You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘RZA’ tag.

Sixteen years ago on this day, the Wu-Tang Clan dropped it’s second album as a group, following the legendary “36 Chambers” LP. Forget a mixtape this week. I’ve put aside my usual assortment and dedicated this one to tracks only off Wu-Tang Forever. Here are my favorites.                     @codymarcroft

Advertisements

The prolonged wait for Ghostface Killah’s tenth album was filled with anxious hype. Ghostface Killah delivered, however, with yet another fantastic album to augment his solo career. Ghostface cleverly wrote Twelve Reasons to Die; an album that told a fictional story about a mafia man in Italy. The plot was supported perfectly by Adrian Younge’s phenomenal production.

Throughout the album, Ghostface plays the character of Tony Starks, as he declares in the first track, “Beware of the Stare.”

 

“I might shoot ya, make your ass an example/

You can’t f*** with Tony Starks and not get trampled/

Get hunted like a rat in a field; I hate rats/

Hate fake ass n****s that love to set traps.”

 

The story of Tony Starks becomes one of revenge. Starks, who is involved in the mafia, is killed by his people after having an affair with the ‘bosses daughter’ so-to-speak. They toss Starks into a pot of vinyl, and he is melted down and made into a record. Throughout the album it is revealed that Starks has come back in the form of Ghostface Killah on vinyl and proceeds haunt his former crime family, the DeLucas. What happens every time the record plays? Somebody dies.

All of this is evident in the first song, but doesn’t become completely clear until you listen through.

 

 

One of the things that makes the album great is Ghostface’s storytelling ability, tying fiction into music. This is most apparent in the fact that Tony Starks comes back through Ghostface Killah on a vinyl record. But there are hints of other references as well, like in the second track, “Rise of the Black Suits”:

 

“Jay De Lucas put me with the fam to grow/

I was a boss amongst white boys, rocking the flow/

I had hoes, bankrolls and minks by the dozen/

My rise to power was quick, they just wasn’t/

Trying to make me a made man, they f****d up the game plan/

I blacked out on them and started my own clan/”

 

The last line is a clear reference to the Wu-tang. He does it again in the hook, with a reference to “C.R.E.A.M.”:

 

“Follow no family rules, rules are for fools/

Chase the paper ’cause it’s the cash that rules.”

 

The 3rd track, “I Declare War” is where the action rises. Appropriate to the title, this is where Wu-tang army comes in. Masta Killa gets on the second verse and RZA narrates the story with an outro.

 

 

The surge of Wu-tang features and war theme continues on the next cut. U-God and Inspectah Deck hop on the track with a pair of verses. The music stays upbeat. You can feel the revenge of Tony Starks taking shape as the Killer Bees buzz through.

 

 

Just as the action picked up, Ghostface slows down to bring you back into the story. The timing of the change of pace is on point. In the next track, “Center of Attraction” the plot thickens. The song tells about Starks’ affair with Logan, the bosses’ daughter. In the first verse, Starks believes she is perfect for him:

 

“She knew my lifestyle; chick of a crime boss/

She would hide my guns in the house then lie to the task force/

Finished my sentences; knew my exact frame of mind/

Knew everything I had was hers, and she was mine.”

 

But Cappadona enters in the second verse and warns Starks that Logan is a set up girl, and the DeLucas family wants a reason to get rid of Starks:

 

“You think God sent her? Nah, it’s the devil instead/

They got plans for you Tone – they want you dead, dead, dead/

So get rid of that cherry pie pie, she’s mad poison.”

Starks comes back in the third verse brushes off Cappadona, claiming he is too paranoid.

 

 

Everything in this album comes together well. With eleven tracks, it’s long enough to tell the story, and short enough to keep the listener engaged. It’s easy to see why Ghostface has longevity. The production from Adrian was on point, and so was Ghostface’s creativity. Entertainment-wise, this is my favorite Ghostface album. The long wait was worth it.

I won’t give away the rest. Check out the remainder of the album to figure out the ending of Ghostface’s tale.

cudidone

Kid Cudi had another chance to revive his career. After listening to his third and final studio album under GOOD Music my feeling that it would fall short has been reassured. Cudi slipped further into irrelevance, as he pumped out another flat album with a couple of decent individual tracks at best.

Cudi set the bar high with the immediate success that Man on the Moon I brought, and each release since has contributed to a slow decline. Man on the Moon II was a solid album, but not superb. Next came WZRD, which garnered great first week numbers, but once people actually listened the album, it flopped. Now we have Indicud, the latest installment in a series of disappointing Cudi records.

The album opens with a typical, cheesy, industrial-sounding instrumental. It is supposed to signify just as the title states: “The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi” but in reality exposes him as a mediocre producer.

 

 

In the past Cudi’s moany vocals were beneficial, and his content reached his listeners. However, since losing the lonely stoner persona, Cudi has seemed to lose touch with his audience. Evidence of this is noticeable in his second track, “Unfuckwittable,” where he is trying too hard to bring that back.

 

“ Keep on searching for love /

Who else is incomplete?”

 

It may be one line, but it tells a lot. Solitude is a theme in Cudi’s earlier work, and it’s clear he’s trying to revert back to it. Cudi’s backtrack to his earlier success is also noticeable in his references to his desire to smoke weed again, which he declared he was quitting a couple of years ago. He raps in the hook:

 

“I need smoke /

I need to smoke /

Who gon’ hold me down now /

I wanna get high y’all /

I wanna get high y’all /

Need it, need it to get by y’all /

Can you get me high u’all?”

 

It seems more like a subtle way for Cudi to accept that his stoner charm was the trait that won his audience in the late 2000s. It comes off as a desperate attempt to relate to his listeners like he was once able to. In Indicud, his marijuana references seem synthetic after distancing himself from the drug. Quitting may have helped him personally, and that is always most important. But career-wise, it was a bad move. Part of his success rode on his marijuana use – high school kids were a large percentage of his fan base, and more importantly that’s the character he came into the game with as a solo artist. After his declaration of independence from weed, he began to fall off the map while other artists were coming up and stealing the spotlight.

But that is sort of nit-picking. A major contributing factor to Cudi’s downfall and the disappointment of Indicud is his diminished production line-up. Having a variety of producers (Emile, Plain Pat, Kanye West, No I.D., Dot Da Genius, Free School & Ratatat, among others) made for amazing music early in his career. Part of the reason is because the influence was diverse, and inspiration bounced between the multiple people working on the album. On his newest work, Cudi – a decent producer at best – produced every beat, resulting in repetition that made it hard for me to get through the entire album.

For instance, the mid-album instrumental track “New York City Rage Fest.” There was nothing to it. A couple of claps over some keys looped for about a minute without much else. Then fifty-five seconds of some added sounds that pushed the tempo up, but didn’t really contribute to the album. There were no vocal samples, and nothing musically compelling. It didn’t pull me in, and neither did the opening instrumental “The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi.”

 

 

And since I brought it back up, he practically recycled that beat for the song, “Red Eye.” The two beats have a very similar industrial sound. Again, Cudi handling the production by himself was a mistake. There was too much repetition.

 

 

Thank the rap lords for RZA, because he saved the day by speaking on “Beez.” He killed that beat – which had that industrial sound again. Mix it up! Talk about beating a dead horse.

 

 

While his cult fan base may still exist, it’s a small army. Moreover, he’s losing soldiers with every record he puts out. Cudi seems intent on making music despite his popularity. To each his own, I guess. Just don’t expect anyone to buy it.