Wizdumb the Wax Molesta is no stranger to beat making. His production has been experienced and encountered throughout Seattle. A blend of the dankest hip hop beats, sly funk and soul sampling, and the eclectic arrangement of estranged electronica smashes, reverberates, and condenses the encountered soundscape. I was recently given a copy of Wizdumb’s new album, Mostly Crew (Lo-Flydelity), which features collaborations between Wizdumb and friends from 2014. A dense disc filled to the brim with names I’ve never heard of: what a great premise for a review! After thinking and thinking about years of writing CD reviews for artists I was intimately familiar with, I decided to collaborate with Wizdumb as a listener and newb to his range, passion, and energy.
The following was written during the first listen to the album:
● H.A.M.I.L.T.O.N.: Buzzes from the fast track. A sense of calm. A sense of prediction. What do we have here? We have samples. We have negative contact. We are searching out the experience. We are on the verge of something, or a purpose, but what is the purpose? What of the vision? A Peewee sample? Some cooing in the distance? Are we more curious or more dreamstate aroused? Alerted through Wizdumb’s reflective, reflexive rhymes. “Welcome . . . to the new joint” he speaks, he playfully invites.
● Cause It’s Cool Feat. Sean Blak: Something akin to a beat spirited by soul, champions of the smooth, layers of gold and black and bronze. The beat decays into a blur of sound, muffled into echo and chalice, the sweet repetition carrying us up, back and forth, and Sean’s “ain’t no innuendo unless they want to make it that” is the perfect kaleidoscopic retrospection leaving me surprised, like a happy dead child in a casket. Still, mildly enjoyable is turned and turbulent through Seattle-driven antics on race, social exploration, and the injustice of society. I sit, staring at the natural light on my fingertips, wondering who played that original piano moving across the patterned beats. Who does that belong to?
● Fitteds Feat. Sista Hailstorm: “crush pop rocks and all that jazz” spouts Hailstorm, an aggressive holder of the mic as open and smooth as sour and acidic to the tongue. The flow keeps me attentive, keeps me thinking: what is the nature of the room I’m in? The move to a masculine voice leaves me supportive and eager, yet confused by the “structure” rhymed with “rupture” and the whirlwind of harmonization and co-vocalization. The rhymes are tight, neat, packaged and performatively in-tact, like small stitches, as the beat spirals out into a void.
● Ice Grillin’ Feat. Pacoe The Illiterate & Shape Zilla: Double plus good goes the upbeat, tempo-building face, and I’m reminded of construction sites and the upturned culture like dirt dug with a big, metal shovel, rusty, slightly. Smoke pours out of my ears as I’m listening to the dusty and dusted and chilled movement, as lingual as sonic. What’s more general? “Who leadin’ the pack?” and I stare into space in agreement, without necessary argument. This is the perfect song to be audience, privy, to. This is the chant of the head bobs and shadow mouth movements as I lip what I think might be the next bar of a jazz tune converted to hip hop playground.
● Warning Strike Feat. Grief78: Rap continues to surprise my grizzled ears, picking up with the noisy spinning in the background. Where the hell did you find this? Why did you choose this? It does sound beautiful. Perhaps that’s all we need. Perhaps that’s how we fuse and how we approach with a maddening, critical curiosity. Buzz of the Internet arouses me into action, and I can’t listen out of control, spin my ear wheels into a gutter, not when there’s this much clarity, not when there’s this much interest and genuine statement of engagement. We are here. We are part of this “strike.”
● Somthing Good Feat. Madshroom (with Cuts by Able Fader): “You know the styles we wear” and yes, I kind of do. I kind of know a little and a lot about the style and sway of this mood, the course of action, this “Seattle savagery” of which you speak. I know as my shoulders and upper neck know, reach out, love the voice beckoning and luring me in, an attractive target for listening. I feel like there is a certain degree of pleasure exposed through such wordsmithing, such powerful connectivity and rigidity. Is it rigid, or flexible? I am pondering as I dance, thinking with my flailing limbs, my towering, weakly ecstatic head bobs. Until the astral scratch commences.
● Remember Feat. Sach Illpages from The Nonce: “Your limp talk will get you stepped on like the sock.” This is me at my most engaged. A heightened, gratified listenership. I enjoy the lyrics of the emcees whose lines can be applied to anyone, anywhere. Who do not need to know references, do not need to be part of one subculture or another, one way of life or another. “I get inside your head and turn up the learner.” Fantastically secure and surreal is language of the direct, the absurdly normative. When the pieces fit together they explode, or shatter, and clash to the ground.
● Commercial (Interlude) Feat. Blowfly: What is this happiness? Am I back in the 1960s? Am I back even further? Where is the smoke? Where is the light? Where is the history calling from? Little squirts of reference, collage, the potential understanding before moving into a new distortion, exquisite taste as we move into the “woo” of the early oughts. I know not all these quotations, citations, yet I do know they all hold their own strength as we watch them float by in the brain.
● Rap Class Feat. Silas Blak (Cuts: KLTZ): Is this what floating submerged sounds like? The beat more bass than boss, more forgiveness than ownership. “How you make a classic? It takes practice.” Craft is what this track results as. Meta-narratives about the genre, the rap is as about life as it is style as it is the craft that we are paying attention to, that we love paying attention to. The heat warms the room, and Wiz does his job well, my mind swollen and creeping across the room, or is it creeping across within?
● Tiffany Faberge Feat. Matt Gamin: Fascinating flux of interpretation of feeling and thought and energy related to an individual or a space dominated by stream of consciousness, when the words collapse like towers blown apart by the most fascinating of explosives. What comes into the jumble, what aesthetic? Where are we looking? How far inwards do we peak? “Authentic / off the chest.” That this track certainly is, attracting the most moments of value to me.
● You Know What? Feat. OGSb: What is live? What is direct? This is live and direct. This feels organic, this feels honest and forthright. This pulls open my eyelids and, as spoken, there is an etiquette to being in experience. This experience, a distanced storytelling humane and humble, is worthwhile. Hearing about the recording experience, hearing about the sexy telling of poignant fact checking. There is intelligence here, there is a pixelation of texture, as expanse and contrast pull the record together.
● You Don’t Own Me Feat. Leland Jones: No, I don’t feel like I own you. The music here is fleeting, feels as stable as a street corner, as perfect as the angle looking out of a window onto urban landscape. This is the journey song, the lesson plan for moving across, growing older through each step, each street, each path and walk. We are sharing space here, sharing what we feel through the aural touch, pressure and pleasure. Though I do feel mechanically animalistic here, machinery the human composition. We are sentient in our processes.
● ‘96 Bubble With The Gore Tex (Alt Take): Wiz is the fun as the jokester, the trickster, the lingual hula hooper breathing through the eyes, lingo slang slang into the corners, feeling pensive and playful, important and filial. I do imagine Wizdumb in his state as the Buddha of the beatbox, the Bass Prayer present in his lungs. Is there no state of zen he can’t create?
● Slouching Toward Mesopotamia (Interlude) Feat. Alex Oh: What poetry is this? What slowness appeals to me in this crouching hour? “Ghosting through old cells to make myself new” crows the crescendo of the seer, Alex Oh providing a haunting, a smirk and a smooth patch of pooling shadows of comfort, city bound.
● After Hours Feat. Uzi & Hash Adams: The phoenix and the praying mantis and the gods who call us all together. This is daytime. This is afternoon. This is retrograde. This is when the night comes together and sets up the set for conversation, for the mood, for the after hours plantlife beautifying the scenery. It’s abstraction and quaint yarn spinning while we’ve got all the hunger in the world, ready to consume, ready to eat the world that’s been obstructed and uplifted. The city is sleeping but we’re all alive here, all ready to listen and be talked to. We speak with each other through the crank of the pulley of the urban soul.
● 8 Days A Week: A demonstration of courage and championing the life, the lifestyle, of that which is Wizdumb, that which is truth and desire in a roaming land filled with competition and solidarity. Almost following up in response, I’ve started to notice how masterfully laid down each track is, but each track is paired with the former, and each track is paired with the follower, creating a ladder, a presentation beautiful as albums should be. To capture the rhythm, to capture patterns. To breathe life into the process of listening for an extended period of time in an age of the brief and the inter and the hesitant fleeting.
● Roll Up Feat. OK: Is this the moment of the most grotesque, the most viscerally sexualized? I wonder about the imagery, the superimposed gyration and the courtesy of discrete details. This is exaggeration for the sake of exaggerating. This is what it means to give more value, more emphasis. Hips, movements, desperation for that which is “real” and that which is known in the density of previous tracks. An aesthetic derived directly from the authentic motherly love of the lifestyle. I am reminded of the 1980s. I am reminded of cyberpunk. I am reminded of sipping cocktails in jazz bars.
● Dougland Feat. Def Dee: A high timbre voice gilds the track and moves back to the master emcee which smokily rolls by, creating a vortex of pockets of highs and lows between dualistic voices, merged more like the ida pingala than chariots of fire racing together. And then the beat picks up and we carried forward, bludgeoned gently as caress, subtle pressing of casual tracks.
● Dope Static: “Seattle / I dabble” whizzes Wizdumb thumping across I imagine him a rabbit wise and vigorous in those old cartoon movies, presenting the argument about the law of the land, proclaiming the truth thoroughly to all who are willing to listen, all who are in proximity. Meanwhile, the piano sample could be played in a disintegration loop, in another reality, appealing to me as the stranger.
● Doucett (Interlude): The chilling out. The sickly. The happily sick. The sickeningly cute. The hilariously monotone. The untranslatable. The brutal. The craggly and the cracked. The propped door. The wheezing in the background. The happy shove of voices of camaraderie. The musings of nonsense. A dadaist flare in an otherwise stable space of passion.
● Spacecase Feat. Araless: What is “space” in the context of invasion, in the style of lyrical recitation that sparks up, casts a spell of calm over us, and moves on, but with fun, with style, with the energy of the devoted rapper, the lyricist who can sling a shingle or two over a home needing protection from noise, from the eradicated, the non-expressed, the lost and the least. Space is jest and jostle, jester and gymnastic tongue flow.
● Perfect Strangers Feat. Hash Adams (Cuts: Able Fader): “Condensed into ten frames” is the ideal positioning of ruminations. We condense so much in the world and sift through it. Perhaps the emcee is the aroused perfection of this stratus. I wonder.
● Aloha Feat Alca (Cuts: Able Fader): I zone out. I find my mouth parched. I hear the squiggly knowledge. I pause. I breathe. “Land of knowledge.” Is Wizdumb providing a description of his goals here? His arc? There is the way to close a record and this be it. A challenge. A profession. A professed lesson. I listen to the increasing layers of difficulty that are the bass. I listen to Alca spouting rhymes. The samples move in and out. The scratching profoundly zapping me. It all waves and shivers, this Northwest love, movement of such beautiful mixing, mashing, merging, collaging. I’m smirking here. I’ve moved through a creation of compassion and collection, and it has possessed me.
Listen to and buy Wizdumb’s Mostly Crew here.
Greg Bem has been listening to hip hop for some time now, with early influences on his adolescence provided by the likes of the Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, among others. He is committed to regularly listening to local musicians as well as those that are seen under the eye of pop culture. He used to serve as the Music Director for WQRI in Rhode Island. After that, in Philadelphia, he wrote music reviews for now-defunct Origivation, a music culture magazine. Sometimes he tweets about music too.