8Feb/093

Tri-Pack Wafer: Ghostface, Xzibit, Royal Flush

Ghostface Killah “All That I Got Is You”
Royal Flush “Family Problems”
Xzibit “Carry The Weight”
I hope one of his peoples could hook him up with a tri-pack/ That’s three different flavors/ Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry wafers” — MF Doom, “Kookies”
The above quote is taken out of context from a typically elaborate low-brow extended metaphor courtesy of MF Doom; “kookies” represent different “flavors” of porn stars but also slyly references web browser “cookies.” For our purposes however, the tri-pack wafer is simply a convenience pack of three related but distinctly enjoyable songs. Today’s selections are culled from the same era (1996-1997) and each one is claimed by its respective narrator to be an autobiographical account of an impoverished, unstable upbringing. 
I tend to be skeptical of criticism that suggests that rap lyrics, or any life-writings,  can ever exist in a form that is unsullied by fictive manipulation. It is a stance that belittles both critic and artist and flirts dangerously with the logical fallacies intrinsic to voyeuristic racial tourism. Who are these rappers to tell us that they are singularly impervious to the temptations of nostalgic revisionism or self-serving discretion? Conversely, who are we critics to presume that rappers are incapable of knowingly and creatively playing with the facts? With that said, I  love these songs precisely because their unwavering claims of authenticity are occasionally shaky, and I am loathe to debate the unknowable plausibility of such recollections. 
Today’s songs are framed more as confessionals or psychotherapy sessions than rosy-hued remembrances, and mostly avoid the saccharine platitudes that plague most “back in the day” songs. They are not entirely free of melodrama, however. Ghostface’s “All That I Got Is You” is an unapologetic R&B tearjerker filled with tales of roach-plucking and pissy mattress sharing so fucked up they practically redeem Ghost’s now-trademark effusiveness. Royal Flush is nearly maudlin as a blatant if convincing Ghostface impersonator and comes across as rather desperate in his attempt to maintain a facade of stoic realness against a musical backdrop suited for his emotional, graphic account of domestic abuse. 
Xzibit’s reminiscence steers clear of sentimentality in such an overdetermined manner that he actually sounds much like the angry, introverted adolescent he describes. While Ghostface and Royal Flush rhapsodize about their struggling mothers and hint at the eventual acquirement of a healthy adult perspective on pressing life matters, Xzibit just grumbles. He frames his past as an explanation of present behaviors, dysfunctional or otherwise. There’s a detectable trace of self-effacement for its own sake in his suppressed emotiveness. In each of these cases, the narrator’s central concern is the public’s current perception of his legitimacy as a spokesperson for the impoverished collective. Childhood is merely a reel of stock footage edited for the purpose of propaganda. 
And it never sounded better.
 — Thun

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3 Responses to “Tri-Pack Wafer: Ghostface, Xzibit, Royal Flush”

  1. Oldsoul76 says:

    How can you beef with an entertainer putting a little entertainment in it? although I agree that theatrics play a part, I don't believe that anything that ghostface said (for example) is an exaggeration. AS naive as it would be to take each song as gospel, it would be equally naive to not remind ourselves that these are in fact songs and not give the artists license as artists.
    PS., the video version of all i got sucks! lol

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  2. Thun says:

    Oldsoul76 – I didn't beef with entertainers doing that. In fact I defended the practice. Thanks for reading.

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  3. Abe Beame says:

    This one is begging for an expansion

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