Evolution Of A Man

Album: Cadillac Records soundtrack (2008)

Songfacts®:

  • Q-Tip wrote "Evolution of a Man" for the 2008 film Cadillac Records, which tells the story of the Chess Records label that ran from 1950 to 1975. Chess stands as one of the most important labels in music history, important to both blues and rock and roll. The Rolling Stones immortalized the company's home address with their song "2120 South Michigan Avenue."

    Most of Chess Records' acts were African American musicians who came out of rural areas in an era of unrepentant institutional racism. Those artists included (but certainly weren't limited to) Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Etta James.

    With "Evolution Of A Man," Q-Tip tells the story of that group of musicians. He raps from a first-person perspective, but the story can be applied to some degree to any of those musicians. The song is about coming from a small town ("I'm a big fish in a small pond") with a lot of talent, determined to win fame and fortune no matter the obstacle ("no matter if you got the upper hand").
  • This is based on the 1955 Bo Diddley song "I'm A Man," which was released on the Chess label.
  • In the American South in the 1950s, racists often derogatorily called black men "boy." That's what's meant in the chorus, which goes "you ain't dealing with no boy, I'm a grown-ass man."
  • Al Kapone does the chorus on this one. Kapone is a legend of the '90s Memphis, Tennessee underground hip-hop scene. His song "Get Crunk, Get Buck" is on the soundtrack album Hustle & Flow.

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