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You know those people who try to start their own nicknames or how they usually end up with a different nickname because no one wants to call them by the nickname they created for themselves? Call me the DZA.

I bought Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… about a month ago but didn’t really sit down to listen to it until about a week ago. I went in expecting just another bullshit rap album full of inconsistencies and shitty production. Apparently I forgot Raekwon is a member of the infamous Wu-Tang Clan, a group, apparently, that is not something to be fucked with. In the words of Ghostface Killah, “RZA bake the track and it’s militant/ Then I react like a convict and start killin’ shit.”

More than a year after discovering The Hold Steady, I’ve found, with the help of The Chef’s solo album debut, the kind of lyrical interplay that I’ve been searching for for quite some time. Maybe even for a year.

Try this on for size: The chorus on “Wu-Gambinos” becomes part of the chorus for “Groundbreaking” on the new GZA album. “Guillotine” features the same movie sample as “Shadowboxin” off of the GZA’s seminal Liquid Swords. “Can it be so Simple” sounds like “Can it be so Simple (remix)”—surprising, right? Ghostface’s shoe fantasy at the end of “Kilo” sounds like the beginning of “Glaciers of Ice” (BOOM!). I mean, that’s all I’ve got right now, but I’m sure the list will continue to build.

I might have revealed my prejudices here: the only Wu-Tang albums I own are Ghostface Killa’s Fishscale, WTC’s Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers), the aforementioned Raekwon album, GZA’s Liquid Swords and ProTools. The production is amazing on all and, I know this is quite possibly heretical, but I think the GZA’s newest album is better. GZA remains consistently brilliant—I mean, they call him “The Genius” for a reason, right?—and yet “Labels” and “0% Finance” deal with the same concept (commercial product names used in original meanings for awesome storytelling) and both even contain just about the same concept with Saturn and Mercury. But that’s why I love it—he’s referencing himself. He has a diss track for 50 Cent then he turns around and samples himself while the other greatest rappers alive steal from everyone else (case in point: Jay-Z. Google “swagger jacking” or look at the lyrics of UGK’s “Touched” and Jay-Hova’s “99 Problems”).

But I digress; the main issue here is that the production started at good-to-excellent (namely, “C.R.E.A.M,” “Criminology,” what-have-you) to plain excellent (what up “Kilo,” “Life is a Movie,” fucking…anything with RZA behind the knobs, whichever producers the Wu can afford {DOOM, Master Teacher, anyone they mufuggin want, etc.}). And they all know their shit is amazing; not only do they name-check the production on each album, they also name-check “C.R.E.A.M.” in at least one song. I’m pretty sure, on 2 out of 2 GZA albums I own, cream is mentioned at least once.

Rap is this generation’s literature and its R&B. Groups used to be the product of the collected brilliance of the singers, songwriters, producers, (house) bands, executives, and so on. I’ve been listening to a lot of The Supremes lately, too, and on some of their songs there are three singers, three songwriters and two producers. Back then the stories were usually brief stories of love or love lost and now the stories are those of violence and a love of violence. The music fits the generation—violent movies outsell romantic movies¹ and the kids these days, they don’t date. They love hook-ups, this here newfangled technology and losing virginity in elementary school (Yes, someone has done that. He was seven and the girl was eight. Oh, the ghetto). R&B was then and the Wu and their associates are now (or sometime circa 1995).

Well, I guess the real moral of this story is that albums that have joined my wish list include the following: RZA’s Bobby Digital in Stereo, Cappadonna’s The Pillage, Killah Priest’s Heavy Mental, Ghostface Killah’s Ironman and Supreme Clientele, Method Man’s Tical and ‘Ol Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers.

1. In the same year “Come See About Me” was Number 1, Dr. Strangelove lost the Oscar for Best Picture to My Fair Lady, while in 2004 (yes, 40 years later) the Best Picture award went to a boxing movie called Million Dollar Baby.

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2 Comments

  1. Cavemen used to fornicate often with/as children. In fact, because the girls were not fertile until they began experiencing menstrual bleeds, a common misconception amongst our ancestors was that the blood was a portent of pregnancy. Once the period came, the girls were eligible to become pregnant, and because there was so much rampant sexual behavior going on at all ages they usually did. Thus I denounce your statement.

  2. This is the part of the post you take most offense to? I’m not sure I really follow your logic, but I might change my post just to appease you.


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] 3. On Wednesday, two friends and I took MTA’s X22 bus from 42nd Street out to Staten Island where we saw the Wu-Tang Clan perform. Sure, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s dead and neither RZA nor Method Man could attend, but I was still on the secluded side of Staten Island where the tiny stage had 8-15 of the most important rappers in the recent development of the DZA. […]

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