Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wugazi - '13 Chambers'

Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with, but I was still pretty excited at the prospect of Wugazi, a mash-up of the clan and D.C. post-hardcore legends Fugazi, courtesy of DJs Cecil Otter and Swiss Andy. By using Fugazi instrumentals as the building blocks for Clan cuts, the curiosity comes off as something akin to Danger Mouse’s Grey Album, which blended Jay-Z and The Beatles. While 13 Chambers definitely serves hip-hop heads more than it will hardcore fans, the result is undeniably worth at least one listen.

13 Chambers reveals what Fugazi probably knew all along: For all the noise, their songs had a lot of groove to them. While Otter and Andy certainly concoct a lot of original beats out of the music, the moments that are the most surprising are the least remixed. “Nowhere to Wait,” for example, directly imports the intro from Fugazi’s most popular tune, “Waiting Room,” and lets the rhymes float right over that amazing beat. Still, the duo deserves credit for splicing so much new material from old.

That said, I felt a little disappointed after listening. Only the most devoted Fugazi fans are going to recognize every riff, and many of the beats don’t necessarily require ’gazi samples. Furthermore, while all the live instrumentation aids the material, the result is not quite the otherwordly mash-up of Grey Album. Rather, it just sounds like a rap group with a live band, namely The Roots.

Not that I’m trying to dump on Wugazi. I think it’s a clever idea with a cute name. And some of the tunes, like “Another Chessboxin’ Argument,” are downright infectious. But taken as a whole, 13 Chambers is little more than a novelty item, and while I’m happy to have spent the day spinning it, I’m also happy that I didn’t have to pay for it.

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