34. ‘Gravel Pit’ by Wu Tang Clan (2000)

wu-tang-clan

I have loved this song for so many years and it occurs to me, coming to write about it, that I have never had much clue what the hell it’s about. I legit just checked Rap Genius.

It turns out it’s about people’s names.

‘Gravel Pit’ remains the only Wu Tang Clan song to crack the UK Top 40. I remember it as a reliable staple of MTV at the time, with Richard Blackwood doing inept “back back and forth” intros at every opportunity. That transition alone probably did a lot to develop UK teenagers’ powers of discernment between styles of rap, and possibly contributed to the immediate death of Blackwood’s music career. That the song itself acted as a handy triangulation of rapping prowess was a bonus.

The brash machismo of Method Man – as he defiantly rhymes “watch” with “watch” while (as evidenced in the video) wielding a plastic club with real authority and sense of timing – is followed by the snotty, slapdash delivery of Ghostface Killah, before U-God rounds things out with a proficient if unexciting “job done” closer. The killer chorus, delivered with detached coolness by Paulissa, bridges the disparity of the three beautifully.

BONUS POINTS: Only last week – unrelated to any of this – did I have a Whatsapp debate about whether or not a Gravel Pit was a vagina.

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