Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Verse of the week: Wu-Tang Clan – ‘Watch Your Mouth’


A new Wu-Tang track from the 8 Diagrams album emerged this week, so all other nifty verses will have to “clear the way, make way, yo, open the cage” (here’s looking at you, Percee P).

‘Watch Your Mouth’ features all eight members, each with eight tight lines (except for Raekwon and Masta Killa, whose verses are slower and more disjointed). The beat’s a grower – a bit like Kanye West’s ‘Barry Bonds’, it seemed static and simplistic at first, but with repeated listens sounds deadeningly heavy and malicious. As a full posse cut to lead off the album, it’s not exactly ‘Triumph’, but it’s better and more consistent than I’d expected, given the allegedly parlous state of the recording process: all eight members sound pretty much on the same page. It works as a statement of intent, tersely dismissive of the current rap scene, with a single-minded determination to reclaim the dark, threatening and mysterious elements that used to characterise the Wu. It’s self-mythologising without being self-aggrandising.

Of the eight MCs, GMS gives the ‘verse of the week’ award to Inspectah Deck – his precise, focused battle-rhyming, enlivening posse cuts like this, is his greatest strength. Plus he’s been under the radar for the past few years, as I tend to avoid his solo stuff. Like most Deck verses, it’s not about anything, beyond inventive boasting and polysyllabic rhymes, but it fits nicely with the song’s self-reliance and hostility to “frauds”:

This is boulevard hard, larger than your black car
Camouflage rap guard, I stomp the yard
I.N.S. spit monster bars, split long cigars
My clique dodge, bitch y’all are frauds
I get it in like Tim off the glass, spreading my name
I’m like the Pres sending men off to blast
What I spit make ‘em spend all they cash,
I’m so Wu, so new, that I ain’t rip off the tags

Of the others:

Raekwon slows his flow, which initially sounds half-assed, but ends up entirely unsettling, sort of like on ‘Heaterz’ off Wu-Tang Forever. Best lines: “I’m from a boulevard where n****s get jabbed and peed on”, “You know we hungry and talk funny.”

Masta Killa does his usual abstract, disjointed stream-of-consciousness. Probably the song’s weakest verse, but I like the line “We keep it ninja, take money, stay ninja.” Good attitude, Masta Killa.

Method Man’s verse is straightforward corner-boy drug-pushing stuff. Maybe he thinks appearing in The Wire means he can bridge the gap between the Wu and the Clipse. I prefer more stoner / comic book geek nonsense from Meth, but he sounds lively and reinvigorated. Plus he follows Masta Killa with the line “Garbage, ya time’s up, go finish them rhymes up”, sort of like how Ghostface followed Masta Killa on ‘Triumph’ with “Ayo fuck that!”

Ghostface is good at rapping. Best line: “Got a bathtub full of white, lay in it like sand”, making a claim to be the Brian Wilson of the Wu.

U-God gets a lot of stick for not being as stellar as the rest of the Clan, but like Deck, he’s a strong team-player and I’ve got a lot of time for his rich, deep voice and his unusual rap vocabulary. Especially when he’s saying things like “I’m like the Grouch, my mouth’s a circus”, and “I’m a good learner”.

RZA packs a lot into his verse: killer bees, numerology, a nod to the Gravediggaz, and money-under-the-table record deals, before taking it back to the, er, essence, with references to Wu clothing and Raekwon’s ‘Ice Cream’.

GZA finishes off with typical authority, composure and economy, again referencing old songs, talking about hunting for 45rpms in attics with RZA, acting as usual both as a member and an observer of the Clan, and delivering one knock-out line: “You can roll as a whole, they’ll send you back in fractions”.



More fun:

Status Ain't Hood heard more of 8 Diagrams

Sit Down Stand Up spoke to Masta Killa

Floodwatch talks about 'Watch Your Mouth' and has an mp3

Buy Wu

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

come to wuforever.comfor exclusive video of watch your mouth song.

Zilla Rocca said...

Thanks for the love at The Passion of the Weiss!

Great breakdown on the lyrics of the new Wu jawn. I also thought U-God did his thing on this joint and that Deck and Ghost killed it properly.

I'll be visiting this site from here on out, cousin.

PEACE!

floodwatch said...

Your stellar dissection of the track is what my drop should have been. Thanks for the linkage.

Consider me a regular visitor now.

Smalls P said...

Deck merks everybody for sure.....

Pimp killa thug ?

Pure Genius.