Mr. Counterfeit (first version)

This is actually the very first track Little Art laid down. I placed it second because he and his dad favored the more produced, hooked-up rendition, but in my opinion this raw version unleashes his emotions in an even stronger way and better captures the kinetics of his father piloting his car through the streets. One of my favorite ways of interviewing Art for the book was to wire him up to a recorder as we toured the South Side. Art drives with the rear-view wariness of a crook and the cocky dexterity of a cop—zipping between lights, stopping abruptly, checking his corners, then boosting off down the next block. He drives the way a shark swims. The song moves so breathlessly that the first time I heard it, I missed the part meant for me:

I'm sick of these counterfeit wannabees
Our money's the real thing, ya'll know who I mean
So please get right Mr. Writer who wrote the Rolling Stone Magazine

Of course, it's hard not to listen to this one and realize that Little Art is already hustling himself and deeply wound up in his dad's world. He's "sick of the counterfeit" and wants to "get legit," but he likes the material rewards it brings him—a battle his father fought all the time. And yet it's clear from his music that he has a lot more going for him.