Along with working on his new album, GZA found time to release a one-off single with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, Hanni El Khatib and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson.
Pitchfork first reported on the new hip hop collaboration. The track begins with flamenco guitars sampled from Babe Ruth’s 1972 hit of the same name, before a funk beat drops in with GZA’s first verse. His lyrics begin with a typical-seeming love letter to gangster culture, flavored with Mexican outlaw imagery, of course. By the end of the song, however, the lyrics focus on the pitfalls of such a life style:
It used to move weight
But then it became a grow up
Constrictor boa, most center lower
Who operated along the mind of his own
For mostly silver and other shining stones
A bandit political rebel, who move with the group
Because the levels flashing heavy metals
Clash with the lords, tricker than tis reactions
Hard labor, gave him multiple contractions
By the time this insightful verse comes to a close, GZA lifts the bridge section out of the original track before letting Morello and Nielson cut loose on a erupting chorus. As expected, it’s Morello’s DJ scratching imitation sound effects that are most highlighted by GZA (who produced the track), but he also finds enough space in the mix to feature the more traditionally rocking sounds, too. The track goes full-steam like this until the track abruptly ends, leaving the listener wanting more.
Though the track leaps out of your speakers, GZA has stated that he will not feature it on his long-anticipated, forthcoming album Dark Matter. His last release, 2008’s Pro Tools, received a good deal of critical acclaim and a warm reception from fans, making the seven year wait leading up to Dark Matter even harder. Still, there’s no arguing with the strength of “The Mexican” as a great standalone track.
Despite the audience anticipation, GZA has been busy lately both with solo performances and with his day-job band the Wu-Tang Clan. He’s touring with the Wu-Tang Clan this summer, who also recently released the new track “Keep Watch” midway through last year. Shortly after that, GZA played a solo show with backing group Brownout at Texas’ UTOPIAfest.
Morello has also been busy recently, paying just as much attention to his political activist endeavors as he has to his music career. As far as the later is concerned, Morello just released his band Rage Against the Machine’s live concert from Mexico City in 2001 entitled “The Battle of Mexico City,” which is available to stream for free when you sign up for Qello. Morello also just joined Eddie Vedder and Michael Stipe in writing a letter to the FCC in an effort to fight to save net neutrality.
As far as the other collaborators on the track are concerned, Ruban Nielson’s Unknown Mortal Orchesta just announced that they plan to release a new album entitled “Multi-Love” in May while embarking on a U.S. tour throughout the Spring. Hanni El Khatib just released a video for the title track of his album “Moonlight.”
Listen to the new track “The Mexican” below.