Showing posts with label wu-tang clan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wu-tang clan. Show all posts

Friday, December 11, 2015

special comment: the wu-tang clan vs. pharma-bro: once upon a time in shaolin (VIDEO)

Okay, regularly scheduled reviews will be returning soon, but I had to do this, had to say something. Next up, some old business to cover, a few more regularly scheduled reviews, and then FINALLY year-end lists, so stay tuned!

special comment: the wu-tang clan vs. pharma-bro: once upon a time in shaolin

In March of 2014, the Wu-Tang Clan made an unexpected announcement: seven years after the release of their last album in 2007, they were putting together a new compilation record. Now it supposedly wasn't produced by the RZA, but it was still a double album of new Wu-Tang Clan, and what's more, the packaging was ornate: encased in a hand-crafted silver and nickel box that would tour the world through art galleries, museums, and music festivals before being sold to a single individual for an exorbitant price. Now sure, the rest of the world was still going to get a new Wu-Tang record titled A Better Tomorrow, that would be released around this time last year to mixed at best reviews, but for hardcore Wu-Tang fans, this was material that they desperately wanted to hear - and yet with the RZA's asking price in the millions, nowhere near enough money to hear it. Now there was originally going to be conditions built into a contract that the album could only be heard at listening parties and not shared or distributed, but eventually the group relaxed these terms so that the album couldn't be resold commercially, so there was a chance that one might be able to hear the album if it leaked.

And yet it doesn't seem like that is likely, because only a few days ago it was announced that The Wu - Once Upon A Time In Shaolin had been sold - to Martin Shkreli, a supposedly brilliant pharmaceutical executive who became infamous online for jacking up the price of an anti-parasitic drug named Daraphim from $13.50 to well over $750 - per pill. I should also add that this is a drug that's utilized for treating AIDS. Nicknamed 'Pharma-Bro' for his obnoxious attitude and confirming abhorrent stereotypes surrounding both pharmaceutical executives and hedge fund managers, Martin Shkreli participated in the online auction for the album and got it for two millions dollars - well under most of the RZA's reported asking prices. And as for the record, Shkreli has said he hasn't listened to the album yet and is 'saving it for a rainy day', or if 'Taylor Swift wanted to hear it or something like that'.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

video review: 'every hero needs a villain' by czarface

Almost forgot to put this out. Seriously, check out this album, it's awesome.

Next up, almost momentarily, new Lil Wayne - stay tuned!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

album review: 'every hero needs a villain' by czarface

So I occasionally get asked by non-fans of hip-hop how I can excuse the lyrical content, which can focus on crass materialism, unbridled hedonism, rampant drug abuse, and violence. And normally after I roll my eyes - seriously, what genre beyond the most sterile of bubblegum pop or any art hasn't touched on all of these subjects in some form - I often inform them that there's different varieties of hip-hop and how seriously you can take them. Now some of the more political material like on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly I take very seriously - and even with that and a far less violent message compared to the incendiary material from Run The Jewels, you're still going to get cretins on FOX News misinterpreting it and trying to ram down a message of promoting violence. Seriously, the only time FOX remotely gets close to discussing hip-hop or the black community with any sort of credence is - ironically - when Killer Mike is a guest star.

But there's always been a competitive element to hip-hop and that tends to mean confrontational language is used, often with violent imagery, and when you start treading towards horrorcore or gangsta rap, things get a little trickier, especially when you acknowledge while it might be entertainment for the consumer or the critic, it might be very real for the artist creating it who grew up in that environment, and consideration and empathy should be shown. Of course, there's another way: make the violence so hyperbolic and exaggerated that it almost becomes like a cartoon. It doesn't mean the message is any less potent, but it's conveyed in a different way - analogous to the way Tarantino smuggles his 'message' movies through the guise of b-movie exploitation. Run The Jewels can walk this line, and so can Action Bronson.

And this is where we run into Czarface, half the underground hip-hop duo 7L and Esoteric, and half the Wu-Tang Clan member Inspectah Deck. I'll admit not always being the biggest Wu-Tang fan - part of it is that I just haven't had the time to fully unpack and decode all of their albums across their storied history with several solo members having full discographies of their own. But Czarface interested me, if only because the lyrics overloaded with references to comic books, pulp sci-fi, and pro wrestling merged with sample-heavy old-school production reminded me a lot of MF Doom in a good way. I guess if I were nitpicking, I wasn't the biggest fan of their debut, which was solid but occasionally lacked killer standouts and did drag a little by the end, but with a stronger feature list than ever, I figured I'd give the sophomore record a listen - was it worth it?