Zilla and I have a theory: Ghost and Rae are the Elaine Benes and George Costanza of the rap world. When one is up, the other must be down. The world’s energy ultimately strives towards balance, even Steven, lay my game down quite flat. So as Stark’s output has become rote (but still blandly very good), Corey Woods has elevated his chicken and broccoli Wally and Pringles rap to levels no one ever thought he’d again reach.
To re-affirm what I was getting at in yesterday’s post, what Raekwon does on “Butter Knives” is no different than what he was doing in 1994. Some critics place a premium on innovation over efficacy. To me, that dismisses the notion of utility. The goal should always be to invoke the idea of wild style, but like the his drawers (apparently), Rae’s slang has always been dusted and technicolor. Done right, it’s almost invincible. Writers (including myself) often make rap music too complicated. Why does this work? Because it sounds epic when banged in your jeep (no LL).
It’s no longer novel to compare Raekwon to hard-boiled writers, but the analogy always seems salient. I’m not sure who would want to read Dashiell Hammett writing about the Rockefellers, nor a Raymond Chandler meditation on Buddhist philosophy. I want them to sketch the dirt and the delirious, to trace the architecture of cold steel and slow-moving shadows. That’s what the Chef’s been doing for 20 years and why he has owned ’09 and ’10 — as Ivan Rott’s outstanding compilation illuminates. And “Butter Knives,” the first leak from the long-awaited Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang might be his finest moment in months. Wu-Tang is forever. You still don’t need to go to Summer School. Let that man cook.