By Jake Appleman

“Me and Doom, always be the best on the landing
Superheroes for life until our souls vanish.”
(Lyrics: Ghostface Album: MF DOOM – Dangerdoom. Track: “The Mask”)

Um, I’m not exactly sure why I decided to write this lengthy extended metaphor. I think there’s something in me that strives to give back to the entertainers and athletes that have given a lot to me over the years. Hence, the ten-part Ghostface-based “Pretty Toney” awards that ran when good ole slamonline switched servers, or the college metaphor that I ran in honor of LeBron James’ own metaphorical graduation.

If that’s the criteria for me writing huge metaphor posts, then it’s fitting that I’m comparing the ballplayer that’s meant the most to me as a Nets fan over the past six years with the two emcees that have most enriched my life over that same span (sorry, Talib).

Seeing that I have been just as excited as anybody for this potential Ghostface/Doom collaboration—tentatively titled Swift and Changeable—it occurred to me when I was given a feature on J-Kidd for SLAM 115 (on newsstands now!) that I do something extra. So I was thinking about Swift and Changeable when I realized that those two adjectives are very applicable when thinking about Kidd over the years.

I sort of just went from there…

(Note: The conspicuous absence of anything Big Doe Rehab related isn’t an accident. This was penned before that came out. If you need to read some great thoughts on BDR, read Joey.)

GHOSTFACE (Swift)

One of a kind: Like Ghostface on the mic, Kidd’s game is completely unique to his skill set. He’s a certifiable Hall of Famer, and there will never be another like him. In fact, both are so unique that anybody trying to copy their respective styles would be caught dead in a lie.

Corresponding Fire:

Super-cali-fragalistic-expiali-docious
Docious-ali-expi-fragalistic-cali-super
Cancun, catch me in the room, eatin grouper
(Track: Buck 50, Album: Supreme Clientele)

Team Leaders: Ghostface now leads a crew of relative nobodies towards acclaim. His brilliance has rubbed off on crew members like Trife Da God, Cappadonna and Sun God (Ghostface’s son…the TJ Kidd of this metaphor…spare moments in his father’s arena lead to heightened publicity—you get the picture).

While it isn’t Fishscale or Supreme Clientele, the crew-heavy album More Fish is eminently listenable, which, if you’re familiar with crew albums, is quite an accomplishment. Kidd, the epitome of unselfishness, blesses surrounding talent with his uncanny ability to make others around him better. Witness the unparalleled balance of the 01-02 Nets (an NBA Finals team that featured 7 guys averaging over 9ppg, but not one putting up over 15) and last season’s breakout performances from Mikki Moore and Boki Nachbar. That said, the most glaring evidence of the “Kidd effect” is the career of Kenyon Martin. K-Mart, though thoroughly derailed by injuries, has not and will not ever recover from how easy and simple Kidd made his life.

Corresponding Fire:

I smash ya’ll muthafukkas like a seedless grape
And hang ni—as like some ceiling fans in K-Mart plates
(Track: Blue Armor, Album: More Fish)

3rd eye vision: Ghostface sees word combinations that other lyricists can’t see. His stream of consciousness rhymes are peerless. Kidd sees the floor in a way that nobody else can—and when you’re moving that fast, it’s all about reacting and intuition, neither of which you can teach.

Corresponding Fire:

Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet?
Why did Judas rat to Romans while Jesus slept? Stand up
You’re out of luck like two dogs stuck
Iron Man be sippin rum, out of Stanley Cups
(Track: 4th Chamber, Album: Liquid Swords – guest spot)

Perceived deficiencies: Haters will hate because they think Ghost can’t sell and Kidd can’t shoot. The thing is, you don’t need to be a scorer to be a winner, as Kidd’s 11 straight trips to the playoffs and unbeaten record in international play prove, and you don’t need to go platinum to be good, as Ghostface’s widespread critical acclaim proves. Kidd doesn’t take a shot for 4 games; team USA rolls. Ghostface goes 4 days without putting out a new album and people cry. This forces him to come out with more albums at a faster rate than he probably should, kind of like the Nets’ offense which, due to spurts of passiveness from Vince and a lack of inside presence, forces Kidd to jack up bail out shots (usually 3’s) as the shot clock is winding down that kill his shooting percentage. Not that he’d be much over 40% anyway, but he probably wouldn’t be currently mired in the 30’s, either.

Corresponding Fire:

Bring it back like an instant replay
Please, get these wack records off of me
I can’t breath, asthma pump so I could stop the weez
It’s like they love garbage (yeah), for God’s sake, I’m the real artist
(Track: Ghostface, Album: The Pretty Toney Album)

Ironmen: Ghostface also goes by Tony Starks, Ironman’s human pseudonym. As such, it’s no surprise that he’s still going strong into his later years. While Fishscale (’06) might not go down in history in the pantheon of “greatest hip-hop albums ever” quite like Supreme Clientele (’00), it’s brilliant for different, “cagey-veteran” type reasons. Not the barnstorming, take-all-prisoners, fire-breather that graced SC with a level of ridiculousness previously unheard of, on Fishcale Ghostface relies more on straight teamwork. The same can be said for Kidd in his later years. On the surface his 06-07 season doesn’t appear nearly as impressively dominant as his 01-02 campaign (when he was robbed of the MVP), but when you consider his age and the reality that his supporting cast doesn’t really fit his preferred style, last season’s digits are all the more incredible.

Corresponding Fire:

My swagger is Mick Jagger, plus Stones is Rolling
(Track: The Champ, Album: Fishscale)

Speed: Both play their respective games at a faster rhythm than most of their counterparts. Ghostface boasts impressive breath management to go with his rhymes and Kidd eats outlet passes for breakfast before breaking fast.

Corresponding Fire:

In the Phillipines, pick herbal beans, bubbling strings
Body chemical CREAM, we burn kerosene
(Track: Daytona 500, Album: Ironman)

1970’s soul vibes: Kidd’s old school trickery occasionally conjures up images of a more unselfish Pistol Pete Maravich. WATCH THIS. Ghost often samples 70’s stuff to capture a certain feeling to his music.

Corresponding Fire:

Sometimes I look up at the stars and analyze the sky
And ask myself was I meant to be here… why?
(Track: All I Got Is You, Album: Ironman)

Recent Headaches: This winter has already seen Kidd voice his frustration with his team and Ghostface get mad at RZA for his production on the Wu’s most recent release, 8 Diagrams. Kidd would rather play with LeBron and Ghostface would rather play with himself.

Corresponding Fire:

We at the spot to chill, with a Fugee grill
She ordered the Kobe Beef like Shaquille O’Neal
When I walked in, the whole room got still
I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal
(Lyrics: Kanye West, Track: Back Like That (Remix), Album: More Fish)

Relationship Issues/Breakups: Ghost is the most independent member of the WU, trashing them in public if need be. The news of Kidd’s breakup with then-wife Joumana became front page tabloid fodder before seemingly disappearing into thin air.

Corresponding Fire:

If it’s one thing I learned that, never trust a female
On no scale, you just confirmed that
Bounce to your momma house, pack your shit
I don’t care if you crying, you’s a ruthless chick

(Track: Back Like That (feat Ne-Yo), Album: Fishscale)

(Bonus tangent: Joumana used to be a Budweiser girl. On Clipse of Doom—a Ghostface track produced by, that’s right, MF DOOM—Ghostface, after yelling at some his people for disrupting his recording session, notes angrily that they are, “sipping on that bullsh-t Budweiser!” The lesson here is simple: if it’s less filling, it’s not worth it. It’s crap. If you want to drink club soda with a small percentage of barely noticeable distilled alcohol, then go ahead. Just don’t buy into the seductiveness of advertising that features Clooney-laced voice-overs and pretty horsies because that means you’re a sheep. And none of the dudes in this metaphor are sheep. They are wolves. Also of note: I have a friend from high school who we used to tease because his sister was hot. I haven’t spoken to him in a few years, and now his sister is a Coors Light girl. I’m not sure what to do/say.)

DOOM (Changeable)

Masked from the public: Kidd rarely says anything risqué while Doom never shows his face in public. Each lets us know them through their game.

Corresponding Fire:

A lot of crews like to act like a violent mob
They really need to just shut the f–k up like Silent Bob
(Track: Saliva, Album: Viktor Vaughn: Vaudeville Villain)

Adaptability: Both let their surroundings dictate how to approach each situation. Kidd, as discussed above, doesn’t need to shoot the ball to have a positive effect on the game. He can, though, if the situation calls for it, score in bunches. Doom doesn’t even need to bless certain tracks with his flow. He can, however, when needed, make an entire album about his life based on food metaphors.

Corresponding Fire:

Do the statistics
How he bust lyrics too futuristic for ballistics
And far too eccentric for forensics
I dedicate this mix to Subroc the Hip Hop Hendrix
(Track: Kon Karne, Album: MMM Food)

Produce for others: Kidd knows the best fastbreak is the one that rewards teammates for running the floor, even if his speed and vision are making it happen. More to the point, J-Kidd is cognizant of the fact that it’s rewarding to let others finish what he’s started. On King Geedorah, Doom produces the tracks, but lets his mates finish throughout much of the album. To wit, he laces fast tracks that run, giving others the chance at some lyrical shots.

Corresponding Fire:

Blaze trails that haven’t been traveled in a while
Scatter clues for those who equate the style
(Lyrics: Biolante, Track: Fast Lane, Album: King Geedorah)

Disguised Identities: In a league whose image often revolves around race (read: Zirin, Dave), Kidd doesn’t seem to come up in any hot button basketball/race discussions (see: Nash, Steve and “MVP”). Born to a black father and white mother, Kidd’s racial identity is that of a mulatto yet he operates seemingly outside the parameters of the ever-popular race discussions. Doom, who pretends he’s a superhero, is actually just a fat guy with incredible skills that chooses to refrain from spitting redundantly lame bars about sex, drugs and violence, i.e. the things that the Jason Whitlocks of the world think are the only things rappers talk about.

Corresponding Fire:

Call him back when you need some more ‘gnac, horse-yak
Doing 80 down the Van Wyck on horseback
Ya’ man sick but he wreck tracks, puto
Get back too bro’, exactamundo
Viktor, the director, flip a script like Rob Reiner
The way a lotta dudes rhyme their name should be ‘knob shiner’
For a buck, they’d likely dance the Jig or do the Hucklebuck
To Vik it’s no big deal, they’re just a bunch of knuckle-fucks
(Track: Vaudeville Villain, Album: Viktor Vaughn: Vaudeville Villain)

ALL CAPS: From 2001 to 2004, Nets Public Address announcer Rick Zolzer became the first PA guy ever to pronounce a player’s name in what sounded like all capital letters. The rapid-fire way in which he would deliver Kidd’s name after a made basket or assist (JASONKIDD!) is an infamously corny (awesome?) signature by which Nets fans will remember their hero’s prime. Meanwhile, the signature of Doom’s prime as an emcee is the brilliant album Madvillainy, a compilation of songs without choruses. On one of Madvillainy‘s best tracks, “All Caps”, Doom tells his fans, “Just remember: All Caps when you spell the man name.”

Corresponding Fire:

Sometimes he rhyme quick, sometimes he rhyme slow
And vice versa
Whip up a slice of nice verse pie
Hit it on the first try
Villain: The Worst Guy.
Spot hot tracks like spot a pair of fat asses
Shots of the scotch from out of square shot glasses
And he won’t stop ’till he got the masses
And show ’em what they know now through flows of hot molasses.
(Track: ALL CAPS, Album: Madvillainy)

Chemistry: The Dr. Doom character that MF Doom bases his emcee alter ego on is a chemist bent on world domination. Kidd, as stat-sheet stuffing triple-double machine, is the best thing that’s happened to human chemistry since Jonas Salk cured polio.

Corresponding Fire:

I sell rhymes like dimes
The one who mostly keep cash, but tell about the broke times
Joker rhymes, like the ‘Is you just happy to see me?’ trick
Classical slap-stick, rappers need Chapstick
(Track: Rhymes Like Dimes, Album: Operation Doomsday)

It’s like SLAM homie and former owner of Fondle ‘Em records—under which Doom did much of his earlier recording—Bobbito Garcia maniacally screams on the end “Rhymes Like Dimes”:

“Now what are you supposed to say on the end of records? I don’t know! Yeah! Whoo! Yeah! Mashed potatoes…applesauce…buttery… biscuits…And I get lost. A yes, yes, yes y’all.”