The Magic Grove Of The Walkman, Part II

…So if you’re still with me after all that…

…Then here’s more.

And the first thing you have to know about it is: that a lot of the things we call rhymes, aren’t technically rhymes at all. A rhyme goes like “moon” and “june”, not “moon” and “shoe”. That isn’t a rhyme: it’s assonance. Also, sometimes we just make words up to get to assonance. That’s the funniest angle on rhyme, sometimes you push it and push it…sometimes you offer the listener something that is almost, not quite, just skating on the thin ice of: too much to let slide. I’ve done it myself, just flat-out made words up. And not just weird portmanteaux, I’m talking actual not-words, strange chimerical Frankensteinian blendings of words, or even more illegitimate constructions that just limp across the finish line on pure consonantal rhythm, little more than zombies, doomed astronauts of words left out there with malfunctioning suits, just trying to cross from one airlock to another before they’re consumed by the proton storms of the solar wind. You can even do this sort of thing with instrumentation, if you get that drunk and that crazy. Man, let me tell you: I recently stuck the opening guitar part of “Ziggy Stardust” into the middle of a middle eight of a song, you know? Just because it flipped the usual relation of lyric to tune right on its head: the textual demand of the line created a temperature-inversion, and suddenly out popped musical allusion, and oh I’m doing it again, aren’t I?

Illegitimate fusion.

But that’s just the melodic song, again. What Del and his collaborators do is something different, and again it’s because of the different form — as Sean notes, the most futuristic mood on the album is created in “Madness” just by the juxtaposition of the sample with the confessional…and maybe there’s even something else in play there, too. Because we know that the sample comes from somewhere, but we may not be sure exactly where, and that’s what makes the sense of time come free from its moorings, until it’s itself “caught in the grip”. It’s called dislocation, and it’s never neater than when it results from something that is all location, all contextualization. In the melodic song’s near-unbreakable verse-verse-chorus structure, I work harder than I can tell you to find opportunities for just this sort of recursion. Deltron brings it off effortlessly; every time Del announces the futuristic date he is ostentatiously telling in a way I couldn’t, because he then turns around and paints in what’s missing from the declaration. Tone. Texture. If you skip over “Madness” in your CD-listening, you won’t know what it means that in the year 3030 everybody wants to be an MC…you won’t know why it is, that in the year 3030 everybody wants to be a DJ. And it’s important to know that stuff, because without it, when Del sings later on that he believes in turbulence and murder since it’s an everyday occurrence…you won’t see the literary message buried in that, half-hidden by the body of the social message lying on top of it. Which would be a shame, because science fiction’s about the here and the now — its future worlds are our world’s reflections, and the people pictured inside the mirrors are ourselves, and that can be a tough message to take in, because it’s such a cliche…it’s lost so much of its force to repetition over the years, it takes real effort to bring its meaning back on board. It’s like when we talk about spacetime, as the identity of space and time — well, it sounds like nothing until you realize the utter factuality of that union, that time and space really are the same

And it’s the same thing here.

Back on the street, the Coke cans shine along the ground like drifts of aluminum snow…I guess we’re on Titan, or something. The headset’s like a spacesuit. Arcology-dwellers pass to and fro like stressed-out electrons across the big circuit board of downtown, the shopping district…here’s where Blade Runner and Eyes Wide Shut meet (what, you didn’t know Eyes Wide Shut was SF? Next you’ll be telling me you didn’t know it was a Christmas movie), it’s a used universe we’re living in, all this broken-down technology that keeps us moving and breathing, streaming by in statistical flows to our places of calculation. This isn’t SF, this is a reaction to SF. I’m reacting to it. I’m trying to communicate with it, decode its orbital transmissions, figure out what it’s trying to tell me. At the foot of every mall escalator, you expect to look up and see Arnie coming for you, wielding his assault weapons and his punchlines. But Kubrick had this all down years ago, you know. He was reacting, too. Secretly plotting your demise…

And I want to devise a supervirus…

We’re the mutants, we’re the underground; but we’re not the aliens. I want y’all to stay calm, once again…that’s right. It’s just internal switching, you know. That’s the advantage of rap, the switching…again, I can’t begin to tell you how hard I work at this, at getting to an end-line I can do something with, either continuing on, maybe running over the line’s musical length…or reining tight in at the edge of it, and turning the momentum sideways, showing the listener another conclusion. A hard left or a leap, that’s all I’m trying to get myself ready for with my lonesome-cowboy doggerel and “I really love you baby” trick-bag of cliches. When you write a melodic song, you have to develop a teasing relationship with cliches, you can’t go so far as to do the actual deed with them, but you have to keep them at the end of your string, you can’t let ’em go…they’re what anchors you to the listener. But in rap, the way you play is different, and you don’t need that string. It’s all much looser, and the end-points come at you no matter what. “Alien annihilation”, it’s a remarkable line — look, Del tells you to hold up! And then he spins 180 degrees on the balls of his feet (the lamps of his mouth), and heads off. Trailblazing for you. This makes the Ziggy-part of my middle eight, where the familiar riff picks up the logical meaning from the lyrics and carries it in across the line, look pretty superfluous — and yet it’s only hip hop’s natural aptitudes that I’m trying to approximate, there. I’m trying to clone that skill it was born with. Well, why shouldn’t I try to get on board this shuttle?

It’s leaving, ain’t it?

I drop my coins in the slot, take my transfer, and walk into the rolling movie theatre.

Back over the bridge we go, roaming in the gloaming.

Flame on, baby.  Don’t fight the feeling.

Oh yeah:  I’ll be back.

Well, as a matter of fact…

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