January 11, 2008

Cappadonna - The Yin and The Yang (April 3, 2001)




Earlier today, I was driving from work, and one of the local stations that does a "Flashback Fridays" program focused on what they consider to be hip hop. I heard a little bit of D-Nice, Biggie ("Juicy" is standard protocol whenever your radio station decides to play "old school" hip hop in 2008, because everyone who listened to hip hop when "Juicy" was released is now considered old...insert disgusted face here), Das EFX's "Real Hip Hop" (not the Pete Rock remix...insert sad face here), a bizarre remix that I had never heard of for SWV's "You're The One" which utilized an interpolation of GangStarr's "DWYCK" (and even included a Greg Nice sample from that song in the hook, even though it didn't make sense: the sample was the "Greg N-I, Greg Greg N-I, Greg Greg N-I-C-E", which I'm sure we'll agree is actually a pretty interesting vocal sample to clear), and the last song I heard was, of all things, Snow's "Informer". I remember this song being a big hit in whatever year it was released, and I found it hilarious that the lyrics were so indecipherable that MTV eventually had to air a retooled version of its video with the lyrics on screen, in a "follow the bounding ball/karaoke" format. And damned if I have to admit that it was catchy, if not completely stupid.

Why am I telling you this? Because it's all much more interesting than the story behind Cappadonna's sophomore effort, The Yin and The Yang, which is strange in and of itself, considering Cappa somehow inadvertently released the Album of the Century here. Am I being sarcastic? Read on to find out.

Oh good, you're still with me. Before resorting to driving a gypsy cab to pay for essentials like weed, porn, and fresh air, Cappadonna was considered to be a "big deal" around Wu-Tang Clan fans. His debut on Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (on "Ice Cream" and "Ice Water", which together don't mix well) was met with great enthusiasm, and his guest spots all over Ghostface's Ironman cemented his rep as someone that maybe you'll give a second look to if you walked past him on a crowded street and thought he was someone you used to know back in high school but aren't sure and even if it's not it would sure make a funny story to tell your spouse, right? Somehow, he convinced Wu-Tang mastermind/all around genius-slash-arrogant-ass The Rza to release his solo album, The Pillage, before discs from trusted Wu handymen like Inspectah Deck and Masta Killa, and the gamble worked: The Pillage sold over five hundred thousand copies, and not every one of them was picked up by his mother. So Epic, the home of Rza's imprint Razor Sharp Records (which would later go under, as Ghost would soon defect to The House That Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons Built, and Cappadonna is not sufficient enough to be the only guy signed to your label), had what is known in the music industry as a "no-brainer": a second album. This is where The Yin and The Yang comes in.

Now, the back-story around all of this bullshit is that the Wu-Tang Clan turned on Cappadonna immediately following the release of this album, since he allegedly brought in an undercover FBI informant as his manager or something, which certainly did not aid and abet the situation with the Wu B-Teamers running guns in Ohio or some shit. (Allegedly, of course: obviously, there's more to this story, but I'm tired and lazy.) It just so happens that Cappadonna, after chowing down on some Ego Flakes, thought so highly of himself that he was convinced that he could actually make a career without any help from The Rakeem. (Sure, Rza' s name appears as Executive Producer, but so did Shawn Carter's name on Method Man's 4:21...The Day After.) As such, no production from The Rza, who was probably too busy conducting a digital orchestra somewhere anyway. Ironically, The Yin and The Yang features the most diverse Wu-affiliates collaborations I've seen since The Rza's first Bobby Digital album.

And then...

1. THE GRITS (FEAT 8-OFF)
8-Off, who also produced this track, comes off okay enough for a guy that is probably only known these days for that song that pops up on the radio station while you're aimlessly driving through Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto III.

2. SUPER MODEL (FEAT GHOSTFACE KILLAH)
I have the feeling that Ghost and Rae only appear on this album because they're the two jackasses that vouched for Oh Donna during the "FBI Informant" incident; this may account for why none of the other core members comes within one hundred feet of this project (although Inspectah Deck somehow sold Cappa a beat...hey, anything to keep the lights on, right?) Don't get too excited, though: Ghostface is only on the hook, but even so, this song doesn't completely suck.

3. WAR RATS
This song is the only one that Cappadonna does by himself. Apparently, this was once called "Star Wars", but the title was altered for no real reason; the last time I checked, George Lucas doesn't give a fuck about a "Cappadonna".

4. BREAD OF LIFE (FEAT KILAH PRIEST & NEONEK)
How in the hell was Killah Priest blackmailed into participating on a Cappadonna album?! The beat, provided by Neonek, sounds like the instrumental for Killarmy's "The Shootout", except with more instruments layered on top.

5. LOVE IS THE MESSAGE (FEAT RAEKWON)
I seem to recall hearing this song at least two years before this album was ever announced. Coincidentally, I've always liked it, but obviously that would be due to the Chef's involvement.

6. WE KNOW (FEAT JERMAINE DUPRI & DA BRAT)
I'm sure that even Oh Donna questions the inclusion of this fucking gawdawful horrendous shit storm of a track. In all fairness, Jermaine Dupri co-produced Jay-Z's "Fallin'", which I loved from American Gangster, so he is capable of occasionally bringing some heat to the table. That said: Cappadonna, what the fuck?

7. SHAKE DAT (FEAT JAMIE SOMMERS)
Two attempts at a "bounce" track in a row? The hell?

8. BIG BUSINESS (FEAT CRUNCH & SHYHEIM)
"I'm going all out/I love trout". I read on someone's blog recently that Cappadonna had been officially offered the tenth slot in the Wu-Tang Clan. Obviously, it can't be due to his "raw lyricism". Maybe he bakes one hell of a pecan pie?

9. REVENGE (FEAT TIMBO KING)
The most Wu-sounding song here. I'm sure that the involvement of Inspectah Deck (behind the boards) and Timbo King (from Royal Fam) help matters here.

10. ONE WAY 2 ZION (FEAT CULTURE)
Meh.

The following is an unlisted bonus track:

11. SAVE THE CHILDREN (FEAT CULTURE)
Better than the last song that features Culture, but don't kid yourself, it's not by much.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Like I said above, Album of the Century. Which is a nice euphemism for "The Yin and The Yang sucks, but doesn't suck balls". Cappadonna's lyricism had already fallen off at this point, so it will be no surprise when I tell you that his rhymes could have been spit by a classroom of fourth-graders with more effectiveness, and yet I would rather listen to this album than to any of U-God's solo work. Why is that, you ask? Well, you, the beats, for the most part, are surprisingly decent, and the guests uniformly outshine the star attraction, even Ghostface, who only raps a fucking hook, for God's sake! Here's a fun project: Someone should delete all of Cappadonna's lyrics (and the entirety of "We Know", because, well, come on), and give the newly decapitated (Ha! I didn't even mean for that to come out funny!) tracks to someone else in Theodore Unit. This might have made for a better than decent debut for Shawn Wigs, for example. And yes, I realize I'm stretching a bit.

BUY OR BURN? Do you have to ask? Burn this shit. Although you could live a long and fulfilling life without ever having heard this album, but that would be your call.

BEST TRACKS: "Super Model"; "Love Is The Message"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Cappadonna - The Pillage

9 comments:

  1. 'War Rats' is almost 'Star Wars' backwards. Huh.

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  2. This album was so godawful that I couldn't believe it. At some point back after "The W" was released and Wu International Records was announced the Wu affiliates began working on these lil' side projects, the most notable being The Orphanage album and the hush hush Wu Elements project starring Raekwon, Ghostface and Cappadonna called "Crayons". Somewhere around that era, the quality of Cappadonna's flow and bars degenerated exponentially with each passing guest spot. It got so bad that the Crayons project was shelved altogether and Ghost threw himself into the "Supreme Clintele" project while Rae focused on "American Cream Team".

    This album was a pile of smoking horseshit next to a dead horse.

    With a ring of dead bloated corpses arranged around them both in a creepy ass Blair Witch type circle.

    One.

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  3. Da Omish NikkuhJanuary 23, 2008

    I did like the Pillage but fucking hated this album. I noticed Cappa getting shitty when he did his guest spots on Supreme Clientele.

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  4. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessJanuary 27, 2008

    The following quote is better than anything Cappadonna recorded after 1998: "Me, Ghost, and Rae is like mixed vegetables. We good for you, even one at a time."

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  5. dope review!

    I think the flow on Shake Dat sucks but I like the beat and the chorus... sadly that's my favorite cut on the album.

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  6. "The Yin and The Yang sucks, but doesn't suck balls"

    makes me laugh every time i see it

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  7. cappadonna is a fag. any man who calls himself "donna" HAS to be gay.

    that is all.

    end communication.

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  8. G.O.D
    I hv listnd to hiphop since 1993 bt neva heard sumthn of yin n yan kind,,,,illest of all tym,vintage cappadonna, ma fav in da album is the grits n starwars..u hate the album u no nothn abt real hip hop shit

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  9. Donna started to slack around supreme clientele

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