Dukes is a beatsmith, historian and mailman hailing from the south of The Netherlands. He knows more about politics than you and is as nuanced as a brick through your car’s front window. This is his exclusive column for TRU. (the opinions expressed by Dukes are solely those of Dukes and do not represent the TRU board of editors).
The winter has finally set in. The snow has started falling from the sky. I love this time of the year. Going outside after a thorough Timbs and hood check, wearing my Northface jacket, mp3 player in my pocket and just start strolling through our beautiful city’s centre. The mp3 player is crucial ’cause otherwise you hear people hating on this great season and talk trash about the temperature, the long, dark nights or some trains that don’t ride according to the regular schedule. Fuck that, it’s snowing. Whatever happened to the Charles Dickens in you? Make a snowman with your kids, drink some glühwein and shut the fuck up.
Last Tuesday we entered the annual mailmen’s Tet Offensive known as the Christmas shift. The hours are ridiculous; get up at four in the morning, start working at six and die seven times by the time you’re finished, all to make sure nice little families get their annual batch of Christmas cards. We do this shit three weeks straight with six days work a week – seven if you’re really into that Protestant work ethic, but I don’t believe I’ll go to hell if I take one day off. After all, God said to honor this day and I tend to oblige that commandment, be it with a heavy hangover, playing GoldenEye 007 and watching American Chopper re-runs.
Back to the workplace, the place where the working class heroes dwell. The music being played over there is terrible. It’s either one co-worker banging out a bizarre mix of disco classics, Dutch Schlagers and ’90s euro house in which I suspect to be a campaign of psychological warfare against the company or, – if we are lucky – the regular radio programming which plays crappy 1980s rock classics and Wham or Mariah Carey’s Christmas carols. It sucks anyhow. At the worksite we already have a higher than average amount of cult heroes than most companies have, but the weeks around Christmas it’s blown totally outta proportion. To cope with this busy period we hire about anybody, idiots and alcoholics included. Bukowski gave us a insight into their world and motivations: “It was the Christmas season and I learned from the drunk up the hill, who did the trick every Christmas, that they would hire damned near anybody, and so I went.”
So what do you do after you survived the indoor part of the everyday struggle? You go outside into a frozen world listening to some music on your mp3 player. Some people prefer to listen to the same music all year long, but when I’m freezing my balls off, Manu Chao or the Buena Vista Social Club just don’t cut it. I need some grimy hip-hop to give me the energy to go to war with the climate. So here is my all time top 5 of records to play when walking through frozen concrete hell delivering tons and tons of Christmas cards.
5. Mobb Deep – The Infamous Accept no substitute. Perhaps The War Report comes close, but there never was a better QB record made for the winter. It ain’t no pretty boy shit. You don’t rock exclusive sneakers during this season. Hav’ gave mailmen worldwide the advice of a lifetime when he proclaimed “fuck looking cute I’m strictly Timb boots and army certified suits.”
4. Roc Marciano – Marcberg It’s sparse, it’s honest, it’s more or less like winter itself is. Back to basics. You just can’t beat it. “Snow, let’s go, finesse the flow, fresh dressed from head to toe, let em’ know, on wit the show, we used to play the corner for dough. Rain…hail…snow.” You can keep your Young Jeezy records, this is all the motivation I need.
3. Onyx – All We Got Iz Us To me, this is Onyx’ best record. Bacdafucup is too happy for me. Probably the jazz samples or something, I don’t know. When it’s the 24th of December and you see families gathering near the Christmas tree while you still have to walk five blocks worth of mail, screaming along to songs like ‘Last Dayz’ and ‘All We Got Iz Us’ somehow makes the pain of a frozen nutsack and numb feet a bit easier to cope with. After all, these Evil Streets are rough.
2. GZA – Liquid Swords Beat-wise by far the greatest records of the first generation Wu-Tang solo records. During this season you can’t go wrong with any album that features a track called ‘Cold World.’ You suddenly recognize Killah Priest’s intellect as he proclaims that he judges wisely ’cause nothing ever surprises him. You didn’t. Otherwise you wouldn’t be plowing through a blizzard to deliver the Christmas cards of people you don’t know.
1. Cannibal Ox – The Cold Vein “It’s a cold world out there, sometimes I think I’m getting a little frosted myself.” This is the ultimate Cold World record. It’s harsh, it’s grimey, it feels claustrophobic, it just gives you the edge you need when reenacting Tintin in Tibet in your local concrete jungle. When you want to feel warm blood in your near frozen body The Cold Vein is the way to go.
After the long shifts are over I get home, try to do some other things but most years it’s just kicking of your Timbs, try to eat at least something before you slip into a coma from which you’re rudely awaken at four in the next morning, and then the cycle starts again. If you ever wanna test the reality of the Marxist theory of Verelendung, our Christmas shift is the time to do so. John Lennon said it best: “a working class hero is something to be.”