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.

Wednesday, March 15

[HH3os] Da Fishscale Gangster Drought trio

(2nd round match-up 2 of 9)

The fog increases, as Yakubian two-step of Misinformation and Misdirection continue to lead us (me) into blinding haze of unimportant deliriums. My only true friend in this digital labyrinth is language, and even that I don’t trust due to its colonial origins. Thus, I carve dirtgod opines out of shineface etymology, and attempt to hide from the world in the self-prescribed medication of pop cultural meditations. The slow death continues.

Ghostface Killah – Fishscale
(released March 28, 2006; #4 on 2006 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
As promised in the first second-round match-up, let us look at notable quote (or quotable note, alternatively) from the actual initial Pitchfork review (about the track “Underwater”):
Eventually arriving at the "world's banginest mosque," Ghost finds comfort in Muslim chants; the rapper's rare moment of peace is well-deserved amidst Fishscale's enthralling agony. Aiding in the track's calming vibes is a mysterious, flute-laden beat courtesy of MF Doom…
I couldn’t find a quote to make fun of, though it was normal Pitchfork review, parsing out the specific songs and producers like a farm-to-table foodie reviewer name-dropping local farms to show how down with the depth of the cause they are, so I just picked this one, because there’s a strange peace for me personally in listening to Ghost, and I’d say it likely relates to his own spirituality.
A lot of hip hop glamorizes grimy lifestyles; this has always been true. But the only real shine to that stereotypical hard knock life (which so many are afflicted by to various degrees) is how you learn to navigate the bullshit labyrinth that is civilization. There’s no unnecessary glamorization with Ghost – it’s all a path towards finding your way, which of course is always a moving target, at best. This is why philosophy/spirituality ends up being important, because you ain’t gonna totally figure the shit out like a Rubik’s Cube or Sudoku, so you have to be equipped with navigational processes (aka spirituality, or philosophy if shit that sounds too close to religion gets you twitchy, which I understand) to get through the moving target that is life. Ghost’s lyrics, on the surface just tales, are thick with these moral kernels, and that’s why I will always love that fucker. SEVEN STARS (with seven crescent moons).

Lil Wayne – Da Drought 3
(released April 13, 2007; #16 on 2007 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
Pitchfork time-stamping Da Drought 3 in their initial review:
With its free-associative, intangible, postmodern pull, Da Drought 3, by contrast, sounds a lot like the future. Released on the internet for free, the 29-track, 100-plus minute, DJ-less behemoth finds Lil Wayne sidestepping the music industry-- and the mixtape industry-- while delivering similes, jokes, and flows by the ton.
It will never not be hilarious to read what the future was gonna be like to those in the past, because usually retro-futures just look like old shit. I can enjoy Wayne’s Best Rapper Alive-era shit well enough, but there’s also a pretty strong pop cultural time stamp to it all, with all the “Lil Wayne obviously watches a lot of Sportscenter”-esque lines.
There’s also a personal time stamp, because I was self-employed painter at the time, and had a gig for a month or so painting this cavernous haunted-feeling warehouse space in downtown Richmond, and there was creepy freight elevator I used to go to mostly empty floors at night, giant four-story building empty of known souls other than me (but never felt alone there, to be honest). I combatted the creep factor by blasting Power 92 (always better than cookie cutter national radio syndicate 106.5 the Beat back then), and a fat chunk of these instrumentals that Wayne fucks up were from heavy rotation tracks back during that period, so the beats themselves trigger ghostly echoes through giant room with 20-foot high ceiling full of racks of expensive Persian rugs, and me the solitary stupid idiot painterman painting away during the rug business’s off-hours (after already working my own day hours), trying to get in at least 8 hours again on this second-shift, to make the drive worthwhile, before going home 90s minutes to sleep five hours and try it all again. Perhaps the ghostly effects were lack of sleep deliriums, but many of these beats tap at those strong psychic memories of being completely alone in the middle of a city, and not feeling alone ever, even though for all physically present intents and purposes, you were. And then the peacefulness of night city at 2 am, loading up my late model Volvo station wagon with rug business door propped open, car unlocked, knowing this block from my past years here, knowing crimes did and do happen and danger always lurked in the night, but it felt so calm and quiet that time of night in that part of the city, like everything had shut down – a music box waiting to be re-wound.
That’s really all that Lil Wayne has going for himself at this point – those memory triggers brought up in the individual. He only had a handful of songs that have survived the years as classics, and I’m not sure any of his mixtape songs meet that criteria. But when you play this shit, it triggers those memories which sometimes got planted deep into our psychic make-up, and thus a random motherfucker will tweet about how Da Drought 3 was the greatest shit ever back in the day fairly regularly, even though if some 16-year-old kid was to see that tweet and go dl the mixtape right now, and listen to it right now, they’d wonder what the fuck ol’ dude on the twitters was talking about. Still though, due to memories, FOUR STARS.

Jay-Z – American Gangster
(released November 6, 2007; #13 on 2007 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
From the Pitchfork:
By attaching himself to a big-budget crime epic, Jay guaranteed himself cross-media presence and positioned himself to regain some of the grimy credibility he'd lost with 2006's Kingdom Come, the would-be comeback that found Jay rapping about brands so expensive most of his audience had no idea what he was talking about.
Yeah, I’m no fan of rappers who rap about expensive shit they own, especially if they are rappers known to employ ghostwriters to write the rhymes about the expensive shit they own. I still freestyle to myself about a thousand miles a week, and the act of rhyming is more meditation upon shitty depressing dissatisfying life circumstances than braggadocio, so LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT ALL THIS EXPENSIVE SHIT I OWN rap feels literally spirit-less to me. Jay-Z has been big player in that realm or hip hop, which – as an expert whiteboy – I am forced to suggest may betray the original Herc/Flash/Bambaataa roots of hip hop (although let’s be honest, every poor motherfucker in the history of U.S. capitalism has been scheming at least one way to get fuckin’ paid, always). So yeah, this is Jay-Z forcing himself to introspectively get retro for an album, thus it’s goodness is directly relative to Jay-Z’s artistic low points before and after (and all around) American Gangster.
But the beats… all those ‘60s soul-infused tracks but with NYC high hat clapback to keep heart’s innate metronome right the fuck on time, those are some great tracks, and allow me, the listener, to indulge Jay in his masturbatory throwback style. And who the fuck doesn’t love rocking masturbatory throwbacks when the weather is warm? THREE STARS.


THE WINNER: Jay-Z is too rich to get sullied by actual battle so this is really just Ghostface Fishscale vs. Lil Wayne Drought 3, and Lil Wayne is tiny, plus in all likelihood codeine’d out. Ghost would take the strap to Wayne – physically, metaphysically, lyrically, whatever – while that Dilla beat just played on endless loop in the background. Fishscale navigates the next scaffold level of HH3os nonsense.

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