RZA’s creative output as Bobby Digital has been a mixed bag. The Zorro-masked alter ego allows the Wu-Tang shogun to lighten up his usual Five Percenter demeanor and indulge in guilty pleasures. On 1998’s RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo and 2001’s Digital Bullet, the MC/producer’s scene-stealing beats furthered his split personality. Yet RZA’s B-level lyricism and overcrowded, C-grade guest lists spoiled their overall taste. In the wake of the Clan’s feud-engulfed reunion, 8 Diagrams, comes Digi Snacks, a dish that’s equally sweet and sour.
Unlike its predecessors, Digi Snacks bumps along with a notable disconnect from the Wu’s sample-heavy, dusty sound. Acoustic guitars and melancholic keys make up the macabre “Don’t Be Afraid to Call My Name,” where RZA turns lethal (“Tap the mic on the floor, change to the mighty Thor/Two blades in my arm, look like the god of war”). He continues the assault with Inspectah Deck (the disc’s only featured Clansman) on the bluesy “You Can’t Stop Me Now,” while on the homicidal “Creep,” shrieking xylophones back the album’s hardest moment.
Verbally, RZA is as nonsensical as ever (see “Try Ya Yi Ya”), and when the production misfires, his lyrical deficiencies amplify. On the Southern-tinged “Straight off the Block,” a Jay-Z vocal sample screams gimmick, as RZA employs an overly simplistic rhyme scheme to drop laughable bars. Elsewhere, terribly crooned choruses surface, most painfully on “Digi Snacks/Booby Traps,” which contains a grating hook that’s reminiscent of the awkward refrains heard throughout 8 Diagrams.
Overall, Digi Snacks convincingly displays RZA’s fearless sensibilities. While risk taking is always welcome, for Bobby Digital, his artistic overzealousness is ultimately a hindrance. By meal’s end, it’s all a bit overcooked.–Matt Barone