Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Random Goodness: Hip Hop Philosophy with the RZA's New Book The Tao of Wu

I love the Wu-Tang Clan. Most importantly, I never forget that Old Dirty Bastard and Wu-Tang is for the children.

I won't categorize this clip under hip hop as cliche by virtue of RZA's appearing on PBS (but it is pretty close...maybe I am just biased). From the RZA's musings on speed chess, innovations in musical production and distribution, as well as his habitus--that is fancy, academic speak for the RZA's style, energy, and sense of place--Mr. Robert Diggs clearly possesses a philosopher's soul. Who else would so carefully parse Ol Dirty's final words, so poignant, that "I don't understand." Damn indeed, I never have seen a man cry, till I seen a man die.

Some quick questions: Is there such a thing as hip hop philosophy? Or is philosophy so laden by the Western canon (and its Eurocentric baggage) that hip hop has its own unique system of thinking about, reflecting upon, and generating knowledge? Is RZA's philosophical vision some version of Africana philosophy? If you are giving a book to a young adult as his or her life manual, which would you choose? The Tao of Pooh or The Tao of Wu? Bobby Digital? Artistic genius? or piece of garbage conveniently forgotten and justifiably consigned to the dustbin of music history.

Bonus clip: let us not forget that Ghostface Killah is also a philosopher...a philosopher of the mysteries of love--


Anonymous said...

Ghostface is a disgusting bum.

Cobb said...

OK I have a serious question.

Is hiphop, true or false, generally against artists who write rhymes down on paper? Is there a philosophical principle of hiphop that says the performer must be his own lyricist? Do hiphop artists read raps when they record in studio?


Pandora Bunny said...

I haven't been reading long, so I could be mistaken; but, brother Chauncey, do you really agree with Ghostface killah?

It would seem that double standards have played such a vital role in preventing progress for people of color. [I'm sure you are aware of how women of color who advocated for female rights were accused of being "race traitors"?]

Consequently, I'm surprised to see such antiquated views on a seemingly progressive site. I would love to hear sister Zora's take on the issue.

chaunceydevega said...

Nice to hear from you Miss Pandora,

I don't always agree with the provocative videos I offer...sometimes I am just being that...provocative, and stirring the pot ;)

We, meaning me and Zora, are going to do something on the movie Precious. Perhaps in that dialogue these issues will come out. And progressive? hmmmm....we may be more complicated than that as we do not easily fit into such neat boxes.

thanks for chiming in,


gordon gartrelle said...

Ghost and ODB are like The Cos' to me: anything they say, no matter how crazy, is hilarious to me. And if you look at the heart of what Ghost says--that he wouldn't marry a woman with busloads of sexual partners--is he really out of line with what most men think? People are right to point out the double standard, but don't condemn the man for his personal preferences.

Cobb, that's false. A handful of rappers, Jay Z being the most notable, popularized the idea that not writing down lyrics was something to be proud of, and a few rappers started biting that bit of Jay Z's mythology. Rappers often bring notebooks in the studio.