Diggin’ Through the Crates: Wu-Tang Clan “Protect Ya Neck”

Song: “Protect Ya Neck”

Artist: Wu-Tang Clan

AlbumEnter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

Lyric: “I smoke on the mic like smokin’ Joe Frazier/ The hell-raiser, raising hell with the flavor/Terrorize the jam like troops in Pakistan/Swinging through your town like your neighborhood Spider-Man”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nottin ta F#@! wit! Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nottin ta F#@! wit! Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nottin ta F#@! wit! Comic book nerds ain’t nottin ta F#@! wit! That’s right all you “DTC” fans out there, the one and only Wu-Tang Clan has officially touched down on our main stage, and they bring with them the nerd mentality. If you are going to mention pioneers of Hip-Hop it would be shameful not to bring in the Wu. Similar to how Spider-Man has been a monumental character in the Marvel Universe, comic books, and our hearts. It’s is no surprise that Hip-Hop has been a culture and pretty much a religion in the black culture, however, many may not realize that Spider-Man has meant a great deal to the black community as well. “What? How can that be? How is this nerdy white guy going to mean anything to black culture?” My guess is that these were some of the thoughts that paraded in your mind after I so bravely typed that sentence.

First off, Peter Parker comes from one of the birthplaces of Hip-Hop culture, Queens, New York. There have been countless rappers to come out of that neighborhood to find success such as: Nas, 50 Cent,  Marley Marl, and Pharoahe Monch. So right from the start, that parallel and that connection allows Hip-Hop fans to feel a little tingle in the back of their heads. Still to this day, African-Americans struggle, suffer, and have to continually faced discrimination coming from all angles in life. Housing markets, job opportunities, resources, opportunities, and especially the media. I may sound preachy to some, and come off as “hating white people” but that is not the case. I am all about inclusion, and I simply want to bring issues to light. Spider-Man means something to young black youth because he IS them; Peter Parker transcends race, being relatable to more than those who just look like him. The media continually portrays Spider-Man as being a menace and a monster that only hurts the city. No matter what he does, no matter how many people Spidey saves a person, no matter if he is set out to improve his community, the media will still only report the damage caused saving hundreds of lives. The media will always talk about how the only reason Electro attacked was because Spider-Man was present in the first place.

The same can be said about the black community. The news would much rather broadcast a murder than the opening of a community center, or a robbery rather than a second chance school for black youth. And this is not limited to the black community, this truth spans through all races, religions, and creeds. If you came from a single parent house hold, and your mom brought home a Spider-Man comic for you, and you read that he also came from a broken home, wouldn’t you feel something? Knowing that this character is feeling what you are feeling, and all the while he was just an average kid, is resonates with many of us. Far too many of us forget the origin stories, and what came before the heroism. Raised in a big city, with no parents at home, living modestly, trying to figure out his position in life yet more than willing to help someone with theirs. My guess is that more than a few people can relate to this. Beyond all this Peter Parker showed a life of possibilities. He is college educated mostly paying out of his own pocket striving for betterment. He showed that there is more out there, and that an awkward kid who constantly deals with loss, and less than favorable circumstances doesn’t have to let that define him. And in addition to that, he made being a nerd cool. He showed you can be smart and strong and regardless of what others think, that won’t change his morals and motivations. In addition to all that, president Obama was featured on the cover and in Amazing Spider-Man 583 (2009). That is both nerdy and bad-ass. I feel that I don’t have to explain that rappers coming out of Queens, or any where else qualify for almost exactly what I’ve said about Spider-Man. Substitute Spider-Man or Nas or 50, the same concepts apply. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 set to release on May 2nd, you will see the mixture of brains, brawn, courage, and all that other Spidey goodness come together. So remember people “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I have no justified way of tying that quote into this article but I feel like I have to use it, because you know, Spider-Man.

Graphic Novel Review-Spider-Man: Torment

Spider-Man: Torment

Collecting: Spider-Man #1-5

Original Release Date: 1990 (collected edition released 2011)

Publisher: Marvel

Pages: 144

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Characters: Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson, Calypso, The Lizard, Kraven The Hunter

Writer/Artist: Todd McFarlane

StoryLine – 6
Art – 10
Captivity and Length – 7
Identity – 7
Use of Medium – 10
Depth – 8
Fluidity – 6
Intrigue/Originality – 9
The Little Things – 8
Overall awesomeness – 9
hush_rating_80

On the eve of the early premier to Columbia Pictures sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, I ventured out to my garage to uncover my collection of Spider-Man arcs from over the years. Sidebar; It is important to recognize for the sake of this review that Spider-Man was my first nerdy obsession. I came to comics in purist tradition. There was no multi-billion dollar studio backing a franchise of movies or chain of retail stores carpet bagging 80’s cartoon T-shirts for the neo-nerds to wear as ironic or trendy. There were no celebrities gushing over their love of all things Marvel in hopes of landing the next big role. Web-heads like me had NBC’s Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends on Saturday mornings, and that’s about it.

Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man saved my life. 1988 was a hard year for my family. My mother decided to move from New York City half way around the country to Denver to be closer to my grandparents. Nothing could have been more crushing to me at the time. All I knew was New York; other cities didn’t even exist to me. There are only two truths that keep me half-way sane: the Yankees are the greatest sports team ever assembled and Spider-Man is the best super hero in all of comics.

Parker is a New Yorker without both of his parents. He is nerdy and unsure of himself. Spider-Man reminded me of home. Without Spider-Man, I may not have fallen in love with comic books.

When McFarlane announced that he was leaving The Amazing Spider-Man, my heart sunk. The man who gave us spaghetti-webbing was leaving; who could possibly replace him? It was soon released that McFarlane would launch a new Spidey book simply titled Spider-Man. Not only would Todd pencil the book, but he would write its stories too. This was a dream come true! The man who gave us Venom would be responsible for creating new villains and plots in the Marvel universe! His first attempt launched in 1990 was the five part mini-series, Torment.

The first issue gave us an iconic cover. The Wall-Crawler, hunched over, over-exaggerated eyes, twisted arm, nestled safely in his web was here! Spider-Man sold 2.5 million copies initially. It’s variant covers helped push the title into uncharted territory in sales.

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And to top it off, in the top right hand corner of the issue, McFarlane dubbed the series, The Legend of The ArachKnight. This was an obvious dig at DC Comics and the tidal-wave success of Tim Burton’s blockbuster film, Batman. There were more subtle jabs towards the Bat in the first few pages and web-heads went nuts! The success of Batman was overwhelming, there seemed to be no stopping the media blitz and little if no space was left for any other heroes. Quite frankly, it was hard to identify with a billionaire playboy who played cops and robbers in some fictitious town, but Peter Parker was from Queens, and he could never quite get over the hump. His character was much more relatable to me.

Despite Torment‘s initial popularity, McFarlane faced wide-spread criticism from fan-boys, peers and even his last Marvel editor Danny Fingeroth. His initial editor, Jim Salicrup, offered Todd the shot to author and pencil his own title. The book was a huge cash cow for Marvel but Todd seemed to face opposition at every turn. He had already weathered the storm of critics who claimed that he couldn’t draw anatomically correct figures. Instead of changing his style and falling victim to self doubt, he drew even crazier. He twisted bodies in ways they shouldn’t have been able to, he gave us MORE spaghetti-webbing and made Spider-Man his way. He would, “Rise above it all.” With that being said, Torment isn’t Shakespeare, and it didn’t have to be. McFarlane used the Torment series to push HIS brand of art. And even though the company tried to tame his style, they encouraged their next generation of artists, including Amazing Spider-Man successor, Erik Larsen, to draw Spidey the same way because that’s what sold comics.

“The City. New York. Littered with towering concrete giants that seem to swallow up the sky.” Torment is simple – the Lizard is out of control in New York. He is under the control of the dark voodoo priestess Calypso, and on a vicious killing spree. The sensually drawn Calypso has revenge in her dark soul. Her wish? To kill Spider-Man and resurrect Kraven The Hunter. Spidey nearly loses his life in this bloody battle. Any true McFarlane fan will tell you that you don’t need much more than that.

Critics argued that McFarlane never learned how to establish tone in his writing, but if the artwork does it for you, imagination should take care of the rest. The panels are elegantly illustrated. The backdrop of New York is gritty and terrifying. The flow of the first five books may seem a bit sloppy, but the Spider-Man he depicted was a stretch from our friendly neighborhood hero. He is placed in a mysterious plot for no reason – other than torment – and we, the reader, get to enjoy a fresh perspective from one of the most successful comic book artists of all time.

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“Rawr, Rawr like a dungeon dragon!” Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes are back on a collaborative mix tape

I was a freshman in high-school when People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm came out. My family had been in Denver for a few years after moving from New York, and I was desperately in need to connect with the culture we had left behind. I went from being immersed in a pure Hip Hop culture, to struggling to find b-boys and emcees.

One day, my buddy Christian popped in a tape. Back then, unwrapping album art was like opening a Christmas gift. I was amazed. Before Push it Along even began I was a fan for life. A Tribe Called Quest single-handedly gave me part of my essence back. For that matter, so did the entire Native Tongue family. Groups like De La Soul, and Leaders of the New School spoke to me almost directly. They embodied what it was like to be a nerdy street kid. Busta Rhymes’ delivery was refreshing. He rapped like an unchained beast. He was every bit a creative genius as his Abstract and the Dragon counter-part, Q-Tip.

The pair have been friends for decades and collaboration is long over-due. Q-Tip has teamed up with Busta on several different projects. We have all belted out the now classic line, “Rawr rawr like a dungeon dragon!” verse on Scenario. Q-Tip’s first solo project, Amplified, was disappointing but also featured our dragon emcee. There are some real old school gems on this project, but not nearly enough new work. Standouts like We Taking Off and Butch and Sundance will get notable rotation in your playlists. Consequently, I’m not a fan of the lead off track from this project, Thank You. Lil’ Wayne and Kanye provide slight vocals on this club friendly joint, but don’t add any flavor to the already lyrically heavy song. Personally I didn’t see the point of having them on the record at all. Anyone remotely interested in this project would be happy enough with Busta Bus and Kamaal. Q-Tip’s partnership with G.O.O.D. Music is clearly the reason for the Yeezus appearance.

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The Abstract and the Dragon is a free mix tape. The tracks on this project are a mix of collaborations, previous songs from the 1990s and previews of tracks from new solo projects from Q-Tip: The Last Zulu and Busta Rhymes: Extinction Level Event 2. Busta gives narration in-between tracks to guide us through memory lane. If you never owned jean overalls and rocked one leg up, you may not appreciate this project. This mix tape is for the former African medallion wearing, Starter-Jacket rocking, high-top fade sporting, “Rap is dead now,” Hip-Hop heads. Truthfully, you should already have at least 12 of these tracks.

The album art is a tribute to the Low End Theory’s painted woman cover art. The cover was originally Q-Tip’s idea. He was inspired by The Ohio Players albums, but wanted to give Tribe an afro-centric, avant garde look. You have to admit, this would make a sick t-shirt design!

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This mix tape is definitely worth the zip file. I’m glad that they collected all of their classics into one project. You can download Abstract and the Dragon here.

Hushcomics gives Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip a B- for nostalgia, but let’s hope their solo projects revisit that Native Tongue sound we all love.

1. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – Intro
2. A Tribe Called Quest Feat. Busta Rhymes – God Lives Through
3. Q-Tip Feat. Busta Rhymes – Gettin’ Up (DJ Scratch Remix)
4. A Tribe Called Quest Feat. Busta Rhymes & Redman – Steppin’ It Up
5. Busta Rhymes Feat. Q-Tip, Lil Wayne & Kanye West – Thank You (Kid Capri Remix)
6. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – Always Add On (Interlude)
7. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – The Abstract & The Dragon
8. A Tribe Called Quest Feat. Busta Rhymes – Wild Hot
9. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – Speaks (Skit)
10. A Tribe Called Quest Feat. Busta Rhymes – One Two Shit
11. Bust Rhymes & Q-Tip – We Taking Off
12. Q-Tip Feat. Busta Rhymes, Raekwon & Lil Wayne – Renaissance Rap (Remix)
13. Q-Tip Feat. Busta Rhymes – Get Down
14. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – Butch & Sundance
15. Shaheem Reid – Speaks (Skit)
16. Busta Rhymes – Pardon My Ways (ELE 2 Exclusive)
17. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming (Skit)
18. Busta Rhymes Feat. Q-Tip – For The Nasty
19. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – Come On Down (Skit)
20. Big Daddy Kane Feat. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – Come On Down
21. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – J Dilla (Skit)
22. Busta Rhymes Feat. Q-Tip – You Can’t Hold The Torch
23. Busta Rhymes Feat. Q-Tip & Talib Kweli – Lightworks
24. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – Chris Lighty (Skit)
25. Q-Tip Feat. Busta Rhymes & Missy Elliott – Vivrant Thing
26. Busta Rhymes Feat. Q-Tip – Ill Vibe
27. A Tribe Called Quest Feat. Leaders Of The New School – Scenario
28. A Tribe Called Quest Feat. Hood & Leaders Of The New School – Scenario (Remix)

Written by John Soweto