Following up my article on the merits of RZA's 1998 solo debut "In Stereo" on GeeStreet/V2, I decided to put together a compilation highlighting the transforation of Bobby Steels to Bobby Digital on wax as we was able to hear it. As I mentioned in the article, although it might have sounded like that to many of us at the time, the stripped down sound of RZA's digitized orchestra wasn't born out of thin ear but was something The Abbot was slowly perfecting deep down in his basement studios, only letting out small pieces at a time for heads to show up before letting the whole album touch down in late '98, following up Method Man's "Tical 2000: Judgement Day" and Cappadonna's "The Pillage". To me it's very close to a personal classic and a stronger LP than either of the aforementioned projects - it is also the only solo album by RZA that I think really shows how dope he really is as an artist. The close-to-sample free sonic enviroment created through a multiplex of keyboards and synthesizers that could come close to the sound of a 19 piece orchestra. A brilliant mix of the digital and the analog, and to top it all off it was a well put together concept album - telling the story of the superhero Bobby Digital and his struggles in the Americna ghetto. As "Wu-Tang Forever" and songs like "Sunshower" pointed our RZA was preparing an intense project full of wisdom and knowledge with lyrics touching on politics, 5% and Nation of Islam teachings, the art of war, and spirituality. This album was to be titled "The Cure" and has today taken on almost mythical proportions as the rapping producer realized he wasn't in the right mindstate to proudce such an important lyrical masterpiece. Instead he created the persona of Bobby Digital, mixing his own hectic upbring in the '70s and '80s with blaxploatation flicks and comic books in the creation of his very own superhero. In the masked character of Bobby Digital he was able to indulge in full misoginy, weapon fetishes, violence, drugs, and over the top movie scenarios.
85 percent of the LP was produced by RZA hismelf, with the exception of Inspectah Decks excellent, mystic Portishead sampling "Kiss Of A Black Widow" and the interlude "Airwaves" which really is RZA's verse stricty lifted from the Wake Up Show Anthem '99 twelve inch - the linear notes mistakenly credit King Tech as the prodcuer of "Love Jones" which is most likely wrong. RZA got a special, kind of ruff and rugged voice so he sure needs several guests and not too long a running time to create a poewerful vibe that never let the listener lose interest - and "In Stereo" is a front-to-back materpiece as long as you lose the four bonus tracks at the end.
Not couning the music on "Wu-Tang Forever" (where he first started using the digitial orchestra) there is at least 10 songs that is increasingly Bobby Digital joints, starting with the Hide-Out Remix to Method Man's "The Riddler" from 1996 and ending with "Cakes" by Bobby Digital and Kool Rap. Grab it below for a nice bite size of Bobby Digi Digi..
01. "Belly Of The Beast"
03. "The Riddler" [Bobby's Hide-Out Mix] (w. Method Man)
04. "Nurmeg" (w. Ghostface Killah)
05. "Windpipe" (w. Ol' DIrty Bastard & Ghostface Killah)
06. "Project Talk" (Ft. Beretta 9) [Interlude]
07. "Terrorist" [Director's Cut] (Ft. Black Knights & Killarmy)
08. "And Justice For All" (w. Method Man & Killarmy)
09. "Shaolin (6eme Chaundron)" (w. Arsenik)
10. "Cakes" (Ft Kool G Rap)
11. "Do You Hear The Bells" [So Called Freestyle]
12. "Bobby Digital Audio Interview: 'In Stereo Bonus Disc'"
BOBBY DIGITAL - "IN STEREO OR MONO.... It's B.o.B.B.Y." ('98)