RZA as Bobby Digital

Digi Snax

Digi Snax is the third RZA album to be released under his Bobby Digital alias, initially an excuse for RZA to dress up like a superhero and talk a lot of smack about his misspent youth. The concept matured over time – now, Bobby Digital is a chemically enhanced superhero struggling "with the great and evil within himself", a metaphor for drug use, manhood, and the theory of mathematics… amongst other things.

Yeah, even when he’s doing Saturday morning cartoons, RZA takes shit deeper than the abyss. And on this third installment, the music finally matches the vision. The sonic evolution we’ve been seeing in RZA since he got his hands on an orchestra and one of those ole Korg thangs on the Blade 2 soundtrack seems to be reaching some kind of crescendo. The marriage of grimy samples, quantize-be-damned drum patterns and lush orchestration comes into its own on here, finally. After the missteps of that last Wu LP, this is a revelation, never mind relief.

"_The continent splitter, the dominant figure

The mathematician who calculated God from nigga

The Zig Zag Zigga, who civilize the wigga…"

‘Long Time Coming’

The album is birthed in a bonfire of RZA’s musical themes to date – primal drums, kung fu music, cartoon laughter, Hollywood string loops, all collapsing in on themselves in a pyre that looks like Bladerunner and feels like the apocalypse. From these flaming embers rises the musical phoenix that is ‘Long Time Coming’ – one of the illest things RZA has created to date, music you can bathe in in, lyrics that suggest a Cohenian longevity and reward for ones attention. (I can’t be sure on this, obviously – ask me in ten years if this shit stands up. I predict it will). It sounds like Sonic The Hedgehog falling down a worm-hole. Isn’t this what dude was promising on the fabled Cure LP? What the fuck is this crazy next shit doing on a BobDigi LP?

RZA shows his hand over the next fistful of tracks. The familiar sample on ‘You Can’t Stop me Now’ (The Watnaut’s ‘Message From A Black Man’) gives RZA the opportunity to go through the Wu Tang’s history in a concise, self-awed manner he’s never managed before. Mississippi rap messiah David Banner lends his production chops for ‘Straight Up The Block’, the record’s first classic Bob Digi joint – banging circus weirdness held down by an infectious Jay Z hook. ‘Booby Trap’ is that patented Ketamine RZA shit – lumbering, slothful beat, chewed and spat out lyrics, sick soul hook. RZA has often sounded like a grungey Dre, and this is a perfect example of the form. This swamp is followed by the deceptively sweet ‘Try ya ya ya’, sharp snares and a siren’s wail, RZA sounding like he’s chewing on wasp as he raps about how he "wiretaps the feds". That’s gangsta. "Can’t remake me," he boasts. "Already perfected".

And just when you’ve been lured into a blunted-out, head-nodding hip-hop stupor (on the music alone), son hits you off with The Darkness. ‘Good Night’ is just.. wow dude. It’s not a Portishead sample but you imagine it to be, at first. Sex jazz vocals from the peerless Thea van Seijen, atmosphere courtesy of Hard Weed, this is creepy. AND hot. Creepy and hot, that’s pretty unique right there, non? It sounds like The X-Files directed by Takashi Miike.

Elsewhere RZA does Enya-rap and Jay-Z impressions (‘No Regrets’), lo-fi Miami coke-rap (‘Put Your Guns Down’) and eerie blaxsploitation (‘Creep’). Dude’s palette is widescreen now – unlike others among his peer group, RZA’s talents have grown exponentially since we first saw him dropping metaphors over soul chops in the early nineties. He’s a true artist by this point, as exemplified on ‘Up Again’, which could have been on Westside Story, and LP-closer ‘Don’t Be Afraid’, which sounds like Mercury Rev covering Madonna. If it wasn’t for all the super-average guest rappers popping up all over the place, we’d be looking at a classic here.

RZA says his next album, that long awaited The Cure, will be his last. He’s off to make movies. We’ll be losing one of our finest, freest musical minds. What was it PE said back in ’92? Fuck Hollywood.

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