For the past few days, I’ve been looking out for new music to grab for the Song of the Day. But sometimes you need to retreat from all of the new voices clamoring for attention, and instead remember some of the more formative ones from artists who made an impact on your life, and whose music you still enjoy.
I realize that this decision inherently makes every Song of the Day slightly biased. But I would argue that part of my job is to share the music that I know and love with the world, and hopefully introduce even one person to a song that they can appreciate.
Tldr: I’ll get back to the new stuff, but I’m also going to occasionally share a favorite or two along the way.
“Strange Ways” is the sixteenth track on “Madvillain” a collaborative album made by MF Doom and Madlib. But don’t search for the album under either of those names. For this one-time project, the two created the team Madvillainy.
Unlike most MF Doom songs, which can be difficult to interpret, “Strange Ways” is relatively straightforward. It consists of two verses that paint two different social and political ideas.
In the first verse, MF Doom makes an observation that the police force gets paid for stopping crimes that they also commit, namely murder. The way that MF Doom paints this picture is by revealing the fears and motivations behind a police officer and a common criminal. He does this so well that he can do it in as little as six lines:
He see as just another felony drug arrest
Any day could be the one he pick the wrong thug to test
Slug through the vest, shot in the street
For pulling heat on a father whose baby’s gotta eat
And when they get hungry, it ain’t shit funny
Paid to interfere with how a brother get his money
In the second verse, MF Doom sets his gaze on global war, criticizing it for its high death toll, and how it never causes harm to those who have the power to start and end conflicts. While he does this, however, Doom also draws comparisons between the soldiers on both sides. This one is a little longer, coming in at eight lines:
They pray four times a day, they pray five
Who ways is strange when it’s time to survive
Some will go of they own free will to die
Others take them with you when they blow sky high
What’s the difference? All you get is lost children
While the bosses sit up behind the desks, it cost billions
To blast humans in half, into calves and arms
Only one side is allowed to have bombs