The Wu-Tang Manual
By The RZA
Have you ever wondered exactly why RZA was "perpendicular to the square" on "Triumph"? Or what the Wu's drug of choice was when they recorded their first album? Or why Masta Killa liked to be called Noodles? It's OK, we all have. Ten years ago, we all recited "Incarcerated Scarfaces" and "Brooklyn Zoo" in unison, although we had no idea what they were talking about. And we were all fascinated by Wu-Tang's grimy universe of kung-fu flicks, chess, and cryptic Five Percenter mafioso slang. The RZA-recta knows that. That is why he compiled everything there is to know about the Witty Unpredictable Wu in this übercomprehensive masterpiece. Everything from the meaning of "metal lungies" to how to tilt your hat. Basically, if it was anybody else who wrote stuff like, "When I'm producing, I'm facing a pond with a waterfall running down in a Japanese garden. The feng shui is popping," it would quickly find its way into
's "Not Fit to Print" section. But because it comes from this dude, it's gold. For some reason, when he says, "It's just how I am—I recognize the beauty of Allah," it makes me want to convert. It's just as enjoyable to read anecdotes about RZA and Dirty's late-70s forays into kung-fu cinema in Times Square smut theaters as it is comically enlightening to learn about the Supreme Mathematics. Ooh, we love you, Rakeem!
A desktop-published zine that expertly chronicles some very key players in the continuing saga of free-ish music in America. Smallflowers press comes out of the brain of a guy named Kris, who chose as his subjects here the cream of the crop of the Amherst, Massachusetts/Vermont nexus of hippie-ish badasses who play music that can make you hallucinate. There are only three interviews in here, but each one weighs in at around 20 pages. First up is Dredd Foole, who has worked with everyone from Mission of Burma to Sonic Youth. He is an inspired, almost spooky vocalist. The middle of the zine is a fucking huge retrospective of the group Sunburned Hand of the Man up to now. This amorphous collective, which seems to number somewhere around 50 dudes and women, was recently preemptively put on the cover of The Wire, they tour the world playing insanely inconsistent and always compelling sets, and they release countless CD-Rs of…whadyacallit? New folk? Free folk? Punk rock? Fucking whatever—the world needs more of these people. Last up in this zine is drummer Chris Corsano, whom we have already slavishly touted here in Vice. He is, quite simply, one of the best drummers working today. And he's like 29 or something, so there are years of explosive genius still to come from him. Here he talks respectfully and candidly of his learning experiences and formative friendships in the American musical underground. This is a great zine.