Building From The Bottom

From the album: For The FKN Love by Arrested Development

Song produced by Configa.

Emcees – Speech, 1 Love and 4ize

Life is divided in to three periods


In my opinion so is this track. Speech deals with what it takes to get to the dream, 1 Love the insanity of living it and 4ize how to deal with it and keep grounded.

There is a swagger to this track. Everyone involved is making it sound effortless. Think of the greats in their prime (Rakim on any of the Eric B & Rakim albums, Kane on pretty much anything, Guru over a Premier beat). This is how well matched emcees and producer are here.

If Yes Always was Speech’s battle cry to always be prepared and never giving up, then Building From The Bottom demonstrates how he put that theory in to practice to build a 30 year career from nothing. It’s a small insight in to his early days as an emcee.

Chuck D once said something about rap being a contact sport. During the hype around Arrested Development in the early 90’s it was easy to overlook that they got to the top in a cutthroat era, those without skills were sniffed out and discarded. Speech sums it up best:

So no relaxing or laid back attitude more like

Murder everyone that’s in the way push on through

Speech, Building from the bottom

The groups success was no accident. Speech’s verse succinctly describes how it was achieved.

Each emcee builds on the story here – from hopeful to the eventual jaded veteran. In my mind each emcee is playing the same character at different ages and stages in life.

Speech begins with the young mans dream and ambition to get a foot in the door.

1 Love’s verse is the mid-career eye opener to what achieving the goal is really like – from losing friends, to people in the industry trying to dictate lyrical content. The final realisation that being independent is the way to go and the way to truly build and take back control of your voice. Why is this so important, in 1 Love’s words:

Radio they won’t play us folk cuz I want hip hop to get a soul again

1 Love, Building from the bottom

4ize rounds the song off with the tale of the personal toll the industry can take. Protect your legacy and self esteem, apply lessons learned from the bumps along the way. Develop a thick skin to the inevitable knocks and heartbreak. Buried in here is the line:

In the sunlight, master my craft until its done right


This thought stayed with me. It echoes Speech’s line of no relaxing. The way you stay in is the same way you got in. Hard work and honing your skills.