Friday, July 12, 2013

ShowYouSuck has the edge

Posted By on 07.12.13 at 05:44 PM

I stumbled upon local MC ShowYouSuck a couple years ago, when Netherfriends main man Shawn Rosenblatt released an EP of songs using samples of Harry Nilsson titled simply Netherfriends Does Nilsson. Show appears on the final track, "Full of It Remix," and two things struck me immediately: the dude's playful, rubbery flow, which has a bit of a southern twang on the tune, and his references to Fugazi and Minor Threat. I'm a sucker for any thoughtful mention of the Washington, D.C., punk scene—I grew up with that community in my backyard, and by the time I reached adolescence it had become such a distinct, important, and natural part of the District's cultural history that it was fairly common to find Minor Threat graffiti scribbled in pencil on school desks. D.C. punk is in my blood, and after hearing the "Full of It Remix" I felt like I'd found a kindred spirit in ShowYouSuck.

The rapper just dropped "XXX (Straight Edge)," which is not only a hat tip to Minor Threat (the cover art for the tune is a riff on Minor Threat's "Bottled Violence" image of a punkish-looking fellow with a corked bottle for a head) but an indication of Show's relationship with straight-edge, the no-drinking, no-drugging counterculture that unexpectedly grew out of a couple Minor Threat songs ("Straight Edge" and "Out of Step"). In a write-up about the tune Ruby Hornet scribe Geoff Henao pointed to an interview Straight Edge Worldwide recently did with the MC about his lifestyle choices, and it's only bolstered the strong feelings I have towards the dude and his music. Like Show, I first heard of straight-edge through Minor Threat, and my connection to the term and what it represents is similarly complicated.

I don't drink—you might recall I wrote up the "Best Bar for Teetotalers in the Endless-Keg-Stand-of-a-Neighborhood That is Wrigleyville" for our most recent Best of Chicago issue—or do drugs, but I abandoned calling myself straight-edge years ago, largely because it's become such a loaded, inflexible term. I found it difficult talking to casual acquaintances and strangers after describing myself as such because I'd suddenly become defined by whatever militant idea they had about the term instead of how I approach life. After a while I got tired of explaining to people why I'm generally not put off by friends who drink; in extreme cases I had to add that I really enjoy eating meat and drinking coffee. (Some folks interpret straight-edge's "no drugs" thing with such severity that "no drugs" means no caffeine, which I think is a bit much. And I never got the vegan wing of the straight-edge movement.)

For me being "straight-edge" just boiled down to the fact that I'm not terribly interested in drinking or taking drugs, but don't sequester myself from those who might be otherwise inclined, and Show appears to be the same way. In that interview with Straight Edge Worldwide he talks about going out and having fun not drinking even when friends around him are, but he'll occasionally run across someone perplexed by his sobriety. That friction pops up in the first part of the chorus for "XXX (Straight Edge)," which goes "why waste a good night out being straight-edge?" It's a smart tune that melds the thoughts and routines of someone who has "the edge" and someone who downs shots, hits bongs, and snorts lines. The song's title and artwork are clearly indebted to Minor Threat, but the music is actually the downcast instrumental El-P uses on "The Overly Dramatic Truth," from 2007's I'll Sleep When You're Dead.

"XXX (Straight Edge)" is off Show's forthcoming One Man Pizza Party 4: Slice After Death, which comes out Tue 7/23 on influential streetwear brand and music label Mishka. Stream the track below, and if you like what you hear, vote for ShowYouSuck to perform at North Coast Music Festival at Do312's website.

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