Dreddy Kruger’s Think Differently Music; Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture is a testament to the survival of the Shaoliin art form, emotional, gritty, real , intelligent, and raw, that was introduced to the world with Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.
Kruger’s compilation is Wu-Tang supported and affiliated with appearances by RZA, GZA, U-God, and Prodigal Son, but the majority consists of artists of the proverbial ‘indie culture,’ Ras Kass, MF Doom, Vast Aire, RA the Rugged Man, Bronze Nazareth, and J-Live.
The compilation maintains incredible fluidity, even though the album features a collection of many producers and MCs, varying from track to track yet combining in a cohesive whole in the spirit of the Wu.
Yet, one individual, Bronze Nazareth, holds major sway on the album, producing nine of the 19 tracks. The influence of the RZA, effusive strings, keys and blue guitar notes, permeates his contagious beats.
Kruger, proving himself an organizational master, ingeniously breaks the album up with readings over beats by director and friend of the RZA, Jim Jarmusch. As well, the tribute to the late ODB by Bronze Nazareth and DJ Noize is beautiful and not to be missed.
As it is an ‘indie’ featured album, the content is a step back from the pervasive materialism, misogyny and ignorance of popular commercial hip-hop. The MCs tackle issues of relationships, poverty, the struggle, submission, the effects of drug dealing on the community, the political systems, and racism. On ‘Slow Blues’ Timbo King poetically paints what he feels to be his biblical position, being tested by the above the grimey fabric of the despair filled ghetto; “I’m young Abraham in front of the projects puffin’.” In a similar motif is a touching sample of Gil Scott Heron on the intro of ‘Street Corners,’ speaking on the absence of a solution for the cycle of hopelessness; “unfortunately, the world is just going to drag on and on.” Later on the track, Solomon Childs pauses on his verse, pensively asking the future if “A black man’s face on a dollar?” is in order.
Stylistically, RA the Rugged Man absolutely murders it on ‘Give it Up.’ His flow is reminiscent of early Jay Z staccato freestyles, yet RA steps up a few rungs on the ladder here, it is pure absurdity. Apparently, there were four heads rhyming on this track originally but Dreddy Kruger felt that only J-live could stand up to the first verse slaughter by the Long Island Native native.
Another highlight is ‘Verses,’ featuring La the Darkman, Scaramanga Shallah, Ras Kass and GZA. Ras Kass goes on a furious onslaught, questioning the out of whack prerogatives of the Bush Administration as well as the ignorance and vanity of those pushing commercial hip hop; “(Y’all) sip Grey Goose and ponder while ordering room service in Hotel Rwanda.”
Then, in a moment telling of the dignity and pride of the emcee succeeding such a strong verse, GZA, in a questioning of his ability, asks at the end of his verse “What’s up? It’s good?”
Indeed, the verse, a grim and intelligent tale of the futile nature of black on black violence, is a welcomed break from his gradual fall from the prowess he earned in the 1990s at the inception of the Clan.
So stop reading this, go pick up the album at Pure Pop, and listen. This is real y’all.