22 April 2020

"Deep Space" by Lord Jamar ft. Rza (2006)

For the record, I won't go as far as to say I'm necessarily a fan of Lord Jamar or the Rza.  In fact the reason I decided to research this obscure rap song is because a homey sent it to me.  But that being said I was intending to make my next post about a 1990s Wu-Tang song called Bells of War, which the Rza is featured on, anyway, so I guess this is the next best thing until I get around to working on that one.

The cover art to Lord Jamar's The 5% Album (2006).
It made it onto Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums list.
THE LYRICS

First of all this track is from the only solo album Lord Jamar ever dropped, which is entitled The 5% Album.  Now anyone who is familiar with late 20th century rap, i.e. the Wu-Tang Clan and Brand Nubians which the Rza and Lord Jamar respectively belonged to, would instantly recognize that the title of the project is a reference to a religious movement which once upon a time was really popular in rap music called the Five-Percent Nation.  And with both Lord Jamar and the Rza being known adherents of this movement, then it is logical that the lyrics will flow along a related vein.

For instance during his first verse Lord Jamar mentions the likes of "the seventh dimension", the "Nation of Gods & Earths", 'universal mathematics', 'building' and 'destroying' and other lyrics which once again fans of 1990s hip-hop would recognize as references to Five-Percenters.  He also gives a shoutout to "Christ", as does the Rza, in his own way.  Likewise he mentions the phrase "standing on my square", which I thought may be Five-Percent but upon googling it actually discovered is masonic in origin yet has apparently been adopted by some African-American new age movements.

Meanwhile the Rza's verse is a lot more autobiographical in nature.  He raps about how he grew up from a timid, misinformed child to the man he went on to become - or more specifically his gradual transition into a Five-Percenter.

And as with any good Five-Percent doctrine there are racial innuendos scattered throughout, or perhaps another way of looking at is allusions to the racially-based power struggles which have defined African-American history.  Or yet another way of phrasing it is that the Five-Percent Nation is a movement which more or less preaches Black superiority, to say the least.


THE SOUND

Honestly I wasn't overly impressed with Deep Space.  I was expecting something more sonically-pleasing but perhaps should have known better.  I mean I already know that both of these dudes, especially the Rza, can rap.  But the instrumental to the song, despite starting off on a high note, ultimately didn't do the vocalists much justice.

THE TEAM

And speaking of the instrumental, the track was produced by three artists, Yoof, J Da Flex and DJ Preservation.  Before today I never heard of neither of them, though it appears that Preservation is a regular collaborator of Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) and is perhaps more known in conscious-rap circles.

Lord Jamar circa 2020
As for Lord Jamar, he is best known to modern audiences via a recent beef he had with Eminem.  In fact Slim Shady even namedropped him, in a less-than-flattering way, on a track he dropped in 2018 called Fall and another he released in January of 2020 entitled I Will.  So the way the whole situation has played out is that Lord Jamar, being a respected, Afrocentric vet or what have you, called out Eminem as being, more or less, a culture vulture.  And conclusively a humbled (by Nick Cannon) Eminem did agree that he was "a guest" in the house of hip-hop.

The cover art to the Wu-Tang's last album, The Saga Continues (2017).
I believe that would be a caricature of the Rza on the front row far-left.
As for the Rza, it's been a minute since I seen his name in any kind of trending news.  In fact the last time I remember reading about him, strangely enough, was as somehow being mixed up in that Russell Crowe / Azealia Banks beef which popped off a few years ago.  Since then the Wu-Tang actually dropped another album, The Saga Continues, which he executively produced.  But as with pretty much every album the group has collectively released in the 21st century, it wasn't well received by fans.

Meanwhile the labels that put Deep Space out, which are both NYC-based, are Babygrande Records and Koch Records, with the latter now being known as Entertainment One Music.

CONCLUSION

Deep Space isn't a bad song, but it could have definitely benefited from some better production, perhaps from the Rza himself.  By 2006 the days of 20th century conscious rap music were well dead, so if this were released say 10 years prior it probably would have been a lot better received.