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.

Tuesday, March 14

[HH3os] 8 Big Doe Diagrams About Nothing trio

(1st round match-up 7 of 27)

Mostly getting in practice of writing regularly again because feel like trash human who does trash writing so why not add abundance of fresh trash posts to the holy altar of trash world wide web which hopefully landslides into artificial intelligence which swallows us all? (Wait, it might have done that already.) Anyways, brief recap, listed bunch of albums that were on Pitchfork’s Albums of the Year lists that are conceivably considered hip hop, listen to them in pack of threes twice-through, and deem a battle champ. That’s how I roll – pure trash for the Two Thousand Seventeen (1438 AH). Here’s three more for that wack ass idle reading ass…

Ghostface Killah – The Big Doe Rehab
(released December 4, 2007; #42 on 2007 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
I remain firmly committed to notion that you not fuckin’ with Ghost. He is the Walt Whitman of this age, fuck you if you disagree. Now Big Doe Rehab might not be Ghost’s best offering as an artistic contribution, but hasn’t the man earned the right to have the clip jam now and then? Even shitty Ghost is better than most’s best. This one is comically bonus because it got hot-shotted to release a week before a full Wu album (up next on the ol’ dork queue), and this Ghost has enough Wu features to appear as part of the basic Wu codex, and yet it is not nearly as boring as the upcoming 8 Diagrams. Props to Ghost for staying fired up enough to not sound bored, prolly from chewing on all that ginseng root. You know Ghostface’s probiotic levels gotta be live as fuck too. THREE STARS (because I’d give this man three stars automatic; that’s where he starts at).

Wu-Tang Clan – 8 Diagrams
(released December 11, 2007; #38 on 2007 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
Can’t really call this trash as it’s not trash, but it’s not 8 Diagrams deep, unless it’s Venn diagrams, and they include categories like “how bored are they?” as in Method Man’s mailed in verses where he says interesting things, yes the lyrics remain on point, but he sounds like he’s giving directions to a cop at a bus stop. Or “how old are they?” as in Cappadonna who sounds like he smoked a lot of menthols while gypsy cabbing people around, and I’m not entirely sure Cappadonna has the incredible Wu resume of others for me to overlook this. Or “lol what the fuck?” as in GZA who by this point is far from the Genius we loved, his liquid swords now congealed into gelatinous mathematics not quite as supreme as they once was.
Ultimately the downfall of Wu falls on RZA’s shoulders, as he took over the role of main handler of the entity, and marketed that shit in abnormal but over-proliferated ways. At the same time, he seemed to overstep the wants of certain members (Raekwon/Ghostface faction comes to mind), and it all leads me to wonder about the Wu mansion to be honest. Who’s name was the Wu mansion in? How long before it got sold off? Who made money off the sale? If not sold, who would be allowed to live in right now? Communal arts require dedication to communal power structures, and RZA asserted himself as head, thus this album sounds like the head calling everybody to order for a reunion, and some people care while most of the party in attendance is going through the motions to appease the head and not hurt his feelings, but the end result is yes, a reunion album more like shitty high school reunion drinks afterward than something you’d be excited about. It’s like, “sorry honey, I’m gonna play this Wu Tang album but I only have to do this like once every five years, and I’d feel bad if I didn’t because of all the shit we went through together; you don’t have to stay if you don’t want to” type reunion shit.
It makes me sad to be honest, because Wu really was what Wu claimed to be back in the beginning, but the world (internet, Jim Jarmusch movies, Hollywood itself) got RZA’s head gassed up, and his dome turning big-headed scientist started squeezing out the purity. But what is allowed to remain pure in terms of art when filtered through our material consumerist machinations? Very little. The song about R.I.P. Ol’ Dirty might as well have been R.I.P. Wu. I don’t know if they made another album after this (other than that stupid “there is only one in existence, isn’t that awesome? oh shit, a rich asshole bought it!” one) but I hope not. The only thing worse than shitty art is boring art, because at least shitty art sucks. TWO STARS (Ghost is one, and then Rae and Masta Killa add up to a second).

Wale – The Mixtape About Nothing
(released May 30, 2008; #36 on 2008 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
Ahh, the DC enigma that is Wale. DC has so always desperately wanted a major rap player to help complement all the go-go the DJ plays at the Saturday afternoon back yard cookout, and I very clearly remember reading with gusto in an old ass Fader magazine how finally FINALLY this was gonna happen, with Wale and Tabi Bonney. (There have been roughly one of these type FINALLY articles about DC hip hop every 16 to 19 months.) Wale seemed like the best hope.
Wale started making mixtape noise, and getting prominent (well-compensated) feature spots, and it looked like maybe DC would finally have that rap hero we always wanted (I have lived most of my life in Virginia, which exists in DC’s shadow footprint artistically).
This mixtape is a great fucking mixtape – secure in thematic unity, but also with off-kilter parody of corny ass mixtape culture (and hip hop culture) of the time. This was Wale’s March Madness run, hopefully putting a mid-major on the map (as DC has never been more than mid-major in hip hop realm). This was Wale taking VCU to the Final Four.
Sadly, this was it. Wale signed to MMG with Rick Ross, took his talents to Miami, and quickly morphed into an all-too-obvious industry whore. His DC stamp was replaced with something else; the man lost his sense of home, and perhaps rightfully so never really achieved the same level of brilliance as this mixtape did. Fuck man, he even ended up naming an album The Album About Nothing. That’s kinda sad when you’re trying to recreate the magic of your most famous mixtape on an actual album. I mean, I understand the thinking, but it’s still sad.
Nonetheless, this mixape is on fucking point, and you add in the March Madness montage moments of DC’s high hip hop watermark involved (thus far… we’re about to finally FINALLY blow up), and this is FOUR STARS, but with a certain amount of melancholy about what could have been.


THE WINNER: If this was a real fight, it’d seem easy that Wu Tang would unify into massive critical beatdown of Wale. But as Wale is stomped incessantly, the obvious Wu divisions would fracture along well-exposed faultlines, like just as GZA goes for the pin on a beaten Wale, Raekwon pulls him off, demanding to be able to make the pin himself. Pushing matches ensue, and Wale starts to recover, but as soon as they see this, Wu starts beating him down some more. And yet every time they cannot get on the same page to get the pin, because they are the now Wu, not the back then Wu, and finally Wale sneaks behind Cappadonna and rolls him up into a small package for the one-two-three, and Wale wins this thing that is taking place inside the internet alone.

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