You used to love her. Back in the day you couldn’t get enough, replaying her every word in...
DJBooth Album Review
If you can relate to that last paragraph, then you know how I feel about RZA (no homo). I’m not saying I was the only 11-year-old white kid in America who owned a copy of 36 Chambers, but there weren’t a lot of us, believe me. Wu-Tang, and by extension RZA, was the illest thing I’d ever heard in my young life. But then the years passed and things, as they always do, changed. First the new Wu album, 8 Diagrams, left me feeling flat, and now I just can’t connect with RZA’s latest solo album, Digi Snacks. Digi Snacks is the fourth solo album from RZA, the third to be released as his nefarious alter-ego Bobby Digital, and the disappointment feels like I’m listening to 8 Diagrams all over again. The man’s a hip-hop genius, and that kind of thing doesn’t just fade, so then why? Where did things go wrong?
RZA’s an absolute legend in the production game, in the rap game, not so much. In between all the other Killer Bees, RZA’s creeping and often esoteric flow was perfect, but by himself he sometimes can’t lyrically sustain an entire track. Just take No Regrets, a darkly tinged track featuring RZA dropping lines like, “Haagen-Dazs, Milano Cookies, too hot to handle, Pepperidge Farm.” That’s not a dope line, that’s an attack of the munchies. While that may be an especially weird flow, it’s not that far from the average on Digi Snacks. Now let me completely reverse myself. Recently, RZA has been pumping out innovative film soundtracks and he brings his newfound cinematic sensibility to his music with occasionally astounding results. U Can’t Stop Me Now opens like an urban western flick before RZA and his kin Inspectah Deck lay bare their hard-laced history over an expertly mixed soul sample. Long Time Coming, Money Don’t Own Me, they both sound like they could be the theme music to an Oscar movie, and it’s at these moments that RZA’s as good as ever, if not better.
Unfortunately there are some “seriously, you put that on the album?” moments on Digi Snacks, starting with the David Banner assisted Straight Up The Block. First off, Straight Up The Block’s full-throttle style stands out amidst the slowly smoking rest of the album like a dead nun in a snow bank. Bobby Digital is supposed to be RZA’s street-soldier side, so maybe that’s what he was going for here, but that would still make Straight Up a poor excuse for a street soldier anthem. Straight Up The Block isn’t the only confusingly bad moment on the album. Good Night Kiss, RZA’s attempt at some between the sheets action, is about as sexy as Oprah in a wet t-shirt contest. And adding mediocre guest verses from Rev William Burk and Crisis, plus vocals from Thea van Seijen (a.k.a. that girl who sounds like Erykah Badu on meth), isn’t helping matters any. Now I instinctively compare any RZA track with guest features to a Wu-Tang joint, which means that if you’re like me there’s more than a couple disappointing moments on Digi Snacks.
All that means that my musical relationship with RZA is still on the rocks. Even on his worst day he’s still one of the best, all praise due, but somewhere along the line RZA and I started to grow apart. Maybe it’s because he’s become bored with hip-hop, he was always too smart to just do beats and rhymes, or maybe it’s because I just can’t let go of the Killa Bee swarming past. Either way, when they finally write RZA’s hip-hop eulogy, Digi Snacks will only earn a brief mention. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to RZA As Bobby Digital In Stereo and remember the good times.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Jun 24, 2008
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