You have to hand it to Ben Williams for his review of four of the most anticipated, or at least ‘buzzworthy,’ and, generally, solid rap albums of the season (although I haven’t given ‘More Fish’ a listen yet). In this weeks New York magazine Williams compares the ‘characters’ Ghostface, Jay-Z, Clipse and Young Jeezy portray on their latest albums to characters from the current season of ‘The Wire.’ It’s a damn good ‘high concept’ and he pretty much follows through.
I only question his Jeezy / Bodie link. Bodie, sadly, never has the sense of the ‘epic’ drama underlying his condition until it’s too late. I might see Jeezy’s deliberate and cagey movement more in the portrayal of the Prop Joe character… but it’s a quibble relative to the perfect pop mash-up that Williams achieves.
So let’s see… which rapper would Cheese be?
As an aside, it’s worth noting that rappers rarely convey the fascinating character arcs made by the middle-school protagonists on ‘The Wire.’ If I’ve missed these tales please point me in their direction…
Where are the sympathetic portrayals of the Hustler taken down by his own ambitions that lead him to be identified as Snitch?
Or the Soldier’s Son who finally admits he is not built for the streets ?
And with all of the survivor stories in rap where is the Survivor that needs protection via his friends, teachers and even the killers, because of obvious vulnerability?
Although it seems like the story of a 'strong child turned strong soldier' is a typical rapper narrative, ‘The Wire’ reveals the more nuanced spiral of a Leader who becomes a Follower.