toronto in 1968. In the mid-80s he attended Carleton University in Ottawa and studied Political Science and Law. Deciding to focus on music, Maestro Fresh Wes released the first Canadian hip-hop single to break into the Top 40 in Canada and the USA with “Let Your Backbone Slide.” Williams’ first show in Ottawa affirmed his decision to pursue music full time. About 2,000 people showed up to watch him open for Public Enemy at Astralite, a now-defunct club on St. Laurent Boulevard. For a hip-hop show, it was a huge crowd by Ottawa standards in the late 80s.

“Drop the Needle” is Maestro Fresh Wes’ second single from his Juno Award winning debut album Symphony in Effect.

Drop the Needle by Maestro Fresh Wes

Intro:

The Maestro
Fresh Wes
the symphony
is in full effect

Verse 1:
Let your backbone slide
let it slip let the rhythm rip
while my lyrics leave my lips
ladies and gentleman kids of all ages
watch a brother roamin’ on stages
name rings a bell from state to state
province to province till you can’t escape
it’s radius a margin, bruisin’ bargin’
blowin’ away blockades and still chargin’
up the crowd while the introducer
says the name they get looser looser
Maestro Maestro with magnitude
that’s longer than the lines of latitude
going drop it to drop ittopic to topic
yo are you ready for the drop (yeah)
then drop it

Chorus:

drop the needle (x4)

Verse 2:
the needle drops like a pistol pops
rocks the whole crowd they can’t stop
ladies wave and rave like slaves
with this sound wave a guy’s Mr. Hayes
I pave a road where the poems explode drum
globe to globe airlobe to airlobe
started at zero now the Z rocks it
zipcode to zipcode I should ziplock it
they won’t stop the chumps they just chop it
chewin’ chunks and chunks and then shop it
on the homeplate and I hate
to hear my rhymes of a different rate
I should ostersize the eyes of spies
and destroy all districts for disguise
dopein the form of the highest mind
of a hip-hop golliath rhymes
make it easy to cruise
you get bruised if you’re not enthused
silence is lost as the holocaust comes down
when Wes goes off on the microphone
cord or cordless
it don’t matter cause I rock the fresh vest
Hiroshima havoc and hurricaine
LTD is on the cut Maestro’s the name
the needle won’t skip or the crowd will flip to frantic
as I watch ’em drip
D draws back the wax like a bow
the bass is the arrow to break the poem I wrote
blast it off like a rocket
again are you ready for the drop
(yeah) then drop it

Chorus

Verse 3:
(yo Maestro, tell ’em what you wear)
I wear a black tuxedoblack tuxedo
black-black-black (oh my God)
a black tuxedo with the calm of Van Damme
talk slang while the ladies hang
runnin’ more hoes than close to a pimp
rhymes so rugged they’ll make you limp
some MC’s like to dance all night
but I like the brothers who can rock the mic
with base and adrenaline big beats but then again
nowadays most rappers sound femminime
softthey come off weak and they’re so-so
I’ll be down to the pound and jump mofo
thousand pages of poem make the microphone prone to stand alone
a Tallahasee lassie asked me
(Wes, how can you rap so rough, then get crappy?)
cause I’m smooth, making the people move
it’s like a cruise with a tape tune two-twenty-two
that’s a full forty four times more than a migraine
unexplained like an unsolved mind game
the mastermind is defined as the maestro
nitroglycerin sizzlin’ height so
comin’ ’em on with a scent of napalm
droppin’ the bomb as I raise my baton,
on and on the dawn, inject the venom,
MC’s like a late dose of heroin
cripplin’, suckers be stagerrin’
I smoke the piece D does the daggerrin’
on the techniques he’ll tomahawk it
are you ready for the drop (yeah)
then drop it

Chorus

Verse 4:
United States United Kingdom
the rhymes I bring them spread like syndroms
T.O. mixed it New York freshed it
all these def hits you can’t test this
rhyme still buggin’ clock ’nuff duckin’
no wait yo hold up hold up
now f**k it
one hour flight and I’m captain
like Jason I’m a take Manhattan
each ceremony and every seminar
another mar la parde you’re gonna get scared
I run a dead poll every rapper dread this
boys be pain at the naming of the dead list
or the red list the blood shed fest
fist to fist on the mic you’re left headless
they broke into the vault like Capone
didn’t find jack so they all went home
my vault could never be opened I locked it
punks be scopin’ or hopin’ to pop it
eighty nine is mine you can’t stop it
are you ready for the drop (yeah)
then drop it

Here is a biographical song about this performing artists expanding fortune and fame. From stage to stage across provinces and states, crowds wave and rave to the sounds of Maestro Fresh Wes’ chanted, and spoken, rhyming poetic lyrics. Dropping the needle is a reference to the hip-hop art of manipulating sounds and creating music using turntables and a DJ mixer. As the MC of his song, Maestro Fresh Wes has the crowds going wild as he wears his black tuxedo and gets his dance moves in synch with his spoken word hip-hop poetry. He pulls off his stage performance with the calm of martial arts kick-boxer, and action movie star, Jean Claude Van Damme. Wes’ poetry aims for the highest mind and describes himself as a goliath of hip-hop. While some might have suggested he was full of himself, Maestro Fresh Wes is now considered the “godfather of Canadian hip-hop,” so he was bang on. As for the hip-hop scene in 1989, Wes concludes “eighty-nine is mine.” And the rest was history.

His debut album, Symphony in Effect, won the 1991 Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year.

In 1991 he collaborated on the one-off single “Can’t Repress the Cause”, a plea for greater inclusion of hip hop music in the Canadian music scene, with Dance Appeal, a supergroup of Toronto-area musicians that included Devon, Dream Warriors, B-Kool, Michie Mee, Lillian Allen, Eria Fachin, HDV, Dionne, Thando Hyman, Carla Marshall, Messenjah, Jillian Mendez, Lorraine Scott, Lorraine Segato, Self Defense, Leroy Sibbles, Zama and Thyron Lee White. In 1991, Black Tie Affair was released and nominated for Best Rap Recording at the 1992 Juno Awards.  In 1992 the studio album, Maestro Zone, was released earning him a nomination for Best Rap Recording at the 1993 Juno Awards. Two years later Maestro Fresh Wes released his fourth studio album, Naaah, Dis Kid Can’t Be from Canada?!! Though it was a commercial failure, the album won a nomination as Best Rap Recording at the 1995 Juno Awards. His fifth studio album in 1998, Built to Last, earned him his fifth nomination for Best Rap Recording at the Juno’s in 1999. His sixth studio album, Ever  Since, was released in 2000. His seventh studio album, Orchestrated Noise, was released in 2013.

In 1997 University of Toronto Professor Renaldo Walcott published a book called Black Like Who? It featured commentary about rap and hip-hop lyrics of Afro-Canadian performing artists the Dream Warriors and Maestro Fresh Wes, within the context of being “Black” in Canada.

In 2003 Wes Williams starred in an American TV series called Platinum. Set in New York City, the TV series was about two brothers who own and operate a record company. In 2004, Wes Williams got a cameo in the dance film Honey. In 2004, Williams starred for two years in a TV drama set in Toronto called Metropia. He also began starring in Instant Star, a TV show that ran for four years about a music competition winners experience inside the recording industry. In 2005, Williams starred in two films. The first, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, is a hip-hop biopic crime film featuring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson III. Williams other film that year was Four Brothers, where he starred alongside Mark Wahlberg and Tyrese Gibson in a plot about an adoptive mother of four sons who gets murdered when a hit is put out on her. In 2007 Williams appeared in the Canadian film Poor Boy’s Game, alongside Danny Glover, in a plot about race, revenge and forgiveness.  Williams has also been featured in the 2001 Canadian urban crime TV series Blue Murder, and in the 2009-2011 TV series, The Line, as a drug dealer with anger management issues. Since 2012 Williams has played in role of Paul Dwyer in the Canadian TV sitcom Mr. D.

In 2010 Maestro Fresh Wes published a book, Stick to Your Vision: How to Get Past the Hurdles and Haters to Get Where You Want to Be. In the book he discusses how to make a vision a reality: expectation, operation and destination. Chuck D of American hip hop heavyweights Public Enemy wrote the foreword, and Toronto-based international rap superstar Drake provided a blurb: “[Maestro Fresh Wes] let me know that it was possible to make a city so far removed feel like it was a part of it all. Now every song and move I make I think about my people back home and how proud I am of them and they are of me. I owe a part of my confidence as a rapper to Maestro.”

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