Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Talking Points:: GZA - Pro Tools

First of all, who's your A&R;
A mountain climber who plays an electric guitar?
But he don't know the meaning of dope
When he's lookin for a suit and tie rap
that's cleaner than a bar of soap
And I'm the dirtiest thing in sight
Matter of fact, bring out the girls and let's have a mud fight

I say this rather often when talking about various old school songs, but this time I mean it: that is a classic verse. Of course it is the GZA/Genius on the Wu's seminal Protect Your Neck. Seriously, even if my inevitable mid-life crisis causes me to become a mountain climber who plays an electric guitar, I will still think that's an awesome verse. What's more, it's the one verse I come back to when I think about what it is that makes the Genius such a great MC. It isn't overly complex or deep, but it's clever, and the phrasing just makes it stick with you long after the song finishes.

Considering the Genius is coming to Halifax for this year's Pop Explosion, it only makes sense to have a look at his latest release, Pro Tools. I say this even though the GZA is scheduled to perform his Liquid Swords show at HPX, so who knows if we'll get to hear any of these songs live. And to further complicate matters, I read an interview where the GZA says that Pro Tools was intended to be a compilation album, not a solo album. That being said, there aren't a ton of guests on the album, and if I remember correctly, he did the same sort of thing on Beneath The Surface (which featured at least one song that the GZA wasn't even on - Feel Like An Enemy).

Anyway, this is a GZA release, and that is always good news, so without further ado, let's get to the talking points:

Pencil - Really solid intro to this album, the production sounds like mid-dynasty, Breaker Breaker-esque Wu production. I think Mathematics is on the boards for this one, so that would make sense. Rza sounds solid, not annoying at all. I had no idea the other dude was Masta Killa, he sounds different and/or odd.

Alphabets - "I brought butter for the popcorn, dips for the chips, an ego for your trip, some scripts for you to flip" - Seriously, there is no one in the rappin' biz that could make this sound as good as the GZA.

Groundbreaking - Pounds rather hard due to the production of Bronze Nazareth, and features Justice, son of GZA, weaving in and out of a verse with his pops. Kind of a weird style, but I guess it's a way to get Junior involved without to much pressure.

7 Pounds - The beat is done by Detroit's Black Milk and it has a bit of spark and soul that seems different from what the Wu-affiliated producers would normally give him.

0% Finance - has a rock vibe, with live guitar, but not in a goofass way. It's a whole cars-as-ladies metaphor done as only the GZA

Paper Plate - GZA's G-Unit diss which is garnering a little internet fame. Kind of piling on since 50cents has kind of already fallen off, but it really isn't anymore than he deserves. "enough to make you vogue on that cover of GQ, only missing the sheer blouse homie you see through" any diss that uses a Vogue reference is quality I think. GZA also uses 50's song titles against him, a very GZA-like move: "No matter what, you still window shop for lyrics". "sweet-tooth dudes stay out the candy shop, you ain't got to handcuff him to see the panties drop".

Path Of Destruction - Despite its summery beat (produced by someone named Jay Waxx Garfield), this song follows the downward arc of an average kid who ends up turning to a life of crime. It has a message, but it's so vivid and detailed that you don't even realize it.

Cinema - If you're one of those who feel there aren't enough rap songs that are ghost-stories, this one is for you. GZA unfurls his haunted house story over an ominous beat while his son Justice gets his Haley Joel Osment on for the whispery chorus.

Elastic Audio - A live track to end the album, not many MC's are going to include a live track anymore. What's more, not many MC's are going to stop the music and kick it acapella for as long as GZA does on this one.

The following is old guy bitterness for sure, but whatever: the GZA is hip hop. Wu-Tang is hip hop. I realize they aren't what they once were, but that doesn't matter. I would rather hear this album 800 times before having to listen to 50's latest album even once. So support this album, it's the kind of thing hip hop needs to balance out a lot of the nonsense that's out there right now.

Posted at 9:48 AM by naedoo :: 2 comments

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At 11:47 AM, Blogger Subservient Experiment did sayeth:

It's no Liquid Swords but it's still GZA for sure. Wu Tang for life!



At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Sam did sayeth:

I'm new to this site and new to the whole reading blogs thing. Yeah I know, where have I been? Anyway, its good to see an indie blog doing a real hip hop review.
I'll definitely be back.


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