Written by Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy (@danielmondon)
There’s no biting in wrestling. Sure, someone may gnaw on a finger here and there, but the act of jacking another performer’s style is not something to would raise an eyebrow at. As a matter of fact, it’s expected an indicator of the passage of time: new performers inherit older identities and moves. Famously, Ric Flair—modern hip-hop’s favourite rapper if we’re going off Pusha T records and Killer Mike interviews—inherited the persona of “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, one of television’s first wrestling stars. Flair was brazen about what he took wholesale from Rogers: his peacock strut around the ring, the arrogance, the “Nature Boy” moniker, and so forth. Because it was wrestling, this is common knowledge. Some grumble at Flair’s adoption of his less famous counterpart’s style, but most accept or claim ignorance of it. Wrestling is a ludicrous world, but it’s a sport of remarkable fluidity too. You work with it.
Flair’s/Roger’s finishing move, the Figure Four leg lock, wouldn’t leave my mind when listening to Oochie’s recent mixtape, Dewprint 2. I was struck by how many of the DC rapper’s expressions were plucked from other mixtape stars, and how unsubtle these references were. On first exposure to his music, I called his style “dunderheaded ad-lib pageantry”, unable to find any value. He was slurring his way through the collected oeuvres of Juicy J, Future, Lil B, Waka Flocka Flame, Fat Trel and most noticeably Gucci Mane, lifting their identities and vaporizing them into free-floating trails of nothing.
On Dewprint 2, he finds ways to make these liftings work to his benefit. Appropriately, the turning point arrives in the block-headed “Question of the Day” with a wrestling reference: “I got two words for ya – SUCK IT!” That catchphrase paraphrases the entrance for WWE tag team the New Age Outlaws, a pair that helped to epitomize the profane Attitude Era of professional wrestling. That off-hand joke lets you know a lot about Oochie: he’s crude, he’s young enough to find the “suck it” routine funny while old enough to have witnessed it on TV, and he’s able to draw from experiences unrelated to the last five years of Datpiff downloads. Then you hear the line that the ad-lib’s supporting: “how much dick would ya main bitch suck if ya main bitch would suck wood?” Another gag, with lyrical dexterity reduced to a playground tongue-twister, somehow softening and powering up the regressiveness of the gag. A few songs later, he turns a Karate Kid reference into a series of squawks and titles the song “Danielson” [sic].
The cultural references and their presentation are immature, but they present a world Oochie occupies, where biting dissolves into a series of chameleonic collages. Rather than distracting from the music, the borrowing strengthens his character—an immature mush mouthed slang merchant. When he yells out “SQUAD,” “Skrrrt!” or “It’s Oochie!” in the same way you’d hear “it’s Gucci!”, it sounds cheeky, an artist trying on identities, flexing through all the Figure Four leg locks until he lands on his own calling card. Late in the tape, he comes to “Quarles Money,” a tightly executed rundown of dead friends and the experience of trapping at fifteen years old. Strongly written and rapped, it takes you back with its relative lack of lifted identities, hitting like a sucker punch. When you least expect it, the biter gives you something worth chewing on.