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3am Review





CRACKER BUDDHISTS - THE MUSIC OF THE WHITETRASH SHAOLIN



"The music of Whitetrash Shaolin is experimental, enlightened, and compelling. There's a unique sound to the mix that turns the many layers of each song into a coherent, fun, and interesting song. Whether it's Elvis or Aliens, each track is worth the listen."

By Jim Martin

COPYRIGHT © 2003, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Rap music let me down a long time ago. I was one of the early fans, and despite the fact that I was a suburban middle-class honky child, I was passionate about it. This was before I discovered punk rock and at a time when popular music did everything it could to avoid being enlightening.

I had to travel on a bus for an hour and a half to get to a store that had a decent selection. I'd be there for hours figuring out who was what. EPMD. Public Enemy. Ice T. The DOC. NWA. Eric B and Rakim. I loved it all.

There were plenty of shitty bands on the scene, though. 2 Live Crew were overpaid perverts with nothing more to offer than tales of sexual exploits they were far too ugly to have experienced, and Jeff and the Prince were an embarrassing comedy duo.

Then one day I woke up to find rap on the radio. But it wasn't the moving, political, angst-filled music I had enjoyed at all. It was a pissing contest. It was "I fucked your girl. I can kick your ass. I'm better than you." I saw powerful bands like Public Enemy get buried. I saw Ice T take a leap forward by using a real band instead of just a DJ and get called a sell-out by the so-called rap fans as they ate up whatever the next crop of generic, consumerist, conformist rap stars muttered. Eventually, I gave up.

Then one day I got myself an email from The Sensei asking me if he could send me a copy of his band Whitetrash Shaolin's CD, Enlightentainment. Something about the way he asked just seemed to capture my thoughts, so I decided to give the boys a shot. One song, chosen at random from their web site, and if I didn't like it, I'd turn them down. One song couldn't hurt, and if it was terrible, I'd just cut it short.

I knew nothing about them, so I chose the song that I thought had the cutest name, Wisdom & Whiskey & Dharma. It reminded me of something that the good Reverend Horton Heat would have written. I gave it a listen.

And loved it.

When I got the CD, I was prepared for the worst. I mean, how many times have you bought a CD for a particular track and wound up hating the rest of the album? But as I listened, I found that the things I loved about Wisdom & Whiskey & Dharma were to be found throughout the CD.

The music of Whitetrash Shaolin is experimental, enlightened, and compelling. There's a unique sound to the mix that turns the many layers of each song into a coherent, fun, and interesting song. Whether it's Elvis or Aliens, each track is worth the listen.

Rap may have let me down on the whole, but every now and then you get a band like Whitetrash Shaolin that keep you aware of the fact that the real music isn't on the radio, it's in the hearts of the bands out there on the streets.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim Martin is a chief editor at 3am Magazine and a Senior Editor at Newtopia Magazine. He is the frontman for an unknown punk band called Johnny Incognito. He has been published in both fiction and non-fiction in publications like 3am, Newtopia, Canadian Content, Mob Hit Productions, Scapegrace, Images Inscript, Comerade, and House of Pain Magazine. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.





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