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FIVE ELEMENTS: THE WIRE’S SLEPT ON GEMS

TheWire

A few months back, a new roomie moved in. We got along fine. The bonding moments were sparse but solid: football Sundays, the occasional movie, an episode of The Newsroom here or there. But then an idea dawned on me—we’d up the ante and start watching The Wire, embarking on a quest through the corners, ports, skyscrapers, and interrogation rooms of Baltimore. Shit was about to get real.

It’s no surprise that the show stands up well, but I was shocked by the musical gems that were unearthed while watching it again.

I perked my ears up several times, pulling out my phone like Omar’s double-barreled shotgun to Shazam the tracks.

For instance, check out this scene from the first season where D’Angelo thinks he’s driving to his own execution, with Wee-Bey riding shotty. The cold beat only underscores the dread, making a dark-alley death seem inevitable. It turns out to be an instrumental to a dope Masta Ace joint.

“Unfriendly Game,” a concept track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a GZA record, equates hustling with sports, especially football. Ace spits darts, unwittingly bringing to mind Avon: “It’s hard to get first down, when you new in this tough town/you sell a pound, it’s a touchdown.”

The other standout jam from season one is a sleeper from Sharpshooters. “Analyze” plays during a chase scene when Stinkum gets the re-up snatched by Herc and crew. I scoured YouTube, and could only find a handful of other songs by these dudes. It has a late ’90s, Rawkus records kind of vibe. Bahamadia would be at home with this flow.

“Herbs jumping in my cypher tryin’ to be best friends/now they drowning in the river rocking cement Tims.”

That’s some cold shit. But it’s also a spot-on snapshot of The Wire’s griminess.

Oddly enough, my roomie now has “Analyze” in his iTunes library, one of only a few hip-hop songs. The Wire’s tentacles have a weird influence—the beats are just as hypnotic as the story.


About GEORGE SCHLESINGER

George knows that Wu Tang rules everything around him. His interests include freestyling on fairways, gourmet snacking and neck-breaking beats.
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