A few months back in the music pages of the RFT
, I offered a translation
of "Shakey Dog," the first song on Ghostface Killah
's recent epic, Fishscale
. The album, I wrote (somewhat clumsily), is "a dense, textured creation rich with wordplay, visions, rants and insanity. It's a kaleidoscopic crack house opera, a true-crime novel, a Coppola screenplay." I hyperbolically compared it to James Joyce
's Finnegans Wake
(which, truth be told, I've never finished).
After months spent absorbed in Fishscale
's wordplay, I am now confidently offering up the first complete translation of the 65-minute CD. No claim that mine is definitive; rather, consider this song-by-song offering the first shot of what will be a long, drawn-out gun battle among Ghostface scholars
Fishscale's third track is called "Kilo" and features fellow Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon. In this song, Ghostface is Tony Starks, drug kingpin. Raekwon is "the chef."
Hey Raekwon, I can't feel my face! (Sound of razor blade tapping out lines on a mirror
.) My heart is pounding! I'm paranoid as all get-out! Close the blinds! Who is that? Captain Kirk!? Is the Stark Enterprise
outside or something? I need to have some sex. I'm ready for a catwoman.
Hey Sharika, go to the store for me, okay? I need some razors, and a new box of tinted baggies. And turn down that water a little bit -- just a little. Thanks. Oh and get me two bottled waters, a cigar and a cranberry Snapple
. Here's what I think: All around the world the kilo is the measure of success. A kilo is a thousand grams -- that's easy to remember. Who ever has the cocaine gets the money, and once you have the money, women will show you their panties.
Cook up the crack, but be discreet, because police will tap your phone. This one kingpin got put in jail, and his old connections got paranoid and skipped town for a while. He was moving Peruvian white
, sucking cocaine-laced joints and blowing the smoke into ladies' buttholes, making love to cute women -- and snorting crystal meth.
Raekwon the Chef:
I'm cooking in big pots over hot stoves, cooling the crack in mayonnaise jars filled with water. Remember: A kilo is 1,000 grams, and comes in many colors, including beige, gold and brown. It's dirty and fluffy. (You can extract the oil from the Cuban plants.) We've nicknamed one chemist "The Pyrex
Scholar." Those professors will go to war with each other over cocaine. They'll kill each other for a million dollars.
Peace to those dealing cocaine. Sniff it up, Scarface
-style. Some call a kilo a brick, others call it a bird. But this is not a game. Many men get killed messing with crack cocaine. Others go to jail. If you have someone with loose lips, he could sink your ship. This reality makes a man hard, dealing with crack pipes and hustlers. (A kilo, by the way, is 1,000 grams -- that's easy to remember!) And you better have big guns, because kids in camouflage may arrive. Protect your turf. Remember: If you get caught with even an ounce, you're doomed.
Did I tell you they're going to take you down?
Some people say dealers should strive to deal large volumes on the street. Me, I'd rather be the behind-the-scenes guy supplying
the streets. I'll send out 100 kilograms with my men. After a kilo is wrapped and stuffed for delivery, it looks like a textbook. (Four days later you've got $4 million!) I deal uncut cocaine, by the way. Yours is less desirable. Why is that? Oh, let's not argue over little things. We'll snort some, and split the difference in my private plane, or in my penthouse (or an office or warehouse, for that matter).
I must say, I do a good job. No one's ever heard of me not having cocaine. Oh, and have I told you that a kilo is 1,000 grams? To the eye, it looks kind of like a pile of sand. It's nice to have 1,000 customers -- it's true. But chances are, some of them are liars -- so check for wires. And to our best customers? We give them lighters at Christmas. -Randall Roberts