There are a couple of things going on in this new Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era track, "Like Water." The first, and most obvious, level is the song's sound itself—it contains another throwback, piano-based beat, and there's intricate wordplay and skillful back-and-forth mike passing from Joey, CJ Fly, and Capital STEEZ that betray the trio's years. The song seems to come straight from a mid-90s battery powered Walkman. And it has me amped for June 12, when Bada$$'s Summer Knights is released.
The second level is of course STEEZ's suicide, which hangs over the whole thing like a posthumous Biggie album. "Like Water" is a memorial of sorts to the up-and-coming rapper, who died under suspicious circumstances on Christmas Eve of last year. The more you read about this guy—and once Joey finds more nationwide fame, STEEZ's story will probably become the stuff of legends—the more you shake your head and say "WTF?" every five seconds. STEEZ was, by all accounts, about as spacey as they come. He was a conspiracy theorist, obssessed with the number 47 and the Illuminati, and he believed that he had "powers of transcendence" beyond this world. He told people before he died that he quit rapping to "become a superhero." He also said that he detected a "shift in the dimension" and needed to "get out." This is from a recent Village Voice article on the rapper: "In a video shot in March for his song 'Free the Robots,' STEEZ sits on a couch in a dimly lit room, getting high while watching news and pop culture on TV. In it he raps paranoid sentiments about being forgotten by God, the soon-to-come apocalypse, and how the 'Illuminati tryna read my mind/With a eagle eye.'"
STEEZ was out there.
Unfortunately for hip-hop fans, STEEZ also happened to be a terrific young rapper. His verse on "Survival Tactics" arguably "Renegade'd" Joey's, and there will be a strong sense of "what could've been" when Summer Knights is released. The guy was so talented. He was just way too wrapped up in his own head.
[H/T: Smoking Section]