Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rza=Cee-lo...without the dress...and willing to do some kung-fu

Much has been made in certain circles about the sibling rivalry amongst certain members of the Wu-tang clan, specifically the God Ghostface and the Supreme Intellect Raekwon’s supposed maligning of the Wudang swordsman Rza’s production of 8 diagrams. According to some reckless tongue wagers (Yo I’m trying to get that phrase in a rap song so spread it. You know what it means, people who talk too much and ain’t got Nathan of importance to say) the drama was that the aforementioned courageous dup didn’t want to flow the “geek shit” from the 8 diagrams. This is, supposedly, why Rza wasn’t on tour with the rest of the clan.

Now first and foremost let it be understood that the Wu is indomitable. This is some internal beef that got writ large over the internets thanks to people who don’t like seeing a bunch of former black thugs make good in the C.R.E.A.M. game and just want to illicit some B.S. But geekdom was mentioned and as a result I must make a statement. I choose to support Rza, Pretty Toney ("You’ve got to have vision Willie." I swear a woman quoted that too me and I was about to have an accident on myself) and Lex Diamonds, by offering up an analogy. His name is Cee-lo.

Before Gnarles Barkley, Cee-lo ripped the skin off my dome like he was an Apache whose pony was stolen by a white man with the following verse:

As individuals and as a people we are at war
But the majority of my side got they eyes open wide
But still don't recognize what we fighting fo
I guess that's what I'm writing for to try to shed some light
But we been in the darkness for so long, don't know right from wrong
Y'all scared to come near it, you ignore the voice
In your head when you hear it
The enemy is after yo' spirit but you think it's all in yo' mind
You'll find a lot of the reason we behind
Is because the system is designed to keep our third eyes blind
But not blind in the sense that our other two eyes can't see
You just end investing quality time in places you don't even neeed to be
We don't even know who we are, but the answer ain't far
Matter of fact its right up under our nose
But the system taught us to keep that book closed
See the reason why he gotta lie and deceive is so
That we won't act accordingly
To get the blessings we suppose to receive
Yeah it's true, Uncle Sam wants you to be a devil too
See, he's jealous because his skin is a curse but what's worse
is if I put it in a verse y'all listen to some bullshit first
We ain't natural born killas, we are a spiritual people
God's chosen few
Think about the slave trade when they had boats with
Thousands of us on board
And we still was praising the Lord now you ready to die
Over a coat, a necklace round your throat, that's bullshit
Black people ya'll better realize, we losin, you better fight and die
If you got to get yo' spirit and mind back and we got to do it together
Goodie Mob means, "The Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit"
You take away one "O" and it will let you know
"God is Every Man of Blackness"
The Lord has spoken thru me and the G-Mo-B!

For those unfamiliar, this verse was spoken, not sung, and was a total break, a méconnaissance, to use the lacanian term, of gangsterism. For while Cee-Lo articulates himself fully and totally in the verse, it is the poetic compassionate voice within the genre of Rap at that time that breaks the central narrative of hardness and thugnificence. In this moment, on the debut Goodie Mob album, Cee-Lo claims black geekness as the epitome of maturing hip-hop.

While The Goodie has somewhat fallen off somewhat in recent time, please remember that they are the beginnings of that dungeon family crew that birthed the renaissance negroes known as Outkast. Also, while Cee-Lo performed as the geek set in the gangster frame that was mid-nineties, he also let you know he wasn’t the buster to steal on. “Don’t test me boy, cause I’m about it!” In short he danced that line of being the intellectual sitting with the thugs unapologetically having read Samuel Delany.
Back to the Wu.
Rza’s grimy qualifications, if we really need to go there, are already established. Been there, done that. So what’s the point of the performative aspect of that gangster rap shit? Don’t get twitted, I’m ok if that’s your life now, that’s what you’re into now, then yeah, talk about what you know. But if you’re not car jacking, jewelry heisting, busting grills with four fingered rhinestones on now, why talk about it? So you’re predominately white audience can get a sense of the “realness”? I implore the Gods to let some of that drama slide. Lest the most ostentatious and amazing collabo that is Wu-Tang suffer the fate of the Goodie.
And keep in mind, Cee-lo left Goodie to go on and produce made crazy illness, total geek rap if you will, with the Gnarles Barkley thing. Rza been already done soundtracks and flicks. Not to throw salt in the eye of other Wu members, I understand everybody’s on some Think and Grow rich ish, but aside from Meth, Rza is one of the most defined sounds when it comes to the Wu. Not the vocals but the productions, the off key beats, the samples from the “What the hell” era, this is the backbone of Wu. The geekdom is part of that, but the geekdom is part of hip-hop. You don’t believe me, check out Run-DMC in the 80’s. While the big pimping cats was rocking multiple gold chains, furs down to the ground and bespeckled shades at midnight, what was Dmc, big eye glass Adidas jumpsuit cat saying? “I'm D.M.C. in the place to be
I go to St. John's University. And since kinde-garten I acquired the knowledge. And after 12th grade I went straight to college”

All that to say, the geek is part of hip-hop. The dj is a master of the technological soundscape. That’s not some “learned in the streets” type wisdom. That’s some studying needed. And to study that which you don’t get a degree for is Geekdom. A friend bought me a shirt for my birthday that reads “Smart is the new gangsta”. People laugh when I wear it. Is it so bad that I want it to be true?

P.S: while searching for links to this post I found the one I’m putting below. Ummm…Ok, Rae, Ghost, don’t take the thing about Rza being like Cee-lo too seriously. I mean, Cee does have some issues, ya’ll know that, right?


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6:36 PM  
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Blogger Conseula said...

1. "smart is the new gangsta"--i want that t-shirt

2. best explication of the geeky roots of rap i've ever read

7:13 AM  

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