Finnegans Shake

Ghostface gets all James Joyce on us.

Ghostface Killah's epic Fishscale is the Finnegans Wake of 2006: a dense, textured creation rich with wordplay, visions, rants, and insanity. It's a kaleidoscopic crack-house opera, a true-crime novel, a Coppola screenplay. Ghostface's machine-gun rhymes fly out of the speakers so fast that by the time you've dodged one, you've been slain by a dozen others. How is anyone supposed to keep up? Now that we're starting to digest the masterwork (and the lyrics have been posted online), Outtakes thinks it's time to offer a CliffsNotes-style synopsis of the stunning opening track, "Shakey Dog":

We're riding around in a taxi smoking marijuana that smells like the fish they sell on 125th Street. The music is up loud, and we're drinking Grey Goose gimlets. I'm with a man named Frank, who's wearing a hooded sweatshirt. We are eating French fries with ketchup. Oops. Move the seat up. I accidentally spilled tartar sauce on my new shoes. We stop in front of a crack house. I load my gun and keep an eye on that 77-year-old bag lady standing in the door. She works for Kevin and keeps a shotgun in that hallway. That lady killed Kevin's brother-in-law at his boss' wedding but fled to Venezuela when the FBI started investigating.

We're headed to the third floor. Don't be paranoid, Frank. You've got a bigger gun than they do. You could go all Three Stooges on those guys. You could steal their cocaine, their Krispy Kreme donuts, kill them, go to jail, and still come out victorious. But I'm going to carry the money. We'll divvy it up later at the Marriott Hotel.

As we approach, we can see them in their living room drinking rum and watching Sanford and Son. One of them is eating plantains and rice, and the other is eating T-bone steak with big round onions on it. I'm hungry. I want some of it.

I knock on the door. "If they reach for their guns, Frank, kill them."

"Who's there?"

"Tony," I say.

"Tony? Hold on. You're always supposed to call first." He opens the door, and I point the gun at him. I tell him to lie down on the ground and enjoy the moment. Frank takes the guy's gun and cold-cocks him with it. "Where are the drugs and the money!?"

His Spanish-speaking, big-breasted wife is on the couch. She runs toward the kitchen and shoots at us. She trips, falls, breaks her wrist, and drops her gun. "Where is the cocaine!?" She doesn't answer. Frank kills her.

Look out! Here comes their big-headed pit bull, Bruno! He's got big teeth and is foaming at the mouth! I'm scared! Frank screams! He fires into the air, and a bullet bounces off the refrigerator and grazes my ear. Frank kills the pit bull, runs to the bathroom, and puts two bullets in a security guard's head. The cocaine is hidden in a vacuum cleaner, but a skinny man and a big man with a scar are guarding it. Frank shoots the skinny man, but the big guy shoots back and kills Frank. — Randall RobertsThough sometimes categorized as a simple nü-metal band, Tool is known for crafting songs about philosophy, mathematics, religion, and transcendence through time and space. Each album evolves to a new musical level while also reflecting on progressively higher planes of reality. With that in mind, Outtakes decided to "turn on, tune in, and drop out" by comparing the progressive rockers' albums to renowned drug researcher and psychologist Timothy Leary's eight-tiered model of brain consciousness. Each of Leary's stages of brain consciousness relates to an evolutionary stage of brainpower and can be stimulated by specific classes of drugs.

Opiate (1992): Bio-Survival or opioid circuit. This particular circuit is concerned with the most basic of human actions and needs. Album name aside, as Tool's first recording, Opiate is the most primal of the band's albums. Tool's musical talent is evident on this album but not refined. Singer Maynard James Keenan's lyrics relate to basic human survival, particularly in "Sweat."

Undertow (1993): Combines the emotional (alcohol) and sociosexual (ecstasy) circuits. Pure emotion drives the entire album, expressed through a range of intense screams to melancholy, monk-like chanting. Rage and sexual violence come together in the controversial song "Prison Sex."

javascript:passCharacter('198')nima (1996): Neuroelectric or psilocybin circuit. This stage of brain consciousness is concerned with the mind's becoming independent of itself and possibly developing telepathic communication. The album, particularly "javascript:passCharacter('198')nema," is concerned with shedding the excess baggage of regular life. Tracks like "Forty Six & 2" and "Third Eye" reference human brain evolution through the formation of chromosomes and awakening of sight through the telepathic third eye.

Lateralus (2001): Neurogenetic or LSD circuit. According to Leary, awakening of this circuit of the brain allows access to collective human consciousness and past-life memories. The time sequence of "Lateralus" follows the Fibonacci sequence of numbers that is commonly found in nature. The artwork of the album also features levels of anatomy of the human body, ending with the spiritual layer that connects all beings to a higher power.

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