this is my favorite Rza song of all time and possibly his best lyrical effort ever (there's a few close ones)...
circa-97, or maybe even written in 96, this is Rza in his Gravediggaz/Rzarectah/author of The Cure type of mode as he is clearly disillusioned with the world, society, and humanity and seeks to drop a TON of jewelz on the listeners in order to prevent them from falling into the eternal traps of the devil, of life, of materialism, dumbness, whatever u wanna call it...
his flow over his own beat is passionate and one of the things I love most about this song is that it almost seems like he just got up on the mic and recited the whole thing in one take...u really don't hear any punch-ins or anything like that...it's just an unbelievable track by all means..
with this I hope to clear up a few things and also dig into the lines a little bit to allow ppl to be able to catch everything that's being put forth...he goes really fast at times and has that patented Rza slur but I'm pretty sure I have been able to capture most of what he's tryin to say...
Trouble follows behind a wicked mind,
20/20 vision of the prism of light but still blind
because u lack the inner, every sinner
will end up in the everlasting winter of hellfire
the entire song is loaded with little phrases and deep aphorisms like the first line as he sets off the tone right away---u may have perfect vision and think yourself to be in tune with the outside world but Rza is tellin' us that those who don't have insight are nevertheless BLIND....and he's gonna seek to shine some light on you with the Sunshower and help you open up..
those who remain blind and who engage in sin will spend eternity in hell...he then goes on to elaborate on the hell scene:
The wooden splinter picks ya third eye out, you cry out,
your words fly out, and sounds die out, You remain unheard
since you haven't used it and ain't gonna need it anymore, your Third Eye (spiritual eye) will be stabbed out and your screams will last until your voice dies but will be all for nothing...nobody is listening
Sufferin' eternally, internal-external,
along wit ya wicked paternals of generals and colonels
releasin' thermo-nuclear heat that burns u firmly
and permanently upon this journey
here he jumps back into current times, pointing the finger at the evil wicked 'paternals' in our patriarchal society--the men who we've given WAY too much power to....those military leaders who control the ungodly supply of nuclear weapons that exist right now and which have the power to literally blow up the entire planet..
you will definitely encounter those dudes when you're in hell is what he's saying..
thru the journal of the book of Life,
those who took a life without justice, will become just ice, ice, ice
still referencing the destructive evil-doers from the previous line, these guys are permanently stuck with the guilt of scorching numerous human souls as they proceed along with their life and they face justice in the afterlife where they will be turned into ice (and now the scorching flames that have been made imaginable in the first part of the song turn to ice as Rza begins a new section of the song, starting off with another little line of wisdom)..
It's been taught that ya worst enemy couldn't harm u as much as your own wicked thoughts
What devils fought, we wrought, now listen naught
they have you bein' persecuted by that universal court, court, court
another quick gem of wisdom reminding u of the importance of INsight, which was expressed in the first two lines of the song...
the remaining three lines of this part are a little unclear for me...but here's a shot: devils fought against what WE (the 'gods' i guess) were trying to put forth and now if you don't listen ("listen naught" if that's what he is saying, means to NOT listen...naught also refers to being morally bad or wicked) your going to be constantly persecuted by that "universal court" which i think just means life and it's universal human laws and morals..
I inhale with a strong wind, a fragrant blend of sendal
with rose petals and jasmine, as men use talismans, herbs of incense
settin' witch-craft to reach high dimensions
first line is some gigantic imagery as he inhales a wind of different fragrances and essences...while other try to evoke the spirits with rituals and talismans, burning up shit and making crazy mixtures to try to achieve an experience of another level or dimension...while they do that, Rza is about to say how HE (or WE--humans--enlightened men) is god..
I'm convinced: Allah is God, always has been always will be,
you can travel every square inch of the planet earth and still be--
93 million miles away from the sun, til you realize you and the sun is one
like the knowledge.
Allah here does not necessarily refer to the God-in-the-sky creator that Muslims worship...this is the Arm-Leg-Leg-Arm-Head, which is Man (or Original Man)...
because he is then connecting Man to the Sun and the number One---all of which are principles of Supreme Mathematics (and also men=sun has been an archetype of many older mythologies in the past but I ain't gettin into that now..)
Know the Ledge to where ya heart is,
or fall off into the internal hell that's uncharted
again reiterating the point that u basically gotta save yourself...don't seek someone else's help or be beggin to some outer god...it's all IN YOU, and if you get lost your gonna fall off a ledge into some deep dark territory (in Jungian terms, the "collective unconscious")..that's how i see it
Light travels at a rate of one-hundred and eighty-six thousand miles per second thru time and space
until it reach a target, and what's the speed of darkness?
There's so many paths to which the Red Sea was parted,
enter these straight, at the narrow gate, and wide is the road to destruction and hate.
after reciting a stat that I've never forgotten because of this song, using light vs. dark as a good-vs-evil or insight-vs-blinded type of metaphor (which he's been using throughout the whole verse) he then loosely refers to a Bible verse from the Gospels:
This is from Matthew 7:13--
"Enter through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to damnation is wide, the road is clear, and many choose to travel it. But how narrow is the gate that leads to life, how rough the road, and how few there are who find it”
and i think the message should be self-explanatory..
What u thought, life was a sport? A game? A hundred years short?
Know the soul is immortal goin' through many portals, and those who go astray
will pay at Judgment Day
and these few years of wicked bullshit ain't worth the eternity inside a sulfur lake,
wit dragons and snakes, and any pain u can imaginate
i love this part of the song...he asks if u think life is just some quick meaningless bunch of years with no real consequences for your actions when it's all over...It ain't, and if you stray from the path you'll spend an eternity burning in a scorching lake with all kinds of crazy creatures all around...he really paints some deep, dark images throughout this song..
Instead, I chose to become a newlywed to the true bread of life and fed god-degree of light to my head
Rather than suffer like so many others, Rza has chosen to become enLIGHTened...."bread of life" refers to the same spiritual bread that's delivered in Mass every Sunday and god-degree is 5%-slang for food...so he's feeding himself the light of god, that of spiritual enlightenment..
It's been said, the fool who sleep is already dead
so I stay awake, and take care of my brother,
and uncover the veil of skin so we can see each other, cuz every color
that makes the light appear duller,
who's the colored man? Who's the original?
Who's the biochemical, who's the grafted digital, digital, digital, digital...
Another stanza started off with a little phrase: "the fool who sleeps is already dead"--the same type of idea as the 'rzarect that mentally dead' theme that is the whole purpose of the Gravediggaz..
and then the "uncover the veil of skin" line is deep...in the fucked up society we live in, we truly are blinded sometimes to each others humanity mainly because of that 'veil of skin'...and "every color makes the light appear duller" has a double meaning because all colors that we see are indeed just dulled reflections of the clarity that is LIGHT...and of course, thru the entire song we're shown the metaphorical connection between light and enLIGHTenment..
the rambling off of "Digital, digital" may actually be the first ever reference to his alter ego and in this case it serves as a little break in the song (we don't need no hooks!!) where he can catch his breath and then jump into the next part where it really starts to pick up steam:
Two-hundred thousand million atoms per cubic feet of air we breathe in,
Niggaz minds is trapped 20-thousand fathoms beneath a sea of reality
they can't inhale deep, devils have 'em
stagnant, or trapped in--
starting off with another interesting digit which I think is a part of Supreme Mathematics he jumps back into the theme of the song---blinded people and what lies ahead...
"20-thousand fathoms" is a play on both 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms---two older sci-fi flicks...
the 45-magnum will shatter bone fragments
cops flood the block you gettin' bagged up by Dragnet
thrown into a six-by-eight steel cabinet,
flippin' weight, screenin' ancient tablets
Back on the block nobody's havin it.
following along with the fate of niggas whose minds are trapped, they end up gettin arrested by Dragnet--commonly known from the detective tv series---and thrown into a little prison cell where they lift weights and read the old books of wisdom (Bible, Quran, Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, whatever..)
and then when they get out and try to preach what they've learned to their brothers on the block, nobody wants to hear about it..
Those who haven't learned get returned, you freaky-ass niggaz get burned
Some people walk around like they ain't concerned with what the hell's goin on inside the world,
Why do grown men molest little girls?
Is it because the girl's breasts had swelled to the size of a woman, although she's 12?
The whole world is sick..sick..sick
trapped up in six..six..six
I take the first line to have a double-meaning: referring to those who leave jail but haven't learned their lesson and get sent back, but also meaning like those who haven't learned knowledge of self in life get sent back after they die....it's a theme explored in the Tibetan Book of the Dead: if you haven't learned to expel your ego then your gonna be so attached to it when you die that u won't be able to handle the light of infinity and you'll be shot right back into another human womb...
he then asks a pretty serious question about this hellacious world and answers his own question with a pretty viable answer....if u notice he also uses the triple-repeated line at the end a bunch of times in this song....if there's a meaning to it, which there might be, I'd say it's got to have something to do with the Holy Trinity..
I started off as a pawn in this mara-thon of life tryin' to carry on,
wishin I had a bomb to blow up Babylon
a vagabond, tryin to steal sportswear from Paragon
the rest of the song from here on out is almost like a mini-auto (or audio)biography...he's goin thru the stages of his own life and the lessons he's learned thru hardships..
here he's saying that he started off as a little nobody like everyone else, a pawn chess piece who's just tryin to carry on thru life, he's frustrated with the evils of the Empire (Babylon) which have confined his people to inner-city projects and welfare...and he was a wild youth tryin to steal shit from department stores..
goin' in circles, like a ferris wheel
under-nourished meals, I cherished hope, drownin' inside the sea of life
use my third-eye for a periscope,
and take flight to the edge of night to far heights so dark that even with a bright light u couldn't see a spark of light.
through all this shit he cherished hope---he of the 10-child Diggs family growing up in poverty trying to get by and he would use his "third-eye" to see above all this bullshit...and his imagination to escape to deep dark depths
While others played ball, I recall
me and Gza, Dirty hangin' in halls, banging on walls, kickin' rhymes 3 hours straight with no pause
now we get into his history growing up with cousins Gza and Ol' Dirty Bastard....they be chillin in the project hallways for hours making beats with their hands on the walls, and kickin' rhymes just for the fun of it..
boostin' from Freeport Sunrise at Amityville Mall
kept razorblade between the jaws, breakin all laws
the first line is beyond my knowledge...dono what Freeport Sunrise is..
razor blade between the jaws is an oft-used line, and I should know what it means but I'm not positive: I'm pretty sure it means they'd keep little razors in their jaws in case they got arrested and had to go to jail they would be able to spit it out and have it as protection...
Started out writin' fables to making beats on lunchroom tables to wearing long cables that hung down to the navel.
awesome line, perfectly sums up the ascent of their careers...they started out with children's fables, just some Humpty-Dumpty shit to play with the sheer pleasure of words rhyming, then in school they would pound on the lunchroom table making beats, and now they've reached the point where their little recreation has led to them becoming rich, rocking long chains that hang down to their stomach...
Sold packs of crack to fat sacks of skunk, to bundles to P-funk
Smokin woola blunts, dust cocktails and primos
shot more dice than casinos, back when Wu Gambinos were called F.O.I. emcees
All in Together Now crew, BCC, REC Posse, GP, DMD
this is probably the most difficult part of the song...but again, he's progressing thru his life and now they were sellin all kinds of drugs and smokin woola blunts (IIRC thats weed and coke mixed together)..
and way back before Wu-Tang Clan, he'd be chillin with all the original Wu heads when they all went by different names in different crews...somebody made a thread about these titles recently and its pretty much this:
FOI emcees--"Fruits of Islam" which is a program that taught self-defense tactics to 5%ers
All in Together Now---Rza, Gza, Dirty
REC Posse---not sure, but seems like Deck has shouted them out
DMD----Dick eM Down crew....definitely included Method Man
Ol' Dirty stalked East New York, Gza maintained Franklin Lane, I was goin to Thomas Jeff when students got slain,
Old Earth got nervous brought me to Shaolin sent me to Curtis,
took ???? to McKee, U-God general contractin' service
While Meth, Chef, and Deck was off in New Dorp, wit white boys who took steroids,
building up biceps, triceps, pectoids and deltoids
i used to love to play this part to my friends on SI because there's references to familiar Staten Island high schools here...what he's saying is:
Ol Dirty was in East NY which is a section of Brooklyn, while Gza was at Franklin Lane another (constantly referred to by 60-Sec and 12 OClock) street in Brookyln..
and Rza was going to Thomas Jefferson high school when students got killed...(this might be it)
at that point his mom got nervous and brought him to Staten Island where he went to Curtis High School (where my grandmother and my brothers wife went to highschool)....and then I can't understand the name but somebody got sent to McKee which is another SI highschool...
and while that's going on, Method Man, Raekwon and Inspectah Deck are going to New Dorp High school a place where all the white boys were taking steroids to build up their muscles (which they still do)...and i love how Rza throws the anatomical muscle names into his rhyme..
Back when our girlfriends was virgins, cuttin class with Ghost tryin to bag hoes at Murry Bergtraum
or Maydeline(?) Beacon night school Washington Irvin
these young gods was seekin, hoes in Westinhouse and Clara Barton in Medina
girls who sung like Sarafina, on the corner of Belmont and Pickin Avenue I seen her
As if I dreamed her...
now he describes how he used to cut class with Ghost tryin to pick up girls at different high schools all throughout the city...some of them are familiar, some I don't know where he's talking about...
"Clara Barton in Medina" is a high school in Brooklyn and Masta Killa mentions it also in the track School..
as for Sarafina: link..
I was dead broke, now we use key notes to make G-notes
so there's always hope
once dead-broke he now uses piano notes to make thousands of dollars....that's amazing to me..
See the subway train run through the city like blood through the veins to the heart of Medina, but Shaolin is the brain
So take heed to these words, and feel the power of the Sunshower....
the NYC Subway system runs throughout the entire city underground just like blood flowing through the veins BUT the subway is NOT connected to Staten Island...i've heard him use this metaphor before somewhere else too..