Much like the previous post, this one takes me back to the early days of getting into rap as well.
One of the things that really spoke to me and allowed me to wrap my head around hip-hop culture was reading The Wu-Tang Manual, just sitting at the bookstore trying to kill some time one day. I’d been kind of curious about The Wu-Tang Clan for a while because I knew a couple dudes that used to talk about them all the time, so I was just bored one day and picked it up the Manual and I ended up reading almost the entire thing just sitting in this little chair by the children’s section at the Borders in Tulsa, it was ridiculous. The thing it really taught me more than anything was that my world that I came from and grew up in was so completely different than theirs was, and I started to look a little more abstractly at the kinds of stuff those dudes were talking about, and I started seeing characteristics of myself in those things on a more general level, and I started to see that I could easily have been just like them if I’d grown up when and where and how they grew up. It was truly life-changing. From then on, I’ve been an intense Wu-Tang fan, snatching up every group and solo album I could get my hands on, totally immersing myself in their sound and style.
RZA, the main mastermind and producer for the group, isn’t a dude I’d normally think of when it comes to beats that build gradually over time. He’s more the master of the perfect one-bar loop in a lot of his stuff, and I love him for that. On a group track he’ll switch it up a little bit more, adding or taking away certain elements when certain dudes come in and out, but it’s more like a series of shifts than a truly steady build over the course of the song, you know what I mean? But this one’s a little different. It starts out classic RZA style with a really bare-bones drum beat and a 1-bar organ loop, then some horns start coming in every few bars. Then in the second verse you start getting these little string melodies coming in and out between the horn parts. Then he kinda backs off just a little bit during that third verse where Beretta 9 raps, and then when RZA comes back in you get that weird wobbly woodwind sample chopped in with smaller chunks of all the samples from earlier in the song, it’s kinda nuts. This one’s a little more subtle than the past two were, but I think it still totally fits in the category.
RZA – Chi Kung
There’s also a pretty sweet video for this song, but I felt like all the Kung-Fu noises and stuff kinda distracted from all the subtleties of the the music, so I opted for the straight music version without the distractions. But feel free to check out the video too, if you like. And if you’re wondering what Chi Kung is, here’s something you can check out.