Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spare Time for Jokes

This is one that flew under a lot of heads' radars, I think... Of course, I can't imagine anyone reading this blog not having been well aware of Percee P's album on Stones Throw, Perseverance. And I certainly agreed with the common consensus: it was good, but not the fantastic album that heads had been waiting so long for. Why? Because instead of working with Showbiz, Premiere, Beatminerz, Pete Rock, Diamond (they had him rhyme but not produce? what?), Large Pro, Finesse, and all the other producers everybody expected and wanted him to work with (how about a couple tracks with Charlemagne? that would've been cool), the entire album was produced by Madlib. Who isn't bad, but he's A) not quite of the caliber of the producers I just listed and B) with his sensibilities, isn't such a good match-up.

So, hooray for great justice when it was announced that Stones Throw was releasing the entire album remixed, right? They were paying attention to the fans and critics, and were finally giving the people what they'd hoped for, right? No, actually Madlib did this entire album, too. This album was released on CD only (fitting, I guess), and it really just feels like someone bundled up all the versions Madlib decided not to use on Perseverance.

But, let's not be entirely negative... One of the good things is that this album doesn't use any of the 12" remixes that were released on Perseverance's singles. Those "Put It On the Line" remixes, the nice little "Hand That Leads You" 7" remix? Those are all unique to those singles. The remixes here are all new. When I finally broke down and ordered this, I was concerned I was gonna be buying half the songs over again, so I'm glad to report that's not the case.

In fact, there have been some changes to the track-listing since the original version... The sequence has been totally reshuffled, some titles have been arbitrarily changed (for example, "The Lady Behind Me" becomes "The Woman Behind Me"), and most notably, some songs have been dropped. Now, granted, "Intro" and "Outro" were no great losses (although, interestingly, the two "Interludes" have been included and remixed); but songs like "The Man To Praise" was more of a surprise to see left off. "Watch Your Step," "Master Craftsmen" and "Raw Heat" are the other MIA songs.

But, again, we're not being 100% negative here... a new song has been included! "Real Talk" is a fun, new song, with one of the best beats on the album, and a cool vocal sample being cut up for the hook. The lyrics are nice, too, although the first verse is actually lifted entirely from Percee's 1998 single, "The Weekend." As far as I can tell, the other two verses are all new, though (the CD booklet, like the original album, reprints the lyrics; but does not include this song). It's a nice little treat.

But, yeah, unfortunately, the rest is not so rewarding. Almost every version here is just an inferior version of the song on Perseverance. This is not the opportunity to correct mistakes some of us hoped for. "Put It On the Line" has the skeleton of a decent song... the bassline and all, but it's littered with with eclectic random "experimental" noises that just distract, clutter and make the whole experience an annoying listen. You might think "2 Brothers From the Gutter" might be improved upon by swapping out the video game samples for some old school sounds, but nah... it just sounds lazily throw together. The bass sounds awful on "The Hand That Leads You," "Legendary Lyricist" might've somehow managed to make the hook sound wacker than it did the first time, and "Who With Me" actually sounds like an improvement musically, except it doesn't match up with Percee's vocals, so the whole thing sounds off. Should I keep going? "The Dirt and the Filth" sounds weak and tinny, and the same with "Ghetto Rhyme Story" (changed from "Stories") and "Last of the Greats." "Throwback Rap Attack" basically drops his vocals over some non-hip-hop kettle drums and the result just sounds mad sloppy and certainly nothing you'll ever want to revisit.

But, still, there's another silver lining. "The Woman Behind Me" is at least as good as the album, and may even be a slight improvement. Percee's vocals are perhaps a little too overwhelmed by the vocal sample which is mixed very strongly over the track, but sounds dope. I don't know, I'll call it a tie. And "No Time for Jokes," his duet with Charli 2na, is the one remix that actually sounds markedly better than the album version. A headnodding beat and a chopped up flute sample that pulls you in immediately. Funky horns on the hook... a rhythm that matches Percee and 2na's flows perfectly... Hell, this beats the pants off the album version! This is the jewel of the album no doubt.

Now, you'll just have to decide if this CD (again, no vinyl available - just sayin') is worth the purchase for one semi-exclusive song and one banging remix. You may've noticed, but I'm not one to normally advocate downloading, buttt... If you've already got the LP... 0:-)


  1. I gotta agree with you on most of this. I was highly disappointed with both mixes of the Diamond D duet. Seriously, wtf were they thinking by not having him do the beat?

    I was happy when Perseverance dropped mainly because it was nice to finally have an entire Percee P album and to finally see him get some attention. I did like most of the album the first few plays, but I already knew Madlib was gonna do all the beats so my expectations were already crushed. Not saying that I don't like Madlib. He's one of the best most original doing it right now IMO.

    But I did get excited when I heard that it was getting remixed and was very disappointed with the outcome. I was actually seeing mad people saying that it was way better than the og. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks opposite.

    The one thing I disagree on is the remix for Ghetto Rhyme Story. I like it. Not better than the og, but dope. Here's the 2 samples-

    various artists - You Cant Blame Me

    Renaldo Domino - Never More Soul

    Found them both on separate 'Numero' releases, so Madlib was either really diggin deep for this or he was hitting up the 'Numero Group' releases.

  2. Yeah, that was pretty solid, but I guess "Ghetto Rhyme Stories" was my favorite beat on the original LP, so it still felt like a let-down.