January 22, 2008

Rza as Bobby Digital - Digital Bullet (August 28, 2001)


After the release, chart success, and inevitable backlash against the Wu's The W, the group decided to remain in the studio and immediately get to work on a follow-up that would shut the naysayers up. In the meantime, The Rza and Ghostface Killah would put the final touches on solo albums that were already in progress. Ghost's Bulletproof Wallets will be written about later, since Rza's Bobby Digital alias released Digital Bullet on Indie Graveyard Records (sorry, I meant to type "Koch") about two weeks before the tragedy that is 9/11.

But obviously, this album has nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on American soil. (The Wu would later address that on Iron Flag.) Instead, Digital Bullet resurrects Bobby Digital, hip hop superhero, as a man who has everything, but is sick and tired of the materialistic lifestyle that he himself had cultivated since the release of the first project. As expected, the concept is much looser this time around, since a lot of the tracks simply feature Rza and friends going nuts over mostly Rza-produced tracks.

To my knowledge, Digital Bullet didn't sell as much as its predecessor, since the timing of this release coincided with general apathy of all things Wu-related in the hip hop world. Does that mean this was a bad album? Well, if you're the type of person that judges album quality based on sales (read: if you're part of the association that votes on Grammy awards), then yes, this is a bad album. But if you actually listen to the music? Read on...

1. INTRO / SHOW YOU LOVE
Alright, I suppose. Not great.

2. CAN'T LOOSE (FEAT BERETTA 9)
Who knows if the misspelling is intentional, but other than a vocal sample that grates on your last nerve like sandpaper on an armoire, the song doesn't completely suck.

3. GLOCKO POP (FEAT METHOD MAN, MASTA KILLA, & STREETLIFE)
I remember this song leaking to the Interweb shortly after the release of the first Bobby Digital album, and I remember liking it a lot, even with Rza's borderline comical first few lines, which are so bad that it almost detracts from the entire Wu-Tang legacy. I find myself still liking this mastered version, although the radio introduction is completely unnecessary.

4. MUST BE BOBBY
Pretty damn good, if not overly simplistic for a Rza beat.

5. BROOKLYN BABIES (FEAT MASTA KILLA & THE FORCE M.D.S)
The playback speed of the beat is adjusted to brilliant effect throughout the song, and Masta Killa acquits himself pretty well. Well played, Robert Diggs.

6. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PT. 2 (FEAT BIG GIPP)
Big Gipp from Goodie Mob is an...um...interesting choice. Tony Touch's production doesn't fit the sound of the rest of Digital Bullet. This song may have sounded better on a Goodie Mob or Big Gipp solo album, since it sounds so bad it actually taints your memories of the original misogynistic masterpiece.

7. DO U (FEAT PRODIGAL SUNN & GZA/GENIUS)
Really fucking good, especially Gza's verse. Wouldn't have sounded out of place on Wu-Tang Forever, which is supposed to be a compliment.

8. FOOLS (FEAT KILLA SIN)
"Everybody Plays The Fool"? Seriously? I like how Rza's voice almost cracks in half while singing/demanding everyone "bring (their) nines". Solomon Childs also appears on this song, but for some reason, doesn't receive any credit in the liner notes. Not bad.

9. LA RHUMBA (FEAT METHOD MAN, KILLA SIN, BERETTA 9, & NDIRA)
This song was actually played on the radio around my way, and not in a nighttime mix of random rap songs, but in the middle of the fucking day. I have fond memories of radio deejays introducing this as "the new song by Razor". Even though this song was probably released as a single just to get the radio airplay, it's not completely horrible, save the chorus. You know what is horrible? The remix featuring Fat Joe. Now that song sucks.

10. BLACK WIDOW PT. 2 (FEAT OL' DIRTY BASTARD)
Hilariously bawdy Ol' Dirty Bastard solo showcase. Possibly appalled by the subject matter (Dirt: "Pussy ain't nuthin' but skin to your bone/You can fuck it, you can suck it, you can leave it alone"), Rakeem doesn't even bother rhyming over this beat.

11. SHADY (FEAT INTRIGUE)
Meh.

12. BREAK BREAD (FEAT JAMIE SOMMERS)
Previously released as "Save Jon Benny" on the Interweb and on various Wu-Tang mix CDs, most notably the one released with Big Kap. I always found it weird that Ghostface bragged about "running trains on Jamie Sommers on the tour bus" on Ironman's "Iron Maiden", and then she actually popped up as a Wu artist; probably not the best way to make your musical debut, in my opinion. Side note: in the liner notes, there is a skit called "Thirsty" that features Beretta 9, that is supposed to immediately follow "Break Bread", but it's completely missing. Who knows what happened here, but the skit would pop up later on limited edition copies of Wu-Tang Killa Beez Present The Sting, a compilation of Wu-affiliates and weed carriers.

13. BONG BONG (FEAT BERETTA 9 & MADAME CEZ)
Bong bong? What the fuck? One of the things I've always hated about Rza's interviews around this time period was how he would toss in this bogus catchphrase randomly as if it were a valid answer for the unasked question "What is the most annoying thing you could say right now?".

14. THROW YOUR FLAG UP (FEAT BLACK KNIGHTS)
This song isn't bad at all, although I do feel bad that the Black Knights never truly released anything of substance. (That Every Night Is A Black Knight album floating around on the web? Never officially released (in the States, at least).)

15. BE A MAN
Rza has finally overused the "repeated vocal sample integrated into the beat" concept as of this song. This song isn't bad, but it recalls "Can't Loose" and "Do U", which are both much better than this track.

16. RIGHTEOUS WAY (FEAT JUNIOR REID)
You'll find yourself waiting around for Rza to finally appear. I believe this is more of what people were expecting what Rza announced The Cure, an album that, to date, still hasn't been released, and is probably sitting next to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 and that Ghostface Killah/MF Doom collaborative album in the Wu-Tang vault.

17. BUILD STRONG (FEAT TEKITHA)
Dull. Next!

18. SICKNESS
Pretty good way to end your CD. Wait a minute, it's not done yet?

The following two songs were included as bonus tracks on early pressings of Digital Bullet. Probably due to a printing error, the song titles were transposed in the liner notes, but when you hear the lyrics of what I list as "Cousins", it's painfully obvious that I have the titles right, because I am great.

19. ODYSSEY
Kinda boring. Supposedly Issac Hayes is supposed to be either on this song or on the longer version that appears on the bonus disc of The Sting, but I couldn't hear him on either version.

20. COUSINS (FEAT CILVARINGZ & DOC GYNECO)
A decent precursor to Rza's The World According To Rza project that would find a release date soon. Future quasi-official Wu-Tang Clan member Cilvaringz's American debut was on a bonus track that wasn't included on most pressings of Digital Bullet. Classic!

FINAL THOUGHTS: Digital Bullet was the first of several Wu-Tang albums where The Rza and company weren't actively trying to appeal to their fans, instead hoping that their fans would journey with them to a more enhanced listening experience. Save for "La Rhumba", this album is proof that the Wu could actually evolve their sound for the greater good. In short, this album is pretty fucking good, much much better than The Rza as Bobby Digital In Stereo.

BUY OR BURN? By all means, buy this shit. When the Wu don't have anything to prove anymore, that's when they show their true colors as talented rapper/producers that deserve any continued attention they receive.

BEST TRACKS: "Do U"; "Glocko Pop"; "Must Be Bobby"; "Brooklyn Babies"; "Fools"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
The Rza - Rza as Bobby Digital In Stereo

9 comments:

  1. Oh no, it must be Bobby, doot ta rootta toot.

    Some great musical innovation and experimentation on this album.

    Glocko Pop actually sounds like it could have been a 1993 Wu-Tang song trapped in a time capsule and polished up a bit for a 2001 release.

    Great song!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brooklyn Babies is one of my favorite all time RZA songs and videos.

    One.

    ReplyDelete
  3. strongly disagree. i bought it when it came out but from all wu albums i got, this one lost my interest the fastest... too much flatout bad or too boring beats (theres hardly any variation on most of them) and pointless lyrics, somehow most of it didnt even feel completed i think. i wouldnt even say burn or download, to be honest... tracks i like: show you love, brooklyn babies, do u, black widow 2 and domestic violence 2 somehow - but thats it!

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

    This is definitely worth a listen. I kept it in rotation for the better part of a year. Best line on the album: "The most beloved from a region undiscovered/ I've been hovered over by black buzzards walking through public." As a side note to your Black Knights comment (at least if I'm correct in thinking that Holocaust is/was a member of that group), Holocaust started his recording career like a ball of fire. He destroyed the songs that he was a part of on The Swarm cd and dominated some more on the first Bob Digi disc. He actually released a solo album a couple years ago, but I found it to be a major letdown. As for the comment by flx, if you like 5 tracks yet won't recommend a download or burn you have impossibly high standards or a dial-up connection.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Randy WatsonJanuary 29, 2008

    Bong bong!

    ReplyDelete
  6. The beat to Show U Love sounds nigh identical to the beat for We Made it on Ghost's Supreme Clientle.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "As expected, the concept is much looser this time around, since a lot of the tracks simply feature Rza and friends going nuts over mostly Rza-produced tracks."

    uh, as opposed to Bobby Digital In Stereo? Just from memory BDiS had NYC Everything, Terrorist, Holocaust (Silkworm), Mantis, Unspoken Word, Airwaves, Bobby Did It and probably a couple others that definitely fit that description. Digital Bullet probably has more right to claim a concept, given that at least everything from Be A Man onwards was supposed to follow a story arc (for better or worse).

    But anyways, both those albums suck so who cares. And, of course, bong bong.

    ReplyDelete
  8. OMG, I only continue to read your garbage reviews because I tabbed a lot of your wutang reviews and this right here is fucking hilarious. This album is better than his first? You are sooo funny, what a character, you are probably intentionally doing this to piss people off. And I must say, you did a damn good job. Don't worry, I won't read any more of your articles because all the tabs are done.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey, can you review THE WORLD ACCORDING TO RZA. I'm surprised you haven't. I thought the beats on that album were ridiculously good, some of rza's best work, wasted on a ton of people speaking languages I don't understand. I'm just curious of what you think of the vanity project. I also thought his bars on that album were the best he'd spit since 1998...and the last good ones he spit seeing as he completely
    sucking dick post-2003

    ReplyDelete