The Hillside Scramblers
So what ever happened to Wu-tang Clan? Can’t really say, but Mr. U-God has reappeared on the Hip Hop radar screen with a solid gansta-based disc. There’s a weird little “intro” track that makes things sound a bit like this might be a live concert disc, but the music is clearly studio based, and right smack in the groove that Wu-Tang pioneered. It’s a standard rhythm track, riding along in 1/4 time, providing that classic anti-danceable note. A decade has passed since gangster rap rolled over the black music scene, alternately uniting people in different gang lands and horrifying those in the established white community. Sure, all their kids bought the baggy pants and backwards baseball caps and a few white rappers even made the charts, but this is music from the bad part of town.
A quick listen lets us know all the same stuff is happening: niggas are popping caps, slapping their ‘ho, smoking the evil rocks and searching for some sort of respectability. Get some cash, spend it in the biggest way possible, and live it up; statistically you’ll be dead or in the pen before long. That’s the dark side of rap that makes it a powerful voice of protest or unity. Songs like “Take it to the Top” and “KJ Rhymes” still relish this life. Interestingly, I actually happened to drive through Watts recently, and it seemed a bit cleaner and prosperous than the last time I visited, 10 or 15 years ago. Is this a positive result of rap, of Wu-Tang and their progeny, or merely rose colored glasses from inside a rent-a-car? Tough call. U-God surely has a different take than I do, and sums it up with Hillside Scramblers. I won’t call it innovative, but I will call it solid material from a man who knows the style, the scene and the rhythm.