It’s the F-I-N-E-double-S-E. For hardcore rap fans, that simple phrase is bound to evoke a Kool-Aid smile bigger than Mount Rushmore. While mainstream recognition has always eluded this punchline king, he’s been ripping the microphone for well over a decade ever since “Funky Technician” first hit store shelves. Punchlines alone would make him a fan favorite, but combined with the “What – me worry?” confidence in his flow and vocal tone, it makes him a legend. A dozen or more rappers I.O.U. Finesse for his influence, including his fellow Diggin’ in the Crates homies like A.G., Diamond D, Fat Joe and the late great Big L (R.I.P.). To put it simply, Finesse is the shit.

Hip-Hop fans who know and love Finesse should therefore take note, and those who don’t still need to step up and pay attention. “The Lost Sessions” may be a collection of rare and unreleased B-sides and remixes, but it reads like the curriculum for a class called Rap Mastery 101. Take “Isn’t He Something” for example. You can jam to either the original Diamond D beat, or the “Extra P Session Mix” by the Large Professor, but either way the vocab is all that and a can of Pringles. Bite this:

“I flow smoothly like a scene in a movie
Girls that choose me, say that I’m a cutie
Rough like a fistfight when I’m holdin this mic
So keep your lips tight if you can’t get my shit right
You can’t beat this, better yet top this
I hold the crowd like Saddam hold a hostage
I get ferocious so I approach this
The girls are sweet like the cream from a Hostess
Yeah, I keep the cash flow
In a fight I throw the first and the last blow
So those that’s yakkin you’d better be packin
I catch a wreck like a whole mob attackin
I flow with quickness, MC’s are too slow to get this
I preach on the mic like a Jehovah’s Witness
Give me a mic, watch me saw
Not Daddy Kane or Eddie Murphy, but I get ‘Raw’
To different tempos, a fast or a slow one
Me a whack MC? Well it takes one to know one
I kick rhymes with the quickness and swiftness
so come and get with this, or be about your business
Always got something to keep the crowd jumpin
Aiyyo, they don’t call me Lord Finesse for nothin”

WORD. This album is packed with tracks that Lord Finesse fans may already know, but there’s nothing wrong with hearing them again here or hearing the alternate takes on the tracks. The most famous of all alternate takes for Finesse is of course included – the hip-hop classic “Yes You May (Remix)” which was for most of the world their first introduction to Big L on the mic. This is not to take anything away from the L-O-R-D on his own album, but Big L showed and proved on this track that if anybody was heir to being rap’s new Finesse, it was him:

“I’m relievin rappers like Sudafed
And if the microphone was smoke then Big L’d be a buddha head
Aiyyo I cruise real smooth like mopeds
I was rockin mics since niggaz was wearin Pro Keds
I only roll with originators
Chicks stick to my dick like magnets on refridgerators
I’m a crazy mean lyricist
Many are in fear of this, yeah, so they stand clear of this
And those that refuse the order, Big L bruise and slaughter
Niggaz hear me and take notes like a news reporter
I’ll bend a rapper like a fender, I’m slender, but far from tender
Killing niggaz like a Klan member
You can’t touch this, your rhyme’s to darn weak
Front, and I’m a introduce your brains to the concrete
I keep hoes satisfied, I’m pushin the fattest ride
To take me out, troop, even the baddest tried But they fell cause my techniques are liver
I’m so deaf I need a hearin aid with an equalizer
You tried to hit a home run but you struck out
My rhymes were released, I’d like to say peace the fuck out”

If this wasn’t sweet enough to give you a endorphin rush, the kickin T-Ray beat certainly would be. When Finesse raps “I got game like Genesis” it may sound hella old school to today’s Playstation 2 rap heads, but you can’t knock the braggadocious nature of raps like “You Know What I’m About.” Originally featured on the “Trespass” soundtrack, the Scooby Doo sound underlying this song has only gotten darker and nicer over the years, as did his vocals:

“And I’m livin better, troop
Cause I’m makin more noise than a fuckin heavy metal group
It’s the cool man, the brother with the smooth plan
And I’m seein more papers than a newstand
So peep it, don’t try to run and speak it
Point blank that keep my whereabouts secret
While brothers are packin still, actin ill
I’m on the D.L, with a female, and I’m stackin bills How ya livin? Everything is swell
Cause a nigga like me, yo I’m ringin bells
Without doubt, I got clout
Yo fuck that shit, yo you know what I’m about”

There’s no shortage of fat material here. From previously unavailable on CD tracks like the Big L version of “You Know What I’m About” to “Check the Method” to exclusive songs like “Pull Ya Card” and “Rules We Live By” featuring Fat Joe and Armageddeon, it’s all good in the Finesse hood. Even though this mix is called “The Lost Sesssions” there’s no chance music this sweet would have disappeared from history without a trace. Sooner or later, somebody would have compiled this selection of dope shit for the archives, and let’s give a shout out to Fat Beats for working with Finesse to make sure it happened. Whether you know the F-I-N-E-double-S-E or not, you owe it to yourself as a rap fan to cop “The Lost Sessions” for your own hip-hop archives.

Lord Finesse :: From the Crates to the Files... The Lost Sessions
8Overall Score