Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Judge Kuffner’s Fifteen Minutes

May 22nd, 2009 · 4 Comments

With our compadre Ta-Nehisi thinking deep thoughts and WEFUNK providing our daily soundtrack, hip-hop’s been on Microkhan’s brain all week—yes, even more so than usual. And the question we’ve been asking ourselves is what, exactly, separates the wheat from the chaff in the land of lyricism? Is it pure mastery of metaphor? Yeats-like poetic timing? Reckless bravado? Or perhaps some witches brew that combines all three, along with myriad other ingredients that our musically ungifted mind will forever strain to identify.

We do know what we like, however, and one thing we’ve always adored is esoteric specificity. Such is the case with Ghostface’s rightly celebrated verse on “Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours” (above), in which he offers the following couplet:

This souped up, individual stuck, the new stuff
Same kid cryin’ on the stand with Judge Cuffner

We spent years wondering who this “Judge Cuffner” might be, if not a figment of Tony Starks’ fertile imagination. Well, mystery solved, by none other than the man’s son:

My father, while he was still a judge, once revoked ODB’s probation and sent him to prison. For his efforts, he became a lyric on “Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours” from the double CD “Wu-Tang Forever”.

That’s been the stuff of family legend ever since…According to Dad, ODB had a great lawyer (now a New York State Senator) who kept his client out of jail for quite some time by coming up with new and innovative rehab programs to replace the one ODB had just failed to meet, but Dad’s patience finally ran out, and the rest is history.

Somehow, this knowledge makes us love the song all the more. Why is that?


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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Jordan

    I will be the first to admit that I miss a lot of lyrics in hip-hop. Sometimes my brain just can’t process quickly enough and it ends up being something more akin to Sigur Ros’ made up language: I enjoy it for the sound of the words. Hence I also tend to care a bit more than usual about the production. For instance, I’ll be the first to admit that Doom is an awesome MC. However, Madvillain didn’t do much for me until I heard the Four Tet remixes of the album.

  • Mike

    Method Man mentions Judge Cuffner in the new Legendary Weapons album on the track Diesel Fluid.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Mike: Thanks for the tip. I guess the late judge’s extended fame is disproving Andy Warhol’s adage about everyone getting 15 minutes of fame. He’s well into his 16th minute now.

  • Album Review: Wu-Tang: Legendary Weapons | antisteez.com

    […] around, it’s just us. They tell me only God can judge us, but they ain’t ever met Judge Kuffner. I’m looking at this cracker on the bench, don’t understand, I only sold crack to pay […]