Sunday, October 6, 2013
Who is Black A.G.?
So, here's the deal with this guy. He's actually kind of a vet. Black A.G.'s from Chicago and put out his first self-pressed 12" single in 1991 called "Fame Goes To Your Head" b/w "No Typa Drugdeala," produced by his DJ and one of Tung Twista's earliest producers, Quick Silver Cooley. He followed that up with a song for an obscure compilation album called Conquest of a Nation; and then proceeded to drop a bunch of very hard-to-find CDs throughout the 90s (Tell the Truth, Paper Story and Fuck Whatcha Think). Like a lot of these guys, the later stuff got more gangstery and g0funky, with sung hooks, slower beats, lower energy raps, etc. So it's just the early stuff that DJs and heads really get caught up seeking on vinyl.
Works for me; and that's what we see here. His original 12" track "Fame Goes To Your Head," that compilation song I mentioned, "There It Is," plus four previously unreleased tracks, all recorded between 1991-1995. But did you notice something missing? The original 12" B-side, "No Typa Drugdeala." It ain't on here. Hm. I know Dope Folks generally tries to keep their wax down to three songs per side. When you start cramming a lot of music all on one LP, the sound quality starts to take a dive... that's why big budget albums are usually double LPs - higher quality. Cold Chillin' used to cram a lot onto one LP and listen to how bad some of those got.
So, yeah. Maybe Dope Folks had acquired so much material from him they felt was superior that "No Typa" just didn't make the cut? I don't know. But buyer, just be aware that it's absent; so if you end up really feeling this EP, then it's still worth tracking down the original 12" to get that last song.
But let's focus on what IS here, because it's really good. The EP starts with "There It Is" which combines the basic loop from Big Daddy Kane's "Ain't No Half Steppin'" (or AMG's "Jiggable Pie," if you prefer) and then layers a bunch of tough samples on top of it. It's more hardcore than those tracks, but never gets too overcrowded to the point of being just noise; it's a straight up "timbs and hoodie" banger. Then we get the original "Fame Goes To Your Head." The rapping's good, though not as hardcore, but again it's the deep production that stands out, with enough samples to make two or three hip-hop instrumentals all married together.
Then the unreleased stuff sounds a little newer. I'm guessing that's it for the 1991 end of the "1991-1995" spectrum, and the rest are all from 1995 or thereabouts. There's big, west coast influenced p-funk beats in there that remind of me of 90's era Rodney O & Joe Cooley, while another track uses Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" just like Scarface's "One Minute To Pray and a Second To Die." But what sets it apart, again, is Quicksilver's multiple layers. Yeah, he loops up it up the same way, vocal snippet and all; but then he adds more records to the mix, keeping it fresh. And we end things out with an catchy if unimpressive "I Got a Man" style back-and-forth, line-for-line duet with a female MC who goes uncredited and some really loud keyboards. Overall, the unreleased material isn't as great as the previously released stuff; but it's still great to have finally gotten it out to the world, it shows Black and Cooley are a talented pair; and I do quite like one of the songs called "My Revenge."
So, overall I recommend this, but especially for people who don't already have the original tracks, because those are the best. Or for longtime fans, of course, who've been collecting his entire catalog. This is definitely some of his best material. Dope Folks also hits us off with a sticker cover again (I was really missing the stickers on some of there most recent releases), replicating the picture cover from the original "Fame Goes To Your Head" CD. Definitely appreciated.
Oh, and he's still around today, by the way. Somebody caught up with him in 2010. Here he is being interviewed in a youtube video, and kicking a freestyle at the end. I'd question his claim to be have made the first Chicago indie label with his label in 1991. Just off the top of my head, the Rhyme Poets put out their first album in 1989 - wasn't that their own label? Anyway, he has his own Youtube channel now, with several new songs (as of 2012), with an announced upcoming album called My Time To Shine. Personally, I'll stick with the early 90s material... but I am curious to hear "No Typa Drugdeala."