Have you ever found yourself saying ‘Damn, I love the RZA when he raps with the Wu-Tang Clan, but I can’t get with that whole ridiculous Bobby Digital persona he uses for solo stuff’? Well then! How do you feel about a pre-36 Chambers CD (but not too long pre) where RZA raps with a couple other dudes and the whole thing is produced (impeccably) by De La genius Prince Paul? ‘Oh boy! I feel like Christmas came early!’ I can hear you screeching. Well now! How do you feel when I tell you that the rappers all take the personas of ghouls and demons, stalking gangstas through NYC and dispatching them in gruesome ways, and that he’s backed up by a dude whose delivery is so over the top that he may as well be performing pantomime in corpsepaint? How do you feel about a dude who made his name with a group that rapped about the more ‘real’ aspects of low income, low class, low hope black NY street life becoming one of those horror movie villains who can be shot, stabbed, crushed and dismembered, but they keep coming? How does the prospect of FRZA Kruger sound to you? Any good? If you’re still even reading, you should probably buy Niggamortis.
The Gravediggaz feature 3 MCs but the hero (or villain if you look at it that way) of those three is undoubtedly Poetic. Unlike Prince Paul or RZA, he’s not known for anything else but he sounds like Jello Biafra clawing his way out of a grave only to be confronted with a bunch of zombies and vampires who wish to engage him in a rap battle. You will either admire his dramatic delivery and witty turns of phrase or you will think he is over-the-top and just want to vomit. The RZA is not really my favourite rapper but he is really good here, again, only if you like super-overdramatic rapping. Frukwan is good but kind of similar sounding to RZA, I can’t think of much to say about him here. It would have been awesome if Method Man, Ghostface, or anyone from the Clan had showed up for a verse, but I guess the Clan as we know it didn’t exist yet. Also, the guest spots from Killah Priest and Scientific Shabazz are pretty lame.
The last third of Niggamortis is pretty much ‘Joke’s over, end this now’ time, though as I mentioned, ‘Bang Your Head’ is nifty. The real star of Gravediggaz is Prince Paul. His production absolutely makes the album. It’s dark, restrained and freakish. I’m not gonna go on about how awesome it is, anyone who’s heard 3 Feet And Rising knows he can make dense, incredible beats.
In terms of attitude, this is closer to goth-metal than rap: they all seem like they’re about to stop rapping and start just yelling ‘Satan laughs at our wicked japes!’ and absolutely none of it can be taken seriously. Imagine how huge a hit this would have been if it had come along in the era of nu-metal. All those fans of Korn, Mudvayne, Slipknot etc would probably have loved a cartoonishly dark, parent-annoying CD where the lyrics were just ridiculous, overly bloody horror movie violence. It also includes the metalhead-friendly track ‘Bang Your Head’, a gory anthem bolstered by distorted guitar samples. So yeah, kids who like rap-metal and are interested in exploring rap: this could be your gateway! You fucks.