Due to the fact that RZA is a part of the group, many think that Gravediggaz branched off of the Wu-Tang Clan and that their debut album, 6 Feet Deep, was a Wu-Tang side project. Well, these people could not be more wrong, as RZA was merely a member of Gravediggaz and 6 Feet Deep was released before any of the Wu-Tang solo albums.
Along with RZA (who went by the name "Rzarector" in this group), Gravediggaz were composed of Prince Paul (known as "The Undertaker"), Frukwan ("The Gatekeeper"), and Too Poetic ("The Grym Reaper"). For those who may not know, Too Poetic died of colon cancer in 2001. R.I.P.
Gravediggaz helped pioneer the subgenre that is now known as "horrorcore rap," a branch of hip-hop that contains very violent and disturbing lyrical imagery. Fans of artists such as Eminem and Tech N9NE are very familiar with this category of rap, so Gravediggaz's style certainly appeals to significant legions of listeners.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of 6 Feet Deep is the fact that RZA only had a hand in producing three songs on the album (and only two of them solo; the other was with Prince Paul and RNS). Prince Paul, mostly known for his work with De La Soul, drops the majority of the rest of the beats.
Because I don't really have much more fluff to give you on the group or this album, I'll just get the ball rolling and start reviewing.
1. Constant Elevation
The first cut on 6 Feet Deep happens to be one of the album's best. Prince Paul's beat, consisting of a dark piano loop, sets a menacing tone for the project, and Too Poetic just goes in on it. You will also notice that Frukwan flows very, very similar to Ol' Dirty Bastard. As far as RZA goes, I have never been crazy about him as a rapper, but he sounds solid over this. Great, great way to open up the album.
2. Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide
Even though RZA's "ropin' up the devils, have 'em hangin' from my testicles" line in his first verse doesn't make much sense (seriously; what the hell does that mean?), this track is still pretty solid. Prince Paul's instrumental is relatively subdued, and all involved sound effective. This was 6 Feet Deep's second single.
3. Defective Trip (Trippin')
I have to admit that all of the choking at the beginning creeped me out a bit, but isn't that what horrorcore rap is supposed to do? Anyway, I love Prince Paul's production on this. This is a good track. I wish I had something else to add, but I don't.
4. 2 Cups Of Blood
This is a very short track, spanning one minute and twenty-seven seconds, and it's a shame, because it sounds fantastic. Prince Paul's beat is sick, and RZA is spitting like an animal. If only this record would have been longer...
5. Blood Brothers
"Blood Brothers" represents the first song on the album that wasn't produced by Prince Paul, as Frukwan gets the production credit here. He laces a nice instrumental, too, although the fact that the cut runs nearly five minutes in length detracts from its overall quality. I would also like to point out that by this point of the album, I can already tell that Too Poetic is the best emcee of the group.
6. 1-800 Suicide
You wanna talk about disturbing? "1-800 Suicide" is easily the most perturbing song on 6 Feet Deep, but it is not without humor, as Frukwan spits: "Maybe you're Sicilian with a tan, but you hate lasagna and the pizza man." Prince Paul's beat is also inappropriately relaxed given the subject matter, but no doubt it was meant to be that way.
7. Pass The Shovel
"Pass The Shovel" was only available on the European version of the album, and I've never understood why, because it is certainly one of the better cuts on here. The instrumental by Prince Paul is fairly fast-paced and contains some great drums, and everyone rips it.
8. Diary Of a Madman
This is the first beat on the album where RZA chips in, as he teams up with RNS and Prince Paul to create what is probably the project's most popular track (it was the lead single). Scientific Shabazz and Killah Priest lay down guest verses, and Priest in particular rips this cut to shreds (and that shouldn't come as much of a surprise). Overall, this is a good track, as the instrumental is engaging enough and the two guests plus RZA and Too Poetic oblige with some nice bars. I will say, though, that nothing on 6 Feet Deep is blowing me away up until now.
9. Mommy, What's a Gravedigga?
Like "2 Cups Of Blood," this track is very short, but unlike "2 Cups Of Blood," it isn't all that good. Next.
10. Bang Your Head
I really hate it when rappers try to incorporate elements of rock music into their songs, and that's what happens here. However, I do not hate this track. Instead, I was left with a feeling of indifference. The drums are good and RZA, Too Poetic, and Frukwan all do their thing, but the static in the background is just plain annoying, and Prince Paul's beat is all over the place on the hook. Also, I understand that hooks weren't too complicated back in this day, but the constant yelling of "bang your head!" on the hook of this cut grates on the eardrums.
11. Here Comes The Gravediggaz
This is the best song on 6 Feet Deep, and the funny thing is that it was produced by some dude named Mr. Sime (who?). The beat is nails, and the rapping is great and flows along with it perfectly. To add on, I actually really, really like the "Ahh! Here comes, the Grave...diggaz" bar on the hook, this even though I just bashed the hook of "Bang Your Head" for being a bit too simplistic. Funny how that happens, right?
12. Graveyard Chamber
I'm sure this is the song that Wu-Tang fans listened to first on 6 Feet Deep for the mere fact that it has the word "chamber" in its title. This is the first solo RZA production on the album, and it bangs. Scientific Shabazz and Killah Priest are featured once again (both rip it, too), and so is Dreddy Kruger, a rapper whom I've always liked (I've always wondered why he doesn't get more shine). The only thing I don't like about "Graveyard Chamber" is that RZA's voice sounds like it's overpowering the beat on his verse, but that little issue is negligible, as the overall product is just phenomenal and, without a doubt, one of the album's best.
Prince Paul's instrumental on this sounds nothing like the rest of 6 Feet Deep, but nevertheless, it sounds really good, as "Deathtrap" turned out to be one of my favorite songs on the album. However, I have to say that I was a little disappointed to see Masta Ace on the tracklisting for this cut only to hear him speak the intro. Come on...can't we get a verse from one of rap's all-time greats?
14. 6 Feet Deep
RZA produced this cut, too, and it seriously crawls, and not in a good way. I can legitimately picture myself watching paint dry while listening to this (not that I'd actually ever do that). As I'm sure you can infer from the preceding sentence, I was not feeling this track. I'm not really understanding how RZA dropped the ball this badly on the title song when he only got two chances on the album to bring some heat (I'm not even including "Diary Of a Madman" because he had help from two other producers on that record), but even the best come up short sometimes.
15. Rest In Peace (Outro)
It's pretty damn unfortunate that the two best beats on 6 Feet Deep came during a one-and-a-half-minute "song" ("2 Cups Of Blood") and on the outro, but that's what happens. Prince Paul's instrumental on this knocks beyond belief, so why he and the rest of Gravediggaz decided to waste it on an outro is beyond me.
Let me be clear when I say this: contrary to what a rather significant number of listeners believe, I do not think that 6 Feet Deep is a classic. Is it a good album? Yes, but to me, the term "classic" implies that I am absolutely blown away by the project from start-to-finish and thoroughly love at least five tracks on it, and that is not the case here.
Don't misconstrue what I'm saying, though; 6 Feet Deep's status in the hip-hop world is not without merit. Prince Paul lays down some very nice beats on the album, and RZA, Frukwan, and Too Poetic (especially the latter) all bring it and remain consistently steady throughout the entire record, which is obviously very important.
The main beef I have with 6 Feet Deep is that nothing on it makes me think, "damn, that's good." I did really like a few songs on here, but in terms of the overall product, I was not wowed, and, proportionately, this album will not receive much burn on my iPod, although I can certainly see myself throwing it on every now and then.
I have now listened to 6 Feet Deep three times. The first instance, I did not like the album at all. By the time I gave it another chance a year later, it grew on me and I started to really like it. Then, when I then listened to it for a third time in order to write this review, I ended up somewhere in between how I felt after my first time through and how I felt following my second go-around with the record, as I focused more on looking at the album critically rather than for enjoyment.
I am not trying to deter you from giving 6 Feet Deep a spin, because it is a good effort by Gravediggaz, but what I will tell you is that there are better albums out there.
TOP FIVE TRACKS
1. Here Comes The Gravediggaz
2. Constant Elevation
3. Graveyard Chamber
4. Defective Trip (Trippin')
Mommy, What's a Gravedigga?
6 Feet Deep