Time is perhaps the greatest digestive. The pain of relationships withers away under these clicking seconds, the mediocrity of a party from last year becomes apparent, or even the awesomeness of a conversation with a stranger that felt right in the moment can be exponentially understood better years later. In this there lies some continuum between age and wisdom, for the day after the tasting menu at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House one can writhe in the fatness of a ten-ounce fois gras steak, but with the passing of time can the ostentatious horror becomes Baccarat crystal clear. Conversely the perfect scrambled eggs with black truffles and caviar at La Tour d’Argent with the perfect spring sunset out of the window and David Lynch and his Palm D’or at the adjacent table was perfect at the time, though years later it seems entirely magical. And then the things that seemed perfect then? The way they shrivel? Perhaps it wasn’t perfect to begin with.
There are things though that remain with us, as we grow and though they are static in nature, these things grow with us. Static growth seems to be adjectives at odds with one another, but look to the arts as the example that means to be highlighted. Handel’s Messiah may have nuanced differences throughout the years that they perform at Carnegie Hall, the singers may be better one year than the next, or the conductor may carry the tune faster than he had before, but essentially the music is the same. Von Gogh paintings, Star Wars, Back To The Future, The Last Starfighter, Days Of Heaven, The Stranger, The Great Gatsby, Dylan Thomas, William Blake, Borges, Bob Dylan; none of it changes, it is only the perception – the moment in time they can transport the consumer (with no negative connotations, but in the objective definition of the word — as a consumer of the arts) to. The memory harkened by hearing the opening cords of The Man Who Sold The World on the Nirvana Unplugged album, the onslaught of emotive memories that contrast the present condition.
Cappadonna came out with The Pillage in March of ’98; nearly ten years ago. To remember the first listening of it seems as impossible as remembering anything from 1998, those were heady years. It is a weird album, the beats, Cappadonna’s lyrical framing within those beats, and even what he is talking about – in the sense that his abstractions from common grammatical formats allow him the space to say words that don’t mean what they sound like, nor or they connected to a previous lyric. To call it stream of consciousness is by itself a fault, for stream of consciousness has implications of being disposable, and even worse: brings up images of the yet-to-be-absolved-for-their-idiocy Beat Poets.
It is impossible to know the amount of revision that happened in the process of making this album, if any at all, and if we are to assume this, then maybe for the first time ever stream-of-consciousness counts for something more than bohemian brownie points.
What is striking here is not the genius involved, or even the untold pain in Tekitha’s voice on Young Hearts or Black Boy. It is that this record resists being frozen in time. It is ten years old, and in that decade the personal, spiritual, and economic world has changed on the individual level as much as it has on a global level; yet their seems hardly a finer maxim ever offered than the first few lines of slang editorial: I came to the fork in the road and went straight.