The Experienced Listener Presents: Product of the Machine, by Woodman
I once heard Big Boi of Outkast refer to MCs that rhyme over the Internet as “Eminems with no nuts” who “won’t show up face to face”. Ooo… Well, don’t tell nobody, but I heard the new Chrysler 300 was manufactured in Canada and Detroit was frontin’; on that note, I would like to introduce Canada’s own Woodman. And this cat— who I did, in fact, meet by way of a message board— does face-to-face more than… I dunno. Name any mainstream artist ya like, it probably applies :-\
On his first album, Product of the Machine, Woodman comes out swinging a serrated battle axe. It’s a diverse album that shows his range as an MC, which is basically from hardcore to horrorcore, but he also exhibits a capacity for conscious rap. It’s as if he doesn’t know where he wants to solidify his character— he’s like Anakin Skywalker seeking light by crossing over into the darkness. If RapSody represents the Black Girl Jedi of Jamla, Woodman represents a Sith Lord General of the Nasty North.
Produced by Soké, The Fun Stops Here, represents the first song on the album. Over a beat that sounds like a funhouse gone horribly wrong, we see the battle MC come out of Woodman. But it’s more than that; Woodman goes the extra mile to make sure his punches are not only violent, but vile. Making this track cross the threshold from hardcore to horrorcore.
My set is evil; we be the wildest regiment/
And this wretched thesis, will be your final testament/
Wherever I go, I bring ravens and thunderclouds/
After I bury you, then you can claim that you’re underground/
He comes back in verse 2 to drop:
I’m driving through every red light I see in the street/
I can’t help it; maybe it’s the demon in me/
Despite your cries, I’ma hurt you just for fun/
I got a lust for blood but I”mnot allergic to the sun/
Impervious to cilver but I till don’t floss/
Killin’ is my nicotine, I have no will to stop/
…So, the evil is apparent. Sitting between the two verses is a solid third, contributed by MC Scynikal, that comes with plenty of gore in its own right. Still, sitting between the dark lines uttered by Woodman makes an uneasy sandwiching for any MC.
Soké shows up again with heavy strings on the theatrical instrumental to the track Rezident Evil, where Woodman makes an about-face from the previous track and indicates mass media and the “zombies” who desire fame and notoriety as the world’s true evils. The hook starts:
Television, radio, internet, satellite/
Marketing publicity; anything for bragging rights/
He really begins to get to the heart of the matter in verse 2, when he drops the following:
A deadly pest is invading the globe/
Taking control, there’s no saving your soul/
This unendurable silence is the work of a tyrant/
Only humans could spread such an incurable virus/
He then finishes the verse with:
So don’t listen to the music if the message is feeble/
You’ll turn into a creature from Resident Evil/
The thing that jumped out the most to me on this track was a feeling of inevitably— Woodman has a very “save yourself” tone, implying that hope is lost and the future is bleak. And then… here comes the horror:
I wanted to play with death and try to test his skills/
Now I speak to you directly from the depths of Hell/
My only legacy is the blood that left a trail/
If you saw me as the future, your investment failed/
A message of enlightenment… completely overwhelmed by darkness.
Earlier, I mentioned how Big Boi fired warning shots to people who spend all their time online trading rhymes. But it wasn’t meant as a diss to Big; as a matter of fact, Woodman seems to co-sign Big’s statement in the song Oxygen, as he quotes from OutKast’s classic Git Up, Git Out:
Its time to get up, get out,and get something/
Don’t let the days of your life pass you by/
It’s time to get up get out and get something/
‘Cause there’s so much goin on outside/
Over another Soké instrumental— this one more conscious hip hop than horrorcore— Woodman reintroduces those who overindulge in digital life and web community to the outside world.
You hide behind computers and the verses you write/
You don’t want to let people to see personal life/
You ain’t a boss or a vet; you’ve lost my respect/
I ain’t got nothing to hide, but a lot to protect/
Still I put it all out and wear my heart on my sleeve/
I’m too hard for degrees but too smart to deceive/
Spark of the dream, I’ve got the bars and the schemes /
I’ma start a regime; you gon start up your screen/
…POWERFUL series there. I have my own views on this debate as well; even writing this article is a very metaphysical experience. Would it have been written had it not been for the Internet? And what of the intellectual gains made through reading and social interaction; does the source of the mental stimulation matter? Truthfully, a whole album could be dedicated to the subject (we should collab on it mayn; Nasty North to Dirty South, via fiber optics. Thank about it, lol…)
On the next track, Circle of Life, Woodman and Soké return to the horrorcore style. I don’t speak a lick of French, so I can’t rate the featured MC, Pusha Wood. What I can say is I love to see tracks like this. I was just telling my history students a few weeks ago about how Canada is divided between its English and French heritage; hip hop in Canada has revolutionized this long-standing division by putting MCs of both cultures and languages on tracks together. Canadian hip hop is leading the movement for the entire country.
…Meanwhile, across the border, White rappers are popping up all over America, as hip hop leads the way in moving past our history of racism. This is history, ladies and gentlemen; the world is changing.
(For more “togetherness”, also peep the track Control de Qualite featuring Dezuets D’Plinges and produced by Tehu).
Earlier, I referred to Woodman as an Anakin Skywalker: on the fence, but leaning heavily toward the dark side. On that note, Dark Side is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Soké and D.Well sample what I think is a piece from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker—and even if it’s not from The Nutcracker, saying ‘nutcracker’ in a hardcore rap discussion is never a bad thing. And now, ladies and gentlemen, Woodman:
You must be talkin’ ashtrays when you say you emptying clips/
I’ll show you the Dark Side like Revenge of the Sith/
Wars with space swords, ain’t no mending the rift/
‘Cause with one swipe, I can leave your ventricles slit/
I’m ready to level any benevolent rebel/
Who is soon to face the wrath of an eloquent devil/
I move the masses with a flick of the wrist/
I’m like George Lucas telling you to stick to the script/
On the site where I met ‘Anakin’ Woodman, the best rhymers used to drop verses with crews. He was actually in a crew called The Dark Side; I rhymed with a crew called The Horsemen (of the Apocalypse). I get the impression that The Dark Side in some form has made the transition to reality. This song comes across as more of an anthem for that crew than a real demonstration of prowess, and it’s almost more of a topical-verse battle, the constraints being, “Use as many Star Wars references as you can in a verse”. Woodman goes hard, but leaves some in the tank after this one to extend for the duration of the album. And it’s definitely coming…
Aligators in the Sewer represents a switch of producers, as Chukk James shows up with an obvious club-banger. But that doesn’t change the hardcore element, as Woodman goes in once again:
I don’t make the type for music for you f@gg0t prep types/
My rap remains sharper than a jagged edged knife/
I’ma damage your wife with the most lavish of pipes/
I ravage and smite cuz I’m a savage on mics/
Then he comes back and warns that this track— no matter how much of a banger— isn’t meant for the dancefloor:
You’ll be shook in ya pants, by a crook who just raps/
And kicks the a$$ of any f@g who be lookin to dance/
This song is so deliberately offensive… it’s actually comical. When he refers to himself as the ‘class bully’, he paints the picture of the kid who knows from the time he steps off the bus that he’s on his way to in-house suspension. If you get angry with him, that’s what he wants. If you mean-mug him, he wants that too. Complaints… that too. The only thing you can do with a bully like that is fight back; and if it’s one thing Woodman doesn’t fear, it’s a battle.
Under Pressure seems to be the beginning of Anakin returning to his Jedi roots. The lyricism seems to gain more depth from this point on, and you forget that, up to this point, it’s been almost a total carnival of hard and horrorcore. I love this track because the instrumental has a phat bass funkin’ all over it. Yet, Woodman maintains his stride and gets down, which makes me think he would sound fine over some old school, Dirty South style instrumentals.
With the way that I’m stressed and every phrase I’m selecting/
It feels like people are awaiting my message/
Ainno way to contest it; I’m deranged and eclectic/
Strange and reflective, cuz of the pain I’m repressing/
A page is my method to please the beast in me/
I chief the ref; that’s how I release some steam/
Never leisurely; I’m the god who protects ya/
Unleashing dreams; my thoughts are on the projector…/
…YES. THIS is where Woodman starts cooking. He comes back in that same verse to say:
I’m just a regular guy that my neighbors despise/
I’m speaking the truth, while everybody favors the lies/
At the core, this cat doesn’t need to hyperbolize; the more down to earth Woodman gets, the more his lyrical prowess rises to the surface. Let me move on, or I’ll mess ‘round and post this whole song up here; be sure to peep the track Losing My Mind for more lyricism along these lines…
I feel like Remedy is the song where Woodman peaks on this album. And not necessarily lyrically; it’s his delivery on this track that I feel is most perfected. And the production of Soké comes through strong with a diversity of transitions to keep things interesting and appealing. All of Which forces me to ask this question: why does it seem like the best hip hop songs are ALWAYS ABOUT WEED?!! I can think of about three or four artists whose most noted, most iconic tracks are about WEED! Like, there are some hip hop songs about LOVING WEED that are more sincere than a lot of R&B songs about LOVING PEOPLE!
On the final track of the album, Find an Identity, Woodman goes with the production of Chukk James on a song about seeking peace and positivity through music.
Now for the sake of my pleasure, I’m a name to remember/
There’s a stain on my record from some brainless endeavor/
My mom made me feel all her strain with a lecture/
My life, I need to work on making it better/
Concentrate on music, leave the petty sh!t behind/
And make sure my thoughts always finish with a rhyme/
Or I’ll end up as a number and they’ll enter in my mind/
In this world, they punish every sinner that they find/
So, through all the darkness, Woodman’s Product of the Machine, reaches a final conclusion that isn’t so dark after all. (…But it seems that Chukk James isn’t quite finished yet. Keep listening after the conclusion of this song to hear a PHENOMENAL instrumental.) All in all, this album is a heck of a start for Woodman.
Now… I gotta do my lil talkin: T.Wood, I wanna see more championship-level performance outta you on the next one! Every track! No excuses! Don’t let my broke a$$ hafta leave Georgia to come up there for some oxygen!!! –B.Cataclysmic