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, April 4

[HH3os] The Born Like Purple Fishscale trio

(Penultimate match-up 1 of 3)

To recap the unnecessary, 81 albums were sorted chronologically into sets of 3 to do battle. In 1st round, 81 albums became (and are still becoming) 27 winners. 2nd round saw (and sees) 27 become 9. Thus this penultimate round, as this thing develops (or disappears) is the top 9 albums according to this entirely non-scientific method of me playing them two times through while driving my family’s second vehicle – a shitty 2004 Chevrolet Venture minivan – back and forth to work. These are 3 of those 9 almost finalists, and it is also spring, so I have gone from late winter driver’s window cracked mode to both front windows down, vibing the fuck out, at least in the evenings because in the mornings full window blowout makes my hair look all fucked up like I am a dimwitted child, and my personality already has enough “dimwitted child” spice to it that I don’t need to add-on through appearance and jeopardize my continued employment.

Cam’ron – Purple Haze
(released December 7, 2004; #9 on 2005 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
From their 2005 year-end best albums list write-up:
Oh, Pitchfork, you're so December 2004! It's called deadlines, rabble-rousers, breathe out. Purple Haze, right now, remains as important and combustible a rap album as has been made this century. So much blood and ink has been spilt (though it has sold less than 700,000 copies to date) that it's easy to forget the virtuosity contained therein.
This snippet speaks to fallacy of internet opinion scientifics – because everything is predicated on URGENT IMMEDIACY! Like Kendrick Lamar dropped a new video last week, and there were literally hot take thinkpieces galore the very next morning. Nothing has a chance to percolate (word to house music), marinate (word to E-40), nor ruminate (word to Rumi). This is under the guise of deadlines, but c’mon man, websites are not printed and do not need to be at the printer by December 15th in order to be on the newsstand by December 28th. Pitchfork had an arbitrary deadline for their 2004 year-end list, which they probably actually started working on well before Thanksgiving, likely near Halloween, in order to DROP THAT AUTHORITATIVE LIST as quickly as possible at (near) the end of the year. So Cam’s hot ass mixtape had to catch super-fire, and then purple smoke linger in the air long enough to be not only included but near the top of the following year’s list.
It’s also funny to see the blurb writer of then mention how much had been written about this mixtape. None of it survives. This is the futile “building cultural sandcastles” effort of the internet – we stress ourselves so fucking hard to make timely (meaning immediate) content, and that shit ultimately is obscure almost as soon as you click publish. Which causes constant existential crisis in the (lolol) creator of content, because ultimately all your acts are extremely fucking futile.
I am okay with all this. Part of the motivation behind having three albums go head-to-head was to counter this desire to either always love everything or hate everything. Something has to be better or worse than the other two when put head-to-head (-to-head) like I have conjured up here with this HH3os shit. The false culture of eternal immediacy is also why I decided to play all three albums, one-two-three, beginning-to-end, once, and then again a second time, to give it a slow back-to-back boil, and see what actually got cooked out of the process, instead of just getting caught up in that smart mark frenzy of wanting to proclaim everything the “OMG! LET ME JUST INSERT A BUNCH OF CORNY MEMES ABOUT HOW AMAZING THIS IS!” of forever, like two times a week.
Of course this process means I have now – in this HH3os Pitchfork process – gone through this Cam mixtape six entire times, and like the briefly alluded to Rumi before him, Cam has embedded bezels of wisdom. The specific cranium crusher for me this past listen through was “can’t get paid on an Earth this big, you’re worthless kid,” because of the last three syllable rhyme patterns of those two lines, but also the deeper meanings one can read into that if they wanted. I mean, sure, perhaps Cam wasn’t speaking to the existential futility of consumer capitalism, but you can crack those lines open and find plenty of fruit to support such a claim. That’s the beauty of great art – whether conscious of unconscious (or sub-conscious) – it does shit like that. Cam was dialed the fuck in as to doing that in this period. SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWELVE STARS!

Ghostface Killah – Fishscale
(released March 28, 2006; #4 on 2006 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
The mention of sufi mystic poets with regards to Cam is fitting for Ghost as well, because no rapper is more I Self Lord And (Am) Master as fuck than him. No rapper is more of a mystic, and in fact, when it comes to the oft-made Action Bronson stole his style comparisons, it could be argued that Bronson is just a superficial, far-less-mystical version of Ghost (which is not a diss, believe it or not). From the 2006 albums of the year blurb at Pitchfork:
In other words, no matter when you heard it or in what form, Fishscale became your favorite rap record, maybe for hours, maybe forever. Exactly how it became Ghostface Killah's most lauded is more difficult to explain. It's not his most compelling album lyrically, nor his most progressive album sonically. Still, Fishscale most vividly displayed Ghostface's versatility. Even when forced into revision by his abiding (but impatient) fans, he retained his signature faculties-- ludicrous imagination, elaborate storytelling, tortured soul singing, and dirty jokes for days-- all while evolving into a wiser, gentler armchair hustler whose charisma spanned race, class and creed.
The position being put forth here is actually the most gentrified of positions I could have ever hoped for as I work this gimmick under loose theme of “gentrification of the internet (as seen through Pitchfork specifically)”, because the blurb writer is saying, very clearly, that Ghost is still the same, but more accessible to all, thus better than ever. The gentrifying personality desperately wants to believe what they have access to is as authentic as ever, and nothing has changed. The experience has just successfully been opened up to them (but not everybody because only they are true enough to the original authenticity to feel comfortable gaining access to this world – the gentrifier has to always distance themselves from base commercial development; they are “renovating an abandoned warehouse”, not “building $800K condominiums”.
That being said, this album is pretty great, for some unexplainable reason. I mean, it doesn’t do anything necessarily different than other later period Ghostface albums, but it still stands out. I think this is because there’s less clunkers on it than other later period Ghost albums. When one is a mystic scratching at superficial reality’s hidden realities, it’s easy to lose people. Or lose yourself. Ghost didn’t get lost too often in this one. Even when he did (that skit giving directions), it was moveset that helped establish whatever was coming next. In my opinion, as former expert whiteboy Wu Fundamentalist who now lives floatingly in the esoteric realm of primitive boom baptistery (we handle snakes daily, and drink home-fermented doogh as tests of faith), I’d put this album as his second best ever. (Nothing will ever top Ironman. I believe that to be perhaps the greatest Wu solo album ever, tbh.) SIX HUNDRED AND NINETY-THREE STARS!

DOOM – Born Like This
(released March 24, 2009; #48 on 2009 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
This only got 48th on their year-end list? Oh, I guess a lot of dope as fuck hipster masturbation rock must’ve come out too. From their year-end album list write-up:
The complex rhymes and truism-flipping still act as DOOM's lyrical catalysts, but they scan even more vividly as true crime warped into surrealist dementia, delivered with a voice that's just raspier and brusquer enough to give it that extra push toward antagonistic malice.
It is hilarious to me how both the regular review and year-end recap heard such scary malice in Doom’s delivery. Though I doubt any of these writers would publicly be that way now, it feels “All Lives Matter”ish, afraid to just accept the reality of violence and retribution and well, just being like “fuck y’all!” to whoever. Like the Bumpy Knuckles message towards the end, just throw your middle fingers up everywhere, because fuck everybody, they all haters anyways. This is used as false defense a lot now, pre-emptively accusing anyone of being “a hater”, but at the same time, this goddamned Earth feels more full of hatred than ever. Motherfuckers love to hate. And when other people you have othered hate back at you, there is this strange human (through digital realm, or cybertronic) ability to consider other’s hatred as inauthentic. Only your hate is smart, and dumb hate is just stupid. You have to be intelligent enough to know what to hate to hate the right things properly. This is internet thinking.
Doom’s Born Like This is amazing, a dark masterpiece of not giving a fuck, and fuck anybody who gets all too woke on your ass and tries to “problematic” Born Like This into erasure. SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SIX STARS!

THE WINNER: All three are classics worthy of rattling the shit out of my crappy minivan’s door speakers. I’d say the only thing that actually separated the three was the time of year I listened to them. It’s springtime – purple dead nettles all over the ground, violets creepy crawling from here to there, and my favorite – the redbud – is blossoming all over, both in planned spots as well as those beautiful little scrappy feral redbuds shining purple in the woods everywhere.
Doom’s Born Like This is very much a dark winter album, meant for barrel fires or pallet fires or pallets fires where you put barrels of flammable liquids on top of the fire, and then it explodes, and catches the city on fire, and you laugh and laugh as the sirens eventually run out of power as the city still burns. But it is not that time of year in real life.
Ghost’s Fishscale is not far from that, but earlier, late fall going into winter, when you’re first pulling that thick coat out every day, feeling armored up for the pending cold. You’ve not hit the darkest winter solstice period yet, but you can feel it coming, and are trying to maintain just a little of that hard-dicked summer warmth positivity, to help you through the spiritual hibernation of deep winter’s cold cruel world realities. But it is not that time of year in real life.

Cam’s Purple Haze is corner store fried foods wafting out thick cracked glass door covered in cardboard ads. The air is hopeful, even if you know everything is fucked, because fuck it, you don’t have to wear shirts all the time (this is not a gender-normative statement either… be free, women, reject the patriarchy), and life is better even when bad. And it is that time of year in real life. So Cam wins, due to seasonal variations, and goes to the finals.

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