PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Cappadonna: The Struggle

David Morris


The Struggle

Label: Code:Red Entertainment
US Release Date: 2003-10-07
UK Release Date: 2003-10-13

There shouldn't be much to say about this record, and for the most part, there ain't. It opens with a clip of a faded civil rights rally as someone declares that black people need "a man to make us live again" -- then Cappadonna starts the revolution by rhyming 12 different words with "struggle". It also comes with a free glittery sticker. Fuck yeah, dude!

If you're a Wu-Tang fan, this'll elicit a wistful sigh, which is better, I guess, than the attack of revulsion likely to overcome you when witnessing the current necrophiliac work of most members of the extended Wu family. Not that Cap doesn't rob the grave, but at least he really aims for the tonsils, bringing that new outdated shit with real passion. There's some production here that'll push all your Wu-buttons (soul strings, dusty drums), and a couple of bubbly tracks by Soulfingaz that actually break out of that stale mold. Lyrically, Cappadonna was never the shining star of the Wu-family's crown, and here he's mostly going through the motions -- but like a really good Elvis impersonator, he is occasionally good enough to let you project your love for the genuine article onto him.

Worth noting in this context is that, after a row a couple of years back involving allegations of gun-running against the main trunk of the family, Cappadonna no longer has any official affiliations with the Wu-Tang clan -- no "W" appears on the cover of The Struggle, and it's released by Code Red Entertainment, apparently a collaborative effort between Cap and Remedy, another onetime Wu-associate.

Despite their falling out, Cap does manage to get a couple of real Wu-Tang members on the mic -- which may be his fatal mistake. Inspectah Deck does a chorus on "Get Away from the Door", and in eight bars he shows just how flatfooted Cap is. Despite the loathsome derivativeness of "Killa Killa Hill" ("God Rules Everything Around Us!"), and his audible reluctance to even be associated with the whole thing, Raekwon turns in a verse that satisfies like Snickers. Back at the ranch, meanwhile, it takes Cap plus three guests to come up with this chorus:

Money, cash, flows and bitches!
Money, cash, flows and bitches!
Money, cash, flows and bitches!
Money, cash, flows and bitches!

I assume they mention both money and cash to emphasize the importance they attach to their 401(k)s and Mastercards. Similar in tone are "My Kinda Bitch" and "Life of a Lesbo". I gotta say, it's not like political incorrectness is unexpected in hardcore rap, but when it's totally formulaic it pretty much loses its frisson of transgression -- and frankly, it's Cap's completely unabashed plundering of the Wu-legacy that's really offensive (see: GZA, "Life of a Drug Dealer").

Admittedly, even an easy target like "Money, Cash, Flows" has some nice production, as Soulfingaz throws down a Neptunes-ish bouncy, tight bassline with a great swing trumpet sample for something really funky. There are also highlights in "Broken Glass", an easygoing R & B-flavored track, "Power to the Peso", and "Pain is Love". "Pain" in particular is strong -- with its tinkling electric organ, swelling strings, stereoscopic effects, and a well-balanced mix of observation and philosophizing on the lyrics, it would've made a respectable album cut on Ironman. Which means it's head and shoulders above everything else on The Struggle.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.