Tag Archives: RZA

HOW DARE I RAP ABOUT MY REAL LIFE

Damn it’s nice to hear some samples back in KRIT’s production.  I mean “Money on the Floor” and “I Got This” and “What U Mean” were all great, but for me, his most powerful work is his samplebased material.

Big KRIT – R.E.M.

James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

Speaking of Blake’s recent work with rappers

James Blake – Take A Fall For Me (feat. RZA)

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WHEN MY BABY COMES HOME

It’s been a while since I posted some older soul music on here, so here’s a truly lovely one courtesy of my new favorite blogger and long-time best bud Trent Still.

William Bell – Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday

He also graciously put me on the more recent RZA-produced remake for the Repo Men soundtrack.

Rev. William Burk & Stone Mecca – Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday

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DON’T EVER DISCREDIT WHAT WE DO

In the spirit of posts like these, here’s another great interview of an artist by another artist, rather than by an interviewer or journalist.  These are always the best.

Snoop Dogg interviews the RZA on GGN

And here’s a link to part 1 of The Show (follow related videos for later parts), the documentary that Snoop mentions in the interview that began Snoop and RZA’s personal relationship.  It’s a disarmingly raw, honest snapshot of the 1995 rap world, with a lot of good insight and information.  Definitely as worth watching as the interview above, if not more.

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SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO

If you watched that documentary about Dudley Perkins/Declaime I suggested a few days ago, then you might be wondering about an interesting lady that popped up kinda late in the film named Georgia Anne Muldrow.  Well, I just happened to stumble across this little interview the other day that I found very interesting.  You don’t get to see her make ghetto spaghetti like in Interplanetary Peace Talks, but she does make some cool points about music production that I’ve felt for a long time but haven’t heard many people say quite the way she does.

Georgia Anne Muldrow Dubspot Interview

I love how she talks about shaping synthesizer sounds so they sound like you, I totally agree with that thinking.  A producer can really say a lot just with the sounds they choose and sculpt, and a lot of work goes into making those sounds sound just right.  With a little bit of a trained ear, you can hear about 2 seconds of a Timbaland beat, or a RZA beat, or an Oh No beat, or a Dilla beat, or a Lex Luger beat, and you can know it’s them just by the kind of sounds they use.  You can really say a lot with the shapes of sounds you use in your music, and I like how Georgia talks about that.  And I also love it when she talks about how she claps late, and sings late, and always has, because I’ve always responded so strongly to music that is a little bit off kilter like hers is, it’s a very captivating element when it’s there.  I heard from somebody that one of the main goals that ?uestlove had when producing D’Angelo‘s absolutely perfect album Voodoo was to play as late as possible, and I think that’s a big part of why I love that album, the rhythmic looseness and drama is just incredible, and you don’t hear a lot of people talk about stuff like that, so props to Georgia for bringing that up, I love that shit!

And even though it’s not the most relevant song given what I’ve been talking about, I wanted to post possibly my favorite song of hers on here, “Show Me the Way to Go“, but I couldn’t find it on the internet anywhere, so instead, I found this really great song I’d never heard before that’s got a video that’s got a little bit of the stuff I was talkin’ about in this post in it!  Even Better!  Thanks, Georgia!

Georgia Anne Muldrow – More & More (feat. Bilal)

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GUEST POST: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SINGLE WORD IN A RAP SONG EVER?

this guest post written by Matt Hall (@mattisonherenow)

First of all, I’d like to tip my hat to my good friend Rick/DJ REDLite for not only starting this blog (which is consistently every bit as real and honest as it is entertaining), but also believing that my silly-ass thoughts are worth consideration. My late night nonsensical emails to Rick about songs I’ve been thinking about have long predated this blog. I guess I’ve sent him so many YouTube links and asked him so many absurd questions that he had no choice but to ask me to write another late night note for all of you to read.

One of the most recent emails I sent him was to ask the question, “What is your favorite single word in any rap song ever?” I feel like this is a topic that is pretty solid for my first post here.

I can honestly remember the first time I ever heard “Verbal Intercourse” from Raekwon the Chef’s first solo record Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. I think it was the first Wu-Tang album I heard after Enter the 36 Chambers. Nas’s verse was the first time anyone from outside the Wu-Tang camp had rapped on one of their tracks, and in that era (almost 20 years ago!) that really meant something. Raekwon talks a little bit about recording that verse and his choice of bringing in Nas to feature on the track here.

Nas has the first verse, and he opens up with some of the best lines of his career, in my opinion, and when he gets the line

“Smoke a gold leaf I hold heat nonchalantly”

the way he delivers the word: “nonchalantly”; gets me every time. It’s got more syllables than anything else in the verse, and the way he says it, totally cool and unconcerned, is the very definition of the word itself. To me it is the gold standard in flow.

Raekwon – Verbal Intercourse (feat. Nas & Ghostface Killah)

I really love everything about the song though, Raekwon and Ghostface have excellent verses as well, and the RZA’s production was at its all-time peak in this era. The way he loops the, “but WHAT,” from The Emotions song “If You Think It You May As Well Do It,” is brilliant.

Interestingly enough, Nas didn’t write that verse specifically for the Raekwon track. It actually first showed up on a song called “Déjà Vu” on a demo recorded for his second album It Was Written.  Some rap fans at the time felt like that album was kind of a let down after the undisputed classic that is Illmatic, but I think it’s aged well. I’m not sure why “Déjà Vu” got left off. There’s
speculation that the label wanted Nas to go in a more radio-friendly direction, and that song definitely has a grittier feel. Either way, it’s a classic verse, and it features my favorite single word in any rap song ever.

Nas – Déjà Vu

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WHETHER DENSE, WHETHER LENGTH, WHETHER STRENGTH, WHETHER WIDTH

I’ve mentioned before that one of the biggest things that allowed me to start getting interested in and accepting hip-hop was RZA‘s amazing Wu-Tang Manual.  It gave me insight not just into the music of the Wu-Tang Clan, but hip-hop in general, and allowed me to understand the environment those people came up in and the difficulties they faced.  That understanding of just how different their world was from mine made it possible for me to begin to accept the more superficially objectionable content of a lot of rap music.

I also just love RZA’s perspective and approach to life, he’s probably just as inspirational to me as a spiritual thinker as he is a musician.  So I was very excited to see this new interview with him where he discusses a lot of those topics that he deals with so well: spirituality, music, creativity, fear, life, and even more.  Very inspiring.

RZA 1-2-1 interview with Jeff Staple (parts 1 & 2)

Here is that song he is quoting from at the end of Part 2.  I was really excited to hear him reciting those lines, I’ve thought for a long time that this is my favorite RZA solo track.

RZA – A Day To God Is 1000 Years

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CHECK OUT THE GRAYS ON THE SIDE OF MY WAVES

I judge records by their covers all the time.  When I saw this one, there’s no way I couldn’t check it out.

Baby Huey – Hard Times

Little did I know I’d find the source for a track from one of my favorite Ghostface albums, Supreme Clientele.

Ghostface Killah – Buck 50 (feat. Method Man, Redman, & Cappadonna)

I really love the formless determination of this track.  That horn loop just hits so hard over and over again, I feel like I can accomplish anything while I’m listening to that shit.  There’s also no chorus in the whole thing, and the closest thing to a hook is the little “there’s no love to be found…” sample that pops in every now and then between the totally irregularly-lengthed verses, and different dudes keep popping in to talk for a little bit.  Method Man starts sounding like he’s trying to make a chorus happen for a second around 2:30, but it just kinda fades out into another Ghostface verse and continues.  I’ve always loved that track, and it’s cool to know where that sweet loop came from.  Good thing that Baby Huey cover is so amazing.

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LET THE BEAT BUILD #6 – WU-TANG CLAN

Well I guess I’m going to have to eat my words about RZA not being a producer that has big builds in his music usually, cuz he produced this one too and it’s one of the most effective builds I’ve heard in rap.  I feel like this song illustrates better than any other song I’ve heard the idea of reaching a breaking point and having to change your whole attitude to adapt to circumstances.

Wu-Tang Clan – I Can’t Go To Sleep (feat. Isaac Hayes)

The beat starts out so emotional and mournful, and after it builds to that unbearable climax, it totally flips and switches to a sound that feels more like embracing that dark side and living with it and giving up on a lot of those feelings you were having, for better or worse.  And the lyrics match perfectly.  It hits so hard when that build ends during RZA’s verse and he comes in all off-beat and aggressive going “Walkin’ through park hill drunk as a fuck…”  It’s a beautiful representation of what happens every day, unfortunately, to so many people.  And with Isaac Hayes jumpin in here and there, fuckin perfect.

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LET THE BEAT BUILD #4 – NAS

I guess the cat’s out of the bag as far as my excessive, undying love for The RZA and the whole Wu-Tang Clan after that last post, so it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the opportunity to see them live a few years back when their tour came through this part of the country.  I still had to go all the way to Chicago to see ’em, but man was it worth it.  It was definitely one of the most star-struck moments I’ve had in my life, seeing all those dudes just a few feet away from me after listening to them and seeing in them in videos for years.  I even got to touch Method Man when he crowd-surfed after performing his self-titled single from Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)!  Fuckin’ unreal.

But it wasn’t just those dudes that I got star struck by that day.  That same day I got to see Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, Slum Village, and, last but absolutely not least, Nasir Jones, aka Nas.  He was the only one at the show to perform without a DJ, which I thought was a little weird, but I got over that real quick because he really did an amazing job performing all the songs he did.  I’ll particularly never forget this one, because the live context only intensified the crazy build this beat goes through.  I still kinda can’t believe I got to witness this.

Nas – One Mic

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LET THE BEAT BUILD #3 – RZA

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.

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