This post has been a long time coming. In fact, I feel like this will be my worst post ever, because my subject is a king of the pen and I only want to impress him with my feature on his work. The person I am speaking of is none other than Ben Ness aka Doc Waffles. Before I get wordy, go ahead and cut on “Everybody Twist” (from his unfinished second album The Bon Vivant), which is below this paragraph. This will set the mood and help uncover the genius of the hip hop literary agent, Doc Waffles.
Okay, let me get to it.
When I think of hip hop as a medium, I contemplate often of the possibilities of how it will evolve. For me, there are only two real ways that the music can expand – sonically and lyrically. I know, d’uh. With the conversation addressing hip hop and its curious journey always hovering around the question of “what’s next,” it bodes peculiar that there is not more energy put into the growth of the music itself than the hoopla that surrounds it. How about we close this can of worms though, mmkay?
In the two areas mentioned, the only one I can dissect scholarly is the lyrical arena. As someone who writes the occasional rhyme when the spirit moves me, I appreciate the art of rapping at a very deep level. It gives me great pleasure to be able to share my appreciation of the work of Doc Waffles, because there is no one like him. No one. You may not want to believe that, but you would be wrong. I mean seriously, have you checked out Golf View Drive yet?
Now my man Doc Waffles has been someone that has captured my envy and zeal ever since I had the chance opportunity to build with him at his old place of work. It was at the John K. King Books North location, which also so happened to be where the intrepid lyricist recorded his debut album. There was something about seeing a guy engulfed in old books that was a little intimidating. Ben was actually quite cool and he gave me a copy of his debut album, which has changed the way I felt could be done with rapping.
Upon first listen to Golf View Drive, you notice quickly that the raps are not your average free mp3 fodder. This realization puts you in a situation that gives duplicitous meaning to the phrase “split second.” In this split second, I think this is what separates the fan from the disapproving. Waffles’ style of rap is not for the meek; be gone ye seeker of the traditional boom bap rap. Sure, the beats sound normal enough, dated even. But “Welcome to Golf View. Welcome to this land of steaming, manicured fairways, big ass backyards, 3-car garages…” is your instant tip-off that Mr. Ness did not come to assimilate in your cypher.
Waffles flips words like an English Lit major. Now this is not something brand new or refreshing. There are many rappers of all sorts that love to embellish their verses with $100 words they jacked from their rhyming dictionary. The difference with Mr. Ness is he does not use them to impress you; he is not doing it to sound learned. He is that guy, academically trained in the language of prose. You can tell from his songwriting approach that he is tackling something bigger than the art of rhyme. Doc Waffles is “getting Duchamp” on us as he would say.
Songs like “Front 101” and “Veal Scalopini” comes off like social commentary that would make Ivy League profs like Dr. Cornell West reconsider trying to attempt to do music again. It is not that he spends any time explaining to us, the listeners, what he is doing. This is where if you do not have the patience, you may not come to appreciate it. Golf View Drive is a concept album that I believe many well-educated, suburban-bred hip hop lovers need to hear. Just as trans-formative as some of the best rap has been on our lives, GVD turns that experience on its head. Luckily, Waffles has made it available for as a digital download.
My favorite cut is “Nursing Home.” It is my goal to arrange for Waffles to film a proper visual to accompany the already vivid depiction of a gentleman dealing with the annoyance of having his aging mother live with him in his family’s home. This narrative truly shows Waffles’ range, if not moreso what the command of the English language can actually achieve.
I am not saying Doc Waffles is the best rapper ever, but he is definitely a one of one. And he is getting better each time at bat. You can try to say he sounds like MC Paul Barnum. Umm, no. Check out the cuts from his follow-up projects in The Bon Vivant and How To Shoot Quail. There is no one penning raps like him that is like him. Many have tried, but none have been interesting enough to take seriously.
See for yourself. Click the links above to listen to the songs beforehand. Really listen to Waffles’ words. You can download it for free or pay-what-you-want and get a better quality verison. He is the real deal. If you think I am offbase, let me know in the comments.