Monday, June 15, 2009
This is a testament to the record collecting truism: whatever you're searching for, just wait long enough, and eventually you'll find it. I have been looking for this one for-freaking-ever, or more specifically, since December 1994.
That's the month that Rap Sheet printed a review of Rappin' Is Fundamental's independent comeback single on "Sole Survivor Records." Now, this was back before you could just dial anything up on the internet, so it was pretty damn tricky to find an indie 12" if you didn't live in a key city with a dope hip-hop minded record store in it. So, it's no grand statement to say that I wasn't able to find this in stores when it dropped (though, believe me, I was checking).
Finally, in the early 2000's, I posted on the Vinyl Exchange boards in a thread where we discussed if rumored records even actually existed. Somebody actually had a copy, and though he was hanging onto his, he hooked me up with label scans and sound clips, which both proved it existed and helped set me straight on some key details. See, I had been looking for a record of "Helluva Guy" (see the review, right). But that's actually the B-side. The A-side is "You Ain't Really Down." They also list the label as being "Sole Survivor Records, rather than the correct Soul Survivor Records... which isn't a huge deal, but will certainly mess up any online searches if you're looking for one and typing in the other.
Well, anyway, I finally got my hands on a copy this past week. And, in the end, it wasn't even too expensive (thank goodness, considering the current state of economic affairs). Oh yeah, and it's great!
Now, I don't know why the reviewer is carrying on about how "RIF hooked up with Producer Easy Moe Bee," considering Bee is a founding member, and has always been one third of the group. But he's spot on with his praise, "carefully singing along with the rap while the slow funk beat rolls smoothly. Fat bass and pure 1960 sounding soul music combined with '94 hip-hop sets it off lovely." This is some of the best work by everybody involved, and when it comes to production from Easy Mo Bee, that's really saying something.
This 12" features two killer, soulful tracks and two perfect performances by RIF. "You Ain't Really Down" was my immediate favorite, but "Helluva Guy" has grown on me to be right up there. The different flows and voices, the harmonizing, the super smooth jazz samples... shit is killer. The rhymes are a bit simple, but who cares? It sounds great. And they don't stick to a simple "rap the verse then sing the hook" formula. They kick new, different harmonizing routines throughout the song, sometimes for just a single line. And yet it's still straight, 100% hip-hop... no lame-ass "neo-soul vibes" here.
It's really a crime that these guys never put out a second album. But at least there's this. And this is great. Seriously, this is some of my favorite shit ever. RIF, if you're reading this, you need to reunite. ...And also put out any older, unreleased material you've got in the vaults. I know you've got some, dammit!