Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Someone Finally Gets How Good The Beats Are

That someone is Tom Breihan writing for the Village Voice, in an article called "8 Diagrams: RZA's Drug-rap Masterwork." After beginning with an apt point in regards to the vocal sample that precedes Campfire, Breihan soon arrives at

The fact that 8 Diagrams even exists is some kind of miracle, and it's even more amazing when you consider that not one song on the entire album has the faintest chance of becoming a crossover hit. 8 Diagrams is a deeply weird album, a total immersion in weed-fried mythology and willfully obscure tangled-up black psychedelia. It's clearly the album that RZA wanted to make, and recent developments show that he may have burned up all his goodwill with the rest of the group in the process.

The one thing here that I might disagree with is his sense that nothing on the album could blow up--either version of Wolves, given the right treatment, could be huge, ditto Stick Me For My Riches, perhaps even Starter. Another questionable Breihan take is his statement against the RZA as a rapper, saying that while he enjoys him on Sunshine, "I've never much liked RZA as a rapper because he always sounded totally content to ignore his own beats." This is an oft repeated opinion--at least distaste for RZA on the mic, if not for that precise reason--that continually makes no sense to me. Bobby Digital is one thing, but RZA's mid-nineties performances on tracks such as 4th Chamber, Assassination Day, After the Smoke Is Clear, Windpipe, '96 Recreation, Mr Sandman, Diesel & Wu-Gambinos are as forcefully interesting as anything in Wu history. But then Breihan does correctly note Method Man's incredible performance on the album, & then continues to praise the record as a whole:

The things that Raekwon doesn't like about 8 Diagrams are the things that make it something like a masterpiece. At least during the recording of the album, all the Wu guys seemed to realize how great they sound over RZA's bent orchestral beats, and they stepped it up accordingly. And even if RZA never manages to get these guys back under his spell, the end result may be worth it. It's going to take a long, long time to untangle 8 Diagrams, but even a few days after it leaked, it's pretty evident that we won't be hearing another rap record this bent and fascinating anytime soon.

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