RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Thursday, June 29

#86 RAP TAPES: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill


Here's a guarantee for you - if some rapper, any rapper really, makes a record where they rhyme over top of acoustic guitars, and they rhyme about how great the old days were and about being conscious or some shit, it will be all over NPR and on Spin critics best of year x lists. These are the type of negroes that make white people feel comfortable, which makes white people be able to sit easier with that whole slavery history, not to mention CIA cocaine importation, and injecting prisoners with syphilis and all those other things. They are the academic Uncle Toms.
And if you make one of them a semi-hot chick rapper, then it goes through the roof, because not only does she get to play the academic Uncle Tom roll, but she can also be the hot black subject for the sexual objectification of the small-dicked white intelligentsia, who believe falsely you can get a girl's panties wet by being open-minded.
I'm not sure I'd even consider this a rap record after listening to it a couple of times; it's more like Sesame Street for teenagers.

Wednesday, June 28

#87 RAP TAPES: Black on Both Sides


There are many things that make Mos Def's first solo album a big piece of shit. If you took away all his meanderings from old school classics, that's half the tape gone right there. I think he's the only person who gives Jay-Z a run for his money when it comes to co-opting shit. Mos Def's pretentiousness kills another part of the tape. But I think, and this has come to me in listening to all these old rap tapes, is he has the absolute worst "I'm a rapper doing a rock song" rock song of all, which is like being the king piece of shit in a shit-laden pile of crap. Yeah yeah I know, black man created rock-n-roll, but that does not mean your stupid ass can yell over top a shitty guitar solo and consider yourself The Backyard Babies or something.
I don't know, I used to be way on the Rawkus tip and loved some Mos Def, but that dude is downright pitiful nowadays, a cookie cutter NPR music critic's rapper if there ever was one.

Thursday, June 22

#88 RAP TAPES: De La Soul is Dead


I might be able to overlook the fact this is whiny, shitty, overrated record, except for the fact four out of every five parts of the tape are some extra shitty skit. It's like Hee Haw had a C-team involved with hip hop. I feel sorry sometimes for Trugoy and Mase to be burdened by Posdnuos terrible nerdery. They could've been Brand Nubian if Pos had ever had sex with a black girl instead of Long Island hippie chicks.

Wednesday, June 21

#89 RAP TAPES: East Side Story


The hispanic causing panic got me all on this stupid Mexican rap kick at one point, and you got to give Frost credit for one thing - he single-handedly created a genre of rap that may not be mainstream accessible, but is evident in every car show pictorial of each month's Low Rider magazine. This tape I dig, but the lyrics are kind of predictable, and the beats are kind of predictable, very oldies soul oriented samples and rehashing of old soul song concepts lyrically. It makes for a good tape to play here and there, but that shit can be kind of stupid if you actually try to seek it out.

Tuesday, June 20

#90 RAP TAPES: Unfinished Business


There was a time in my big-headed life I never thought I'd say this, but listening to a lot of old shit, including pretty much every EPMD record, I think I'd say, starting with this tape, EPMD was overrated, and pretty much living off the rep they got from Strictly Business. If you want to get fucked up, play a drinking game where you listen to this record and guzzle each time you hear Erick or Parrish make reference to their first LP. You will be drunk long before that stupid song about having too much to drink where the Puerto Rican guy thinks he's picked up Paula Abdul. The sad thing is I've always loved Erick Sermon, but re-listening to everything lately, if you had to make a tape with Sermon's best ten songs, and none of them could be off Strictly Business, you'd have a hard time making a tape I wouldn't throw out the window of my car riding down the road to work.

Monday, June 19

#91 RAP TAPES: House of Pain


In 1992 a perfect storm occurred. The Beastie Boys had recently released the crazy Check Your Head tape, which dabbled and dipped back into their punk rockish roots, and yet more white kids than ever were into hip hop, mega-fueled by the weed-happy twang of Cypress Hill, not to mention the gangsta musings of the post N.W.A west coast. You combine that with a national campaign to get people to drink Mickey's 22 ounce bottles of malt liquor affectionately dubbed Hornets, with a bee pointing a stinger on the top - much more appropriate for white folks than the southern plantation malt liquor imagery of bulls and horses like Blue Bull and Colt 45, and it all went together with the token white rapper from Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate re-inventing himself as Irish as a motherfucker, to make him seem, you know, not so cul-de-sac white and more gangsta white. Throw in a couple twangy DJ Muggs beats, and BAMM! you got House of Pain-mania sweeping America. Motherfucks were all up on that shit.
It's funny with a lot of these tapes, listening to them now, and how some stand the test of time and some don't. Everlast's rhyme style has some nice repetition of linguistical sounds, but not that clever. It's almost as if he can't wait a whole line to rhyme something, so he just does half-time rhyming within each line. And Danny Boy is like a far shittier understudy of Everlast. In fact, this is a pretty shitty tape all told. But still, you can't deny the pure perfect storm high tide of "Jump Around", and I know it's the hipster hip hop dork's thing to suck Pete Rock's dick and mention his remix of this song as early testament to his greatness, but fuck, that original version with the annoyingly catchy Muggs-topian horns is hard to not smile with reminiscing happiness when you hear it.

Sunday, June 18

#92 RAP TAPES: The Ghetto's Been Good to Me


Man, I used to pump that "The Return of the Holy One" song all the time, and this tape has one of the better shitty rock/rap hybrids that all rappers eventually do. But YZ sort of fell off completely after he got punked of his chain or something by Treach, who I guess they had personal Jersey beef going way back or some dumb shit. This is a fun summertime record though, good for drinking gin on ice to.

Wrestling Tanka - Set Twelve

[From Hollywood]
Andy Kaufman lived
his dream; his satisfied corpse
decays in a grave.

Art school hipsters still wonder
if he was mad - pure kayfabe.
~~~~~~~
[Abdullah]
Mrs. A. Butcher
proudly sewed her man's name on
his ring clothes; we booed.

Over hotel phones, he'd speak
words we thought impossible.
~~~~~~~
[Harley Race's Stab Wound]
Harley Race never
saw the coward who stabbed him,
'till they held him down.

Looking down at the spoils of
success, Race had no regrets.
~~~~~~~
[The Nature Boy]
Flair entered the bar;
females were assured but drinks
had to be ordered.

Zinfandels for the ladies,
vodka on ice for The Champ.
~~~~~~~
[Art Imitates Life]
Godzilla versus
Megalon was booked well; Jet
Jaguar worked light.

Godzilla turned face with age -
pop culture hotshot angle.
~~~~~~~
[Triple H's Teacher]
Killer Kowalski
could work a crowd, but couldn't
face his own baldness.

Stomping on local heroes,
the sweat high on his forehead.
~~~~~~~
[Nickname]
"Beautiful" wrestlers
aren't on the outside, but they
are full of our dreams.

We smile at our ol' lady
without bleached blonde confidence.

Saturday, June 17

#93 RAP TAPES: The Sun Rises in the East


Man, if ever there was someone who made a career off one hit, it was Jeru and that wicked "Come Clean" song, which was the perfect Premier selection of a beat - all disjointed and shit - to complement Jeru's staggered style on the mic. On a lot of his other songs, Jeru can sound like shit. Plus, he comes across as one of those "I'm intellectual for intellectualment's sake" type rappers. I mean, he pronounces Taoist tay-o-ist, which is fine, but he does it like seven times. You might want to be get the shit you're using to refer to your style pronounced halfway right.
Whatever... I dug this tape a lot when it came out because I was all up on the jock of that "Come Clean" song, but there's just too much garbage common black academic devil battling stereotypical metaphors. I hope Jeru gives parts of whatever royalty checks he might still get to Premier, because his career was propped up on Premo's sampler.

Wrestling Tanka - Set Eleven

[Satanic Sullivan #2]
I saw Sullivan
roll his eyes back; I was so
diff'rent after that.

He spoke of pyramids and
quoted the Bible - perfect.
~~~~~~~
[Women's Match]
The lady wrestler
told her opponent to watch
the gut shots: bad cramps.

She hoped tomorrow night she
wouldn't need to repeat it.
~~~~~~~
[Old School Travel #3]
Where did ideas
of the Double Goozle strike?
Road trip satori.

Long hours listening to tires
click bring satisfied madness.
~~~~~~~
[Women's Match #2]
If you say that you
wouldn't fuck Moolah, I don't
want to talk to you.

Stratus tits are for pin-ups,
not for mouths to grapple at.
~~~~~~~
[Sailor Art Thomas]
Sailor Art Thomas
didn't lose his temper, but
all the bastards tried.

Babyfaced black man never
bending rules - civil and right.
~~~~~~~
[2 Cold]
Getting weed into
Japan was a problem for
Too Cold Scorpio.

After three tours, his Tokyo
friendships would never fail him.
~~~~~~~
[Hands of Stone]
Ron Garvin gladly
dressed in drag for an angle:
carny as all hell.

Over beers, other workers
joked how cute he was - five stars.

Thursday, June 15

#94 RAP TAPES: Foundation


I was all about this shit, as it was Brand Nubian back together to achieve their true glory promised on the first tape. "Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down" was probably the greatest single from the Grand Puba/Sadat X & Lord Jamar separated years, but it would've been that much better with Puba's fat face looking he got stung by a hive of bees rapping about kicking ass on some chump because dude was pissed his girl let Puba hit the skins. Hitting skins is my favorite positive old school term of the day (high-cappin' is the negative one). Foundation is a good record, but kind of boring. I feel hypocritical because one of my big things lately is how there needs to be grown folks hip hop, like Big Daddy Kane and Brand Nubian putting out quality records in 2006, so that them older folks who sit around picnic tables playing Spades all Sunday afternoon have some shit for themselves since all the old school jams shows are getting phased out by the ClearChannel monster. What the fuck does 50 Cent speak to a 37-year-old guy who spent 8 years in jail for some stolen guns and wants nothing more than to get a 2 of spades dealt to him so he can win ten bucks off his cousin.
Through that post-listening filter, I enjoy Foundation more, but still... it lacks fire, perhaps a little too mellow, but in a preachy way. The odd thing is though, I originally hyped Puba up in my head as the leading lyricist, and once he was gone and obsolete outside the occasional guest appearance here or there, I thought Sadat X was the best, perhaps because of his weird voice. But Lord Jamar is like motherfuckin' Larry Allen, perennial kick-ass offensive lineman for my most-hated Dallas Cowboys, a guy who was there during the highest times and the lowest times, and was rock solid the whole way through even though you didn't always notice it. Jamar is behind some 5% Islam tape that's out now that I'd be interested in checking out, if I didn't have a family and bills and no money, which means I ain't checking out shit until like 17 years from now when I find it at a yard sale for fifty cents.

Wrestling Tanka - Set Ten

[Four Horsemen #2]
How many times did
J.J. Dillon scamper on
back with one shoe on?

How long would he wear women's
hose for depantsing angles?
~~~~~~~
[The Von Erichs #2]
Divine vision drove
Fritz Von Erich to push his
sons to the cold grave.

Best of Von Erichs Netflix
rentals won't resurrect lives.
~~~~~~~
[Submission Showdown]
Patterson - Graham:
who was wrestling's best finish
man? We all win here.

Unyielding forces collide -
that's what makes a main event.
~~~~~~~
[Bad Man From Borger]
Stan Hansen ate the
kobe steak that Yakuza
money had bought him.

Inside was tender and pink;
he chewed, mind on ranch repairs.
~~~~~~~
[Jackie's Legacy]
The Fargo strut must
never die; take ev'ry chance
to do it yourself.

I do it down morning halls
towards the bathroom mirror.
~~~~~~~
[Apter Mags]
Bill Apter spread the
photos out on the desk; the
story would follow.

Most came easy, but sometimes
he'd check "facts" with promoters.
~~~~~~~
[Blonde-Haired Babyface Lament]
A vicodin and
beer high can make you forget
your wife in Georgia.

Ten years later, child support
payments are pay-per-view gates.

Wednesday, June 14

#95 RAP TAPES: Efil4zaggin


Efil4zaggin was hyped enough to get N.W.A onto the cover Time magazine, and listening to it now, a few things were obvious to me. First off, lyrically, Ice Cube was the backbone of N.W.A. Dre was never a writer, and Eazy was nothing more than a money man, and though Ren had skills, his were more based on the old school and very formulaic even through the new prism of gangsta rap. Without Cube, the album lacked lyrically a lot of times. The second problem was it being victim to Eazy-E's desire to put himself over so much as a modern day Dolemite. The skits on this album were terrible, shit that vaudeville comediens wouldn't use for a double album.
The one positive though is you can hear Dre find that g-funk sound on this record that he exploited fully on The Chronic. If there was an instrumental version of Efil4zaggin, sans the stupid skits, I'd be all over that shit.

Tuesday, June 13

Wrestling Tanka - Set Nine

[Starrcade '85]
Magnum made Tully
say "I quit"; a new blood feud
followed right away.

Few fights got that violent,
which is why it scarred our minds.
~~~~~~~
[Hammered]
I rolled a joint for
Greg Valentine, years after
his IC belt run.

Wonder if he faceplanted
into sofas as a joke?
~~~~~~~
[The Weasel Manager]
Ernie Roth knew where
to get Superstar's boas
for cheap - that's his job.

Valets fold robes; managers
accommodate a charge's needs.
~~~~~~~
[The Penis]
Lanny Poffo's dick
booked him in Japan; Sonny
Rogers told me so.

Penis spectacles carry
plenty of locker room weight.
~~~~~~~
[Son of the Saint]
Imagine your dad
was a Silver God: now you're
Hijo Del Santo.

Imagine you still shine through
such a tall shadow: that's rare.
~~~~~~~
[Dudley Boyz]
The Dudleys fight on
what cassette to play: Hank III,
Senior, or Junior.

Buh-Buh - behind wheel - chooses;
D-Von cusses Tennessee.
~~~~~~~
[$2 Program]
I always buy a
program. It adds a layer
of kayfabe on it.

Eleven-by-seventeen -
folded, stapled, with sponsors.

#96 RAP TAPES: Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version


Man, I love ODB as much as anybody, but this record is like four great songs with a bunch of bad ghetto Hee Haw skits. It's like he spent his whole advance, then did the entire album the day before the A&R guy was showing up to pick up the masters to be mixed down by somebody who wasn't a Wu-filliate. I give ODB credit for that, because fuck deadlines and responsibilities and motherfuckers putting stifling ass demands on you all the time, but still, it makes for a shitty record to listen to sometimes if you're not in the mood. Plus, I'm sick of explaining weird sexual shit to my kids because of this, though the "fragile as eggs" thing gets a laugh even though they don't know what it all means completely. At least I hope they don't.

Monday, June 12

Wrestling Tanka - Set Eight

[The Heel's Heel]
Killer Tim Brooks hates
all men equally; watch him
work his dark magic.

Felt loyal to money and
mayhem - in either order.
~~~~~~~
[Russian Nightmare #2]
The most important
thing that Uncle Ivan taught
me: blade in the mouth.

And speak as if through gravel,
to make the children cower.
~~~~~~~
[Dr. Death]
"Stitch me up, doc - I
have a match tonight"; Williams
is a wrestling god.

Tore up Okie towns before
puro cults deified him.
~~~~~~~
[Old School Travel]
Isometric grips
on the steering wheel; big gyms
are for soft pansies.

Pint glass curls and knocking chips
off loud-mouth fan's shoulders help.
~~~~~~~
[Watching the Lights]
I popped my shoulder
back into the socket and
did the job - no choice.

Afterwards, I thought about
getting new fabric for trunks.
~~~~~~~
[Old School Travel #2]
Johnny Valentine
listened to opera and
so did all the car.

In-ring stiffness - old school like
out-of-ring intolerance.
~~~~~~~
[Hogan]
Without his chest hair
shaved into an H-bomb blast,
Hulk Hogan ain't shit.

Real Americans fessed up -
they were Stone Cold wise-ass drunks.

#97 RAP TAPES: Steal This Album


I suffer from Expert Whiteboy Dialysis, which is where I can't like hippitty hoppitty shit that too many other white folks like. The Coup suffers from this, because Gin & Genocide was like a whiteboy Richmond in 1996 cokehead themetrack, so I heard it a bunch, to the point I hated it and everything it was perverted to stand for. Steal This Album is a great album, and the first one I think The Coup did without E-Roc, which took away any street twang and left them with nothing but Chomsky-ist povertyisms. I still dig this tape a lot though, the "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night" is the most famous song, and a great one, but my favorite is easily "Cars & Shoes", mostly because I can relate, and also because I've forever since I heard it wanted to sample "in an '81 Datsun", because until I got my shitty '91 Volvo gunmetal colored stationwagon, an '81 Datsun 200 SX was my favorite car forever, so much so that I've still got it sitting in my front yard full of plastic bags of clothes to go to the Goodwill, should the car ever start again.

Wednesday, June 7

#98 RAP TAPES: Kool & Deadly (Justicizms)


Ahh... Just-Ice, a fine competent old school member of the Boogie Down Productions crew who was the most awesome thing ever back in the day with a song like "The Original Gangster of Hip Hop", then flew too far into the raggamuffin style and now stands the test of time like pet rocks, just not as retro hilarious. Two things you can count on with a Just-Ice tape: firstly, there's only going to be like eight songs, and secondly, two of those songs are going to be real bad and another three are going to be barely tolerable. I heard once that Just-Ice was from D.C. and is like a ghetto celebrity up there. I hope no one killed him for a North Face jacket.