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The Round of 64 for Sound of the City’s own version of March Madness—in which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musician—continues, and you get to vote on who makes it to Round Two. Today, our Brooklyn division kicks into action when its No. 4 seed, the Wu-Tang Clan, takes on No. 13, Rammellzee. Check out the arguments in favor of each, then cast your ballot at the Sound of the City Facebook page.
The urban rap legend goes a little something like this: At the start of 1993, hip-hop was ruled from afar by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s West Coast G-funk empire, the duo’s slick synth sounds having unceremoniously displaced hip-hop from its New York City birthplace. Then came the Wu, a magnificently disheveled band of rowdy rap renegades from Staten Island who announced themselves with razor sharp raps, a totally uncompromising attitude, and a cruddy, lo-fi sound born wholly of their environment. Headed up by RZA, they pulled off the marvelous feat of snatching the music back, proving themselves true hometown hip-hop heroes, and inspiring generations of NY rappers to come. R.I.P., Ol’ Dirty.
Many songwriters excel at mastering the intricacies of the English language, but few plot grand plans to revamp the alphabet itself. Enter the gloriously monikered Rammellzee, who for Census purposes might have come from Far Rockaway, but whose soul and ethos could only have hailed from the most brilliant corner of outer space. It’s common to over-intellectualize Rammellzee and his Gothic Futurism theory—and he also claimed roots in the downtown art scene (not least with his collaboration with Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Beat Bop”)—but Ram also rapped funky; his words were made luminous by a confidence and swagger picked up from rolling with New York City’s inaugural wave of old school rappers. Future funk at its finest.