Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Final Father! The Secret, Nasty One Nite Stand

Citizens of the world, we did it!  With this very post in September 2017, we have officially covered every single Father MC 12" single!  From his obscure indie debut to his major label peak to his early indie comebacks, to his test-pressing only Luke Records single to his obscure later comebacks and so many in between.  We did it all.  And now, today, we look at the last remaining hold-out: 1992's "One Nite Stand" on MCA Records.  And I've got three different pressings for ya.

"One Nite Stand" was the lead single off of Father's second album, Close To You, and featuring his reunion with Mary J. Blige.  His only other single off the album would feature his reunion with Jodeci, showing how he was already becoming overshadowed by his more famous back-up singers.  People were coming to Father MC records to hear what Mary J. and Jodeci were going to do more than Father himself.  But this time, Mary J. isn't really what's interesting here.

Produced by DJ Eddie F of Heavy D and the Boyz, the instrumental for "One Nite Stand" is a simple but addictive merging of "Microphone Fiend" with the bassline from "Funky Sensation."  Yeah, there's a little extra new jack noodling on top of that, but it's basically just those two loops synced up into something fresh.  And the hook, of course, is sung by Mary J Blige.  But unlike her previous records with Father, or Jodeci's records with Father, where they sing their hearts out and steal the spotlight, all Mary does here is sing the one line with two different inflections, and it's looped.  Honestly, it sounds like Eddie F made a chorus out of a studio outtake Mary intended for some other record.  And it's alright; she certainly doesn't reach any dramatic notes.  It's the kind of performance any random back-up singer could cough up, but it's catchy enough over the funky track.

And lyrically, this is before Father adopted the player pimp persona, so he raps some nice verses about how he's interested in more than just one thing ("I wanna get to know ya because I don't want to do you," "sex ain't my appetite; I just wanna treat ya right").  It's a novel concept that he spends the song disagreeing with his hook: "all you want from me is a one night stand," Mary implores, which Father always rejects with a simple, "Nah, baby."  That doesn't come around too often.  He even ends the song with a special, spoken word message to all the women of the world.  "One Nite Stand"'s not exactly a heady, intellectual rap ("I'm all about fun, honeybun, so come and check me out"), but it's a well produced, upbeat song with a positive message.

And now, looking at the different pressings, we've got the basic promo 12" with the black and white label and plain yellow sleeve on the left, and the retail release with the full color label and glossy picture cover in the center.  Musically, though, those two 12"s are the same, with the Radio Version and Eddie's Instrumental on side A and Eddie's Mix on side B.  Is Eddie's Mix some new, 12" exclusive remix?  No, it's just the album version.  The Radio Version (also the one used for the music video) is exactly the same as the album version/ Eddie's Mix except it fades right out after Father's message.  So it's about a minute shorter.  The fuller version has an extra horn solo, where they play the famous fake horn riff from Slick Rick's "The Ruler's Back."  Admittedly, it's pretty kitschy, but I like it.  Mary actually comes back, too, to sing another line ("'cause you don't care") a couple times, and this is actually where she sounds the most vivacious and breathes some extra life into the song.  So stick around for the full version of this song.

That's the basic promo version, which there's a billion copies of on vinyl and CD all over the world.  But on the right is a very different promo 12" with a different track-listing and a genuine, exclusive remix.  A vocal remix, even, with an all new rap; how about that?  Bet you didn't know about this one, Father MC fans!

The Tone Capone Mix, co-produced by Tony Dofat and Puff Daddy, features a moodier, much tougher beat with hard drums, sparse bass notes and sporadic jazz stabs.  It's a pretty good track, but it really doesn't jell with Mary J's hook.  It feels like this beat was made for a different song.  Except for Father's new verses; those sound tailored to this track, and the vibe of the song is totally flipped.  This could be considered more of a sequel song, e.g. "One Nite Stand Pt 2" than a remix.  A bitter, angry sequel.  "My Nubian sista, I wanna get wit cha" has become "my Nubian sista, I wanted to get wit ya," and instead of saying "nah, baby" to every accusation of only wanting a one night stand, he says "yeah, baby."  

But don't get me wrong, that's not all that's changed.  All the rap verses have been completely replaced with new ones.  Now he says, "baby, don't play me like you're all of that, sugar; you should slow down and realize where ya at."  We're not exactly talking Ice Cube here, but he's definitely coming harder, "so now, I know where you're comin' from, honeybun, ya tongue is callin' for the dark one. I got flavor, forget what other's gave ya.  My name is Father so, honey, don't bother."  And this time, yeah, he definitely does want to do you.  "I want panties on the floor, and your bras unstrapped, because Father MC is gonna taste your cat.  No nappin' allowed because it's time to work your body.  No need to drop your panties if the dug-out is knotty.  I'm in the mood to get a kiss - thank you.  Grab you, lay you on my knee and then spank you."

It's not amazing, but it's not bad; and it's fun how he reverses his stance from the original version.  It's like a dark secret version of the song.  And I guess they really liked the idea of changing his saying "nah, baby" to "yeah" in answer to Mary J. Blige, but I think they should've really should've gone the extra distance and gotten a new chorus that fits the beat, which is otherwise kinda hot.  That miss-match is what holds the song back from working entirely on its own terms and probably kept it off the major DJs' mix-tapes back in the day.

This promo also has the album version and the Instrumental, which in this case is Tone Capone's new instrumental... a reason for heads to track this down even if they don't like Father or any R&B/ new jack rap stuff.  And finally there's "Daddy's Radio Remix," which is just a shortened, radio edit of Tone Capone's Mix.
Father's closing message from the Close To You cassette J-card.
So, now that I've covered every single Father MC single, where do we go from here?  Well, I don't think we've totally seen the end of Fam Body on this blog.  He's still got more guest appearances in his oeuvre that I'm sure I won't be able to resist.  And hey, maybe I'll decide to go super deep, and examine every single album track that never got released as a single.  Although, you know, I might hold out for a book deal before going that far.  😂  Plus, hey, this is only the end of Father MC's 12"s to date.  He could still put out a new one!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Lost Under Will Smith's Shadow

(Taking a look back at some pretty strong NY/ Philly rap acts that got overshadowed by the popularity of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.  Youtube version is here.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Lost Rappin Is Fundamental (and Craig Mack) Song(s)

(An obscure promo cassette of Easy Mo Bee's 2000 album reveals unreleased material by Rappin' Is Fundamental, Craig Mack and The Soul Survivors.  Youtube version is here.)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Did You Know Urban Dance Squad Recorded a Tribute To Scott La Rock?

Hey, did you guys know the Urban Dance Squad recorded a tribute to Scott La Rock?  I sure didn't; I just found it now.  That's largely because I never really listened to them.  The only real impression they made on me was back in 1990, when their video for "Deeper Shade Of Soul" used to play on Yo! MTV Raps constantly.  Lots of skateboarding in a swimming pool, the guitarist mugging to the camera, and a DJ shown doing scratches you didn't actually hear in the music.  That's what I remember.  It was a catchy sample, and they made major use of it; but I never liked the rapping even as a kid, so I never bought their album.

For me and most of us in the US, they were a little one hit wonder act that released one album on Arista and then disappeared.  But they're actually a Dutch band (they popped up on Cheez Steez vol. 1), and they apparently they were big over there, releasing six or seven major label albums on Virgin Records throughout the 90s.  Rudeboy's the MC, and the other guys are drummer Magic Stick, DJ DNA, and guitarists Silly Sil & Tres Manos.  The only other memory I have of them was back when I was working at The Source, and we were making an online database of every Hip-Hop artist.  Dave Mays sent a memo saying he looked at it and three artists on the list weren't actually Hip-Hop and should be taken off: Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch, 7L & Esoteric and the Urban Dance Squad.  I replied that if we're just taking off artists because they're wack then we'd have to remove the Made Men, too, and I never heard back about it and all the artists stayed.  ...The only other time I got a memo from Mays was when he sent one to correct me that "Super Rappin'" wasn't a Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five song, so I had to fax him a scan of the record label showing him that it was.

Anyway, the point is, I'd never listened to their one album that really sold here in the US, Mental Floss for the Mind.  That title's another thing that put me off it.  ...Never listened to it until this week.  And it's mostly what I expected.  Hip-Hop mixed with live rock music, which isn't bad, though all the live drums and guitars feels a little sloppy for a guy used to loops.  It definitely has a rock and roll vibe to it that doesn't appeal to me, and I still don't like the rapper.  There are some cool samples, like, the first song heavily uses the instrumental from "Strong Island," which sounds good, but guess what?  The JVC Force song is still a ton better, so why bother with this one?  That's kind of the album in a nutshell, and most of the best bits are front-loaded to the beginning of the album, so it gets weaker as it goes on.  But apparently they later really embraced the 90s rap/ rock thing on their later albums, and Mental Floss at least has a funkier vibe to it.

Anyway anyway, near the end of the tape, I was surprised to hear them suddenly rapping about Scott La Rock.  And there's no question that they mean the Scott La Rock.  They specifically go out of their way to sample "South Bronx" right after they say his name for the first time.

The song's called "Famous When You're Dead," and the whole thing isn't really about him.  They start out rapping about themselves, "our aim: we entertain to gain a place, maybe, in a hall of fame.  And If we don't reach this, the world's to blame."  And they slowly get to the overall concept of the song: tragically, a lot of great artists don't become famous until they're dead, "the people and the critics in the biz are impressed 'till my death, so make an album: 'The Best of Rudeboy's Raps.'  Yeah, twice as much money behind my back, now that's lame; too late to get, yeah, you're famous when you're dead. ... Now they fake it, when they try to weep.  Like a family scene, they all just wish it: to bury your body; they won't miss it. like a wife who is wicked.  She inherit, then you know her real spirit."  So there you go; if Rudeboy turns up dead, the police know who to look at.

But then the rest of the song suddenly becomes about Scott La Rock, starting out, "9 AM again, I wake up.  A cold shower, breakfast, time for pop.  Then I be in the mood for some lyrical rock.  I pop in a tape in my deck: Scott La Rock."  Because that's what Scott La Rock's known for... his lyrical rock.  I guess "rap" wouldn't have rhymed as well with "Rock" as "rock" does.  And yeah, he did actually rap at least once or twice in his career, but wouldn't it make more sense to reference his cuts or production rather than his lyrics?

He continues, "superstar status he never lacked, but the words of mouth were final on wax.  The extravagant life came to an end, a nine millimeter and a glock went bang."  Get it?  Because BDP had a song called "9mm Goes Bang," so they're imagining that the gun that shot him was a 9mm.  I'm not sure that's in such great taste.  And again, more about his "words" on wax.  I know they're not from New York, but they had to know Krs-One was the vocalist, right?  It's kinda weird.  The whole song's kinda weird.  Rudeboy keeps mispronouncing words, which makes his verses hard to decipher (he turns "recognition" into a six or seven syllable word); I'm guessing English was not his first language.  And instrumentally, they loop a sample of Biz Markie beat-boxing then pack it with electric guitars.  In fact, the first thirty or so seconds is just a guitar and drum warm-up/ noise jam before the song starts proper.  Then they end it with an electric guitar riffing the famous opening notes to Chopin's "Piano Sonata No. 2" funeral march.

Plus, I'm not sure how much the song's premise even applies to Scott.  Like, his records were big when he was alive; "The Bridge Is Over" was a monster when it dropped.  And since his passing, Hip-Hop purists have been keeping his name alive, none more so than Krs himself.  But it's not like anything he did went on to become a mainstream, crossover success after he died.  Teenage girls around the globe didn't flock to "P Is Free" once they about him on the news.

So, I don't know.  I'm not really knocking it; it's a good thing that they're honoring Scott.  In fact, for me, it's kind of the best moment on the second half of the album.  And when he says, "some act like they were his best friends. those hypocrites, they make me mad!"  That sounds like a real sentiment; that's a good song-writing moment.  It's just an interesting little discovery I thought I'd share, because I'd bet a lot of heads had no idea this was a moment in our history.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Even More Elusive Mr. Voodoo Demos From Our Heroes At Chopped Herring Records

Two years ago, I wrote about a tight Chopped Herring EP of unreleased Mr. Voodoo demo tracks.  Well, this summer, they're re-releasing New York Straight Talk: The Elusive Demos on CD.  But what's interesting about it is that the track-listing's different.  And I don't just mean that the songs are in a different order, although that's a little true, too.  But the original vinyl EP was seven tracks long, and this one's nine.  So, two new bonus tracks?  No, three in fact, because one song has been taken off.  And all three of these new tracks are previously unreleased; they didn't just throw "Come Off Hard" on here to fill up space or something.

So the track that isn't here is "Betta Duck," which kind of makes sense, since it was labeled as a "bonus track" on the 2015 version.  It was still dope, but far from the best song on there and was newer than all the vintage '94-'95 era stuff that comprised the rest of the EP.  And this way I guess vinyl heads don't feel burned, because their original EP still has something exclusive.  But, really the big question is what's new on the 2017 version?

1. Live It Up (Original Version) - This one's interesting, because "Live It Up" was a Natural Elements song from their stint on Tommy Boy; it was even on the Black Mask soundtrack.  But this one here is a Mr. Voo solo track, and he doesn't even kick his bars from the Tommy Boy version (or "Live It Up Part 2").  But this does have a rough, solo version of the same chorus, so I guess this is where they took the concept from.  It has a much slower, calmer feel, with Voo basically rhyming over the instrumental to Red Hot Lover Tone's "#1 Player," with some deeper bass.  On the one hand, it's definitely not as dynamic as the Tommy Boy version, but on the other hand, it's basically an all new song, not just like a demo version with a different drum track or something.

2. Unknown Demo - Yup, I don't know what this is either.  It sounds more like 2000's material than 90's material, though.  I guess "Betta Duck" and all three of these new tracks are essentially more modern bonus tracks, as opposed to their classic era material.  It's a kind of basic but respectable, slower NY street beat kind of track, and Mr. Voodoo comes off well like he always does, with some nice rhymes and a pointed Special Ed reference; but he doesn't use the sick, staccato flow his fans love him for.  The hook is just an extra instrumental sample, so it doesn't give you much to even guess at a title.

3. Let the World Know (Demo Version) - Now, this is one of those Mr. Voodoo demos we've all been waiting for.  "Let the World Know," of course, is the title track of his 2004 EP, and it's okay.  But there's always been a rough sounding (presumably a radio rip) of a tighter original version over Nas's "On the Real" beat.  And this is it.  Longer and in restored sound quality, finally sounding like a proper song.  Why is it longer?  Well, comparing them now, it's obvious the leaked version was clumsily chopping out the hook and other little sections (maybe for one of those old NE mixtapes?).  Uncut, the Chopped Herring version restores about two minutes.  So that's great to finally get, and the most exciting of the three.  It sounds a little slow, though?  I pitched it up a little bit, and it sounded better to my eat, but maybe I'm just forcing it to match the pitch of those old demo rips that could well have been wrong to begin with.  Either way though, I recommend experimenting with speeding it up and see what you think.

Update 8/13/17: Thanks to KayeMPee for pointing this out in the comments! There's another nice bonus to this CD: the track "Pen Hits the Paper," which is on both the vinyl and CD, is a little longer and restored on the CD.  On the old rips that we've had for ages, it's a three verse song (the last verse starts, "when my pen hits the paper, MCs disappear into vapor..."), but every version I've ever cut stops abruptly at the last word, before the hook can start again, cut off.  And I guess the source material CH had to work with had the same problem, so they faded out after the second verse like that was the end of the song.  Well, this CD version restores that last verse, but still fades out around where the other rips "break."  The sound quality is immensely improved (on both the vinyl and CD), so they're obviously working with a much better source than those rips, but that source must be damaged, too.  To be clear, this CD ends awkwardly, too, cutting off the very end of the song... but still restoring the third verse missing from the vinyl.  So it's not perfect, but it's a big improvement.

So yes, this CD is definitely good news.  And now you know, even if you bought the 2015 record, don't think there's no reason to scoop this up, too.  We just got three more lost demo tracks restored, which is also a nice sign that the well still isn't dry and there's still hope for more material, that we both have and haven't heard of before, coming to light.  Right on.  Every time Chopped Herring recovers another lost Natural Elements track, an angel gets its wings.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Yole Boys Number Zero

So, a couple years ago, I wrote about a killer album by Luke Sick's Gurp City Crew, collectively known as The Yole BoysOwe. Reep. Out. was a limited cassette-only album that came out in 2011.  But there was actually something before that album.  Not a previous album, or even a single or EP, but a sort of prelude tape.  Yolemagmix #1 and 2.  It's also, by the way, the very first release on the Megakut label, prominently labeled Megakut #1 on its spine.

Before anyone gets too excited or disappointed, let me just tell you know, this is an entirely instrumental tape.  So no crazy Gingerbread Man verses here, sorry folks.  But it's not just the instrumental version of Owe or anything.  The tape consists of two, roughly twelve and a half minute long megamixes, produced by the Boys' own Fatees, and furiously cut up by DJ Quest.  There are a few ad-libs, including a chant of "too gurp to get in," at the beginning of side 2, plus plenty of choice vocal samples to set the decadent mood; but this is strictly a DJ mix tape.  And it's a killer.

Expect anything between old school references to cocaine and Quest cutting up Biz Markie's "Pickin' Boogers" over a deep, throwback mix of what the Boys fittingly call "Bay-ami Bass."  Classic bass loops mixed with electro samples and a tougher, Philly edge; this tape has a hyper, higher energy than Owe, thanks in part to Quest's quick cuts, but also just in the beats they select.  Owe had a number of slower jams, but here, not so much.  There's one moment where I did feel they let a single beat ride unvaried a bit too long, but apart from that, it's all a great, little ride.

Still, this is an old and quite limited release with only 250 copies (mine has #144 lightly penciled inside the J-card) having been created six years ago... which is still considerably more than the Owe tape, which only saw a miserly 100 pressed (but, unless it's an error, it still seems to be available direct from Megakut!?).  And let's face it, that vocal album is definitely the one you want to track down if you have to choose.  But if you're a fan of these guys - and you should be - than it's worth keeping an eye out for both.  And as of this writing, there are still copies up on discogs, so it's not a hopeless scenario or anything.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Big L Grail On Record Store Day

(This past Record Store Day, we got one killer release, with some very long-awaited music by the great Big L.  Youtube version is here.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Return Of Silver Fox, and a New Label Enters the Ring

(Kool G. Rap's mentor and O.G. member of The Fantasy Three. Silver Fox, returns with an all new single.  His debut.  Youtube version is here.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Wernski Is Rockin' On the Radiooooo

Hey, folks, I was just a guest on the Newt Podcast, a Hip-Hop podcast hosted by comic James Mascuilli that you can listen to here or on ITunes, Podbay, or wherever you like getting your podcasts from.  So you know, if you're the sort of person who finds yourself visiting this blog, maybe it's something you'd be interested in checking out.  My episode and another one interviewing DJ Mighty Mi were both posted on the same day.  Remember "Mighty Mi For Your Stereo System?"  That was fresh.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Death City Boyz Vs. The Bopsey Twins

Sometimes you just talk about a good record.  This is a one shot single by a group called the Death City Boyz out of Clinton, NY, better known as Hell's Kitchen.  "The Bopsey Twins" came out in 1985 on Snowflake Records, the same label as DJ Polo's original group, The Terminators, and it's just a solid record all around.  Yeah, it's a record about girls (we'll come back to them in a minute), but the rapping by the three Boyz: Nasty Prince B, KMG and Johnny Rock is pretty strong.  But the real hook of this record is the phat production with super big beat, deep bassline, and very catchy electro elements, including cuts by their DJ Professor Paul.

Now, if the name "Bopsey Twins" sounds familiar, it's because it comes from a long running series of children's books called The Bobbsey Twins.  Seriously, there've been hundreds of them, going back to the early 1900s.  It was a boy and a girl and I think they solved mysteries... I never actually read them.  This record doesn't really have anything to do with those characters, though, it's just referring to "Bobbsey/ Bopsey twins" as a nickname for any two inseparable friends.  In fact, in this song, they're literal identical twins, two hot girls named Katie and Kim - one sexy, one shy - who each of the Death City Boyz have romantic run-ins with, and of course it's a misadventure, mistaking one for the other ("Now hold up, man, now it's me to do the dissin'.  I was goin' out with Kim, but it was Katie I was kissin'!").  I'm not quite sure if it's meant to be funny, but it's not really the story-telling aspect of this record that works.  The Boyz have great voices and flows for 1985, and high energy interplay with each other.  And again, they sound kind of hardcore for such a fluff topic, which goes great with the electro production, mixed by DJ Frankie Bones.

There are a couple mixes on the 12": Long Version, Short Version, Dub and X-Rated Version.  Despite the name, the lyrical differences between the X-Rated and other versions are pretty slim, and it really doesn't live up to its "X-Rated" name.  But it is a little more sexual, starting with the second verse, where the line, "found Katie in my house, in a nightgown" becomes "found Katie on my bed, without a blouse."  And at the end of the verse on the original, he brags "we did it mid-town style!"  But he says "doggie style" on the X-Rated.  Later, they call Katie a "ho," but on the original they say "she's so low."  Finally, in the last verse, Katie is either "the one I screwed" or "not the one for you," and she either got "horny" or "hot."  And the biggest difference is a whole extra couple of lines in the final verse, "yes, we hopped into the sack and she was ready to work.  And I thought in my mind I was Kimmie's first, because she started to scream, and she started to shout, and now the whole East Side knows that I busted her out," is only on the X-Rated Version.

Actually, I've been calling the Long Version the "original," but it's probably more likely they wrote the X-Rated version first, and the label asked them to rewrite those lines for radio.  Anyway, as you can see, the X-Rated version isn't exactly a Blowfly record; they probably thought the X-Rated was clean enough when they wrote it.  So, lyrically, I'd definitely say just go with the "X-Rated" version, because it sounds more natural, although the long version does also have some extra, funky instrumentation.

So, like I said, this was a one-off record for the Death City Boyz, meaning it was their only song.  But Prince B and KMG continued working with Frankie Bones and formed a singing group called Spirit Matter.  I'd say they were better rappers than singers, but they still had some solid, electro-style production, and released a couple respectable freestyle records, particularly 1989's "Betrayal."  But none of it was as dope as "The Bopsey Twins."

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Really Hidden Jewels

Here's a really obscure and interesting one.  The name, Hidden Jewels, turns out to be quite apt.  On the surface, it's just a compilation album of old, common funk records from the 70s... some James Brown, Funkadelic, Roy Ayers and a lot of War.  There's one Beastie Boys joint in the mix, which is a little random.  But otherwise, it seems pretty straight forward.  It's a 1998 mix CD, meant to sell you on buying a bunch of Polygram vinyl reissues.  "CLAIM YOUR VINYL JEWELS TODAY CALL NOW!" it says in the CD booklet, and there's a bunch of phone and fax numbers for "interested jewel buyers."  And so in a way, it's as much of an advertisement as a mix.

Or should I say, three mixes: the sapphire group, the diamond group and the ruby group.  This gets into some ridiculously corny shit that fits perfectly with the goofy, tacky album cover above.  On the inside, we learn that the Ruby Mix is funded by "Milk-crates," and Diamond Mix's religion is "Baptist."  And it's all laid out over a map of Sherwood Forrest.  lolwhut?  But, here's the first hint that this album might actually be worth looking at.  Each of those three mixes is by a different DJ... an actual, credible talented and established DJ.  These are mixes by DJ Rhettmatic, Mr. Len and DJ Drez/ Dr. EZ.

So, it's not just a compilation of these old songs, it's a mix, with scratching, beat juggling and interesting things like that.  So, okay, kinda cool.  But still, the CD was made first and foremost to sell these old records, so the DJ's can't too much musical transformation with these 12"s.  They still largely wind up having to let each song play out unaltered for long stretches at a time.

But there's still more, and here's why this CD (and yes, it's a CD only release) is actually worth tracking down.  At the end of each mix, each DJ gets a posse cut with their crew.  So, at the end of Rhettmatic's mix, there's a big Visionaries posse cut.  And it's not just one or two of them, whoever wasn't busy that day, it's the full line-up: Key Kool, 2Mex, LMNO, Zen and Dannu.  Mr. Len's mix ends with Dujeous? (I know, we were all hoping for The Indelibles; but you can't front on their Wax Poetics EP), and DJ Drez has the whole Living Legends gang (both Mystik Journeymen, Murs, Eligh, Aesop and The Grouch).  And they don't come off like just quick, mixtape freestyles.  The verses feel written with hooks and the tracks feel professionally produced, like proper songs.  And because they're rocking over loops of these classic, 70s funk breaks, they're actually better than a lot of these guys' other records.

So, overall, the mixes are decent.  They are solid records, and the DJs are talented.  But nothing to go out of your way for.  But the posse cuts?  Yeah, if you're a fan of any of those crews (and odds are, if you like one, you think all three are dope, because they're all kind of in the same wheelhouse), you want these tracks.  Keep an eye out for this one in your local dollar bins, because I don't think anybody's going to recognize this as a keeper, but it sure is.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rough House Survivers' Long Lost Second Album

(Man, if you don't know, the Rough House Survivers [sic] were dope.  So how come they only made one album?  Or... didn't they?  Youtube version is here.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Schoolly D's Secret Girl Group

How many records did Schoolly D and Luke Skyywalker collaborate on?  Um, I'm pretty sure just this one: Peters Posse, the compilation album of Steve Peters' Peters Records label from 1990.  It features an entire roster of unknowns except for one: Captain Sky.  And yes, Schoolly and Luke worked on it.  This is a real head scratcher of a record, so let's just dive right in.

Let's start with Captain Sky.  Captain Sky was a funk/ disco guy most famous for "Super Sporm."  He wasn't a rapper, though he did rap once on a song called "Station Brake" in 1982, and maybe one other time.  But he was a singer, and known for wearing crazy disco outfits.  However, this right here is his last record after a hiatus of several years, and his return to rapping.  It's called "Thank You," and it's a rap remake of Sly and the Family Stone's classic "Thank You."  It really liberally uses the music from Sly's version and he kicks lyrics like, "I got the beat, to move your feet."  How or why they dragged him out of retirement to be a rapper for this project is anybody's guess.

But here's what we do know.  The liner notes brag about assembling their posse "from the four corners of the land, from NY, LA, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Jacksonville, FL."  Peters Records itself is straight out of Miami, and at least a portion of this album was recorded in Skyywalker Studios with Luther Campbell.

The album starts off with a pretty decent song by Queen D.  I'm pretty sure she's the Jacksonville one, and she's not bad.  I mean, her song "Queen D's World" is definitely on a poppy dance tip, closer to The Real Roxanne than MC Lyte.  It's got a DJ cutting up a bunch of records like "Don't Want To Lose Your Love," James Brown, UTFO's "Bite It" and a liberal dose of "Tell Me Something Good" on the hook.  It's one of the stand out tracks, and it even came out on 12" single with an extended mix and a disappointing B-side called "Rock It To Me Faster."

In fact, a bunch of these songs got 12" singles.  News 4 You's "Good Times," which is actually a crappy R&B song, b/w "She's a Lady," which is more of a catchy new jack swing song at least, but still pretty weak.  Then there was a corny rap duo named 2 La Jit.  Their 12" said it was from the album Having Fun, but that never happened.  Kenny B Devine is the only one to go on to a couple more records on other labels, as well as another Peters Records 12".  He was from Miami, but all his stuff was pretty weak. There's a song by Money D and Wayne, which is a big improvement, although I can't decide if it's actually good, or just feels good by comparison.  Finally a group called GQ Tab that combined R&B and rap had a corny anti-drug song on this album called "Stop the Pusher," and came out with a love song called "Teen Emotion" on a Peters Records 12".

So yeah, most of this album's pretty bad.  A group called Satin does a Hip-Hop version of "The Name Game," which hits a terrible low, with all of the lyrics literally from the children's song.  But there are some interesting moments.  A song by 2-Real is rather listenable, with a couple interesting samples and a harder edge.

And Schoolly D's contribution?  Yeah, he produced a song by a Philly girl group called Northside Alliance.  Actually, it's just one MC, but I guess she had a DJ or someone to justify the "Alliance" name.  Anyway, the song's called "Give My Regards To Broadstreet" and is unquestionably the jewel of the album.  The title's kind of a pun, because Give My Regards To Broadstreet was a famous Paul McCartney film, but Broad Street is also a major urban boulevard in Philly.  It's a hot track with a killer break, sick horn samples and a cut up Krs-One vocal sample for the hook.  It's too bad this never got a 12", because I would definitely recommend it and it's the only song to really deserve it (although I'm actually pretty happy with my Queen D single).

So this album is still kind of a weird mystery.  Someone (I guess Peters) sunk a lot of money into this lost cause.  Not just this album but the whole label.  They put out six 12" singles, five from this album plus another News 4 You single.  But I recommend the compilation just for the Northside Alliance song.  I've searched and have never been able to find out more about this group, which is a shame because an album of this would be fantastic.  But take what you can get; this is hot.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Thoughts On Kool G Rap's Latest Album... Is It Too Late To Return Return Of the Don?

Well, this is disappointing.  I mean, I know a lot of naysayers have been down on Kool G Rap since he left Cold Chillin', talking about how he's only spitting gangsta raps now.  Does it count for nothing that his gangsta raps are incredible?  But tonight, hearing Return Of the Don... Oh jeez.  And it's not that G Rap can't rap anymore or is spitting weak verses.  He still sounds great.  But I knew we were in trouble when they announced his track-listing, and nine out of eleven songs had guest rappers on them.  And one of those two remaining solo songs is an introduction where he just drops one quick verse.  So this is unfortunately one of those guest-on-his-own-album deals like Thy Kingdom Come, only even more so.  He only strings two verses together once on the entire album!

So if you don't know, the vinyl doesn't drop until August 25th, because these NY guys always release the vinyl months later for some reason, but that's another gripe.  The CD's out now, and they've officially put the album up for streaming.  And you guys know, I would blind-buy any G Rap album; but this stream might've just saved me some money.  ...But honestly, I'm still on the fence.  It's not terrible, and I'm not sure I can go through life missing a G Rap album.  Maybe I'll just wait for a sale.

Because this is definitely a wait for a sale record: weak, but still has its moments.  The whole album's produced by Moss, and you could do a lot worse; but man, he just plays it so safe.  Like, he's got that Premier Jr. formula down and he's not gonna stray from it.  Think of all the classic G Rap songs that got you hyped, from "Road To the Riches" to "Letters."  Well, nothing on this album comes close to giving you that feel.  For the most part, it's pretty low energy.  "Mack Lean" almost turns into a spoken word piece.

And yeah, there's far too many guest spots.  On the other hand, that doesn't mean somebody like Raekwon wasn't a worthy inclusion.  I was excited to hear their joint together (though ultimately, it was a little boring).  But yeah, guys like Crooked I sound good.  Or take "Wise Guys;" that's one of the album's highlights with an energetic beat and Kool G Rap and M.O.P. sounding strong together, but they should've just gone: G Rap verse, M.O.P. verse and hook, second G Rap verse.  But instead they also throw Freeway on at the end of the song, and he definitely doesn't live up to everyone that preceded him, with lines that would've been junk even in the 90s like, "you must be a dyke because you've been abroad."  Who let him take up space?  And the same with "Popped Off."  Having G Rap duet with Sean Price (R.I.P.)?  Great!  But why is there also some guy named Ransom on there?

Who decided we needed verses from virtual unknowns like Manolo Rose, Willie the Kid, Pearl Gates (who delivers what is possibly rap's very worst hook to date), Westside Gun, or Conway the Machine?  I mean, to be fair, having those last two dudes on "Rest In Peace" actually kind of worked.  It reminded me of G Rap bringing out Papoose and Jinx da Juvy on a trio track back in the day.  I mean, none of these guys kill it like Jinx used to kill it, but they tread water well enough, and it's one of the few moments where Moss takes a chance production wise.  But yeah, if they really want to put the next generation on, maybe cram them all into one posse cut; but don't give them more collective mic time than G Rap himself.

Not that most of the veterans impress much more.  Saigon attempts to revive the phrase "ba-dunka-dunk," Termanology gets overly dramatic rapping about sluts and Satan and Sheek Louch just adds some filler.  Only Cormega, N.O.R.E., Raekwon, M.O.P. and Sean Price really belong on here.  They're the only ones genuinely enhancing the album with their contributions.  And five artists?  That's enough guests for an album.  Especially when it's not one of those 23-song packed mix CDs.  Everyone else is dead weight.  Again, Kool G Rap only has one full solo song on here.  It's pretty good, though.  And yeah, he does have some nice verses on the other songs.  But there's so much filler, it's like a surprise whenever he gets on the mic again, like oh yeah, this is a G Rap album!

And here's a question.  In several songs (including "Wise Guys" and "Criminal Outfit") he references being part of The Five Family Click.  What?  Are these just fifteen year-old acappellas that Moss patched together to mock up an album?  Is this another Half a Klip situation??  I'll tell you this much, Half a Klip might actually be a more satisfying album.  He wasn't sidelined this much on the Click Of Respect, and he was supposed to be just one guy in a group there.  Again, it's not all bad.  Like listening to him start rapping on "Capitol Hill," I'm getting excited to have the new Kool G Rap album I've been waiting for.  But then this annoying hook comes on and the rest of the song belongs to a bunch of other guys.  Listening to Return Of the Don all the way through is a drag.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top 13 Horror Movie Closing Credit Raps

There's nothing more entertaining, or perhaps cringe-worthy, then when a scary film ends and suddenly somebody starts rapping over the closing credits.  You actually don't see it very often, because metal is the traditional music genre of horror movies, at least in the 80s and 90s, when great horror films and great horror songs mostly came together.  So, when you did come across it, it really stood out.  Rapping during closing credits is a little tradition that started more in comedies, including such classic moments as Goldie Hawn and LL Cool J passing the mic back and forth in Wildcats, Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd exchanging verses in character at the end of Dragnet, John Leguizamo living up to his title in The Pest, or the starts of Richard Linklater's entire cast making goofy rap video at the end of Everybody Wants Some.

But that's comedy; you've seen it a million times in sitcoms, novelty records, commercials, etc.  The joke, inevitably, is: look, these milquetoast nerds have no natural rhythm, but they're rapping anyway!  Ha ha.  Thirty years of the same joke.  But in horror movies, expectations are different.  The mood is dark and serious.  The raps... should be good, right?  At least sometimes.  So here's my criteria of what I'm looking for in my Top 13.

Legit horror movies: Ideally these should be horror movies with some credibility, that horror fans would actually watch and respect.  Da Hip-Hop Witch doesn't count, and neither do horror parodies (I see you, Scary Movie, but you're not making this list).

Legit rappers: It's not essential, because there are some rap amateurs that just need to be included, but they definitely at least get bonus points if they rope genuine, known Hip-Hop recording artists with careers and albums into participating.

Relating to the movie: We want horror movie raps, not just rap songs that somehow got plastered onto a horror movie soundtrack.  Kool Moe Dee wrapping up Nightmare On Elm St. 5 was exciting for a minute, until you realize he's just talking about LL Cool J, not Freddy Kreuger.  The closer the lyrics of the song tie into the film, the better!

...Or at least horror-themed: Short of relating to the movie, I at least want some horrorcore, spitting lyrics about ghosts and decapitations.  We want spookiness, in tone with the movie we just watched, not just some teenager bragging about his car, or some old Steady B love song because the film company had a blanket deal with the record label (I see you, Ghost In the Machine).

Placement: I'm looking for a real theme, here, not just a song tucked deep in the film's soundtrack.  Hearing two notes as a character drives up in his car like Trespass is lame.  I want songs that play in the film's credits, preferably on their own, because they're the final element to the film's telling of the story, not some afterthought.

You feel me, right?  I think these are reasonable expectations.  So without further ado, let's jump into
Top 13 Horror Movies With Closing Credit Raps:

13. Dr. Hackenstein's "The Hackenstein Rap" (1989. Available on wax? Yes!) - This one's at the bottom of the list because it's loose with some of the criteria.  Dr. Hackenstein is clearly sort of a horror parody, and there's no real rappers on here (just composer Claude Lehenaff with female vocalist Karen Clark).  But how could I leave it off?  The song was released on 12" with a glorious picture cover, which is better known now than the original film that spawned it.  "The Hackenstein Rap" itself is fairly disco-y, and there's at least as much singing as there is rapping; but it's pretty dang fun, and definitely works as a theme for the film with a chorus that goes, "he wants your body for his wife; he wants to bring her back to life, yeah!"  There's even an exclusive remix on the 12".

12. Scream 2's "Scream" (1997. Available on wax? Sort of! The soundtrack was released on CD and cassette, and there's a bootleg white label pressing of this particular song.) - Points deducted for not making it on the original Scream's soundtrack, and even more points deducted for lyrics that have nothing to do with film-obsessed serial killers.  But they got Master P (and Silkk the Shocker) to release a "Scream" song when they were at the peaks of their careers, so that's pretty impressive.  They just rap about how hard they had it growing up, but there is a scream sound effect in the hook, and in the music video (yes, there was a music video for this), they rap in front of the iconic Scream mask and mix in some cool Mardi Gras death mask imagery.  It's just too bad the song sucks, particularly the way P lays his "uggh" sound into the screaming hook, killing the energy of it.

11. Seed of Chucky's "Cut It Up" (2005. Available on wax? No, but the soundtrack album's available on CD with this song on it.) - This song would be higher on the list if this were anywhere close to the original Child's Play, but I'm letting my prejudice against the later Chucky films hold it down.  There was actually a sort of rap song planned for the original film's soundtrack, but they decided not to use it at the last minute.  But we got this!  Fredwreck (yes, the guy who used to produce The B.U.M.s) gets busy over the film's closing credits, and yes, his song is all about Chucky.  Of course, we all know they should've gotten Bushwick Bill and Gangksta N.I.P. for this; but hey, these guys really seem to understand the appeal of a horror movie rap theme and go for the gold.  So they earned their place on this list.

10. Popcorn's "Scary, Scary Movies" (1991. Available on wax? Nope.) - This film reaches #10 primarily for being such a fan favorite horror film with the peculiar sensibilities to end in a rap.  So it's a beloved moment for fans, and they pay homage to horror films with a lot of enthusiasm, but they're hardly great MCs.  Like a couple other songs on the soundtrack, it's performed by Ossie D & Stevie G, a reggae duo who were certainly good sports and rapped "American" for this one, using rough, grimy voices to include some amusing, specific references to the film like, "blood sucking insects hanging from a rope, get electrocuted by the Shock-O-Scope!"

9. Phantasm RaVager's "Reggie Rap" (2016. Available on wax? No.) - Yes, Phantasm recently came back with a new sequel, and this time they ended with a rap song.  It's performed by somebody named Elvis Brown who has a Soundcloud with more of his songs here, and the "Reggie" of the title refers to the series' hero Reggie, who travels the country, pursuing The Tall Man with his four-barrel shotgun.  It scores some big points for being an enthusiastic horror rap and crafting lyrics that stick tight to the films, but loses some for autotune and Doug E. Fresh having beaten them to the punch of turning the Phantasm theme into a rap song by about 30 years.

8. The Fear's "Morty's Theme" (1994. Available on wax? Hell yes!) - The only reason this entry isn't even higher on the list is that it's such a crap, disappointing film.  The premise is cool: a bunch of characters gather together to face their fears in a weird therapy session, but their fears all come to life and take them out, ultimately personified by a wooden man they call MortyWes Craven cameo'd in it, and I know I wasn't the only one who thought this was going to be good; but it wound up being cheap and dumb.  Mostly dumb, with really bad acting.  Admittedly, the even worse sequel made this film look a little better by comparison, but nope.  Not nearly enough.  Anyway, the soundtrack album is an essential who's who of horrorcore, including tracks by everybody from The Gravediggaz to The Headless Horsemen.  And the ultimate honor of crafting the film's titular theme song fell to horrorcore legend himself, Esham.  And it kind of rocks, managing to bring Morty and the film's story into the verses without making it seem like a gimmicky novelty rap.

7. Lunatics: A Love Story's "The Reynolds Rap" (Available on wax? No.) - It was hard to decide where to put this one on the list, but ultimately I felt it belonged pretty squarely in the middle.  The main thing holding it back is that this is just barely a horror movie, if it qualifies at all.  But it's definitely a cult film by horror veterans with some strong horror elements.  Essentially Ted Raimi is a lunatic, who meets a beautiful woman and falls in love when he realizes she's crazy, too.  But to be with her, he has to venture outside of his apartment and battle all of his delusions he encounters along the way, including a giant killer spider and Bruce Campbell as an evil doctor.  Helping this song immensely is the fact that director Josh Becker hired the legit, underground rap group Detroit's Most Wanted ("City of Boom" was probably their best known record) to perform his lyrics.  Better still, this film doesn't just play uninterrupted in the film's closing credits (though it does), DMW also appear in the film as themselves, assaulting Raimi with their rhymes in his crazy fever dreams.

6. Monster Squad's "Monster Squad Rap" (1987. Available on wax? You bet.) - Look, Monster Squad is a silly but high quality, quite enjoyable movie.  So the fact that the "Monster Squad Rap" is super corny is appropriate.  Anyway, that's my excuse for having such a bad rap this high on the list.  I mean, say what you want, but fans treasure it, as evidenced by the fact that this soundtrack has been repressed on wax several times in the last couple of years.  The rock-ish hook and clunky rapping is super cheesy but catchy in a way that's perfect for a movie where a bunch of kids team up with Frankenstein's monster to save the world from Dracula and The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  Put alongside serious Hip-Hop, sure it's tripe; but it's an essential component of a great horror flick for young adults.

5. Maniac Cop 2's "Maniac Cop Rap" (1989. Available on wax? Yes!) - I once got to ask William Lustig about who the actual rappers were on the "Maniac Cop Rap," but unfortunately he didn't remember.  Just some guys that composer Jay Chattaway brought in for the day.  According to the credits themselves, they're Yeshua (Josh) Barnes and Brian (B. Dub) Woods.  Anyway, everyone deserves credit for making a rip roaring rap theme for this rare sequel that's even better than its predecessor, with Josh and B kicking fun raps about the killer cop ("when he shows up, he's supposed to protect ya, but Maniac Cop is out to get ya. He's an anti-vigilante and they can't convict him, so watch out, Jack, 'cause you're the next victim!") over a beat that makes excellent use of Chattaway's classic theme from the original.  This blew my mind when I first heard it pop up in the credits back in the 80s, and I'm still not completely over it.

4. Deep Blue Sea's "Deepest Bluest" (1999. Available on wax? Of course, and you already own it.) - No surprise to see this on the list!  This song's pretty bit infamous, though it helps a lot if you recognize the line, "my hat is like a shark's fin" from his 1988 classic "I'm Bad."  Anyway, this whole movie is famous for being enjoyably dumb.  It's about super genius sharks fighting underwater scientists, and LL Cool J plays a ridiculous cook with a parrot as his only friend.  Samuel Jackson has one of the most famous deaths in film history, and this clearly inspired the whole Sharknado and rip-offs craze that swept the nation.  But still, LL's theme song managed to outshine it all.  There's a 12", a music video and everything.  LL's mostly just rapping about being a vicious rapper, and doing a genuinely good job of it, and incorporating the film's violent shark imagery to do it.  Unfortunately, that hat line struck everyone as so silly, it went down in history as a joke song.  But that also secured its place in history - it's certainly the most famous song on this list - so I guess he can't complain.

3. Waxwork II's "Lost In Time" (1992. Available on wax? No, but the music video's included on the latest blu-ray release.) - I'm tempted to list this even higher, but I realize the world may not appreciate this quite as much as I do.  Director Anthony Hickox brought in The LA Posse, the group that spawned Breeze and The Lady of Rage, to perform the theme song.  Does it follow the film's plot?  Oh yes, and they deserve extra credit for that, given how eccentric this film's plot is.  Better still, Hickox directed a complete music video for the song that plays over the credits, so The LA Posse are rapping in the film's many exotic locations, and the movie's stars, including Gremlin's Zach Galligan, are dancing with the posse.  The beat's pretty dope, too; though the ridiculous lyrics prevent it from being taken seriously at all.  But as part of Waxwork II, which is itself quite tongue-in-cheek, it works!

2. Hood of Horror's "Welcome To the Hood of Horror" (2006. Available on wax? No.) - Look, I was pretty disappointed that Snoop Dogg's Nightmare On Elm St knock-off Bones couldn't make this list.  It does have a a good rap theme song ("The Legend of Jimmy Bones" by Snoop, Ren & RBX, and produced by Seed of Chucky's Fredwreck), but they don't play it over the credits or anything.  Instead, Snoop closes the show with a generic song called "Dogg Named Snoop," which has nothing to do with the film or anything horror-themed at all.  But fortunately he fixes that with his second horror film, Hood Of Horror, where he pulls a Waxwork II, making a whole video for the song to play under the credits.  Unfortunately, the movie's not the best; and it's not exactly one of Snoop's greatest hits, but he comes off pretty well over a slow, dark beat.  It would fit in nicely on any horror mixtape.

1. Nightmare On Elm St 4's "Are You Ready for Freddy" (1988. Available on wax? For sure!) - I know The Fat Boys were too crossover and kid-friendly to please some heads, but they were genuinely talented.  Granted, this was past the time they started working with credible producers like Kurtis Blow and Marley Marl and were drifting into major label rock guys' hands, but they still knocked it out the park with this one.  I mean, they actually got Robert Englund to rap in character as Freddy on this one.  And I love the detailed lyrics that really show they're intimately familiar with the films ("even in part three, the dream warriors failed, and Mr. Big Time Freddy Krueger prevailed. It was just about that time, I know you'll never forget what he did to the girl with the TV set!"), which is more than you can say for most soundtrack songs, horror or otherwise.  You've got Buff beatboxing, a music video with the real Freddy in it, and they work the film's original soundtrack expertly into their instrumental - what's not to love?

Honorable Mentions:

Bad Biology's "So You Wanna Make a Movie" (2008. Available on wax? No.) - Frank Henonletter, the man who made Basket Case, made his comeback with a film co-written by RA the Rugged Man.  RA's been referencing Henenlotter's work for decades, and appeared on some of his DVD special features, so it was only a matter of time until they made a movie together, I guess.  Unfortunately, the film's weird mix of exploitative horror and trashy Hip-Hop sensibilities just added up to something juvenile and disappointing.  I mean, Vinnie Paz's acting is just like you'd think it would be.  But given his participation, it was a given RA would also have a rap song for the credits, but it's not really about Bad Biology's story.  Maybe that's just as well in this case.  Instead it's about the hardships of making an independent film, in essence a theme song about the making of this film.  That's an original slant, props for that, but by the time you hear it in its context, it just feels like more of everything that went wrong with this picture.

13 Ghosts' "Mirror Mirror" (2001. Available on wax? Nah.) - Neither a great movie nor a great rap theme song, but at least they tried.  Rah Digga, who played a sizeable supporting role in the film, naturally comes back to rap up the closing credits.  Unfortunately, it's not about the film's plot or horror at all; it's just about overcoming life's challenges.  She does make a reference to seeing her grandmother again, like a ghost, and there's a little theremin-like sound in the track, so it feels like she's throwing in little token semi-references to the movie, but that's even worse, because it just makes it feel like a lazy, half-assed song.  Like, be about ghosts or don't, but don't try to play both sides of the fence.  Nice try, but nobody wants to hear club raps like "I can live like a baller" on a bloody horror movie.

Leprechaun In the Hood's "Ride Or Die" (2000. Available on wax?  No.) - Obviously this movie had to get at least a mention.  It's a campy mash0-up of horror and "hood" movies with a rapper named Postermaster P for a main character and Ice-T in a leading role.  Leprechaun himself even raps at the end of the movie... but before the closing credits and the film's underwhelming outro song by some dudes called The Boom Brothers.  It's not great, but they do at least include the leprechaun in their lyrics.  Interestingly, Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (the sixth actual Leprechaun movie) just plays traditional score over its closing credits, although of course it does have some rap on its soundtrack, including a song by Zion I.

Other films that didn't make the list but rate a mention include Psycho 3, which has a very strange little rap song tucked away on its soundtrack called "Dirty Street."  Shark Night ends with a music video that starts after the closing credits where the film's lead actors make a terrible rap video (though fitting with the film's campy, junk TV nature).  And Japanese pop rock band Sekai no Owari pretty much rapped (in English, no less) through the closing credits rap Attack On the Titan with their song called "Anti Hero," guest produced by Dan the Automator.  But it's more iffy if the film counts as horror (it's more of a dystopian YA fantasy actioner), then if the song counts as Hip-Hop.

Also there was a 2000 film called The Convent, which I naively saw at a screening when I was young enough to believe that when the producers said their film was just like Evil Dead to expect something comparable.  Anyway, Coolio had a small role in it as a cop, and the film ends with an original closing credits rap by him called "Show Me Love."  But it wasn't a horror-related song at all, and a couple years later, he wound up sticking it on one of his albums called El Cool Magnifico.

Besides Scary Movie, there are other horror-related comedies with rap themes, including Ghostbusters II, which had songs by both Run DMC and Doug E Fresh. And there's the Addams Family movies, which made music videos and everything for their theme songs by Hammer and Tag Team. The screenshot at the top of this article is from M. Night Shymalan's The Visit (an unacknowledged knock-off of the 80's movie Grandmother's House), where the lead kid raps us out during the closing credits.

And finally, no I didn't forget.  Tales From the Hood.  What a disappointment.  It should've had a soundtrack like The Fear, only with even bigger artists, which it sort of did.  But instead of horrorcore/ scary songs, it's just dark hardcore and gangsta rap.  The closing credits play Scarface/ Face Mob, and the title track is by Domino, who doesn't wind up rapping about anything scary at all, let alone something having to do with the actual film.  Admittedly, it's a solid soundtrack album just taken as a collection of original songs by the day's biggest rap artists; but I just can't shake how let down I felt that it copped out since the day I first bought it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Krs-One's First Word

(Before Boogie Down Productions was a thing, Krs-One and Mantronix created a happy little record together, to the tune of Gilligan's Island.  Youtube version is here.)

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Original Co-Defendants

Here's a nice, little indie 90s record by a group called the Co-Defendants.  And who were they?  Well, actually, there's been a couple "Co-Defendants" in Hip-Hop, and sites like discogs have them all mixed up; so first let's clarify who they're not.

There's a Boston duo called the Co-Defendants, consisting of Carlito Cream & Don P who had an album out called Book ov Life and were part of a larger clique called the Messiah Fam.  Those are different guys.

Killarmy did an entire album with a French group called The Co-Defendants (possibly named after that Killer Bees Swarm song?), who also did some other overseas stuff I never kept track of.  But those are also different guys.

There's a duo from San Francisco who I never heard of until I googled them just now, comprised of two solo artists: Beneficial and S. Kush, who came together as The Co-Defendants to record a couple singles in the late 2000s, called "Big Boy Shit" and "Just Like Me."  Those are different guys, too.

Similarly, when California gangsta rappers 12 Gauge Shotie and Lil B-Stone teamed up to record an album together, they called themselves The Co-Defendants, and they're very different guys.

Tragedy's mix-tape/ album Thug Matrix had a track featuring some guests called The Co-Defendants, but that was just his regular guys Killa Sha and Napoleon; and I think that's the only time they went by that name.  They definitely didn't make this record.

There's a group called The Co-Defendants from Lansing, Michigan, consisting of J-Holla and 3rd Deggree[sic.] who released an album called The Patdown in 2009 or thereabouts.  Not the same guys.

And Big Noyd released a compilation album of his crew a few years ago, called Co-Defendants Vol. 1.  No relation there either.

Nah, these Co-Defendants predate all those other Co-Defendants, forming in 1993 to release a tight record called "Get Cha Weight Up" on Bon Ami Records, which is one of those Sugarhill spawn labels.  It got a lot of underground play on Stretch & Bobbito, The Wake Up Show, and mixtapes by DJ Red Alert, DJ Enuff, etc.  It was basically just one guy, Bain D. Robinson, who did all the vocals and the production, though his DJ/ hypeman Craig Brown rounded out the group.  They even had a guest verse by Rob Base, giving him a much needed injection of underground credibility again.  It was hot, but pretty much their only record.

Except trust Echo International to dig out one more obscure 12" out of an artist's discography you thought was finished.  That's their specialty, and sure enough, they did it again.  In 1994, they put out "Just When You Thought" by Co-Defendants featuring Omar Chandler and C.E.O.  Who are they?  Well, I think C.E.O. is just an alias for Bain.  Because nobody's rapping here except for him, and C.E.O. also gets production credit on the liner notes for a song that Bain had credit for on their last 12".  So I'm pretty sure they're one and the same.  And Omar Chandler?  Well, he's an R&B singer who had an album out on MCA Records, and previously worked with Teddy Riley.  But he's probably best known as the guy who sung the hook on "Joy and Pain."

So yes, that means an R&B hook.  Chandler has a great voice, but it definitely drags the proceedings down.  The beat, produced by D. Moet (presumably the D. Moet, who used to be with King Sun), is decent but feels slow and feels cheap.  Like, it's got some simple drums and a piano loop, mixed with some more g-funk style bass and whistle.  It's well crafted, just a little under-cooked.  Maybe it just needed a better engineer.  And the chorus detracts from the rapping, which is a shame, because lyrically, it's actually a serious, compelling song.  C.E.O. has a definite Grand Puba style and sound to his voice, but he's a little less playful as he talks about the grind of life wearing you down, "just when you thought you had it all figured out, each and every day something new pops out.  Inside the city, everybody's gettin' high; white people knock every thing that you try.  But when you succeed, they suck 'till you bleed, each and every drop 'till they get what they need.  If they're so smart, why's the world so sick?"  Heavy shit.  I wish there was a remix of this.

Flip this record over, though, and happily we're back to Bain's more rugged production.  Actually, the first song on the B-side is "Get Your Weight Up" again, with the instrumental.  If you're a completist, you'll still want the original Bon Ami Record, because that had some exclusive remixes, but the classic version with the ultra-smooth sample that got all the play in the 90s is conveniently on both.  This is the essential cut.

But then there's one more B-side, another new song called "Who Are We," where Robinson shares production credit with Brown.  It's not as great as "Get Your Weight Up," and the hook's a little limp; but it's another cool, raw indie NY record with a chunky beat.  The whole thing feels inspired by early Just-Ice records, but with Bain still flowing in his distinct style.  With the exception of Killa Sha (can't front on him), this guy clearly has way more talent than all those guys who took up the Co-Defendants mantle over the years after him.  It's a shame he didn't have more of a career, because sure, he never would've blown up to be the next Jay-Z; but I'm sure this Co-Defendant had some more slick indie 12"s in him.