The Experienced Listener Presents: The Secret of Thee Green Magic, by Thee Tom Hardy
Hooks? Who needs hooks? When you’ve got skills like Academy Label artist Thee Tom Hardy, you don’t need placeholders or fillers… or annoying laugh-pauses. And while you might find a chorus here and there on The Secret of Thee Green Magic, you won’t be able to remember any of ‘em over the flurries of punchlines. Much less over the production contributions of DJ Green Lantern, 9th Wonder, The Band Geeks, and Commissioner Gordon; if the mixtape sounds this good, the album will probably be intercepted by the Illuminati…
On that note, I absolutely refuse to break down each individual track of The Secret of Thee Green Magic in detail; this mixtape proves that even greatness becomes redundant, as Thee Tom Hardy delivers on every track. It reminds me of a position I took in a music discussion once— if an artist really knows what he’s doing, how is it possible for him to not deliver? Unless he just… chooses to suck. Thee Tom Hardy chooses to succeed on every possession.
So, since this mixtape is such a punchfest, we’re gonna break this thing down in 10 rounds, non-title fight style.
It must be Academy Label 101 that mixtape intro tracks should be EPIC. Intro to Thee Green Magic comes in no-nonsense and pulling no punches. Speaking of punches, I was fortunate enough to come across Thee Pre-Incarnate Tom Hardy in a past life, and even then he had a unique battle-rhyme style. Whereas I was one for overthrowing punches— loading each of my lines with as much potency as I possibly could for the KO— Hardy would often casually lull his audience with his flow, then catch them unexpectedly with a punchline. A perfect example from this track:
Went to New York, DC, and Philly/
Now I’m back in Durham and I feel real chilly/
And that’s an obvious rhyme, but who cares/
I heard you throw a lot of your shows, but who’s there/
See? Ya totally blindsided; gotta love that. Another thing I learned long ago in the ‘before time’ is that TTH is a writer through-and-through. And I mean an award-winning writer. He attests to this trait in the lines, “I’m a writer; been about words since/ prehistoric arsonists been about fire/”. Just a taste of the complexities to come. On top of that, the beat sounds arcane enough to suit the theme; I was especially diggin’ the shakuhachi flute sample. Not a bad opening.
One 4 The Money brings yet another hot instrumental, this time with a kinda ninja vibe to it. Then, in comes Thee Tom Hardy with the black arts. He doesn’t overkill on this track, but when he’s at his best…
Goin’ hard like a coast guard’s job when it snows/
See? There’s that darned creativity again. Yet, all-in-all, this track is very matter-of-fact. As in, “This is my experience; no ornamentation, no embellishment.” It really shows the importance of delivery; where TTH the MC falters, TTH the rapper shines. The featured MC Donnis does okay, but it’s not enough to place this track among my favorites from this project. I still bang it though, just for the instrumental alone. Don’t ever let me get my hands on it…
Thee Tom Hardy meets the Band Geeks. The hypnotic instrumental of A Tribe Called Pat combined with the dizzying flow of Thee Tom Hardy makes for some serious seismic activity. I might be wrong, but it sounds like the Geeks sample “Just the Two of Us” by Bill Withers; ‘doesn’t matter though, there’s no warm or fuzzy on this track beyond that. I love this joint because TTH doesn’t stick to the usual end-line rhymes, reminding us all that simplicity is simply for the simple. And Hardy’s no simp.
My music is real ruthless, beats bang hard plus/
Lyricism stupid, So they love me like Cupid/
Or hate me like Hades; but either way I know/
They listen when I say things; that’s all I really need/
That’s all I really want, that’s all I really have/
Nobody wants to live life feeling really sad/
Like if you think you’re Shaq and really Greg Ostertag/
…I took more sh!t than colostomy bags/
And these are FAR from the hardest lines Hardy spits in this song. This track is so solid, I would recommend it as the flagship song for the entire The Secret of Thee Green Magic mixtape. Hardy goes completely the ham off, and the instrumental definitely has something special about it that captures and reinterprets the essence of Thee Green Magic.
The Band Geeks show up again on the track So Outrageous. Add to the Band Geeks and TTH an act named GQ, and you’ve got ‘gusto’— the end of ‘swag’ and the beginning of something new. Expensive sounding synths with likewise expensive wordplay make for a rushing breath of cool fresh in an era of global warming. It’s an all-out rapfest; my favorite line in the song is, “Feelin’ cooler than your uncle spitting watermelon seeds,” which shows GQ is no slouch. Of course, Hardy’s gotta get his in as well: “Ya’ll are kinda funny, but Hardy is more clever.” Love that line because it’s so true; the more you get into this mixtape, the more you find TTH is nothing to laugh at, but definitely something to think about.
Track #9 on The Secret of Thee Green Magic is Around I Go, featuring Deacon the Villain. Before I go any further, important Hardy line here:
Witchdoc been played in my system/
That’s a reference to E.J. tha Witchdoctor peeps; ya’ll need to dig thru them crates. As the Dungeon Family is a huge influence on TTH, this track gains significance as it, in my opinion, is the most Dungeon Family-sounding song on the mixtape. However, most of that similarity comes out of the production; the style of rhyme is definitely unique to the lyricist, which is very important. A lot of people compare Hardy to members of the Dungeon Family, but I contend that, while he does exhibit elements of the DF’s influence, he’s still his own animal.
Of course, being that hip hop is such an “urban” phenomenon, any time you have a White rapper, he’s gonna be compared to other White rappers (…which IS STILL RACISM by the way, ladies and gentlemen). Anyway, here ya go: on the track Take Em To…, you get two of the greatest White rappers in the game on the same track. Ironically, I first came across Yelawolf the same place I first met Thee Tom Hardy; it’s crazy seeing them both come into their own around the same time.
Now, since ya’ll wanna be judgmental, I’ll let you be the judge:
Hip hop is like milking a heifer titty/
Easy does it, like cranking a 350 with an Eveready/
My pathfinder’s a rusty machete, you ready?/
Dirty backwoods trailer sitting on cinder blocks and a barb wire fence/
Bent from the accicent, truck did a backflip/
I crawled outta that bitch like a butterfly from a Chevy cocoon/
Hard work head down trunk muzik’s a mushroom like BOOM/
(Thee Tom Hardy)
Cuban girls get dictated in my regime/
Strictly dirty; flthy but finna be Richie Rich, we/
Rhyme to kill time and plus tracks, so/
So we bust raps like D-boys bust caps, sh!t/
We’re the type of people who don’t bury the ax, it’s/
Yela and Hardy for all you Kenneth’s and Barbies/
We’re taking over the industry, sorry if it’s alarming/
…Dang, I’m having a flashback. Gimme a second— *wipes a tear*—Stanktown 4 life!! …Aight, I’m good. But I would just like to say, does it really matter whose bars are more fire? Seeing as how most of the industry can’t even match wits?
Always in Command… this is my JOINT! Hardy takes control with the most nonchalant of flows over one of the nicest of 9th Wonder samples. The overall feeling is like being on a submarine and… spotting before being spotted. It’s that easy. Even on Hardy’s first bar you can feel it:
(Even when I’m) Woozy, floozies running into my room these/
Girls got fleas, so I pass ‘em off… ‘Cool, see?*/
There’s a video for this joint up on YouTube, and it’s very Zen— simple and efficient, just the way I like it. A few cartoon visuals, a clever cut scene or two, some soft pastel colors, some 9th Wonder cameos, and that’s a wrap. The whole thing is kinda spiteful in a way, like when chefs cook without measuring to show off their culinary mastery. It’s just not fair, I tell ya…
*Aight, if you search the internet for the lyrics to this song, you’ll see “cussy” instead of “’Cool, see?”. I personally think he’s saying “Cool, see?”, as in “Thanx, Floozies, but I’m cool”. However, apparently there’s also a word “cussy”, which is a combination of two colorful words that I’m not writing here, just cuz that ain’t my style. If I catch Hardy again, I’ll ask him what he actually said; if you happen to see him before me, make sure you ask him, and we’ll settle this :-\
**UPDATE: Just got a response from TTH; turns out he was saying “Cousy”, as in point guard Bob Cousy. And keep an ear out for Doubting Thomas ladies and gents, that’s the name of the up-and-coming project!!
Whaddaya get when you mix a Thee Tom Hardy with a Slim Cutta Calhoun? Well, judging by track records and favorite punchlines and Slim’s middle name, you would figure a song about… sex, to be quite frank about it. But Gibraltar Rock goes in a totally different direction. You get a Dirty South anthem over a Timbaland style snare. A song talking about staying focused on the industry and on the craft. Being aware of the snares and pitfalls lying in wait for an up-and-coming Thee Tom Hardy, or even for a seasoned Slim Calhoun. The way these two exchange verses, however, you would think Hardy had more years on him; there’s a surprising chemistry here. Great collaboration.
Back in the mid-90’s, on any given Thursday latenight, you could turn on the radio and hear a track like Off the Radar. The song wouldn’t be a hit. It wouldn’t come hot off the request lines. But it would sound like something that should be played at 10:46PM on a Thursday night— dark, mysterious, smooth bassline, dope lyricism. It would be a track that the latenight DJ would play of his own volition as a mood setter. A Black Moon, Digable Planets track. Off the Radar creates that same energy, but with Thee Tom Hardy at the helm. It’s a simple, “Keep me in mind” track, where TTH wonders who would seek him out should he disappear from earshot and the limelight. And it gives singer Euro a chance to shine alongside Hardy, as he coolly expresses to the ladies in serenade how his dreams might have to wait for love to first run its course.
…And where did THIS come from? Is this the same mixtape? …Yeah? Wow ((O_o))
Your Favorites. …I HAD to review this track— Thee Tom Hardy featuring RapSody, in all of her loveliness. The Academy Label reps hard once again, but RapSody does something a little different this time, using a very hardcore delivery, which she refers to as “Super-Super” in her verse. It’s a sound far-removed from the smooth delivery used on her later release The Return of the B-Girl. Meanwhile, TTH does what he does for the entire mixtape— “Killing every session”, even up to the very last. He states:
Big Gipp is my favorite rapper of the moment/
And I’m hopin I can make a career outta mic controllin/
Solo how I’m rollin; slowly how I’m strollin/
Babes stay winkin at me like semi-colons/
I can’t speak for Gipp but, if I were him, I’d be proud; whatever he’s contributed to TTH’s development, the final result has been the birth of a true lyricist.
If Thee Tom Hardy has any weaknesses, I would say it’s his constant use of oral sex punchlines; there’s a healthy dosage of those on this mixtape. But, just to show his talent, he comes a different way each ti— pause, I can’t do this. Run that back…
He spits— pause again. Hmm…
I’ll put it like this: even if the idea is the same, he never uses the same angle of attack twice, which keeps the material fresh. Nevertheless, this is why I’m only judging 10 rounds of this mixtape— it’s only a mixtape, not a title fight. This mixtape is not gonna change your life, but it will change your mind. The moral of The Secret of Thee Green Magic is stay on your grind. Be a rapper and a lyricist. Do a little of everything, but specialize in something, too.
Waitin’ on that album, Brotha Thee Tom Hardy.
Earl Grey Summers