BY ELI KABERON
Everyone has songs that they associate with specific moments, places and people in their life. For example, I always think of seventh-grade school dances when Juvenile’s “Back Dat Azz Up” comes on, because, well, that’s what we listened to when juking at seventh-grade school dances. We even had an assembly because of that song and the “salacious” dancing it provoked. No matter what takes place for the rest of my life, I’ll always connect that song with that time in my life.
In 2011, two friends and I took a road trip up to a fourth friend’s wedding in northern Michigan. On that trip, another musical connection was made. During the five-hour drive there, and the five-hour drive home, we probably listened to the Wu-Tang Clan’s classic 1993 album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) four times, from start to finish. We’d all heard it before. But there was something about that summer afternoon, driving along the highway, en route to a weekend full of fun and shenanigans, that made us want to blast one of the best rap albums ever made.
In honor of that (saw all those buddies last weekend, which got me thinking about it), and because this is the song where the title of this column derives, my favorite verse from an underappreciated track on that album.
Song: “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber”
Album: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Artist: Wu-Tang Clan
Verse: Seventh (GZA)
My my my
My Clan is thick like plaster
Bust ya, slash ya
Slit a nigga back like a Dutch Masta Killa
Style jumped off and Killa, Hill-er
I was the thriller in the Ali-Frazier Manilla
I came down with phat tracks that combine and interlock
Like getting smashed by a cinder block
Blaow! Now it’s all over
Niggas seein pink hearts, yellow moons
Orange stars and green clovers
Analyzing verses off of Wu-Tang songs is nearly impossible, for several reasons. One, this isn’t a full 16 bars; it’s only eight. Second, GZA — along with the other members of the Clan — don’t always speak, you know, English. They use sound effects and made-up terms to get their points across. Part of that is what makes the songs so awesome, and this is an example of that.
This verse comes in the final 65 seconds of a track that lasts 6:07 and includes a long skit about Raekwon looking for his Killer tape, somebody named Shymeek getting killed, and six different Wu members spitting verses before GZA goes and the subjects vary from the Tribe of Shabazz to running up “in spots like Fort Knox.” GZA uses his time to both talk about himself and his crew, saying he’s more dangerous than the most famous boxing match of all time. He also ends the verse – and the song – by implying that after the Wu-Tang Clan is done, people will be seeing the marshmallow objects in Lucky Charms cereal, which is just awesome.
It’s hard to say this verse is the best of all the songs on 36 Chambers. In actuality, it probably isn’t. GZA isn’t the best MC in the Clan in my opinion, but for some reason, this verse really sticks with me. I love how it starts, with the “My my my…” I love how the first four lines all rhyme. I love the Lucky Charms reference. I love the “Blaow!” right in the middle of the verse, something that no rapper today would do.
But most of all, I love what this song reminds me of. It takes me back to a specific moment in time, on an open road with two close friends, which is exactly what music is meant to do.