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The Wisemen Help Light Up Detroit with Golden Arm Touch

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Wu-Tang Nexus and Beatmaker Centered Ethos Makes this Wonder Group Shine; Detroit/New York City-Connection Illuminated

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

Certainly no disrespect to The Left, Black Milk, or even Royce Da 5’9 (all of which I hold in high regard). But The Wisemen (comprised of Bronze Nazareth, Kevlaar 7—real brothers and both beatmaker-rappers—, Phillie, Salute the Kid, Illah Dayz, and June Megaladon) are so deft at representing their obvious Wu-Tang influence—from production sound to lyrical flow—that I’m compelled to dub them the new leaders of the quickly emerging Detroit/New York City-connection rap architecture. And while The Left may be the more accessible leaders of this new architecture right now (as evidenced by their recent unanimous good reception among the most credible music blogs), The Wisemen—who are much more grittier, edgier, and sinister—seem to have more street staying power.

Because of their legitimate Wu-Tang affiliation (nurtured by The RZA’s direct connection to The Wisemen’s co-founder, beatmaker/rapper Bronze Nazareth), The Wisemen offer a more “meat and bones” representation of New York soulful hardcore rap. This is particularly refreshing because they are not imitating the New York (mostly Wu-Tang) sound as much as they are essentially demonstrating Detroit’s overall unique palate for hip hop/rap music as well their own uncanny ability to convincingly interpret it at will. For it could be said that the casual observer of Detroit hip hop/rap is only able to recognizes its Midwest location and perhaps its natural musical affiliations and influences. However, the deeper purveyor of Detroit hip hop/rap recognizes that this Wu-Tang nexus—a link that transcends regional “rules” or considerations—is not new, but an old one that has finally found its era for national (if not global) exposure, and subsequently, massive celebration.

Speaking of The Left, I’ve been meaning to write a review for their stellar album, Gas Mask. I had it all planned. The review would not be just about the quality of their project. Instead, I planned to highlight one fascinating characteristic of modern day Detroit hip hop/rap: the undeniable musical connection (lineage) to New York soulful hardcore rap. I had planned to make The Left the centerpiece example of this remarkable connection. But I held back on that review, and subsequent theory, because I wanted to hear The Wisemen’s new joint, “Thirsty Fish,” before I completed my thesis. Well, after listening to The Wisemen’s “Thirsty Fish,” the first single off of their recently released sophomore effort, Children of a Lesser God, my conclusion has shifted.

I’m going to hold off on publishing my final thoughts until after I’ve heard (thoroughly listened to) The Wiseman’s full album. But for now, I’m going to zone out to their song “Thirsty Fish.” I invite you to do the same. Particularly, I encourage you to study how The Wiseman, a group from Detroit, so flawlessly capture the quintessential Wu-Tang sound. This is proof that anyone, from anywhere, can capture the essence of a style and sound, as long as they commit to it.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship

The Wisemen ft. Raekwon – “Thirsty Fish”


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About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including the albums 'Soul Review' and 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual

  • Heir

    SA’ID –
    Ouch! Wu-Tang Nexus? wow…Trust me, I’m a die hard Wu fan and most certainly will check they (wisemen) project when it drops but why the slight The Left / Apollo Brown. Especially when this project isn’t even out and Gas Mask received critical acclaim. emm?
    Detroit Hip Hop is like you said – a unique hip hop palate. You got all kinds of talent with different vibes stretching the genre of Hip hop / rap. Moreso than a lot of other cities. Next to NY I think it’s the most fertile ground for talent..Just my opinion.
    Detroit New York connect? Yeah. but really though in the case of the left – It’s the Apollo Brown driven production – influenced by Primo, Pete Rock, DILLA, Rza, and the likes of Diamond D. Apollo, the left, and others are just carrying the torch and paying homage. Keeping gritty boom bap fresh as baby bum.
    I love ya site and your critiques on things. Almost always spot on but I had to differ with you on this and wonder what you’re really getting at?
    And this track doesn’t have the replay value (to me) compared to some of the tracks on Gas Mask. Just sayin..It’s gutter and the rhymes are there but it doesnt say man….Wow I need to cop this…
    All love though Sa’id. Peace and blessings!
    `heir

  • Heir,
    Peace…
    I think you mis-read *key* parts of my article. First, I make NO “slight” to The Left/Apollo Brown at all. In fact, I open up this piece by saying, “No disrespect to The Left…which I hold in high regard.” That’s the very first sentence! Again, I hold The Left (Apollo Brown) in very high regard. Although I will be publishing a piece on The Left, *this piece* is not about them.
    Second, I think you misunderstand my use of the word “connection.” I use “connection” to describe the musical connection/association/style lineage between Detroit and New York hip hop/rap styles and sounds. (And I use “nexus” as in “link” or “connection” or “binding link.”) Therefore, when you discuss influences such as DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and of course, The RZA, that is the EXACT connection that I’m referring to. But more specifically, I’m referring to The Wisemen’s direct connection (link) to The RZA/Wu-Tang.
    Third, if you take a closer a look at what I’m saying in this piece, I’m actually talking about The Wisemen’s “street staying power,” as opposed to The Left’s accessibility. Again, please re-read the very first paragraph, specifically the last sentence of that paragraph, where I state:
    “And while The Left may be the more accessible leaders of this new architecture right now (as evidenced by their recent unanimous good reception among the most credible music blogs), The Wisemen—who are much more grittier, edgier, and sinister—seem to have more street staying power.”
    So as for your saying: “it doesn’t say man…Wow I need to cop this…,” I never implied that it does. Moreover, I clearly state that The Left is much more accessible, and already well-received. Therefore, I’m not sure what you are actually differing/disagreeing with me here? By the way, I believe The Left’s ‘Gas Mask’ was one of best hip hop/rap albums in a decade or so. And I have yet to fully hear The Wisemen’s latest album—another point I *clearly* make in my article.
    Please understand: I like LOTS of the hip hop/rap coming out of Detroit. That’s one of the reasons I wrote this piece. But this article is about just one component (one that I really dig) of Detroit’s scene. Fact is, I have written several pieces on the hip hop/rap music coming out of Detroit, this piece on The Wisemen just happens to be the article I wanted to publish first; and that’s absolutely no “slight” to ANYONE in Detroit. On the contrary, it’s the start of my celebration (and humble acknowledgment) of those Detroit music makers that I really admire.
    Thanks again, Heir for commenting. The respect is mutual, you know that!
    —Sa’id

  • Kevlaar 7

    PEACE! yo our album is titled “Children of a lesser God” and it dropped on the same day (Oct. 26th 2010) as our FAM, The Left…much appreciation for the support, and definitley let us know when you listen to the whole album..PEACE

  • PQ

    Nice post.
    Check out my interview with Bronze and Kevlaar 7 of the Wisemen from a couple months ago. They explain that the producer for The Left, Apollo Brown, is actually a Bronze Nazareth protege. Link: http://www.abuildingroam.com/2010/11/interview-building-with-wisemen-bronze.html
    Both GREAT albums though.

  • Ron Kooby

    I’m glad you wrote this. Bronze and his crew are the best around when it comes to depth, substance, and true poetic ability. Most rappers, even the really good ones, say things you’ve heard before. Not these guys. They are real and so is their music… Sa’id, you should peep the first Wisemen album too. Key songs by the crew: “honor’s promise”, “come to life faster”, “truth doctrine” “the illness pt.2” “corn liquor thoughts”. Also, Bronze’s first LP “The Great Migration” is a masterpiece… No disrespect to Left, but Apollo Brown and Journalist 53 ain’t got nothing on Bronze Naz and Phillieoso!
    Peace

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