Saturday, January 19, 2008

(Werner Necro'd) DWYCKypoo

Ah, elusive "DWYCK." Seminal, quasi-underground hip-hop classic first released on Chrysalis Records in 1992, as the B-side to "Take It Personal," and then again, as the B-side to "Ex Girl To The Next Girl" that very same year, until finally being released as its own Chrysalis single in 1994, off the album Hard To Earn. With your internally unreferenced title and seemingly random, non-sequitorial lyrics... what do you really mean? In interviews, members of Gang Starr and Nice & Smooth (who collaborated on this piece of eternal, yet bafflingly mesmerizing song-writing) were known to claim in interviews that "DWYCK," meant "dick," as in one's happy Johnson, meatstick, or schlong. Still others believe it to be an acronym for "Do What You Can Kid" or possibly "Diddle Widdle Yiddle Cibble Kiddle," for why else would it be all in caps? Compelling, yes, but I have another interpretation.

I propose that "DWYCK" is in fact a modern re-imagining of the 1881 Oscar Wilde poem, "Amor Intellectualis," though I have vague memories of Smooth Bee later confessing in a Rap Pages interview that he drew, as ever, most of his inspiration directly from Sylvia Plath (who, herself, has got to be the sure shot). I'm not sure; maybe I dreamt that. Still, compare these lines, and I think you'll see the inherent parallels are unmistakable:

"Oft have we trod the vales of Castaly
And heard sweet notes of sylvan music blown
From antique reeds to common folk unknown;
And often launched our bark upon the sea
Which the nine Muses hold in empery"

"I'm feelin' satisfaction from the street crowd reaction.
Chumps pull guns when they feel afraid, too late;
When they dip in the kick, they get sprayed.
Lemonade was a popular drink and it still is.
I get more props and stunts then Bruce Willis.
A poet like Langston Hughes can't lose when I cruise
Out on the expressway."

...Updating the reeds of Wilde's "common folk unknown" to the guns of Guru's "chumps," may whisk us away from the vales of Castaly to our decidedly more urban, and therefore more accessiblely contemporary "expressway," but the sentiment remains clearly and remarkably unchanged. As Wilde says we "had freighted well our argosy" in that we "ploughed free furrows through the wave and foam... spread reluctant sail for more safe home," so, too, did Greg Nice get "way uptown," as he "took deuce to the tre."

Perhaps it is futile to attempt to grasp the full meaning behind and within this song until the "Horny Instrumental" is finally heard married to its text in the elusive "Mix #2" - promised, but never delivered, on its "Take It Personal" debut. One can merely speculate. And yet, it's hard to ignore how deeply reminiscent Greg Nice's calling upon the names of Red Alert (the legendary DJ), Kid Capri (another DJ) and Muhammad Ali (boxer guy) is to Wilde's drawing up the spirits of Sordello (the early thirteenth-century troubadour, perhaps best known for being the subject of Robert Browning's famous 1840 poem), young Endymion (the perpetual youth of Greek myth and subject of poems by Lyly, Drayton and Keats1), and lordly Tamburlaine (as in "Tamburlaine the Great," by Christopher Marlowe, 1590) to complete his vision. And, indeed, stirringly unforgettable as it was when Nice ended his verse by calling upon Premier's fader to "take [him] out," so it is hauntingly familiar to all of us for whom Wilde's final line, wherein he calls to "grave-browed Milton's solemn harmonies" for his graceful exit, still echoes in our ears.

1And later Longfellow and Wilde himself.

This was written in 2001... In 2003, finally put the question of what "DWYCK" means to rest in an interview with Guru. "T.JONES: What does 'DWYCK' mean? Some people on the Internet say it means 'Do What You Can Kid.' What does 'DWYCK' really mean? GURU: No, but that's pretty good though, actually. 'Do What You Can Kid.' It probably could've meant that. It was just a slang that we used to use back then. It was like a slang thing we used to do. Greg Nice used to do it to everybody. Biz Markie started it actually. You used be in a crowd and say someone's name and go 'Yo! Son!' The person would turn around and go 'What? What?' and you would say: 'Dwyck!' It's like 'My dick!' It means the male genitalia. We switched it up to 'Dwyck.' It was just some sh*t to psyche eachotherout."

...That still doesn't explain why it's all in caps. But even more noteworthy, it struck me, was the similarity between that anecdote and this excerpt from the Wilde biography written by Sir Isaac Horton, "while studying classics at Trinity College in Dublin, from 1871 to 1874, he was well regarded as an outstanding student, winner of the Berkeley Gold Medal - the highest award available to classics students at Trinity - and while typically referred to as 'serious' or 'earnest' by his schoolmates, one of his juniors' memoirs recalls a common schoolboy prank he would pull on his mates. 'Oscar would stand behind a fellow during the headmaster's address and whisper into his ear, "sir! Sir!" When the dupe would turn to face him, "pardon?" Oscar would exclaim "cock!"' However it would seem Wilde's penchant for sudden outbursts of joviality was not to not stand in the way of his teachers' high regard, who awarded him full scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he continued his studies until 1878."

...It's possible I dreamt that part, too.

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