Review: Wed White and Wu

Let me start by saying that I am going to try to my best to keep the Wu-Tang references to a minimum. Wait, no I’m not. As a self-professed Wu-Tang Nerd I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to analyze anything Wu related and this is my chance. Finally.

So quick background, when I was a little stereo, I was all about Busta Rhymes, Fugees, DMX, Jay-Z, Red & Meth…basically all the acts Def Jam was putting out at the time. I was never into Wu, my friends were, but I was more about the newer generation of East Coast MC’s.

In recent years I’ve done sort of a retrospective of earlier hip hop and as a result I’ve become a fan of the grimiest, deepest (membership-wise), most thematically sound rap group out of New York or anywhere else on earth.

So in other words, I have a little bit of context in reviewing the Old Dirty Baptist (Heath McNease) and Methodist Man’s (Playdough) Wed White and Wu, an outright tribute to one of the greatest sonic super-forces to hit the music industry.

Verse 1: As I just stated, this album is a tribute to Wu-Tang as is made obvious by the title. The beats are all Wu tracks (I will admit I could not place every single one) with rearrangements here and there, and the lyrics are laced with Wu-Tang hooks and references. Every song contains a beat, skit or song lyric that will evoke a familiar memory, be it a vocal sample from a 36 Chambers joint or a classic ODB quote/mumble. It’s not as dense with obscure (yet awesome) references as Heath’s “Straight Outta Console”, but it’s filled with many allusions to details only a 90′s hip hop head will remember.

So from one point of view, prior knowledge of the subject matter adds to the enjoyment of the music. But there’s much more to this record than random call-backs. When the trademark RZA beats engage and the two emcees commence to crush mics(like Ted Koppel) they infuse the iconic tracks with their own brand of witty, sarcastic rhymes, turning the whole production into its own clever concoction. They weave known Wu-Tang tropes into their own puns and metaphors to great effect. It’s as if the Wu-Tang dictionary is used like it were Klingon to communicate fresh concepts.

The intro track after which the album is titled is a nice blend of Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin… and Clan in Da Front, that serves to set an energetic tone for the album. The yoga mom theme in #CougarSwag (I had to stop and search that hashtag in the middle of the song) is hilarious on so many levels. A clever re-imagining of the original C.R.E.A.M brings a different perspective, new message, and a little humor to the mix as Heath, and Playdough tell stories of the evils of money and material gain with a thought provoking twist to the classic Method Man hook…”Cash [Ruins] Everything Around Me CREAM…”

Sweet Love, originally from Method Man’s turn-of-the-millenium release Tical 2000: Judgment Day is a mellow tune about love and what I interpret to be a plea for respect from the “old heads” in the game. And why not? After all, it’s all love. Survival of the Fiddest uses one of the best ever RZA beats juxtaposed with some equally poisonous paragraphs from Heath and Playdough featuring some timely bars from guest assailant, Ohmega Watts.

Ice Cream is an entertaining listen for two reasons. Firstly because of how well the song title is re-appropriated from its original intention to now reference the Sunday church tradition of the family ice cream outing. The other is because of how much the whole Sunday family ice cream trip thing rings true for me from my younger days. These dudes know exactly what they’re talking about every step of the way.

In the midst of what might otherwise come off as a formulaic mixtape effort, the two emcees stand and deelyva (oops I mean deliver[like the Hudson River]) crafty, clever rhymes as is their pedigree. Strong contributions from guests such as Goldin Child, Manchild and The Bodega Brovas add depth and variety but never divert from the quality or focus. Just as the myriad of Wu emcees performed an effortless ballet of verse trading on Enter the Wu-Tang(36 Chambers) more than 15 years ago, Heath, Playdough and their many cohorts combine seamlessly and effectively over these classic tracks.

Every song contains a beat, skit or song lyric that will evoke a familiar memory, be it a vocal sample from a 36 Chambers joint or a classic ODB quote/mumble.

In the end, the question we are left with isn’t whether or not the music is hot. Because quite frankly the music is Johnny Blazing (nightmares like Wes Craven). It’s whether or not I would recommend this to a first time Heath or Playdough listener. And the answer is no. For the uninitiated, this might be too steep a learning curve. The complex nature of the emcees’ flows mixed in with the obscurity of the reference material may be too much to chew on initially. For newbies I would recommend Heath McNease’s “Straight Outta Console” and Playdough’s “HotDoggin’” which are two of my favorite listens in years.

But for anyone who has ever murmured a complaint to deaf ears about the disappearance of “boom bap”, or still calls Sean Combs “Puffy” or who has ever worn a T-shirt with the trademark “W” then this one goes out to you (and you, and you, and you). I’m one of those die-hard hip-hop heads. I love 90′s rap music. I dig Wu-Tang. But more importantly, I like Heath and Playdough and their always fresh, ever dynamic approach to making music. And here, they managed to effectively lace Wed White and Wu with their unique “steez”(to borrow from the Ticallion Stallion’s lexicon). We end up with a true to form collaboration that not only works but connects to its intended audience. For me, this is music I would gladly drop a few Hot Nickels for.

Thanks to Heath and Playdough for supplying us Killa Bees with another Wu banger. Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is for the children. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go dye a fresh new pair of Wallabee Clarks. I got the cream joints of course.

Pick up Wed White and Wu today at www.wedwhiteandwu.bandcamp.com. Be sure to make a donation for this album and the hard work Playdough and Heath put in on this album. You can also check out an interview with Playdough on Episode 59 of The Collision Podcast.

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    • About the Author
    • avatar
    • Matt Nestor
    • A man of few words and many jokes, Matthew J. Nestor makes his home on a laptop where he crafts graphics and tweets. Matt is currently serving as a student leader at Collision. You can follow him on Twitter @matthewjnestor.

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