Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Thor Rap

You kids are all excited about your Avengers movie this weekend, are you? Well, how about a rap song to go with it? No, this isn't from the official soundtrack - in fact, there are two: the proper soundtrack by the composer, and a collection of pop rock songs that's actually intended to succeed commercially. And neither have any rap on it. So instead I've dipped into the vaults to find a suitable hip-hop companion, and decided upon this: "God of Thunder" by Virtuoso.

Now, this isn't the first or only rap record to reference a Marvel super hero, or even an Avenger specifically. When Ghostface Killah adopted the alias Tony Starks, he even titled his debut solo album Ironman, just in case we didn't get the reference. But despite using the Ironman cartoon theme song (and getting sued for it), he doesn't ever really rap about being a superhero in a giant robot suit, a la the famous Avenger. I wanted a song that was actually about an Avenger, not just borrowing some names, or slipping a reference or two into a punchline.

And this song fits the bill. Thor, of course, is the god of thunder. But this song doesn't ask the listener connect the dots. The hook consists of the phrase "I'm the mighty Thor" taken from The Beatnuts' "Off the Books," being cut up by producer Panik of The Molemen. And Virtuoso keeps it going with his verses, explicitly rapping about himself being Thor, "Virtuoso and The Molemen, lurking in the Trojan horse bringing the force of the Norse king Odin." I mean, granted, he seems to be confusing the Trojan horse, which is from Greek mythology, with Thor and the Nordic stuff; but he clearly means to be rapping about our Thor when hr refers to himself as the son of Odin and such. He even mentions, "when I swing Mjolnir" (that's his famous hammer).

And before you say it, let me respond. You might argue that Virt's rhyming about the original character from Norse mythology and not the comic book character. But first of all, the comic book is explicitly about the Norse god, from Asgard and the ancient mythology and all the trappings that brings with it. The comic just puts him in modern times,a nd so does this song, as he brags about "shifting the sands of California." Plus, in the song, he raps about "battling prehistoric dinosaurs" and shit that never happened in the old myths, but probably happened in the comics. Hell, maybe Thor even rode around in the Trojan horse at some point in the comics - a lot of randoms hit happened in the many decades Thor has been a super hero, especially in the 60's.

Anyway, let's not get too hung up on the tenuous connection I'm drawing between this record and the Avengers movie. This is a pretty cool, vinyl-only song that I've been meaning to blog about for a while anyway.  I've always felt that Virt never recovered from the time he changed his voice and flow between his Brick Records and Omnipotent Records releases. That's not to say all his later stuff is bunk - I still check for his newer material; but compare anything from the 2000s forward to "Incinerator," "Orion's Belt," "Omnipotence," etc and there's just no comparison.  Like he was replaced by a different guy. But this single is some of the best "second era" Virtuoso, and comes closest to capturing the lightning of his early work.

And The Molemen aren't really one of my favorite production teams. Part of my issue with them is that they seem to have one production sound for whoever they're producing. In other words they make beats that fit EC, but feel flat when it's, say, Grand Daddy IU. But here they've produced a track that's not only pretty good and energetic, but that really firs with the vibe Virtuoso was going for with this more dramatic, epic subject matter. These are the last guys I would've asked to produce this song, but it turns out they had it locked.

"God of Thunder" is the third and final single off his World War One: The Voice of Reason album, following "All We Know" and "Beatdown." But, interestingly, the song itself isn't on the album. The B-side, "Smashtapiece Theater" is, however - it's also one of the strongest album cuts, despite the cringe-worthy pun. So, what we have here is the rare "A-side exclusive."

"God of Thunder" in the full set of Clean, Evil (dirty), Beats (instrumental) and Words (Acapella) versions, and "Smashtapiece Theater" comes in Clean, Beats and Words - you'll have to buy the album if you want to hear the proper, unedited version, which is a bit lame. It also comes in a pretty wicked picture cover with some amusing "crazy credits" on the back.

No comments:

Post a Comment