July 16, 2007

Gravediggaz - 6 Feet Deep/N---amortis (August 9, 1994)



Gravediggaz started off as a side project of mastermind Prince Paul. Having just been fucked over by his record label, Paul decided to convert his frustration into a musical format, and invited three of his friends along for the ride: Frukwan, from Paul's first group Stetsasonic; the late Too Poetic, from the Brothers Grym; and, of all people, The Rza, from some little known indie band called the Wu-Tang Clan. For this horrifying journey, the four adopted new monikers, which gave them more options to choose from when making hotel reservations. Frukwan became The Gatekeeper, Poetic turned into the Grym Reaper, Rza switched up to Rzarector (not the most creative change), and Prince Motherfucking Paul gave himself the new name of The Undertaker. Together, the three emcees and their superproducer set out to give some of the most vivid descriptions of frustration, overt ultraviolence, and sadistic satisfaction this side of death metal.

I'm going to take this time to dispel two widespread Gravediggaz rumors.

1. THE FIRST GRAVEDIGGAZ ALBUM, 6 Feet Deep/N---amortis, IS NOT HORRORCORE. The genius of this idea lies in the fact that Rza, Grym, and Frukwan all provide some morbid-ass lyricism, while Paul showcases some of his darkest production ever. The thing is, 6 feet Deep/N---amortis is a concept album, an idea not unfamiliar to Prince Paul fans. The entire CD is a metaphor regarding the four artists' various shortcomings in the music industry. In fact, the only artist that was receiving a steady paycheck at the time of the album's release was The Rza, being the leader of the greatest rap group of all time and all, but even Prince Rakeem got jerked when he was first exposed to the mainstream music audience as some guy who honestly thought a shitty EP featuring his single "Ooh I Love You Rakeem" would actually sell. (You know, The Genius got fucked over by Cold Chillin' around the same time; I wonder why he was never picked to be in this group.) Tracks such as "1-800-Suicide" and "Diary Of A Madman" disguise the true nature of 6 Feet Deep/N---amortis; it was used as a place to vent. And speaking of The Rza...

2. GRAVEDIGGAZ WAS NOT A WU-TANG AFFILIATE GROUP WHEN IT STARTED. Nope, this baby was all Paul's. It was just a coinicidence that The Rza was picked to be part of this group. I know that damn near every one of the Ultimate Wu members will dispute me on this fact, but it's true. You can even check the liner notes. There are only three songs that feature any sort of Rza production work; two of those songs sound like vintage Wu. 6 Feet deep/N---amortis was released less than a year after Enter The Wu-Tang, so there couldn't have been any such thing as a Wu-affiliate at that time. Besides, If this were a true Wu-affiliate project, why would Rza only include future Wu offshoots Killah Priest (Sunz Of Man), Dreddy Krueger (Royal Fam), and Scientific Shabazz (a/k/a Shabazz The Disciple, former member of Sunz Of Man) and not, say, fucking Method Man? Or even Ol Dirty Bastard? Come to think of it, ODB would have sounded fucking brilliant on this LP. No, this entire concept has Paul's DNA all over it, and the inclusion of frequent Paul collaborators Masta Ace, MC Serch, Biz Markie, and even fucking Frukwan cements that.

(Rza actually took over the direction of the Diggaz with their second album, Wu stans, so that album is Wu-affiliated. This one is not. I'm sorry to break it to you.)

N---amortis was actually the original name of the album, but Gee Street (their label) balked at releasing an album with such a visceral title (but I can go down the street and watch I'll Fucking Kill You Motherfucker at the multiplex?), so it was renamed 6 Feet Deep. However, the European release kept the original title and the original tracklisting; folks in the United States missed out on hearing "Pass The Shovel". Good thing the Interweb is around, eh? 6 Feet Deep/N---amortis is considered to be a horrorcore classic, mainly by people who pay absolutely no fucking attention to the lyrics. If you're looking for horrorcore, I'm pretty sure one of the guys from the Flatlinerz served my breakfast at IHOP this morning. If you're looking for an album with an extremely dark sense of humor (and a strong sense of purpose), then you should probably give this album a look see.

1. JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS OVER (INTRO)
Yes, a rap album intro, but it lasts only nine seconds, so if I can deal, so can you.

2. CONSTANT ELEVATION
A running theme throughout this CD, The Rza is outshined by Frukwan and Poetic (except for one track, "Diary Of A Madman"). Grym and the Gatekeeper handle the bulk of the lyrical content here, and they both sound excellent here.

3. NOWHERE TO RUN, NOWHERE TO HIDE
The first single I had ever heard by this group. Still sounds great today, even though when I first heard it, I thought it was the Boogiemonsters or Fu-Schnickens or some shit. The Wu fake-out before Rza's second verse is the only real sign you get that there's any sort of Wu influence here.

4. DEFECTIVE TRIP (TRIPPIN') (FEAT BIZ MARKIE & MC SERCH)
An acid trip set to music? I didn't think it was possible, and this song doesn't quite accomplish it, but it still sounds very good, and is still one of my favorite songs here. Some of Paul's best production work ever.

5. 2 CUPS OF BLOOD
A short back-and-forth between Rza and Poetic (R.I.P.). Rza sounds good, but he sounded even better on the early Wu-Tang projects.

6. BLOOD BROTHERS
I never really cared for this song.

7. 360 QUESTIONS
A strange take on the skit, which Prince Paul perfected anyway, so this shouldn't be a surprise. Who did kill Tommy's Boy?

8. 1-800 SUICIDE
Six million ways to die. Choose one. Over a smoothed-out beat like this one, you may have to listen two or three times before you realize how fucked up the subject matter is.

9. DIARY OF A MADMAN (FEAT SCIENTIFIC SHABAZZ & KILLAH PRIEST)
The best song here, and I'm sure this is most people's favorite as well. Rza and RNS (the little-known Wu affiliate) bring us an incredible beat (which uses a discarded instrumental from the Wu-Tang demo. Download the demo (try Ultimate Wu (plug!)) and listen to "Enter The Wu-Tang", and you'll see what I mean) for the Diggaz and company to just get wild over. This song is the only marriage you will ever see of Wu-Tang beats and Prince Paul's skit-tastic genius, and the world is better for it; there's no way you can top this song. And if you don't believe me, I'll chew off my fucking arm and make my escape.

10. MOMMY, WHAT'S A GRAVEDIGGA?
This was expanded to a full song on one of the 12 inch singles; this version is about as short as a skit would be. Either way, I'd skip this one.

11. BANG YOUR HEAD
A goofy attempt for the Diggaz to rap over some rock beats. Very meh.

12. HERE COME THE GRAVEDIGGAZ
Now that's more like it, dammit!

13. GRAVEYARD CHAMBER (FEAT SCIENTIFIC SHABAZZ, KILLAH PRIEST, & DREDDY KRUEGER)
The mere fact that the word 'chamber' appears in the title should alert you to the Wu influence presented here. This song was produced solely by The Rza, and is one of the best non-Wu Wu-Tang songs ever made. This shit knocks, and Dreddy Krueger's verse still sounds good today. Too bad he doesn't really rhyme anymore.

14. DEATHTRAP (FEAT MASTA ACE)
Masta Ace introduces yet another song that uses the "Seven Minutes Of Funk" sample, most recently popularized by Shawn Carter's "Ain't No N---a". Kind of an obvious song choice to use, isn't it, Paul?

15. 6 FEET DEEP
The third Rza production, and it does NOT sound like a Wu-Tang song. This is a great thing; it shows the diversity fo Robert Diggs. I never really liked this song before, but today I can appreciate it, even though the hook sucks.

16. REST IN PEACE (OUTRO)
Just your average rap album outro, although given a Prince Paul twist, so it actually sounds good. Kinda makes you sad that the CD is over.

As mentioned above, the European release, N---amortis, features a different song for track nine, "Pass The Shovel". The rest of the tracks are shifted down accordingly.

PASS THE SHOVEL
A decent song that should have been included for the American audience. Luckily, you can easily find this one anywhere on the internet. Literally anywhere. I found it on Ain't It Cool News once.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 6 Feet Deep/N---amortis is the second finest side project Paul Huston has ever been a part of (the first being Handsome Boy Modeling School. Stetsasonic and De La Soul do not count as side projects). This album has its hiccups, but overall it's worth your time, as long as you listen to it with an open mind and a healthy sense of humor, since a lot of this is pretty fucking funny. Poetic and Frukwan show a lot or potential, and the album isn't without socially conscious moments; it's just that they're few and far between. It's too bad that Rza took over the group and later abandoned it completely, leaving Grym and Frukwan to keep the name alive while Paul moved to greener pastures and Rakeem started scoring major motion pictures like...um...Derailed. Yeah, I didn't see it either.

BUY OR BURN? I would recommend that you buy this shit. Prince Paul fans who weren't aware that this was all Paul's idea should snatch it up immediately. Wu stans (like myself) probably thought this was a Wu project all along, so they probably already own it, but if you don't, go get this shit without hesitation. Rza's fans are still longing for his old vocal sound; 6 Feet Deep is where you can get your fix.

BEST TRACKS: "Diary Of A Madman"; "Graveyard Chamber"; "1-800-Suicide"; "Defective Trip (Trippin')"

(Disagree with the above review? Do you know how many bites it takes to chew your fucking arm off? Leave some goddamn comments below! Make your opinions known!)

-Max

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19 comments:

  1. Wuttup Maw. il leave a comment, maybe tha first for this. what do you think im gonna say......am i gonna blast yo technique......? naw, dont worry. i thought it was an informative review. i can say that ive learned a thing or too. but you gotta understand that the gravediggaz were an affiliate of wu! they may have not started in rza's care, but it doesnt matter. because rza joined, that made the group's album one of, if not the first wu-affilated project. the album just has that feel, you know, strait up shiznit. its kindof like after the rza joined, it became linked to hands of wu. forever, nah mean. but the things you say are true for the most part.

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  2. I agree with you, supa. With Rza's involvement, there is no way that anyone can be convinced that this wasn't a WU project from day one. I'm just here to inform you that, while it didn't start out as one, you're right, it would become a Wu affiliate with time. So we both agree! Yay! Thanks for reading.

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  3. The Graveyard Chamber beat sounds like something from the Tical album... Love that song

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  4. What's up Max? Nice review on an ill album. Can you hook me up with an Ultimate-Wu invite?

    Thanks,
    Jedi

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  5. Although I too believed that this was a Wu project when it first came out, now that I'm more educated about hip hop, I can totally hear Paul's influence. This was definitely much more of a Paul project than anything else. Nice work kidd. Gonna link you to my site, duepayer.com. Keep doin ya thing...1 hunned

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  6. To clarify this whole nonsense about where Gravediggaz stands in the WU lineage:

    This was a Prince Paul project. This was recorded BEFORE 36 Chambers came out. Paul took a few rappers stuck in record contract limbo (RZA (or at that point, Prince Rakeem), Poetic and...umm...the other guy) and gave them something to do. Though I am not 100% certain on this (around 95% though), this record was shelved and probably would have never came out if it wasn't for the success of the Wu Tang Clan. If there was never any Wu Tang Clan and if this record came out when it was supposed to, I have no doubt in my mind that it would have been called something like Prince Paul Presents: Gravediggaz or something similar, but since Wu Tang blew up, (and to an extent, the music industry all of a sudden decided to try and create some kind of mainstream horrorcore subgrenre)they didn't really need to rely on Paul's name anymore.

    Furthermore, this has Paul's fingerprints all over it. This is what he does. Meaning, he takes offbeat gimmicks and ideas and makes rap albums out of them.

    I'm not gonna front like I knew all of this when this record came out, since I was around 16, and didn't care about such things. I was just excited to hear a record that had Prince Paul and RZA on it.

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  7. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessJuly 19, 2007

    I actually preferred the RZA from Cuban Linx up until Bobby Digital over the RZA from Enter the 36 Chambers. He toned down the theatrics a bit but was still coming hard. Then he smoked too many honey blunts and started acting like he was the only man who could apprehend The Joker and The Penguin. The second Gravediggaz album got a lot of run, too. I love his rhymes on that one.

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  8. EF Huttin'July 19, 2007

    This review was on point as usual...but how can you NOT love the chorus from "6 Feet Deep"? Blasphemy, I say.

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  9. Got to agree with 'ef huttin' there, 6 feet deep is superb, from the verses to the chorus.

    Yet another good review mate, not really surprising that you liked a prince paul album though...

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  10. And max has done it again ! You fuckin kill me with your reviews every time man , lol !!!

    And about the movie "Derailed": it is worth 90 minutes of your time, go rent it and let me know what you think ! If only to laugh at Xibit who thinks that looking like he just fouled himself throughout the film means he can "act" ... the same acting method Ice Cube uses in his movies lol

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  11. I love this album and always have since the day I first heard it way back in the day. 1-800-Suicide is my favorite song on the album.

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  12. how are going to say this is not a hip hop classic, at the top of the page as well it not horrorcore. which one is

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  13. you know i agree with "KATE", on this one is it horrorcore or not. maybe you just don't like the "FLATLINERZ",

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  14. bang your head underdog mix rocks! love this album!

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  15. AnonymousJuly 30, 2013

    Graveyard Chamber best Non-Wu Wu Tang Songs? Could you define that term please I'm struggling to get my head around that

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  16. when are you going to review the flatlinerz usa album?

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  17. It has just appeared to me that de la soul's debut is called 3 FEET HIGH and this project is 6 FEET DEEP. That surely is evidence that this is a Prince Paul project...

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  18. Yeah. I'm late.. very late. But damn. I had to take a second just to say one thing.. Bang Your Head is in no way, shape, or form "meh". This whole album was damn good. Solid listen front to back. You gotta be kidding. How many albums can you really say that about? That alone says a lot. Plus.. the Flatlinerz USA was a decent album. IHOP? That's cold.

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  19. Oh.. and I killed Tommy's Boy. He played too much. Word.

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