What, you thought you weren't going to see me? I may be the Osiris of this ish, but that doesn't keep work and night class from piling up. I apologize for posting so near the witching hour, but technically 11:30 is still in time to celebrate what remains of this revered Wu-Tang Wednesday. I'll leave you with a quick post before going into hibernation.
In the Upper Left, the Blue Scholars are known as frontiersmen. Pioneers who boldly blazed the trail for all other Seattle emcees in the wake of the Teen Dance Ordinance. One DJ and one MC, Sabzi was the gifted, multitalented musician and deejay whose instrumentals provided the canvas for the charismatic Geologic (aka Prometheus Brown) to paint pictures with his revolutionary rhetoric.
But often lost in the conversation of the Scholars' prominent role in resurrecting Seattle hip hop--hidden behind the unjust slights of "backpack" or "conscious"--is the fact that George Quibuyen is one of the most gifted storytellers, not just among Seattle emcees or within hip hop circles, but among some of the most distinguished contemporary authors.
Congress may have the power to shutdown the government by invoking the law of the Thunderdome, but it will never stop Wu-Tang Wednesday. To quote one dearly missed Ol' Dirty Chinese Restaurant, "Wu-Tang is forever."
Legend tells that the best way to Protect Thy Neck during the imminent post-apocalyptic hellscape is to barricade yourself within a worthy fortress, fill your bathtub with water, arm yourself with enough Twinkies and weapons (preferably Hattori Hanzō steel) to ride out the fall of humanity, and bump Wu-Tang as loud as possible (so any potential aggressors will know you Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit).
But until the fun begins, this epic track off the Wu's sophomore double album will have to hold you over while you shatter your mirror in order to prepare a haphazard spear with your broom handle.
As the seminal Seattle hip hop group who helped resurrect hip hop in the Emerald, I've lost track of how many times that I've seen the Blue Scholars in concert since my Garfield days (upwards of 10 at last count). However you may feel about the socially conscious pair, Geo and Sabzi bring an energy second to none to their live shows (one of their crowning achievements might be absolutely demolishing Kanye West when they opened for him at Bumbershoot 2006--a moment that signaled the arrival of the Seattle hip hop scene).
It's been around three years since I last saw them at the Capitol Hill Block Party (they haven't done nearly as many shows together since Sabzi moved to NYC). Needless to say, I was excited to hear about their show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg this Friday (10/4). Performing with the Scholars will be Made In The Heights (Sabzi's collaboration with singer Kelsey Bulkin) and The Bar (a collaboration between Geo and Bambu).
To all of those Upper Left natives currently residing in Gotham, I highly recommend not missing this show. The same advice applies for any lovers of superb live hip hop. In celebration, I'll share this underrated Blue Scholars gem that they dropped for free back in 2011. Enjoy.
Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Previous: Blue Scholars - "The Long March"
A brand new song from The Physics that is distinctly different from anything that we've heard from Justo, Thig Natural, and Monk Wordsmith. "Am I Crazy?," which serves as the first single off their December release, Digital Wildlife, is much more experimental, electronic oriented, with a haunting Alisha Roney chorus without many bars of actual rapping on the instrumental. In terms of their discography, the song that comes closest in sound is "Fix You," but "Am I Crazy?" is more sparse, barren, tragic.
Per the Physics:
"Digital Wildlife is about the relationship between digital and analog. Today, our lives take place so much within the digital domain, but our humanness rears itself throughout. The production and recording follow the same theme: we're mixing electronic sounds and analog production elements, and we're recording the album digitally, later to be bounced to analog tape."
The Seattle trio hasn't steered us clear thus far so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. That being said, they are certainly taking a risk with this direction. We'll see on December 13 if that risk warrants a reward.
Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Previous: The Physics - "Coronas On Madrona"
Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick Arc Elliot aren’t really interested in what other people think about their music. They enjoy making it too much, which is probably why their first mixtape D.R.U.G.S. lured be back three months later, even after writing them off as another Halloween-obsessed group being dark for the sake of attracting attention. I’d already been turned off by the disparity between Odd Future’s hype and their talent, so I was wary any seemingly unnecessary coffin references.
My fears turned out to be unfounded. The Flatbush Zombies, while keeping their undead motif going strong, have continued to put out solid music free of gimmickry (and full of drugs). It’s eclectic, energetic, and just different. It’s not surprising that when asked about how they make music, they respond that they make no effort to create a cohesive sound. I can’t help but agree when they say that shit would be “boring.”
The Flatbush Zombies dropped their sophomore mixtape on September 12th, and it’s quite good. “Mraz,” and its accompanying video, was released months before. While it’s sometimes frustrating to get recycled tracks on an album (or in this case mixtape), “Mraz” is a stand out track on the album with an excellent video to boot. It perfectly showcases why the Zombies are so good, and gives a little insight into their music as a whole. It’s old school hip hop, referential, gritty, and energetic to the point of being a little out of control. Their cultural references aren't as simplistic as a name drop; they're Gang Starr and Eazy E breakdowns seamlessly woven into the musical tapestry they’ve been ashing on for the last 3-plus years.
 This is an ongoing disappointment now that Earl Sweatshirt’s underwhelming debut album has dropped.
 Although maaayyybe not as good as D.R.U.G.S.
Every court needs its jester and, during his all too short time on this planet, Russell Tyrone Jones aka Dirt McGirt aka Big Baby Jesus aka Ol' Dirty Chinese Restaurant aka Ol' Dirty Bastard was the undisputed Clown Prince of hip hop. Ever the absurdist, ODB was interrupting award shows long before K. West was even thinking about college, let alone dropping out. At a time when his solo debut was charting in the top 10, Jones once took two of his thirteen offspring in a limo to collect food stamps while being filmed by MTV News (There are so many things about that sentence to break down, but that's not a misprint, he had 13 kids. And people give Shawn Kemp a hard time).
ODB was blessed with a distinctive voice and uniquely absurd half-sung, half-rapped delivery. "I rap and I sing, but I don't know how to sing," is how he once described his fatherless, free-associative, ludicrously profane style that provided the wild-card energy on 36 Chambers and was so desperately missing on later Wu-Tang group albums.
That style and energy was beloved by many a fan including a budding rapper/producer coming out of Chicago. Kanye West once claimed that, could he be blessed with anybody's voice, it would have been ODB's. With both emcees having recently signed to Roc-A-Fella records, Dirt McGirt was one of the first emcees that Kanye sought to collaborate with when he was recording his debut album in 2003.