Arts Desk

Wugazi’s 13 Chambers: The Arts Desk Breakdown

When the first remix from Wugazi hit the Internet, we kinda lost our shit. So did a lot of people, and it makes sense: Someone should've mashed up Wu-Tang and Fugazi, two groups with similarly diehard followings, years ago. Luckily, it was two dudes from the Minneapolis hip-hop crew Doomtree, and we're generally digging 13 Chambers, the full Wugazi mixtape they dropped today. Arts Desk divvied up the tracks, figuring out what songs Wugazi sampled and what on the mixtape works.

Read our breakdown below. Hell, read Rolling Stone's, too. Download the thing. And if you want to throw the mixtape's juxtapositions into even sharper relief, smoke a blunt and think about your straight-edge days.

Track No. 1: "Sleep Rules Everything Around Me" (Fugazi's "I'm So Tired" and Wu-Tang Clan's "C.R.E.A.M.")
"S.R.E.A.M." is the perfect choice to lead off this album: It's a moving mashup that practically justifies the entire genre, interweaves a beautiful piano hook from Fugazi's Instrument soundtrack with sick rhymes from one Wu's most classic head-nodders. (Leor Galil)

Track No. 2: “Suicide Surprise” (Fugazi’s “No Surprise” and Gravediggaz' “1-800-Suicide”)
The first half is workmanlike (the rhymes are by non-Wu members Frukwan and Poetic), but the dropout that sets up RZA’s rap at 2:13 is genius. Fully satisfies any urges for a “Gravediggazi” side-project. Where’s Guy’s “hey,” though? (Joe Warminsky)

Track No. 3: "Another Chessboxin' Argument" (Wu-Tang Clan's "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" and Fugazi's "Argument")
Blending the Clan's lo-fi production with the band's moody, looping guitars, "Another Chessboxin' Argument" is a schizophrenic mix of menacing rhymes and contemplative musings. If there's a fine line between anger and depression, this track definitely walks it. (Marcus J. Moore)

Track No. 4: "Ghetto Afterthought" (Fugazi's "Afterthought," Ghostface Killah's "Special Delivery (Remix)," and Pras' "Ghetto Superstar (That Is What You Are)," featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard)
"Afterthought" may not be an especially notable Fugazi track, but chopped up just right, its Beatles-esque keyboard line sounds like a born hip-hop sample. And I'll never get tired of Big Baby Jesus acting ridiculous. (Ryan Little)

Track No. 5: "Sweet Release" (Fugazi's "Sweet and Low" and Method Man's "Release Yo' Delf")
Wu affiliate Blue Raspberry's appropriation of the "I Will Survive" melody is still a stretch, but it gets a surprisingly soulful bounce from Fugazi's minimalist, no-longer-subdued guitar line, from In on the Killtaker's instrumental mood piece "Sweet and Low." You can still dance to the line "What's that rhythm, what's that sound? Party people getting down"—drenched here in just about the most atmospheric guitar noise Fugazi is capable of emitting—but you're probably doing it by yourself, spinning in circles, looking downward. (Jonathan L. Fischer)

Track No. 6: "Shame on Blue" (Fugazi's "Blueprint" and Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Brooklyn Zoo")
Seven-years deceased and now remixed with Fugazi, Ol' Dirty Bastard still drops science like Cosby drops babies. But while Brendan Canty's drumming keeps up, Joe Lally's memorable bass line sometimes falls behind ODB's famous motormouth. (Benjamin R. Freed)

Track No. 7: "Slow Like That" (Fugazi's "Slo Crostic" and Ghostface Killah and Ne-Yo's "Back Like That")
While "Slo Crostic" is a heavy slow-burner, "Back Like That"—Ghost's most successful solo single—is a glitzy, smoothed-out jam. As for the mashup, the Wugazi dudes splice up chords to buttress Ghost's brassy rhymes, but Ne-Yo's pudding-skin voice gets buried. (Ally Schweitzer)

Track No. 8: "Floating Labels" (Fugazi's "Floating Boy" and GZA's "Labels")
Just as Lally provided Fugazi with a sturdy, flexible spine for many classic post-hardcore tunes,  his agile bass work carries "Floating Labels." The mashup's simple, head-nodding bassline actually does a lot of the heavy lifting on this song: The classic GZA cut sounds a bit off at times, and it's as if the banger-worthy instrumentals are trying to peel out from under GZA's rhymes on a few occasions. It's sharp, but a bit messy. (Leor Galil)

Track No. 9: "P.L.O. Squared" (Fugazi’s “Facet Squared” and Method Man's “P.L.O. Style”)
The tense, blippy intro of “Facet Squared” is sped up and looped; its explosion of guitars is chopped and deployed as an accent to Meth’s showy street militancy. Definitely has the Judgment Night soundtrack vibe. (Joe Warminsky)

Track No. 10: "Nowhere to Wait" (Gravediggaz's "Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide" and Fugazi's "Waiting Room")
An incredibly over-driven marriage of a horrorcore oddity and a sped-up punk-rock classic, "Nowhere to Wait" makes you wanna slam dance, break shit, and possibly punch your mom in the face. (Marcus J. Moore)

Track No. 11: "Last Chance For The Clientele Kid" (Fugazi's "Last Chance For A Slow Dance" and Raekwon's "Clientele Kidd")
There's something a little unnerving about placing ultra-violent lyrics atop Fugazi's radically pacifist punk, but damn if Fat Joe doesn't just kill it on this track. (Ryan Little)

Track No. 12: "Killa Hill" (Fugazi's "Suggestion" and Inspectah Deck's "R.E.C. Room")
Is it weird to hear an anti-rape song reduced to background music for passable-to-good braggadocio? ("Yo, Killa Bees swarmin/protect ya neck! What's the warnin'?") Sure, but this deep into this mixtape I'm over it. Brendan Canty's drums—sped up here, but not much—thunder way too much not to work as a battle beat. (Jonathan L. Fischer)

Track No. 13: "Forensic Shimmy" (Fugazi's "Forensic Scene" and Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya")
As Leor Galil wrote yesterday, ODB and Joe Lally are a "killer combo" on this closing track. When Dirty says "Baby, I like it raw," Fugazi answers with a collision of noise—a bristling call-and-response that demands these 13 Chambers get extended to 26. Too bad that's not looking too likely. (Benjamin R. Freed)

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