Coach ignored all of that and said "You know who Mr. Margolies is, by any chance?"Like his previous novel, A Man In Full, IACS contains a lot of references to rap music. Luckily Wolfe, possibly stung by criticism of the untypically inaccurate characterisation of the rap scenes in A Man In Full (one featured the improbably-named Doctor Rammer Doc Doc), has raised his game in this book. While the name of the rapper that soundtracks the basketball team's locker-room antics in IACS (in this case, he's named Dr. Dis) still isn't quite on the money, it's a lot more plausible than Doctor Rammer Doc Doc, who always sounded more like a Haitian voodoo priest and part-time porn actor than a hip-hop superstar. However, names aside, Wolfe's attempts at writing fictional raps to put into his fictional rapper's mouth are, to my mind, pretty much on the one. Certainly, the thugged-out mixture of humour, scatology, bragadoccio and nihilism in Dis's putative rhyming wouldn't sound out of place coming from the mouth of say, DMX or Trick Daddy. Here's a verse from Dr. Dis's masterpiece "Know'm saying?"...
"No, but I hear he's really good."
"Yeah, really good," said Coach in a thoughtful contemplative tone. Then--bango! "REALLY GOOD AT BEING ONE OF THOSE PRICKS I TOLD YOU ABOUT! THAT FUCKER'D LOVE TO GET HIS HANDS ON SOMEONE LIKE YOU! HE'D CHEW YOUR ASS UP AND SPIT IT OUT THE CORNER OF HIS FUCKING MOUTH! The Age of Socrates..."
Call yo'self a cop? Swap yo' dick and yo' ass,
Ev'ry time you shit, yo' balls go plop plop.
Wipe yo' dick and it bleeds choc'late.
You needs to fuck with yo' butt, cocksucking cop cop.
Fo' shizzle! Damn homey. For a guy in a white suit pushing 80 years old, that's some flow. And all the more accurate for being so knowingly crass. Not quite up there with wordsmiths like Rakim, Nas or Common, but certainly better than much of the stuff covered in Nik Cohn's Triksta. And hell, that was fact rather than fiction! So, a tip of the fedora to Mr. Wolfe.
While the fictional Dr. Dis could probably hold his own against much of the dreck that passes for entertainment on Tim Westwood's show, he can't hold a candle to the great MF Doom. Doom's been a long time underground and even collabs with DangerMouse haven't quite pushed him into the mainstream yet. This is a shame, as, for my money, he's the best out there right now, just edging out Roots Manuva. As DangerMouse comments admiringly, with Doom's rhymes there's "no waste". Every word counts, and every reference is worth following up. His magpie mind flits from 1930s cinema to pop art to the realities of street culture in the early 21st century. Best of all, he seems to have as much reverence for the cartoonish and the escapist as he does for the need to represent. His costume and outlandish persona hark back to old school mysticals like Rammelzee and Afrika Bamabaataa circa "Planet Rock". If more of today's rappers looked to Stan Lee rather than Glocks and AK47s to settle their beefs, I can't help but think the scene would be in better shape. Okay, sermon over. But, of course, metal masks and superhero costumes would count for little if the goods weren't up to scratch. Thankfully, they are. Doom's narcoleptic narratives pull you in. This guy's so good, he doesn't need to proclaim; if you want to listen, you can, but he ain't going to break a sweat to make sure you hear. The listener has to put in some work, but it's always worth it. His choice of breaks helps, too. Below are a couple of tasters courtesy of The Wire magazine; Hoecakes uses Anita Baker's Sweet Love to good effect, while Frendz is a cautionary tale of the corruscating effect of fame.
Download MF Doom's Deep Fried Frendz MP3
Download MF Doom's Hoecakes MP3
MF Doom on Myspace