RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Friday, March 31

[HH3os] The Only Born 4 Cuban Nothing trio

(2nd round match-up 3 of 9)

THIS PROJECT IS ALREADY TOO DIFFICULT BECAUSE THE REDBUDS HAVE BLOSSOMED SO IT IS SCREWED & CHOPPED SPRINGTIME ALREADY (Allahu akbar!) BUT I AM LISTENING TO CRAP ASS RAP MUSIC FROM SEVEN YEARS AGO BECAUSE OF IDIOT OPINIONS OF CONSUMER CULTURE AT LARGE BUT PITCHFORK SPECIFICALLY. I would prefer my pitchforks be of the “red pitchfork green field” fierce rural socialist resistance to colonial overlordery, tbh. But hey, this is Amerikkka in our year of consumption 2017, so instead I will listen to horrible rap music while I drive back-and-forth to my horribly unfulfilling job, all so I can write unnecessary self-ordained expert opinions into the endless sea of futile uselessness that is the internet. One love!

Wale – The Mixtape About Nothing
(released May 30, 2008; #36 on 2008 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
As I said would be the method for these 2nd Round matches, here is snippet from the original Pitchfork review:
On The Mixtape About Nothing, Wale emerges fully-formed as a rapper and as a thinker, a lightning-witted, irreverent guy blessed with both an infectious swagger and a sound moral compass-- twin gifts that enable him to accomplish some of the mixtape's most audacious feats.
Though there was a funnier and much-dated quote about how Wale rapped “an iPod mind to you Walkman guys” (lolol IT’S ONLY BEEN 9 YEARS AND YET THIS SOUNDS LIKE IT’S FROM 50 YEARS AGO AND THE POLICE WERE MURDERING BLACK PEOPLE AND RACISM WAS STILL THE RULE OF THE LAND PRE-CIVIL RIGHTS… oh wait, maybe that’s a bad example), I chose this one because it painfully drives home the parallel I suddenly realized in my dumb Amerikkkan pop culture soaked brain while listening to this mixtape again (and again)… Wale is the hip hop equivalent to RG3 for DC.
I’m a few hours way from DC, but have lived in its cultural footprint most of my life. Grew up in southside Virginia (a hopeless drug-infested shithole that got Redskins games on the TV) and now live in what is probably central VA, though I consider it the fringes of southside still for psychological reconciliation purposes. I don’t consider myself a part of DC, but we did used to drive up there for drugs back in the day, and it’s where one would’ve went to see shows which wouldn’t come close to our stick ass back roads existences. But I grew up a Washington football fan, and was up through RG3’s first season.
RG3’s first regular season was, for all intents and purposes, Wale’s The Mixtape About Nothing, because it was amazing, fluid, and confirmed all the promise we’d been hyping ourselves for. There were so many slick moments of transcendence you couldn’t help but get into what was going on.
And yet, that first year of RG3 ended in tragedy (as expected if you knew the Wash. R-words under Dan Snyder). In this analogy I’m establishing, the NFL post-season would be a music industry actual record release. RG3 fucked his knee up on shoddy turf being play-called to plow head-first into oblivion, and the Redskins did not win a single playoff game with their franchise savior RG3.
Wale never had an actual album come close to touching the tight cleverness of material and theme that this mixtape did. It’s probably why he’s released multiple works since which attempt to rehash this mixtape in one way or another. Wale plays for the Cleveland Browns now. In fact, I saw just this very morning that there is some event wrapped around Wrestlemania called Walemania where you pay $15 to watch a fucking podcast happen live, where wrestling personalities of various obscurities are interviewed right before your eyes, and then there is a Wale performance too. This is certainly the hip hop equivalent of being engaged to an Estonian woman and hoping to have a shot at competing for the Browns back-up QB position in a couple months. The sadness of humane ebbs and flows of potential/promise and actual end results never fails to make me feel melancholy.
And yet, good for Wale. If he loves professional wrestling, and loves rapping still, and has somehow managed to figure out a way to hang out with a bunch of wrestling dorks and get paid off it, to continue hustling non-traditional means of money-making, then that is beautiful too. Sometimes our individual promise and potential misleads us into believing we deserve more than we will ever get, and if one can adjust from that into a happy lane in life at lower crescendo, then bless that motherfucker who does so.
Still though, this mixtape is amazing. SIX STARS!

DOOM – Born Like This
(released March 24, 2009; #48 on 2009 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
From Pitchfork, in a good exhibit of internet gentrification:
The overall subject matter can get grimier than Madvillainy converts are used to. "Absolutely" envisions a widely organized revenge plot against the entire legal system-- from snitches to police to judges-- where offending parties get their lattes poisoned and their tongues ripped out. "Rap Ambush" compares his M.O. to an insurgent attacking troops with guerilla tactics. And "Batty Boyz" features more concentrated homophobia than damn near any hip-hop track I've heard this decade…
Here is the thing about gentrifying personalities – they want to be part of something they are not born unto (haha, ties into the Born Like This aspect), but don’t want to fully accept it. Now granted this review was done back in 2009, and mainstream consciousness is way more synchronized to revolutionary philosophy than it used to be. But at the same time, revolutionary potential is still quickly diverted by proper channeling of mass streams of consciousness into shit like hashtag resistance or #NotMyPresident. Gentrifying personalities will consume underclass anger and the violence that comes with that, as a tea kettle release for their own feelings of inadequacy, but outright assaults on the entire system are a little too much. I mean, America is already great, right?
The early call-out on the homophobic nature of “Batty Boyz” lyrics is classic gentrifier high-brow way of being able to call out segments of the underclass for being too ignorant to be saved, but in a way that does not use racial or economic classifications to do so. Only problem is, it can still pretty much be applied in such ways when you see who is judge as unworthy. This is how hashtag resistance movements are able to pretend to be saviors of The People, all while writing off a large chunk of them as being too fucking ignorant to be worth saving. This is all just collateral damage to the geopolitical gentrifying personalities.
Anyways, despite it being *problematic*, fuck anybody who doesn’t realize this album is A THOUSAND STARS great. The IRL antidote to the *problematic* principle is that age old asphalt adage, “Real recognize real.” Your actions speak louder than your words. Yeah, your words get too stupid, we not gonna try to even see what your acts are gonna do, but still, SO MANY FUCKING PEOPLE IN THIS AGE think just because they say all the right things, they deserve respect. Fuck that. A lot of y’all are still fake motherfuckers pretending to be righteous. Gentrifying personalities, trying to convince everybody (probably including yourself) how fucking true you are. But you don’t even recognize the reality of everything. And it’s not really your fault – you can’t recognize something you don’t know. “Real recognize real” but also if you don’t know it, nothing gives you that knowledge other than getting thrown into it. You can’t tip-toe into the fringes of real, pick out the parts you like, edit out the pieces you don’t, and pretend you’re real now. (And yes, that last sentence is meant to read exactly like what gentrification does to physical spaces.)

Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II
(released September 8, 2009; #5 on 2009 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
From the Pitchfork review at the time:
The last time a Wu-Tang record came together with this kind of personnel and succeeded under a grand conceptual vision, we got Fishscale, and calling Cuban Linx II Raekwon's equivalent to it isn't out of the question. Like Ghostface's modern classic, this album defies hip-hop's current atmosphere of youthful cockiness and aging complacency: instead, it's driven by the sometimes celebratory, sometimes traumatized sense of stubborn survival and perseverance, a veteran mindset that can no longer picture success without having to defend it.
I do not disagree with any of this, and in fact my description of Rae’s win in the 1st round of this idiotic project stated that this was one of the truest returns to Wu-fundamentalism you could find in the late Wu canon. It’s weird though that we all still expect Wu to be true to some sort of Wu-morality from a quarter century ago. And yet it’s pretty obvious, in those unexplainable gut intuitive ways things can be obvious. RZA doesn’t feel as Wu-true a lot of times any more, even if he’s the official business head of the whole thing. Rae and Ghost tend to seem like the grizzled old Orthodox ministers of Wu-fundamentalism, and though I’m ranking this album second time through less than a thousand stars (closer to THIRTY SIX STARS), I am thankful I was forced by my stupid desire to create content for nobody (The Content for Nobody website) to visit this album, which I always assumed would just make me feel sad for the lost innocence of unpolished early Wu.

THE WINNER: Obviously, a thousand stars beats anything lesser. A night sky of a thousand stars, as limited as that might seem to those who lay outside at night IRL, is still a pretty great number for pop cultural review purposes inside the digital realm (which could really use more laying outside at night imo). So Doom and Born Like This moves on deeper into another level of self-constructed nonsense. THANKS FOR PLAYING!

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