Enter Wugazi

Local artist Andy Lund and Doomtree emcee Cecil Otter have generated buzz over their mashup of Fugazi and the Wu-Tang Clan, available Wednesday.

Enter Wugazi

by Raghav Mehta

Despite rock âÄònâÄô rollâÄôs long history of creative odd couples, a Fugazi and Wu-Tang Clan pairing just sounded too good to be true. The groups âÄî both legends in their own right âÄî are worlds apart as far as musicianship and ethics go. But for local artist Andy Lund and Doomtree emcee Cecil Otter, the combination of the two just seemed to come naturally.  

Produced and recorded over the course of a year, Wugazi is exactly what its name suggests âÄî a digital mashup that unites hip-hopâÄôs kung-fu hustlers with the grey beards of DC hardcore for 13 tracks of gritty rap-punk remixes. But what was once nothing more than a weekend pet project for Otter and Lund transformed into an internet sensation almost instantly earlier this month. Just days after the release of WugaziâÄôs first remix, âÄúSleep Rules Everything Around MeâÄù  âÄî a bittersweet fusion of the Wu-Tang staple âÄúC.R.E.A.M.âÄù and FugaziâÄôs latter-day melodrama âÄúIâÄôm So TiredâÄù âÄî Otter and LundâÄôs week-old SoundCloud handle saw its play count skyrocket from a few hundred to 80,000 in a matter of days.

âÄúWe never thought anything was going to happen, we just thought it would be cool,âÄù Otter said. âÄúWe just wanted people to hear it because everyone smiled when we [first] put it on.âÄù

Contrary to widely-published belief, the album, aptly-titled âÄú13 Chambers,” isnâÄôt exactly a mashup âÄî itâÄôs more of a remix. While the conflation between the two artforms is a common mistake, Otter and Lund stressed the distinction, contrasting DJ Danger MouseâÄôs âÄúThe Grey Album âÄî the 2004 Jay-Z-Beatles synthesis âÄî with mashupâÄôs underground mastermind Girl Talk.

âÄúWe did everything with ProTools âÄî chopped everything up and then remade a beat using Fugazi as sample fodder and then put acapella over it.âÄù

ItâÄôs a much more tedious process that demands deconstruction rather than straightforward overlay. Lund was actually drawn to the technique after listening to Danger MouseâÄôs spin on it.

âÄúI had the idea while listening to ‘The Grey Album’ because I was like âÄòWow, heâÄôs not doing mashups, heâÄôs actually making songs out of Beatles samples,âÄù Lund said.

Available for download as of Wednesday morning, âÄú13 ChambersâÄù is a musical amalgamation that covers as much aural territory as possible. With help from local DJ and friend Plain Ole Bill, Lund and Otter mined the voluminous Shaolin songbook for every last acapella they could find, settling for verses from albums that include everything from the âÄúBulworthâÄù soundtrack to landmark solo releases like OlâÄô Dirty BastardâÄôs âÄúReturn to 36 ChambersâÄù and Method ManâÄôs âÄúTical.âÄù

 âÄúYouâÄôre limited as far as what acapellas you can get your hands on, so some of them are pretty deep cuts,âÄù Lund said âÄúItâÄôs not like all the singles because that [expletive] isnâÄôt public.âÄù

And despite the obvious stylistic disparities between Fugazi and Wu-Tang Clan, Otter insisted the two had more in common than theyâÄôre given credit for.

âÄúWell the cool thing about Wu-Tang was their beats were pretty hardcore. When they hit itâÄôs a big kick, heavy snare, smashing pianos, things like that,âÄù Otter said. âÄúAnd when we were listening to verses of them justrapping … the intensity between the two tracks really matched.âÄù

Otter and Lund arenâÄôt seeking any royalties either. The two plan on donating the profits to a charity of their choice. And while they havenâÄôt heard directly from either group, both FugaziâÄôs record label and Wu-TangâÄôs management have posted links to the tracks on Twitter. But in spite all the feverish buzz, Otter and Lund never really had lofty hopes for Wugazi in the first place âÄî but they sure had a lot of fun working on it âÄî almost too much.

âÄúIt was a total labor of love. Andy had an album he was working on, I had an album I was working on and I was like, âÄòAre we spending too much time on this Wugazi [expletive]?âÄô”