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").