Diggin’ Through the Crates: K-Rino “Duality”

Song: “Duality”

Artist: K-Rino

Album: Annihilation of the Evil Machine (2010)

Lyric: “One a thought is born, nothing can harm it/You don’t understand the magnitude of torment, that it took for me to form it/I dare ya to deal, each of the labyrinth characters killed/Got a Captain America shield that I wear in the field.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

What is more American that Hip-Hop and being a nerd? The correct answer to that is Captain America. However, today on “DTC,” we combine all three to possibly make the most American thing in existence. Surprisingly, today’s song “Duality” fits in perfectly with all of our topics. For those “DTC” fans out there, you might remember a while back we did a “DTC” about Captain America (Hopsin’s “Lunch Time Cypher”), yet contrary to this week’s article, it was about Cap getting… well, Cap’d. Today’s article is all about surviving through the battle. K-Rino takes this duality notion to heart by posing the question, what would happen if he had a rap partner. So rather than finding a rap partner, he decided to just split himself in half and become his own rap partner. Similar to the superheroes of the world, they all have duel identities. For every Bruce Banner, there is a Hulk. For every Bruce Wayne, there is a Batman. And for every Steve Rodgers there is a Captain America.

We all have this other side of us that either contradicts who we are or thrives in addition to our known character. Everybody has this dual identity. It’s not just superheroes; rappers are no different: where there is a Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, there is also a Lupe Fiasco . With a Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr, you have a Snoop Dogg, and if there is an Eric Kaiser, there is always going to be a K-Rino. For most rappers and poets of today, their dual identity comes with one powerful weapon – their words. That is exactly what K-Rino is trying to say in this lyric. Once an artist develops a thought behind a song, and spends so much time and energy to make it into a harmony, followed by a rhythmic flow, nothing and nobody can take that away from them. A majority of hip-hop artist form their songs based off of their personal lives, so when K-Rino speaks about the torment involved with forming that thought, he is talking about the difficult life he has had to go through, which has been the reason he is a rapper today. Without that life and that hardship, he wouldn’t be able to form such a song. And if you dare challenge him on those thoughts, it can only end badly for you.

So, similar to Captain America’s vibranium shield that keeps him safe in harms way, words do the same for the rappers of the world. Just like nothing can harm Captain America when he is covered by his shield, nothing can harm an artist when covered by his poetry. The same can be said for anybody and everybody, you just have to go figure out what your shield is. Coming back to the notion of duality, just like we all have that one thing that makes us feel safe, we all have that one thing that can harm us. For Captain America that opposing force is the Winter Soldier. Within the next few days the world will get to see that battle play out on the big screen. Dropping April 4, 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is going to shoot off vita-rays into every nerd heart, turning them into super nerd soldiers. This film looks to be a great one with the reappearance of some of our major characters such as the Captain and Black Widow, and the addition of some new ones, mainly Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I don’t know about you, but me and all of my other dual identity cannot wait to see this movie in theaters. So check out Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and go our there and discover the duality in your life.

Cover photo taken from houstonpress.com

 

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Alex Ruffin “Overdosed on Reality”

Song: “Overdosed on Reality”

Artist: Alex Ruffin

Album: U.B.E.R (Usually Better Every Rhyme) (mixtape 2012)

Lyric: “Got the Juice like Q and Bish/Showed my ass before rap I’ve never been a nudist/Thriving harder than the mutants/in the sewer, they like Koopa/I’m TMNT they never touched the goo”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Coming to “DTC” this week may be a lesser known artist, but I guarantee you he is OVER 9,000 on the nerdy scale for rappers. On Alex Ruffin’s 2012 mixtape, he released several songs that show off his inner nerd. Not counting this week’s feature, he mentions The Matrix, Doctor Doom, Luke Cage, and several others. However, his nerdiest song may in fact be “Overdosed on Reality.” It truly was hard to pick just a single lyric from this week’s song. For honorable mention, and to flex his nerdiness I feel some of the other lyrics must be shared. “While they acting my thumb is playing Galactus/Just writing up something mean while the other four are fantastic.” NERDY. “It’ll knock you right off your feet like I whooped you in Mortal Kombat/ I set myself up to win if they ballin all of em Bobcats.” NERDY. “I put in hard work while they paying for pipe dreams/I’m fighting for what is right if you robbin’ I’m Nightwing.” NERDY.

So it’s clear to see that without a doubt, Alex Ruffin is a nerd. Perhaps his nerdiest hard hitting lyric speaks about the heroes in a half-shell, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Basically what Alex Ruffin is saying in this lyric is that even though he is realtively unknown, most rappers these days can’t even compete with him. Similar to the Turtles, Ruffin is underground doing his rap thing and all of those artist that are mainstream just can’t keep up. Just for a second imagine Koopa, the lovable little turtle from Super Mario or any other Mario video game. Yes he is cool, playful, and cheery. Now take another second and imagine Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael from the notorious Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. They are badass, fearless, and just overall awesome. Now take half a second and imaging Koopa fighting the TMNT. It didn’t take very long to come up with a winner, and I won’t even ask you to come up with any fraction of a second to figure out who you would rather be, the answer is just too obvious. That is what Alex Ruffin is trying to stab through your head. Much of this song speaks about the work he has been putting into his craft and the passion he has for his art. He is trying to become great and the only way to do that is through hard work. So while everyone else out there is comfortable being a pet store turtle or Koopa, Ruffin is searching for that mutagen ooze (if he hasn’t found it already) to take him to the next level.

You know who else is looking for some goo/ooze? Michael Bay. Coming out in August 2014, Michael Bay will be bringing us the much anticipated live action TMNT movie. Starring Megan Fox as TV reporter April O’Neil – which the jury is still out on, Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), and Pete Ploszek (Leonardo) we are all hoping we will have a masterpiece on our hands. Unfortunately, this movie looks to depart from both the comic book and movie origin. Whether they are aliens from a distant planet or test-tube subjects, the warrior spirit of the turtles will remain intact. With the recent trailer that just was released, there is a lot to be hopeful for in regards to this soon to be movie. I don’t know about you but I sure am looking forward to it. I can almost guarantee you that Alex Ruffin is just as excited as anyone else. So on a closing note, GO NINJA GO NINJA GO!

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Army of the Pharaohs “God Particle”

Song: “God Particle”

Artist: Army of the Pharaohs

Album: In Death Reborn (to be released April 22, 2014)

Lyric: “You know Lois Lane know my name/I’m throwing flames at your brain like Ghost Rider, my flow’s tighter.”

Character Reference/Meaning:
Coming to the DTC stage this week is none other than the rap super group, Army of the Pharaohs. This group originally formed by Vinnie Paz, the MC for another hard hitting under-ground rap group you may have heard of called Jedi Mind Tricks. With their soon to be released album In Death Reborn, which has been in the works for several years, they are pulling no punches in hopes of creating greatness. What better way to show the Hip-Hop community that you are rough, rugged, and Hip-Hop royalty than spitting off some nerdy lyrics. I can’t think of one, because as I have said time and time again, if you are nerdy you will become a rapper. Therefore, if you are a rapper, chances are you are nerdy. The proof is right in front of us with our lyric of the week.

Time to break it down people. Now why in the world would Lois Lane know who this group is? I mean, isn’t she only caught up on the big stories about big name people such as Superman and other heroes? EXACTLY, what Esoteric from Army of the Pharaohs is trying to tell you is that they are a big deal, and if you aren’t convinced, then their next album is out to prove it. Seeing that Lois Lane is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, she seems like the only viable and capable candidate to bring their story to light in their rebirth. Basically, Esoteric is telling you that Army of the Pharaohs is big enough to capture the attention of Lois Lane. Sure, Superman can fly, lift heavy things, and stop bullets, but can he make you sing along to lyrics and nod your head to a beat? From the sounds of this lyric is appears that their album is going to do more than make your head nod. It’s quite possible it’ll make your whole head explode.

Similar to Ghost Rider, AOTP is going to be spitting hot fire like Dylan, so much in fact that by the end of the album, you’ll just be a skull with flames. Ignition point, the headphones. However that is not the only thing AOTP has in common with Ghost Rider, similar to how they are releasing their new album and it being titled In Death Reborn Ghost Rider is also being “reborn.” Just recently Marvel has regained the movie rights to the Ghost Rider franchise and look to do a possible reboot with the series. Even though nothing is confirmed about releasing new movies, hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Johnny Blaze. So even though we may not see Ghost Rider on the big screen any time soon, we will see him return to comic book shelves this month. Well actually, Johnny Blaze won’t graced the shelves at all. In fact writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore are introducing a brand new Ghost Rider completely.

The new hot head goes by the name of Robbie Reyes, a young high school student who grew up in the harsh inner city of East L.A. Even though he isn’t as experienced in life as Blaze, he still shares the same mistrust of people, quick to anger attitude, and violent surroundings that define Ghost Rider. Possibly one of the biggest changes that we will see in the comics is that Reyes won’t be sporting a Harley or a Hog, but rather he will be on 4 wheels. Instead of driving a motorcycle, the new series will have Reyes in a classic Dodge Charger. Don’t fear though, the wheels and a majority of the car is still engulfed in flames. Honestly I’m not sure how I feel about this, but based off the prints that have been appearing, it still looks bad ass. With issue #1 set to drop in March, issue #2 in April, and In Death Reborn the same month, I can already tell it’s going to be a month full of bad-ass-ery. Moral of the story, check out Army of the Pharaohs new album, check out All-New Ghost Rider (#1 drops on 3/26), and above all else, be a fancy pants nerd.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Honors English “The Name Is”

Song: “The Name Is…”

Artist: Honors English

Album: State of the Art (2012)

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Lyric: “Count the MCs sick as me you need two missing hands/ Cause I ticket booth/ Movie it, Beast, Wolverine, Sabertooth in it/ I silence ‘em , yeah, this that mutant (mute’n) shit.”

Character Reference/Meaning:
It is an “honor” to present Honors English to “DTC” this week. Even though Honors English may not be as well-known as other artists such as Eminem or Kanye West, I guarantee you he is just as nerdy. English, which is actually his given surname proves to the world that you don’t have to be a thug to rap. Growing up in Trenton, NJ, English became a lover of music at a very early age making music with his uncle. When we became older he took his talents to Florida A&M where he received a degree in African-American Studies and a graduate degree in History. Around the campus he was well known for carrying a boom box and battle rapping anyone who would step up. English, met Grammy Award-winning producer Needlz several years before putting out this album. Even though State of the Art is his debut piece of work, he is no rookie. Feeling that his chances were shot and lost, he decided to step away from hip hop and became a professor of history at the same university he graduated from. However it is clear after listening to State of the Art that English is coming back with a vengeance while teaming up with his old business partner Needlz. With songs like “Second Chances”, “Crazay”, “Highlight Real” and “Palin And Bachman” it’s pretty clear that he is no schmuck. In fact he lets you know that in this week’s DTC song, “The Name Is…” All throughout this song Honors English is dropping amazing lyrics that guarantee you will not forget his name. His lyrics are downright sharp. So sharp that he is claiming that if you were going to try to count lyricists out there that can compete with him, you might as well not have hands at all, because they don’t exist. I could see little 12 year old English now, reading famous X-Men comics that depict brutal fights involving the very animal like Beat, Wolverine, and Sabertooth. Not only are all these characters able to rip or cut your hands off if you question the quality of lyrics coming from English but they are money makers in the box office. The hook from this song states, “Come with the chedda please if you wanna schedule me/ the name is Honors English and I’m a fucking beast” so of course Honors is trying to reach the profit level that the X-Men franchise has made in the movie theaters alone. However, he also wants people to know it’s not always about the money, but rather the talent. That is why he release State of the Art for free. He spoke in an interview with HipHopDX where he stated, “We always felt that we want our music to be heard first, and if people get a chance to hear it, we believe that they will be impacted by it and that we will have a fan base, and then from there we can get money through shows, merchandise and other things.” So for all of you handless people out there that still believe Honors English doesn’t have something to show this world, he has a contingency plan just in case. I love the play on words he is bringing into Professor English’s School for Gifted MCers, he is out to prove that he has talent, and if you challenge him, he will silence you with his play on words. If you still need reasons to check out Honors English I will list a few, 1- He is Educated and provides an educated outlook on hip hop. 2- He is working with a Grammy Award-winning producer. 3- He will cut your hands off. 4- He is a mutant. If you to know more about Honors English or download his album for free, visit his website http://thehonorssociety.com/. And remember, we should all be, “Mutant and Proud”

Diggin’ Through the Crates: KRS-One “Nothing New”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: KRS-One

Song: “Nothing New”

AlbumHip Hop Lives (2007)

Lyric: “The streets won’t forgive you man, them guns go BLAM/ Have you crawlin up the wall like Spider-Man… But no, you ain’t made for this/I put my hand through your chest like Agent Smith.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

If you are even going to begin a conversation about pioneers of the Hip-Hop world, KRS-One (Knowledge Reigns Supreme) A.K.A “The conscience of Hip-Hop” A.K.A “The spokesperson for Hip-Hop” better be one of the tops of conversation. KRS-One has been deemed these nicknames by Rolling Stone, The Source and even the Wall Street Journal and the Zulu Nation. With Black History Month coming to an end, it only seemed right to have KRS-One bless “DTC.” Later on, I will speak more on how comic books and being nerdy could possibly relate to someone like KRS-One, but for now I want to take some time to focus on KRS-One – a Hip Hop god.

Above many other KRS was one of the notable Hip Hop heads in the community that used his power of music and reach to make positive progression for black culture. In 1988-89 KRS-One started the “Stop the Violence Movement” in response to the continuing violence heard throughout hip hop music and the black community. Collaborating with some of the biggest stars out of the East Coast Hip-Hop scene, KRS-One release a song called “Self Destruction,” with all the proceeds going toward the National Urban League.

KRS-One has always tried to spread positive messages to the black community, with songs such as “Sound of da Police,” which speaks on how the police treat people of color, and how their power is often abused and unjust. Another positive song that helps deem KRS-One a king of Hip-Hop is “Hip-Hop Vs. Rap.” KRS-One states in this song, “Rap is something you do, Hip Hop is something you live.” You know what else he said in “Hip Hop Vs. Rap”? He said, “When these suckers don’t respect it, check it/ FLAME ON, I know the light is bright but keep on watching me.” Um, excuse me, Mr. One, but your nerdy side is beginning to show.

Beyond rap music, Hip-Hop is a way of life that the black community truly has adopted and made their own. This goes deep down into his bones, seeing that he is the founder of the Temple of Hip Hop. The Temple of Hip Hop is a: ministry, archive, school, and society (M.A.S.S.). The goal is to encourage artists and radio stations to write, and play more socially conscious music, and also to maintain and promote Hip-Hop culture, KRS-One believes that Hip-Hop is more than music, break dancing and graffiti, but rather it is a political movement, a religion, and a culture. This has gotten the United Nation to recognize Hip Hop, as a full-fledged religion. What? Hip-Hop as a religion? YES, if you do not have faith, then I encourage you to pick up at your local book store, The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument, which has been referred to as the “Hip-Hop Bible.”

I know this is all fine and dandy but I haven’t really tied in comic books at all yet, well hold on to your Underoos because coming your way is some comic related info. When KRS-One was just a 6 year-old Lawrence Parker (1971), he started collecting both comic books and toys in Harlem New York, right around the time he starts to become interested in history, religion and music.  In 1994, KRS-One and Marshall Chess combined both literature and music to inspire urban youth. This combination turned out to be a comic book accompanied by an audio cassette tape both entitled “Break the Chain” under the Marvel Comics imprint. This comic was meant to teach urban youth that they don’t have to be slaves to their past or their conditions, that we must break the chains of ignorance in order to become something positive in this world. With other name drops of comic references I believe that part of KRS-One’s heart still belongs to comics. Either way, without KRS-One hip hop would not be the inspirational movement that is has become today; so how could Hip-Hop be dead if KRS-One is still its savior? To find out more about KRS-One and the Temple of Hip Hop visit his website.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Mos Def and Talib Kweli “Know That”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: Mos Def ft. Talib Kweli

Song: “Know That”

Album: Black on Both Sides (1999)

Lyric: “I Strike the Empire Back/ I Strike the Empire Back/ Fuck the Empire!/ High flying like the Millenium Falcon/ Piloted by Han Solo/ I never roll for dolo, fronting on me’s a no-no”

Character Reference/Meaning:

You know what Mos Def and the Star Wars have in common besides being awesome, ground breaking and revolutionary? One word – Rebels. That’s right, all you nerds out there, if you have been paying attention to Star Wars news as of late you should know about the new animated series entitled, Star Wars Rebels. This animated series is set to drop this year and is to take place between episodes III and IV. Just recently, some of the first footage was released with some new characters fans ought to love; sadly though, Mos Def is not one of them. Especially with great Star Wars related lines such as the chosen lyric of the week, it’s obvious that Mos Def a.k.a Yasiin Bey (he has rebranded himself Yasiin Bey as of late to keep his old record label from making money off the stage name Mos Def) is down for the cause.

Like any good Rebel soldier, Yasiin speaks out against injustice happening in the world and is on a mission to betterment. However, what speaks louder than words? ACTION! Not only has Mos Def spoken out about important tops in his songs such as the right to clean water (“New World Water“), the maltreatment of Katrina victims via the government (“Katrina Klap (Dollar Day)“), Poverty rates among African Americans (“Ni**as In Poorest“), as well as the murder of Trayvon Martin (“Made You Die“), but he has also put his words into action. In 2000 he performed a benefit concert for Mumia Abu-Jamal a death row inmate who is a known member of the Black Panther Party and was convicted of 1st degree murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Popular belief that Abu-Jamal didn’t receive a fair trial, and the court system was unjust to sentence him to the death penalty. He remains in prison today. In 2007 Yasiin appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher where he spoke about racism against African-Americans and the poor response by the American government during Hurricane Katrina, and the Jena Six. A few years later he made a reappearance where he spoke upon the dangers of nuclear weapons and the possible mistranslation of Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist threats.

One of Mos Def’s largest and most “real” actions occurred in 2013 where he sought out to show the world the mistreatment, and violation of human rights people have been portraying on inmates at Guantanamo Bay. He did this by depicting how the prisoners have been forced feed against their will, despite it being an instructional procedure. It has been a point of Yasiin to spread positivity through his music and bring truth and reality to light by his actions. So in this song when he says he strikes back against the empire he is saying that he challenges and battles unjust happenings in this world. Seeing what “empires” have done to cause oppression with imperialism and colonialism it’s no wonder he rebels. Is Mos Def the Han Solo of our day and age, the rebel we need to speak and act out against the empire of today? Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but regardless of how you look at it, Mos Def is a social activist for the betterment of civil rights and humans in general. With his ability to spread positivity through his music and social action, I feel the world can be more peaceful, united and just, than it was yesterday.

WARNING: The following video depicts graphic images of force feeding. These images at times can be disturbing and difficult to watch. View discretion advised.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Public Enemy “Raise the Roof”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: Public Enemy

Song: “Raise the Roof”

Album: Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987)

Lyric: “From the slammer, swing a hammer like the mighty Thor/ God of thunder, you’ll go under, then you’ll applaud/ And fathom the distance, the mad must reap/ Meet Namor, sea lord, Prince of the deep.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Continuing with our theme of progressive Hip-Hop artists and groups that helped pave the way for an entire generation and culture, we bring to the stage yet another legendary group, Public Enemy. YEEAAAAHHHH BOY!  Through songs like “Fight the Power” and “Rebel Without a Pause,” this group didn’t shy away from topics labeled taboo at the time – they often rhymed about race relations, the lack of equality and standards of living, and the ever-decaying and neglect of inner city neighborhoods.

It might be hard for the current generation, far removed from the Civil Rights era babies, to grasp, but the emergence of hard-hitting Hip-Hop music was a focal point for the resurgence of pride and political awareness in the black community. Public Enemy was views as being an integral part of this movement. They would see the injustice that was prevalent in everyday life and pour it out in their songs, dropping beats and knowledge. Public Enemy wasn’t afraid to let it known to the general population what was happening in their community and that they had no concerns about polarizing political statements. Public Enemy, beyond the music and the group, was a concept, stating, “if you are black, white, Hispanic, blue, purple or whatever, and are sick of the conditions, injustice, and inequality, then you are a public enemy.” Public Enemy transcended all types of media, they have even been blessed with their own graphic novel. With Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, The S1W and DJ Lord here to fight the Man, the New World Order, corrupt governments, crooked cops, slave traders, drug dealers, child molesters and much more; it’s obvious to see the reach and impact they had on society.

Chuck D has once said, “You can show all emotions in comics,” when asked if being in a comic would lessen the importance of the groups message. He also stated, “Those early Saturday morning cartoons got me…CBS’ Superman, Batman, Justice League. Then Space Ghost, the ABC’s Spider-Man and Fantastic Four led me straight into it.” I’m positive they inspired the masses, and led people from the slammer, to feeling like they had the power of Thor. They’ve allowed people to take a look at their lives and see how far they have gone, see that yes, before they could have been drowning in the hardships and conditions, yet those made them who they are. And through perseverance and strength, they now longer drown, but conquer who they are, and where they came from like Namor. Needless to say, Public Enemy is much more than just a rap group. With their reach in music, television, and even comic books, it is impossible to deem them anything less than superheroes.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: A Tribe Called Quest “Award Tour”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: A Tribe Called Quest

Song: “Award Tour”

AlbumMidnight Marauders (1993)

 

Lyric: “I have a quest to have a mic in my hand/ without that, it’s like Kryptonite and Superman.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to change it up a little bit and look at some of the artists that really contributed to the culture inside and outside the booth. Well, today I am here to try to bring back some of those hip-hop glory days by introducing A Tribe Called Quest to D.T.C. with their song “Award Tour.” Released more than twenty years ago, “Award Tour” has withstood the test of time with it’s catchy hook, jazzy beat and wise lyrics. Released off the Hip-Hop classic album Midnight Marauders in 1993, “Award Tour” was smack dab in the middle of the Native Tongues movement.

The Native Tongues were a group of progressive Black groups and artists (namely Tribe, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Mos Def, and much more) that often collaborated in their work. Hip-Hop has had mega-groups like this before, but in the commercialist explosion of the genre in the late 1980’s, it was hard finding a groups with a positive message. A Tribe Called Quest embodied the movement, with songs about racial equality, treating women with respect, and having good, clean fun. Oh, and did you know that Phife Dog and Q-Tip, two of Tribe’s founding members, are huge nerds??

He might be Superman on the mic, but off of it? I can tell you this for a fact: the only thing weaker than Superman drowning in a pool full of Kryptonite is an MC without his mic. Without such tools, a person of poetry who has lyricism crawling through their bones is powerless to change the world around them. However, let’s switch it up and take a look at the rapper that does possess the almighty mic. A power so strong that Thor and his hammer can only wish to idolize it, a bond so deep and true that Superman’s X-ray vision can’t see past the first few layers, a passion so unrelenting that Poison Ivy can’t help but to succumb to its desire. To the rappers that started revolutions and what it meant to be a hip-hop mastermind that spoke to and for the people, that is what hip-hop heads view a rapper and his mic as. And that is exactly what Phife is saying in this particular lyric.

Only with that ability to make music and share it does he feel powerful, whether it be to make music that others relate to, or to shine a light on issues that other previously couldn’t relate to. All of this sounds dramatic and over the top, but I guarantee you, it’s fact for those individuals out there that can recite every line to “Award Tour.” It sounds an awful lot like being a superhero to me. For those of us who are unfortunate enough (or fortunate depending on how you look at it…those are scary places sometimes) to live in Metropolis, Gotham City, or any other city or planet thriving with super-beings, sometimes that music playing in our heads is our Superman. Everybody has their Superman; you just need to go discover what it is. For some it is their family and friends. For others it is music, movies, and books. And in this case of Phife Dog and the lest of A Tribe Called Quest, it’s being able to have the mic in their hand. What is yours?

Written by Evan Lowe and Sherif Elkhatib

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Wordburglar “Rap-Viper”

Artist: Wordburglar

Song: Rap-Viper

AlbumWelcome to Cobra Island (2013)

Lyric: “Back when Big Boa taught me how to box, in between swimming laps with Croc Master’s crocs.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Have you been feeling a severe lack of G.I. Joe in your life lately? Well, thankfully for you, I’m about to attempt to spit some Cobra knowledge on you. However, I am truly only a messenger of music and my latest delivery comes all the way from Cobra Island and Wordburglar’s pen. This entire song is in dedication to G.I. Joe and Cobra Commander. Scratch that – this whole ALBUM is dedicated to Joes and Cobras. So when looking at this song, it was pretty difficult to choose one lyric that stood out, but I believe the one I chose is pretty badass.

Let me give you a run down on why this particular lyric is awesome. Wordburglar learned how to box from Big Boa.

Oh no big deal, he can fight, whatever. RIGHT AND WRONG.

Big Boa is only the person Cobra Commander looks upon to test the level of a Joe’s pain tolerance. He is basically one bad MoFo.

So what, he can torture real good, but that doesn’t mean he knows how to fight. RIGHT AND WRONG, AGAIN.

Big Boa also has upwards of ten years-experience training the Cobra Troopers and is well known for being a fairly competent fighter who can subdue almost any opponent in physical combat. So if Big Boa is your Tae Bo instructor, you ought to start preparing yourself to be a killing machine; sorry, you have no choice. But hold up, wait a minute. Let me put some crocs up in it.

My guess is that Wordburglar has spent some quality time on Cobra Island, and during his stay he probably had some good laughs, fun adventures, and tons of excitement. So even though the island is covered with security crocadiles supplied by Guard-Gators Inc., whose founder is the one and hopefully only Croc Master, it sure didn’t stop Wordburglar from floating down the lazy and terrifying river. It’s probably a good thing that Croc Master was on the Island with Cobra and Big Boa because those training sessions can get pretty tiring. Trust me, I had a 2 week membership for this same program but I had to quit because I didn’t have enough time to watch my shows, and I need my shows.

And we all know that there is nothing more relaxing and frightening than swimming laps with hostile, psychotic, hungry, man-eating, and fast crocodiles. That’s just common knowledge as well as a common leisurely activity. It’s pretty obvious that Wordburglar is just trying to buy an in to join the Cobra Troopers, and at this rate he might actually do it. So next time you journey onto Cobra Island, be safe, and send a postcard.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: RZA “Fast Cars”

Artist: RZA (Ft. Erica Bryant & Ghostface Killah)

Song: Fast Cars

Album: Birth of a Prince (2003)

Lyric: “Used to break days smokin’ coke and digi/ Til I bulk up to the Incredible Hulk like Bill Bixby/ Face green, knuckles burst out like Wolverine.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Don’t make RZA angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Based on this line, it could possibly be due to drugs or fast cars or whatever. Coming out of RZA’s third studio album, Birth of a Prince, he brings us this hard-hitting song Fast Cars. Reading this lyric, I can guess two things about RZA. 1: Drugs – RZA use to like them and knows a lot about them. 2: He is a nerd because not only does he use a very famous superhero rivalry reference in this song, but he also use to watch the Incredible Hulk TV show back when he was just a wee lad. Now I’m not going to spend much more time speaking on coke or digi or the alcoholic drink named after my favorite hero, simply because I don’t know anything about that mess. However, what I do know is the Hulk and the Wolverine. Looks like it’s time to flex my nerdy-ness.

Picture, if you will, a young RZA at 8 years old sitting on the floor watching a scrawny man named Bruce Banner (played by Bill Bixby) become an enraged massive man monster deemed “The Hulk” (Played by Lou Ferrigno). Lou Ferrigno actually made an appearance in Hulk movie which coincidentally was released the same year as this album, 2003. Young RZA continued this tradition of his for 5 years, until the show ended. Now my guess is that this void of no Hulk is what sent him spiraling down the drug hole, but it’s just a hypothesis. Now this line by RZA could mean that when he drinks it makes him go a little crazy, he flexes out, balls his fists and is ready to go off. However, it could also mean that he dropped the drugs and decided to become a man-powerhouse such as the Incredible Hulk just as Bill Bixby did as Bruce Banner. And When RZA finally decided to do that, he got up and decided to puff out his chest and fight off the world like Wolverine. I prefer the latter theory. I appreciate this line because whether RZA realized it or not he put a classic rivalry together with the Hulk and Wolverine.

This fight has been immortalized in several comic series. Such as Ultimate Wolverine VS. Hulk, Incredible Hulk #181 (first appearance of the Wolverine), The Incredible Hulk #454, #340, Hulk #8. This feud is also shown in Marvel Fanfare, the Infinity Gauntlet, and various Wolverine and X-Men comics. Seriously people, this rivalry is even in cartoon shows such as Hulk VS and a Marvel Knights motion-comics adaptations. So when Bruce Banner is Hulked out with his face green and filled with rage, what else is Wolverine to do but tighten up his knuckles and burst out his adamantium claws, engaging in what is always an epic battle? Similar to how RZA battles on the mic. It’s only nature, bub.

Written by Evan Lowe