June 25, 2008

My Gut Reaction: Rza as Bobby Digital - Digi Snacks (June 24, 2008)


The most hilarious thing I remember about my trip to Best Buy yesterday to pick up The Rza's fourth solo album, Digi Snacks, is the white guy driving a fucking Toyota Prius bumping Lil Weezy's "A Milli" in the parking lot and rapping along, word for word, while a couple of bewildered children gazed upon him in awe while standing in front of the store. Oh, and I also loved when Best Buy didn't fucking have this album, not because they were sold out (since nobody buys Wu-Tang albums anymore), but because they never ordered any to begin with.

I had to go to a nearby Target, which, for some reason, actually carried Digi Snacks, in order to gather the research material to write this Gut Reaction, and whenever I think of Target, my mind wanders to Wal-Mart, and I recalled an earlier interview Prince Rakeem had done in support of his summer tour and Digi Snacks, in which he explained that he had actually recorded two different versions of the album, the explicit retail and the clean version, which, instead of having the curses censored in highly imaginative fashion, actually would contain completely different lyrics. I haven't seen anything online about this since. Anybody have any word on this, or was Rza just reciting random words in sentence form again?

The fact that Rza opted to come out as hip hop superhero Bobby Digital again, after (finally) exposing himself as (gasp!) somewhat of an actual artist on Birth of A Prince is a troubling sign. Another topic of concern: the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan seems to have absolutely nothing to do with this release, besides the Inspectah Deck cameo (on "You Can't Stop Me Now", a song originally considered for 8 Diagrams, and was recorded during those sessions), so Rza filled in those blanks with his West Coast crop dusters Black Knights and North Star, along with the vocalists that threatened to throw 8 Diagrams off of the rails (and I happened to like that disc). Going in to the album, I'm hoping this sounds like a natural extension of the last Wu-Tang Clan album, sound-wise, since Raekwon and friends were complaining about Rza's hip-hop-hippie soundscapes which actually turned out to be pretty good.

I do have a bone to pick, though. The fucking liner notes feature a somewhat interestingly-drawn comic strip featuring Bobby Digital , but also include a big notice to go to Rza's fucking MySpace page to download the tracklisting and production credits of Digi Snacks. That move is beyond incomprehensible. What, did the Koch graveyard not bother to complete the liner notes until after the fucking album shipped?


1. DIGI SNACKS INTRO (FEAT UNDERSTANDING)
The kid telling the story is lame as shit. Once the beat kicks in, the track isn't that bad, but having a child tell the tale of your arrival is very Liquid Swords, and that's already been done, man.


2. LONG TIME COMING (FEAT DANNY KEYS)
This Danny Keys guy is annoying as fuck. This can't be a good sign.


3. YOU CAN'T STOP ME NOW (FEAT INSPECTAH DECK)
I ignored this song when it first leaked to the Interweb, but once I heard it on this CD, I was thankful for a track that didn't completely suck, so I gravitated toward it. It's actually a pretty good song, even though Inspectah Deck's verse is horrible, but the video is even better, especially with its Shaw Brothers-esque Wu-Tang logo introduction, which I believe should be retroactively added on to every single Wu-Tang Clan video ever made.


4. STRAIGHT OFF THE BLOCK (FEAT DAVID BANNER)
And then...this shit. Remember that bizarre collaboration between Rza and that guy from Goodie Mob on the last Bobby Digital disc? Yeah, neither do I, but this one is worse. David Banner, who provides the beat, rips some Jay-Z vocals from "Dirt Off Your Shoulders" (a sample that my wife was able to place almost immediately, I'm proud to say) and uses that as a "hook", something Swizz Beats pioneered and abandoned in what, 2004? And honestly, what the fuck is David Banner doing working with The Rza, after dissing his ass on his own "Eulogy" (off of some album that I can't be bothered to look up)?


5. BOOBY TRAP (FEAT DEXTER WIGGLES)
This song is just plain boring, and I don't remember liking Dexter Wiggles on 8 Diagrams, either. "Do you want a Digi or a Scooby Snack"? Seriously? That's part of your chorus?


6. TRY YA YA YA (FEAT MONK)
I just heard this garbage, and I don't remember a goddamn thing, folks.


7. GOOD NIGHT (FEAT THE REVEREND WILLIAM BURK, THEA, & CRISIS)
Yet another attempt by Bobby Digital to master the West Coast hip hop sound, and failing miserably. I'm not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about this disc, kids.


8. NO REGRETS
Rza decides to rhyme slower than usual over a bounce-type instrumental that he actually produced. (It seems that Rza actually produced the majority of the songs on Digi Snacks, which would normally be considered a good thing.) This wasn't the worst song I've ever heard, but damned if I will ever go out of my way to hear it again.


9. MONEY DON'T OWN ME (FEAT MONK & STONE MECCA)
I wonder if these were the beats that Rza originally presented to the rest of the Wu, and Raekwon took one listen, shook his head, removed his top hat, and punched him square in the face. No wonder Cuban Linx 2 hasn't come out yet.


10. CREEP (FEAT BLACK KNIGHTS, NORTH STAR, THEA, & DEXTER WIGGLES)
A plea to The Rza: For the love of Allah, please reconcile with the rest of the Wu. Your West Coast Killa Beez don't hold a candle to anything the actual Wu could have done with this admittedly-decent beat (provided by King Tech). Even that douchebag U-God could have done a better job. Okay, I completely made up that last sentence, but I feel that you get my point.


11. DRAMA (FEAT MONK & THEA)
The B-side to the "You Can't Stop Me Now" single confuses the fuck out of me for one reason: Gza/Genius apparently had something to do with this song. Gza's government name appears in the track's writing credits, and Rza even mentions the name "The Genius" in the intro, but, conveniently enough, Rza claims to have produced this song. So what the fuck did he do? (My money is on writing all of the lyrics, but that doesn't make sense, as it's not like Rza's ever been known to hire ghostwriters, right?)


12. UP AGAIN (FEAT KINETIC, THE REVEREND WILLIAM BURK, GEORGE CLINTON, & EL DEBARGE)
El Debarge? What the fuck? I mean, George Clinton appeared on 8 Diagrams, so I can buy into that, but El DeBarge? On a completely unrelated note, this album is starting to make my ears bleed.


13. PUT YOUR GUNS DOWN (FEAT STAR)
I usually complain about Rza's voice, which changed from his high-pitched shouting to a lower register almost overnight. On Digi Snacks, though, I think I'll complain about missing the Rza of old behind the boards, back when almost every song he touched turned into a classic. Bobby does ask "How can hip hop be dead when Wu-Tang is forever?", which is a nice sentiment, if the group were actually talking to him. Sigh...


14. LOVE IS DIGI / PART II (FEAT KINETIC, CRISIS, & THEA)
A song from the original Bobby Digital project that wasn't really screaming for a sequel, but going back to the well is popular these days in hip hop. The beat isn't that bad, but Rza should put an ad on Craig's List for some new weed carriers (and some new vocalists, while he's there).


15. O DAY (FEAT PRODIGAL SUNN)
The song itself is inconsequential, but I liked the musical backdrop for the outro, where Rza attempts to tell the continuing saga of Robert Q. Digital, but sounds coked out of his mind, and suddenly proclaims "Ho ho ho ho, merry Christmas, n---a, happy new year, it's July!", which made me laugh out loud at its sheer randomness. Rza also calls Ol' Dirty Bastard the best rapper of all time, which is sweet, since he is family.


The following is listed as a "hidden bonus track" that isn't hidden very well:

16. DON'T BE AFRAID
I actually loved this song. The beat is simple (at least, until Rza finishes his long-ass verse), the vocal sample is unobtrusive, and it just sounds fun. But let's not forget that the last track on here that I said was good was track number three, and here we are on fucking sixteen?!


THE LAST WORD: Digi Snacks is a hot mess that I'm pretty sure I won't want to revisit for a while. Rza needs to fire all of his yes-men and reconnect with the other eight guys that he came into the game with (especially since some of this was recorded at the same time: it's blatantly obvious that "You Can't Stop Me Now" was intended for 8 Diagrams, because why else would Rza make a reference to Cappadonna, one of the featured players on that disc?). Music-wise, Rza's clearly crawled even further up his own pretentious ass, with sporadically brilliant results, but most of the beats sound like he's trying too hard. Wow, this shit is disappointing. I think I'll actually try to find my copy of 8 Diagrams again, and I think you should, too: Wu fans should throw that disc in again and give it a whirl, especially since six months have passed since its release, and you'll realize that it's actually pretty good.

BONUS: I include the video for "You Can't Stop Me Now" because I truly believe this clip will be the only good thing that comes from the existence of Digi Snacks. You'll see what I meant above about the Wu-Tang logo, and if you're like me, you'll wonder why Inspectah Deck doesn't appear in the video, even though both Deck and Rza are signed to the same record label as solo artists. Groan...







-Max

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18 comments:

  1. Max. You're awesome.

    This is my first time posting here, although I've been reading for a while. I have bought a few albums by your recommendation, all of which I've loved.

    Anyway, the start of RZA's first verse on Drama is direct lift of some GZA rhymes that I've never actually heard. RZA quotes those same lines in the Wu-Tang Manual - I wondered, the first time that I heard that track, whether he'd acknowledge the source...

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  2. AnonymousJune 25, 2008

    RZA is killing the Wu, someone should stop him,

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  3. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessJune 26, 2008

    Slow down, dude. It's not even July yet. You need to pace yourself. The video is so good that I actually got my hopes up for the album. Foolish, I know.

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  4. Feste, that actually makes sense. I would dig out my copy of the Wu-Tang Manual, but I don't really have the time nor the patience to sit through this again, but thanks for the info, and thanks for the support.

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  5. drama is a cover of GZA's song from "words from the genius"

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  6. Drama is credited to Gza bc it's a cover/remake of Gza's song Drama from Words From the Genius. Rza said he re did the song to show respect to Mr. Grice, so his verse is just Gza's old one. A move some will accept and some will bitch endlessly about.

    I actually like the album even though part of my brain doesn't understand why. Some good songs mixed with some uninteresting ones, and the usual wu replacements are s usual, subpar. Don't be Afraid is great hough

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  7. I could only make it through 2 tracks and then about 30 seconds of each of the rest. I then cried and developed a tick. I'm sorry you listen to this whole thing.

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  8. ...and all of those explanations make even more sense. I don't believe that I've ever listened to Words from the Genius, although I certainly should at some point.

    Especially seeing as I actually like Drama...

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  9. AnonymousJune 29, 2008

    there is a Drama competition hosted by RZA


    http://www.imeem.com/remixtherza

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  10. AnonymousJune 29, 2008

    This albumn is quite good, better than his last effort, and to the haters : Stop hatin.PERIOD

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  11. AnonymousJune 30, 2008

    Max,

    I have to applaud u on your candidness lol. I was rolling on the floor at your review of this album so I had to go out and grab it. Straight Garbage This Album Is. I think Rza has smoked way to much sherm to put together a decent album anymore. Sad Very Sad....

    Keep the reviews coming.

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  12. AnonymousJuly 17, 2008

    Yeah it is one of those albums that you have to smoke a fat joint or blunt and listen to a few times before you get it. It's weird but it is Bobby Digital. I do wish that the GZA would have been on at least 1 track.

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  13. i like the album so far. i think its consistent with the last bob digi album. kinda weird, kinda loose....ahead of its time. i hate the mention of "scooby snacks" but think that song is my favorite. eerie bass chords...good shit.

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  14. hey I was just listening to the mathematics album love hell or right... track 6. gangsta uses the same samle as you can't stop me now..

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  15. ...As does Nas on his last effort.

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  16. long time comin has one of the hottest beats and some incredible lines. learn to review you fucking morons. and as to the rza is killing wu, lets take a look at albums wu members released not produced by mr robert diggs. the lex diamonds story... ouch, actually nything raekwon has dropped since cuban linx. ghost on def jam yea his career is getting even better. the rza is the fucking abbot people seem to forget that.

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  17. Anonymous from 9/2/09...you're and idiot

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  18. Uh.....Anonymous from 11/20/09, what do you mean?

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