RZA As Bobby Digital In Stereo

[B]Bobby Digital[/B] is the creation of [a]Wu Tang Clan[/a] productionmeister [B]The RZA[/B]....

BOBBY DIGITAL IS THE CREATION OF Wu Tang Clan productionmeister The RZA. His inception of this character is explained in the film The RZA has produced, Bobby Digital. While conducting experiments at a laboratory on Wu mountain, The RZA chances upon a formula for self-transformation. Dipping a blunt into this elixir of 'honey', he inhales and starts hallucinating. When he comes to, he realises he has created an actual independent person called Bobby Digital, a womanising, partying, fast-spending dude with supernatural powers which render him king of the ghetto.

Whether all this is intended as parody, cautionary tale, sad self-aggrandisement or some ambiguous amalgam of the above is still less clear after listening to 'RZA As Bobby Digital In Stereo'. With Method Man, Masta Killa, Killa Army and various other Wu-Tang affiliates all wrestling the mic off one another throughout this album, their overlapping raps spat out at rapid-fire pace in a welter of "motherf--ers", "hos", esoteric street lingo, pop cultural references and chaotic non sequiturs, it all amounts to a sort of phonetic blur.

Not wishing to come on like your grandad, but for all the aggression and urgency with which this tumble of verbiage is delivered, it's for the most part record-breakingly incomprehensible. It makes Kenny from South Park's utterances sound like Nokl Coward. Here's one of the more lucid bits I managed to transcribe; "My beats are funky/My rhymes are smoky/Sometimes I say motherf--er what's the recipe/I don't know/ I ask my mom/She don't know/I ask my pa". Why we suddenly leapt into Delia Smith terrain there I've no idea. Only on 'Domestic Violence', a harrowing, unsavoury re-enactment of a row between Digital and his 'ho', set to a lachrymose hip-hop backbeat, do you understand what's going on.

The verbal overload of 'RZA As Bobby Digital...' may make for a lyrically opaque experience yet musically, this album is superb. The samples of, say, 'NYC Everything' are weirdly, uniquely textured, like they've been regurgitated a dozen times. 'BOBBY' and 'Mantis', meanwhile, use the most skeletal of keyboard pulses to disconcerting effect, taking you deep into unfamiliar musical chambers.

The Wu-Tang Clan represent an extreme point of mutation in hip-hop, beyond gangsta into a remote, fantasy world of empowerment. It would be pretentious of a white boy to make out I can find any shared meanings here. Hip-hop has never seemed further away from, more 'other' than, rock. I don't know what 'RZA As Bobby Digital...' is - but it sounds good.
7 / 10

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