D.L. Chandler's frequent thoughts on the world of hip hop and beyond

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Red, White, Black & Blue

If you’re a fan of the mammoth Hip Hop collective Wu-tang Clan, then you must’ve heard word of the latest venture by Wu mastermind and producer, The RZA: the release of the Wu-tang Manual. I’ve read the book and I can admit that while much of what he discusses doesn’t read like bombshells (since I’ve been a rabid Wu fan myself), it is well-done and far from a campy attempt to cash in on a name that is fading in many circles. What better way to make yourself relevant than to actually do something compelling enough to be deemed as such.

Not to turn this blog entry into a RZA love ode, but this strengthens the widely held opinion that the Wu was the most innovative rap collective ever assembled. But isn't it amazing how RZA seemingly dons the dubious cap of world ambassador for peace? Read this following quote from this MTV report from Jennifer Vineyard:

"One of my goals in life is basically to represent righteousness," he continued, "but also to break down the barriers we all put up on each other. I'm not trying to be Martin Luther King and all of that, I'm not going to fight for civil rights or nothing like that, but I think it's just a misconception of religion and cultures that's got us all boggled with each other. Let's at least know about each other, and then if you want to smack me after that, then all's fair in love and war."

Pretty heady stuff from the man who invented the pimp-smacking, beat-making hardheaded alter-ego of Bobby Digital – representing the “wild‿ side of the Wu-tang Clan’s “abbot‿. The shame in the success of the Wu book is that many a rapper will try to mimic the literary formula -just as so many have tried to do in the rap world. I highly doubt anyone can match the effort and care taken to present a book worthy of the praise surrounding it.

These are curious times for rap artists – most especially for mainstream artists such as Kanye West and Jadakiss for tackling topics that aren’t rooted in common themes of partying and bullsh*t. But for indie rap acts such as Sage Francis and Dalek , the backdrop to paint politically themed works isn’t as discouraged or nonexistent. Both of the acts embrace unconventional methods of music – opting for less steady rhythm and quirkier and sometimes noisier fare. Then you have an MC such as Mr. Lif who can rock over the traditional straight rhythms but easily ride a chaotic El-P track with the same tenacity – all with topics ranging from the ills of the world to the hypocrisy of the Iraq War. Is this a return to the late 80s and early 90s – when rappers of more “conscious‿ dealings shared the spotlight with Mr. Mainstream rapper as well?
I haven’t said anything focusing on Black History Month because I’ve never embraced this so-called mystical month of black accomplishment and celebration. I’m proud to be of the hue and race I am. Yet I feel this so-called celebration is trifled by the fact that there is so much of a rich history in black people or Americans of African descent in this county, only to be sandwiched into the shortest month of the year. There are many clichéd programs available about this time – yet there are a good amount of television and cable programs that don’t seem to bastardize and commercialize the experience of black achievement. That said; enjoy this piece from Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman interviewing Columbia University professor Manning Marable. It’s a pretty good discussion on MalcolmX – one of black history’s greatest stories.
Hopefully you’ll learn something.


Post a Comment

<< Home