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Jams and slams
Hitting the mat with Massachusettsís latest underground rap prodigy; plus Daughters, the Explosion, and Boy in Static
BY CHRIS RUCKER

You may have seen John Cena body-slamming muscle-bound suckers on television, or throwing fists in the middle of sold-out arenas. But though millions know the West Newbury homeboy as a WWE World Champion and the star of WWEís top-rated Smackdown television franchise (in his words, heís the WWEís "number-one motherfucker"), this full-time neck breaker is also a part-time rapper. His "freestyles" have long part of his WWE ring routine, but last week, his Columbia Records debut, You Canít See Me, hit the streets.

It goes without saying that the cutthroat and ultra-critical hip-hop world is going to cock the hammer on this dude. But itís not as if the former Springfield College football player didnít see it coming. "I know what Iím up against. I know people are going to dismiss me as a hip-hop artist out of hand because they think thereís no way a white wrestler could rap. I busted my ass for three years writing songs and improving my skills to prove these people wrong. Whether you love or hate this record, I donít think you can deny its authenticity."

Cena does have roots in underground hip-hop: he recently made a cameo in a video by Def Juxís Murs, and producer Bumpy Knuckles (a/k/a Freddie Foxx) provides a beat for the first single, "Iím a Bad Man." (The video includes a cameo by Gary Coleman.) You Canít See Me also boasts appearances by Hieroglyphics and local wunderkinder 7L & Esoteric, whom Cena has known since they were in a high-school group called Speech Impediment with his cousin, a rapper who went by the name Trademark. Speech Impediment were Cenaís introduction to hip-hop, and he got hooked on the old-school flavor that Trademark and the crew provided. They were a big influence on the 17-track disc recorded at Bass Camp Studios in Lynnfield ó as he notes, "You almost never hear a rap crew today working like EPMD or 3rd Bass."

Esoteric, for one, hopes the hip-hop underground embraces Cena. "People immediately want to disqualify John because heís the number-one guy in an industry thatís built on gimmicks. Listen to him rhyme and youíll be able to tell he sounds better than a lot of the people doing it on any level. This record is not a novelty record; this is Johnís heart and soul." Eso acknowledges that Cenaís WWE identity will be the first thing people note about the disc. "The WWE gave him an opportunity to voice it to millions of people, so heíd be a fool not to embrace it. Bottom line: John has always been a hip-hop head."

Hydrahead ó the former Boston label now ensconced in LA ó has signed the Providence spazzcore outfit Daughters. No word yet on plans for the groupís next full-length; theyíre still on tour supporting 2003ís Canada Songs (Robotic Empire), but a recent demo is available at www.wearedaughters.com. . . . The Explosion have recorded a song for Activisionís Fantastic Four video game: itís the theme for the Human Torch, and the group describe the music as a rockabilly-ish tune influenced by the old Sun Studio guitar sound. They play the Middle East this Friday. . . . Allston glitch-pop savant Boy in Static, whose debut, Newborn, was released on the Notwistís Alien Transistor label, is heading to Europe in June to open for the Notwist/Anticon side project 13&God. Check out the cool, impressionistic flash-animation video for the BIS song "Bellyfull" at www.bellyfull.tv, or see the band tonight (May 12) at T.T. the Bearís with Stereo Total. . . . And tune into WFNX this Sunday night for a special two-hour edition of New England Product. Hatebreed frontman and Headbangers Ball host Jamey Jasta is making the trip up to my show, and heís bringing a host of dangerous dudes including Lord Ezec (a/k/a Danny Diablo), frontman for Crown of Thornz and Skarhead. Bane will be in the house celebrating the release of their outstanding new The Note. And weíll have tons of giveaways from Stillborn Records, Victory, Equal Vision, Deathwish Inc., Bridge9, 1917 Records, and more.

Chris Rucker is the host of New England Product, which airs Sundays from 9 to 10 p.m. on WFNX 101.7 FM.


Issue Date: May 13 - 19, 2005
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