April – and Ambulance Chasers
It’s 10:15 on a Wednesday night and Doc Waffles is standing on a curb downtown, answering via cellphone outside the Old Miami with a show going on all blurting over the back of his shoulder from the swinging door entrance and he’s able to elucidate, still, with characteristic eloquence:
“…the best art works are the ones that don’t just appeal to the senses or to swift apprehension. It’s those that you have to marinate on and try to conceptualize further upon in distinct ways…”
He’s talking about his fifth album, Ambulance Chasers, out this week. (Listen: Doc Waffles (/ft. SelfSays) – “Wings Over Detroit”)
You can read a bit about this well-read rapper is this week’s print edition, but you won’t get the full flavor of his grandiloquence – even more so, you might not get that Chasers is actually an elaborately conceived allegory defying perceptions that “getting older means getting more disposable” and spurring reconsideration of personal-and-regional recuperation.
And something about jellyfish attacks, too…
“I was doing songs that were touching upon the idea of getting older and starting to deteriorate.” The spirit took him as he stepped over a wounded bird, “appearing to” him as “a sick hawk,” whilst grasping the last cigarette from his carton of Pall Mall’s and reading back it’s shiny gold Latin insignia: “in this sign, you will conquer…”
On his starry-night-drifitin’, heart-thumpin slow-dancer, “Hockey Fights,” Doc Waffles (otherwise known as Ben Ness when he’s working his day job in rare-book dealing) is actually about the durability of the tape-format. “They’re older, but they’re sturdier.”
While staying down on the southwest side of Detroit, he was perturbed by the prevalance of “ambulance-chasing-lawyer signage and propaganda,” noting one point on Trumble where a full 360 panorama could show four different Sam Bernstein billboards to a standing observer. As any lawyer would capitalize upon the personal injury of others, Waffles used these raps to capitalize upon his own pains and regretted past experiences for artistic/aesthetic gain. “Those experiences,” says Waffles, whose trodden a considerably rough road at times, “can be recuperated into a form of value if you do creative shit with it…”
“I’m always gonna be preoccupied with personal experience; my aim is negotiating those into meaningful artwork.” Experiences and specific memories, like an ethereal edification upon the soul, can be as unique and lasting as any presently-abandoned building or neglected space throughout this rough-wrung city of ours… “Detroit, where you can still find little beautiful pockets that can be recuperated, formed into new things and then giving them a different sort of energy.”
The bookish Waffles often toys with narratives and here, on the idea of memories, he’s sandwiching opportunistic lawyers into palette-clearing gargles. “The idea of the chaser as something to remove the bad taste; it’s pursuit, but also trying to take away something.”
The overarching exploration of the album becomes: finding the different forms of energies potentially mined in memory, people, objects and places.
On Chasers, Waffles gets the bad taste of relapses, ruined relationships out of his mouth; cleaning himself (back) up. Dark corners to dare illuminating and scouring, certainly, but “luckily” he was “blessed with a very whimsical attitude about things where I always wanna keep shit entertaining.”
“I feel like there’s so much plasticity and beauty in language, so much spontaneity and everything that can happen on chance encounters, collisions and meetings that I have no choice but to try to capture it.”