Never Ran Never Will, Park Hill
Do or Die, Bed-Stuy
By Temple A. Stark, Casa Grande, AZ
I grew up in the 80s
Turned 20 in the 90s.
Can appreciate the music
That boiled over from the 70s.
Talk here ‘bout New Wave?
No, I’m talking rap.
Make some people groan outright.
That’s their right.
Given 10 years I’ll detest what’s then new
With the disdain only nostalgia can bring
Right now, 2 zero zero 5, I still overhear conversations — where I work, I shop, I sit — about how being a rapper requires no talent except being a thug. Like being a country singer requires no talent, just the fake accent.
In an especially amusing exchange a few weeks ago now, I heard someone (about 58, and 5-foot 5) cry that the only thing rappers have to do is learn to “move records back and forth underneath the needle.”
You know, like playing the lute is just moving your fingers up and down the strings.
What I’m trying to say is, I like rap as a genre and I’m glad.
That enabled me in the mid-90s to appreciate the tour de force that was the Wu-Tang Clan. Early on I didn’t know anything about them. I subscribed to (Corporate) Vibe magazine then and while most of it was fluff, there was a lot that brought a perspective about living a life unknown to me. I'd never lived in huge cities, only near Seattle and London. I was educating myself.
What I read about the Wu-Tang Clan showed me their focus was success but not the materials. And the focus wasn’t raging against former and current oppression; a point and an issue that I felt Public Enemy (and others too numerous to mention) had said, and said well, all there really was to say on the subject.
The WTC had set up — quite completely and quite quickly it seemed — an entire mythology and atmosphere around them. It was something that went beyond a lot of the rap and hip-hop. More than slinging rhymes. So, while in college I bought Enter the 36 Chambers. I loved it with the excitement of the new discovery of a new world. There were references to Shaolin and vocal film and audio clips. It wasn’t about “the 411”, the fun of murder and the bitches.
You know what I really want to say? Bearing in mind the era-straddling, rap-fu piece that is the Wu-Tang Clan I know it sounds too too corny, but I consider the Wu the audio equivalent of Caine from the early 1970s series, Kung Fu - the best character ever on television in terms of idealism and walking a path toward making the world he directly encountered a better place.