D-Stroy “D-Sturbed Words”
Every so often, a work of genius is produced that contains the transcendent power to shatter the conventions of society. From Stravinsky to Miles to Nas, each generation is blessed with frozen moments so acutely inspired that eardrums are left frostbitten. Forget about dependency on the consumer for dissemination – a work of prescience lost in the annals of history can be (re)discovered in a sympathetic future. With this in mind, I present a work of poetry rivaled only by The Wasteland in depth, foresight, technical innovation, and emotional resonance. Let me first set the mood.
1999. Spoken word poetry is surging into national prominence in the wake of dual Saul Williams vehicles, Slam and SlamNation. The scene expanding outward from the Nuyorican dilutes the art into a competition where Egocentricity masquerades as Afrocentricity and mimicry runs rampant. On a parallel track, Hip Hop continues to colonize every genre and subjugate Billboard. So many dope releases in so little time means that many slip through the cracks.
As the World Burns, the debut LP of the thirteen-strong football squad of a rap group The Arsonists, is one such release. Replete with battlestance grandiloquence, horrorcore absurdity, and sophomoric wit, it is loved by critics and underground heads, though sales lag. Detractors point to an obvious detriment in its lack of variety, and honestly, they have a point.
Then I hit the penultimate track and everything changes. (Now would be a good time to hit the geometry in your media player.)
“D-Sturbed Words” by D-Stroy is one of, if not the, defining moments of modern pop culture. A chaotic patchwork of symbolic rhetoric. A veritable San Diego Zoo of animal sound FX. D-stroy’s egalitarian aesthetic is best described at the pieceâ€™s very beginning: â€œNow two frogs that got burned on a radiator. Two flushed in the toilet and the two cookies fell.â€
Don’t let the peculiar syntax play you, D-Stroy is all about relativity. He draws a line in the dirt with one hand while building an ark with the other. He doesn’t â€œcare what school you go to.â€ Is he a peace lover tree hugger? Hell no. Name an artist without conflicting elements boiling within and win a prize. Later, he insists â€œYo, you don’t know me! I’m not real!â€ only to declare â€œI know who I am!â€ in a less than self-aggrandizing moment.
Other classic schizoid symptoms abound. Progenitor approval anxiety (â€œDaddy daddy donâ€™t like meâ€) or simply dementia (â€œThe sky was black, it almost looked like candy-apple greenâ€œ). Paranoia creeps into the most casual slip of the tongue: â€œNah. NaaaAH. Sellâ€¦tell. Naah. Flaah. Tuueh.â€ Reaffirming Louis Carroll’s Jabberwocky – gibberish has never held so much meaning.
Touretteâ€™s Syndrome gobbledygook suggests a Zen-existential ontology. He confesses â€œYo, the deal isn’t real,â€ which seems as much an indictment of the record industry (â€œeverybody knows my style/cuz the pimp said I was for 99 centsâ€œ) as a denial of true reality, leading to theology: â€œI said yo! Who’s your God? And he said ‘lahunpluueeh!â€
He returns to the subject with an astonishing insight, repeating â€œI was with the chicken by the hippoâ€ twice, ending the second go-round in an erudite whisper. Clearly referencing the chicken/egg enigma, the artist splices the elegance of the question with the dangerous buffoonery of a hippopotamus. Is the hippo God? If it is, D-Stroy doesn’t think too much of divinity.
The piece climaxes on a bright note as â€œthe sun comes down to the bus!â€ is bellowed not once or twice, but thrice. There is hope, even for those Gnostics cursed to linger for millenia in Hell’s vestibule. It is restored in one instance of master craftsmanship. D-Sturbed Words is an event horizon, a fragile borderland between our universe and a place where the laws of physics arenâ€™t applicable and imagination fails. Where space tumbles over itself like a Mobius strip and chronological order is immaterial. If it gives you meaning, you have understood. If all you hear is a garbled bedlam, you have understood.
Suffice it to say, the 20th century didn’t end with a whimper. This is Art with a capital â€œAâ€ AND italicized. It knows what it is. â€œDo you know who you am?â€ — Loki