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Here's Cappuccino: "It is on extremely rare, like Bigfoot-sighting, occasions that we will come with blatant disrespect for someone. We don't bang on [insult] nobody from the stage, and none of these crews can ever say we hassled them on the street. The funny thing is, we knew all these crews before we were rapping. But once the music and the money and the girls and the little street fame come into play, then everybody wants to shoot the other ones down, rather than to work for the common good and put Phoenix on the map."
Sore winners or not, so far Know Qwestion has exhibited the skills to back up the bravado. Check Cash's free-associative lyrics in "In the Zone": "Rhyme schemes unorthodox/Crazier than snortin' rocks/Sportin' Glocks and hollow tips will cost your life like holocaust." The two MCs' styles contrast and complement.
Where Cash likes quirky, staccato bursts, Cappuccino favors a rich, seamless flow. Here he is on "The Paper Chase," which details the two's "hustla, moneymaker" days: "I was a vandal, these niggas they wanted proof like Jack Daniel's . . . I'm out here just payin' dues, with careless niggas' revenues/Got ice like Liberace, I'm kinda shady with Versace."
At the end of a recent interview, I challenged Cash and Cappuccino to freestyle on the spot. P-body put on a beat and they proceeded to bust off-the-cuff rhymes almost nonstop for 20 minutes, working in random words I'd throw them every few lines to make sure they weren't handing me prepackaged poetry. Here's a short excerpt:
Cash: Well, let me bust two rhymes, some new lines for New Times. This is Know Qwestion givin' blessin': I freestyle, meanwhile to this phat, new P-body track, nigga's got my back/Now I'll pass it to my partna, he'll go ahead and rock ya.
Cap: I'm gonna breach like security--you're sure to see, that you don't wanna get in face mine when I hear a bass line.
Cash: Where you kickin' it from?
Cap: I'm kickin' it from here to Alabama, when I go and rock the fuckin' grammar like a hammer, never jam up when I'm catchin' rep from here to China, I'm the fly rhyme-ya.
Cash: Well, I be drinkin' Hennessy, from here to Tennessee. You want some lyrics I'll tell ya, I rock from here to Australia.
And on and on.
"See, you can not like Mike Tyson," says Cash. "You might say his voice is funny, or laugh at his big, ol' snaggly toothed ass, but I'll bet you don't say shit about his boxing, 'cause he's knocking fools out."
Cappuccino picks up the flow: "That's what we're doing. You can say we're wack, that we think we're all pretty, or we're girl-hungry or money-hungry, but you can't say shit about the way we rap, and everyone knows that."--David Holthouse
Know Qwestion is scheduled to perform on Sunday, August 4, at Electric Ballroom in Tempe, with Brothers Grimm. Showtime is 8 p.m. (all-ages).