The smell of these old special music books is beautifully ill. For as long as you can dig through this past you can excavate the future. The splendor of old sounds renewed again, perfectly taken and placed where they belong in this new aural painting. It’s not a sampling of pages you won’t read anymore. They’re just pages that can’t be written again. To tap into this is to respect the soul of life prior. To understand how it can breathe a wail you needed. To soar a horn that needed sounding, to work those lone keys on vocals or support a cipher with a forgotten guitar lick. There are men that sample these old special books. The scripts are grooved in pieces of song on platters wedged in artful paper. Platinum adornments and popular charts are useless tools for digging through these crates. You need only know the ol’ place, chain yourself to a wooden chair and listen to the roots of a bygone year, 1982…
In my element, a man of breakverse letters, everything you keep longer than lifetimes is a music book that’ll earn that aroma that beckons a search. Woodenchainz, with his MC/producer performance on 1982, has made one of those songbooks that, written today, will be an archive of majestically sincere words through an arranged masterpiece of toughened Soul vignettes.
Woodenchainz is an MC that cannot be measured by feats of nonsensical breath control, stuttered large words or pitch fluctuations from the squeezed scrotum Lamar style to the whiteface coonery of eminem. Instead, he is a manipulator of the calculated word, a master of precise cadence and a meticulous conveyor of content. Chainz, out in La Porte, Indiana, miles away from my Mecca, NYC, one feels the distance with his verses uniquely distilling fables of today’s foolery and proclamations of his fortified stance as an everyday family man with extra ordinary gifts that pay shit. That we really are hearing stories of brothers we wouldn’t have met before who all understand the integrity of this Art-making. A potential where this music becomes the oppressed giving all those held by lack of wage or forum a way to tell their story. That hasn’t happened as only white candy melts charts and riff raff drips with a grafted action even the honored vigilantes can’t write into proper context.
So Woodenchainz peaks with tomorrow’s songs of way back that “can get you through it.” Where his classics (i.e. “Pamphlets,” “A Beautiful View,” “You Just Don’t Know,” “Getting Old,” etc.) of emotive visuals and insightful perspective were surrounded by strong potential on his previous work (Hardly There EP and A Beautiful View LP), 1982 is highlight after highlight. Woodenchainz, as I have built with over the last year has often pondered his last work. Here he rhymes as if every song must last generations. “Carve Out a Life” is the thesis of it all defining the trials of a blue collar worker constantly finding greater ways to grind through an honorable living. A living that takes note of all of the horrors of decadence from the ever increasing selling out, the frustration of factory life wearing the body down and the lack of living wages. All through it Chainz refuses to peddle weight in the streets or serve swag on the boards. The powerful bombing on “Internet Killers” is vividly correct pop rap denouncement as his verse on “The Impossible Dream” places his micro-struggle in the context of gross Reaganomics, an 80’s baby of 1982, specifically (“I seen my first crackhead in ’88 at age 6/25 years later I make the correlation…”). 2013 is a converging point of hell that has been trickling down on Woodenchainz since 1982 and he is exploding here.
He punctuates as sharp as any MC you’ll hear without ever fully yelling. Mastering his range, he offers his love of Hip Hop realistically because it isn’t more important than his family. The consistency of life doesn’t make him a square but a man in a deeply enriched cipher blessed with the talent to bar his ideas and chop, loop and flip the Soul music he obsesses over. He has told me he worries about touching certain Flack classics but he then immaculately addicts us to our beloved Knightingale on “They Say (And This Is..)” or the funky soul of “Pamphlets Part Two.” His gift for producing begins with perfect choices and continues with his arranging powers for hooking us as “Dope” flows vocals in a nice treble setting us up for a rugged contrast when the bassline hits. The extended sampling on “Nineteen Eighty Two” or the positioning of vocals echoing behind on “Final Act,” the tracks punctuate his journey with these records. Woodenchainz doesn’t mine great Soul, he puts his Soul through it.
Woodenchainz is best in the mid tempo but his beat work can amplify the intensity of that pace without speeding the track. The wonderful contrast of the Lake Effect Crew arises on “Why Not” where the multi-tooled linguist Shake C rolls through the siren filled and horn drenched, boom bass drums, the airy voice of Ed G withDeadmics’ raspy tone on “Trapped in the System” and the gruff intensity of B.I.G. P.I.P.E. on “The Impossible Dream.” The storytelling of the slow tempo, deeply thickened bassline groove of “Can’t You See?” where Wooden narrates bad decisions imitating bad art, the commentary of “They Say” (“Sometimes you see the city frown/ and bellow with the pain of no work to maintain this industry/it’s shutting down/and somehow you don’t see it/words are written in formats from iphone texts to krylon/somehow you still won’t read it”) or “Trapped…,” (“blue shaded the collar, you never stood a chance”), through the everyman tasks that offer scenery on “Final Act” (“gotta scrub this kitchen sink before I clock out”) to the self-definition of “Tecumseh Street” (“Just because secretly what you want me to be doesn’t mean I have to be it…now I’m just three decades deep/deep in a cash stack/I’ll move the Earth later…”) the records are dominated by great word selections, powerful inflection and a relevance to struggle not the myriad fantasies sold.
Woodenchainz’ , is becoming a natural role model with a model of music that the true listener can better relate the role they will create. After the supreme production on Kevlaar 7’s Sophisticated Movement LP, he continues to show himself one of the elite new producers of this decade and now definitively affirms himself as an MC of merit . Indeed, 1982 is a tape of ol’ tales this writer will be honored to share with the future…if they don’t find it first.