He said it himself, RZA didn’t have to make an album. However, after a less than savory publicity blitz that arguably tarnished the ill-received 8 Diagrams album from Wu-Tang Clan late last year, the abbot had an axe to grind. Returning to his decade-old Bobby Digital persona, RZA let the creativity flow, and proved himself to be one of Koch Records‘ priorities with one of the label’s biggest releases from one of the Hip Hop stars who helped make them an empire.
The single “You Can’t Stop Me Now” says it all. This track is more RZA than Bobby, as the narrative style chronicles the rise to fame through an unblurred lens of reality and sacrifice. With the grimy ’70s-themed beat, RZA feeds his conservative critics with the type of rhyming and production that solidified his place in the Hip Hop Hall of Fame. With some help from Michael Riach, RZA utilizes the SP-drums that make this a necessary jewel in the Wu catalogue for its honesty and craft. “Put Your Guns Down” is RZA taking ownership of his leadership and urging non-violence with that ever sharp razor delivery that demands to be taken seriously. In between the narratives and powerful messages, RZA sprinkles Digi Snacks with freaky tales and weeded experimentation that fans have come to expect.
Made so quickly, it’s little surprise that RZA depends on others for help on the boards. Dr. Dre co-producer Che Vicious delivers something very much in the vain of 8 Diagrams in “Try Ya Ya Ya.” Only a quirky emcee like Bobby Digital can make an interesting vocal rip and colorful instrumentation sound conventional in this bragging anthem. David Banner does a 2005 Swizz Beatz impersonation in looping Jay-Z bars to make “Straight Off The Block,” which is Bobby’s Hollywood phone home to the ill street blues of Brooklyn, another well-executed theme considering RZA‘s relocation over the last decade. Typical of a Koch release, Digi Snacks is unafraid to sample, pulling at ’70s Pop, Soul and Rock records for its collage of sounds. Although Bobby is too busy to get behind the boards these days, this new crop of assistants haven’t veered far from the path, and the lack of liner notes and credits make the facade of a RZA-produced record in 2008 that much more fun.
According to the artist, this release is the most “definitive and focused” in the Bobby trilogy. RZA is right, as the wisdom on Digi Snacks rings deeper than ever before. Although he may have outsourced the bulk of production, RZA did take his time on this project, which is apparent in the verse-writing, concepts and overall musicality of the album. Unlike Ghostface, Raekwon or GZA, RZA has arguably never made a classic solo album, but his growth from one project to the next is the most dynamic in the Clan, and the God is still nice.