Thursday, November 26, 2015

Celebrate Today With a Sick New Album

Hey, it's Thanksgiving. So okay, what's to be thankful for? How about a hot new album that just dropped? It's the return of Grand Invincible, with their third full-length album (or fourth if you count their EP, Winter 365*), Menace Mode. They put out a single not too long ago... well, actually, it's been over a year. But anyway, the songs on there aren't on this album; those are exclusive tracks to that cassingle and everything on this tape is brand new, too. Yeah, this one's on tape, too. Although of course there's a digital-only version for all you herbs and bustas out there, too.  ;)

This is a tight album. It's full-length, twelve cuts, though one or two are short little instrumental joints. There's no guest MCs on here, just a pair of guest DJs - Eddie Def and DJ Sniper - to add some extra scratching. Of course Eons does plenty of his own cutting as well. So there's a lot of hip-hop purism on hand, strong breaks. But then you've got Luke Sick bringing his grisly, raw blue-collar side to the equation, giving it a dark, moody feel. With one or two little adjustments, this could work as the soundtrack to the first season of True Detective.

It starts out with an instrumental introduction called "Codenames Pt. II" ("Pt. I" was on Ask the Dust), but really takes off with "Jackson Pollock," taking its title from a grim reference in the Miami Vice movie (which they include at the end of the song just in case you've never seen it). Luke flips back and forth from traditional hip-hop bragging about his breaks to "scum storytella" mode, spitting bars like:

"I'm paranoid in the crib
Surveillance cams and a pile of coke
She hate me I bug her
But she's used to dudes tryin' to drug her

I smell a fake fuck then fool get checked quick
Then I snatch his bags out the Luxor
On the roof for the bird to swoop

They throw the rope ladder I grab the loot"

Another stand-out is "Yegg," the one they made their first video for. Two ill piano loops on top of each other, old school bas booms, and a phat scratched hook of "Come Clean" Jeru. "Dust Tour" has a killer horn sample that could make you buy the tape just for that. Really, the whole album is an impressive showcase of how to make an innovative, advanced album through very traditional and basic methods. Heads will love it.

So if you want it, you better move fast. Because it's another super limited tape from Megakut Records. The pricing is great ($10, and that's including the shipping), especially since this is a pretty high quality production. You know, sometimes these ultra-indie tapes are just labeled with a sharpie or something, but this is a good looking, printed black tape, flapped artwork, and it even comes with a very cool lyrics booklet, done in a punk 'zine style (a la Let's Side). And Luke Sick fans should also be keeping our eyes peeled for the next Grand Killa Con EP, which is coming out on vinyl soon from a label called Art of Rec. So, yeah, definitely some good stuff to be thankful for.

*Or fifth if you count Underbucket:P

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More Girls With Attitude

If you're gonna put together a girl group in the late 80s to knock off N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes), you can't come up with a much worse name than H.W.A. (Hoes With Attitude)B.W.P. (Bytchez Wit Problems) was a definite step in the right direction, and of course there actually was a group called Girls With Attitudes. But for my money, the best to do it were G.T.S. (Girls Talkin Shit). They only had made single, but it's pretty good.

It's called "Juice It," and it's actually not particularly explicit. It's a pretty upbeat dance song, with a lot of familiar 80s samples, like "Don't Stop the Rock" and "The Pee Wee Dance." The girls, G-Poo and Tikki-T, are actually pretty decent on the mic, and there's a lot of fresh scratching by guest DJ Mannie Fresh. Gregory D pops on for a short verse, too; and they produced it together, which is surely what accounts for it being such a well-made track. Despite their appearance, though, I don't think these girls are from New Orleans. The label has a California area code, and at one point they mention "rollin' in Compton." 

This dropped in 1988 on D&D Enterprises. One odd bit of curiosity about this record, too, is its sleeve. Yeah, it's a plain white hole-puncher, but inside, well... let me take a picture real quick.

Yeah, see it's a generic sleeve on the outside, but inside, it's a picture cover. It's not a G.T.S. thing, though. It's actually a little bit creepy in there. The picture cover is for a blues album by Skip James, on a New Jersey record label called Yazoo. Apparently, the makers of this sleeve took an old Skip James sleeve, turned it inside-out and punched the hole through it to make a regular sleeve out of. I'm not sure if they're all like this, but my copy was still brand new and shrink-wrapped, so this isn't some random used record where somebody created a makeshift sleeve at home. This is how it came out of D&D.

There's also a B-side to this single, called "Skin Tight." It, rather obviously, takes the bulk of its music from The Ohio Players' "Skin Tight," including using the signature chorus for their hook. It's a good groove, though, and they make it sound good over a well paced track and a little scratching (though nothing as notable as the A-side's). Lyrically, it's just about how they like to wear skin tight jeans and how they look good in them. Not exactly heavy or heady stuff, but some of it's fun: "cold strollin', switchin' my butt. Then all of the fellas yell, 'yo double up!' (Is that right?) Yeah, Poo, 'cause I got the big butt, make the paraplegic get up and jump. Or what about your girl? You'll have to dump her for this female with the cute little rumper. Yeah, you know I'm libel to make a preacher drop his bible; make a dead man raise up from his grave; back end's enough to make a gay man turn straight. Make a man with no teeth wanna take a bite. I'm in effect (In effect!), 'cause my jeans are... skin tight!"

These girls were actually pretty adept on the mic and had a good sound. It's too bad they didn't follow this 12" up. I expect this was meant to be their radio single and given their name, might've been building to something a little less commercial. Like, this would've been their "Something 2 Dance 2." But I would've been fine with more jams like "Juice It," too; especially if Gregory D and Mannie Fresh kept them under their wing. But oh well, as it is, it's a pretty neat little one-off project.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Return Of Johnny the Fox

Last year, I wrote about the debut solo single of Tricky Tee, formerly of the disco-era Just Two, on Sleeping Bag Records. It was a more traditionally hip-hop effort on Tee's part, but also had the very distinct feel of its producer, Mantronik. That was 1985, and this is his 1986 follow-up. Still on Sleeping Bag Records, this time they've upgraded him to a full color picture (and sticker) cover.

And this time he's no longer partnered up with Mantronik. Instead, both the A- and B-side here are produced by Sam Sever. You probably know him best for doing some classic 3rd Bass songs, and later forming Downtown Science with Bosco Money. This is before all of that, and Sever brings more of a pure, New York sound to his production here. You probably wouldn't recognize it as Sever's work, but it's really strong stuff.

Ironically, the drums are the weakest part of "Leave It To the Drums." It's a fresh drum pattern, and it combines perfectly with the other elements to make a great rap song. But the drums themselves sound very piddling and soft. A more modern producer would've probably laid heavier hits on top of these drums, but as it is, it's interesting, but probably best to focus on all the other elements of the song. Especially since the other elements are all great. Tee's not doing anything particularly mind-bending lyrically, but he's got a great flow that perfectly matches the track; he actually reminds me of T-La Rock on here. And the instrumental is largely made up of a collection of traditional jazzy samples being dropped in one by one. I'm sure it was all laid down in the studio, but it feels like there's an old school DJ constantly swapping between records behind the MC.

The B-side isn't quite as good, but it comes in at a respectable second place. It's very big on hand claps and bells. The drums sound more natural here and Tee comes nice and hard again. There's a promising "Good To Go Mix" on here, but it turns out to just be the instrumental. Both songs have full/ Club, Radio and Instrumental versions.

It's just another strong single from Tee that felt like he was building up to a Sleeping Bag album... but for whatever reason that never happened. So you've gotta get these singles, because that's all there is, which is a shame, because I'm sure it would've been a highly regarded album to this day had it existed.

But while this is his second and last solo single, I wanted to bring something I found online to your attention.  This is why the internet is awesome. There's a great, unreleased comeback single by Tricky Tee that lives in full online. It's from 1991 according tot he uploader. It's kind of fuzzy, so I'm guessing this was taped off the radio. It's called "Who's In Town," and it's hot, produced by Shadow. If you told me you had an unreleased '91 comeback single by Tee, I'd have some fairly tempered expectations, but this is really as dope as you could want it. Check it out here. It's really a shame there's no wax of it, but it shows Tricky Tee still had more fire in him.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Godfather Of Soul Meets The Godfather of Hip-Hop

I've already talked about James Brown's dalliance with rap music in the late 80s, courtesy of Full Force; but that wasn't his first hip-hop project. In 1984, he released the collaborative single "Unity" with Afrika Bambaataa. there was a music video for it and everything, but I don't think it broke out of the smaller markets too much. And to make things a little more complicated, the original 12" has six different versions of "Unity:"

Unity Part 1: The Third Coming
Unity Part 2: Because It's Coming
Unity Part 3: Nuclear Wild Style
Unity Part 4: Can You See It
Unity Part 5: The Light
Unity Part 6: World III

I've never seen anyone attempt to break down all the parts and how they're different. And they are, it's not just a fancy way to label "Radio Edit," "Instrumental," etc. Well, not mostly. There's some very distinct, different music and lyrics at play here. So I guess, once again, it falls to me. Heh

"Part 1: The Third Coming" is the one they had the video for, the one Rapmasters included in their series of cassettes; and the one most of you are probably familiar with.

The music should be very familiar. Like how I said in my last James Brown video that he was being oddly cannibalistic by sampling himself, he does that here, too. Except strictly speaking, the band is replaying the same riffs, not sampling them. And when I say band, I'm actually talking basically about The Sugarhill Band. Even though this is on Tommy Boy, it's Sugarhill's house band: Skip, Doug and Keith. And they're sort of making a medley of classic James Brown music over hip-hop drums and synths, with some extra live horns. It's all great stuff, but it's not like we're getting fresh new James Brown grooves here. We're getting James ad-libbing over his old music while Afrika throws in the occasional short rap verse.

Yeah, that's the biggest shortcoming of this record. Bambaataa's rapped before and since, but there's a reason he was basically known as the DJ and had The Soulsonic Force and other rappers be his MCs. It's really a shame he didn't get any of the Force to kick proper rap verses on here - or, hot damn, could you imagine if they brought in Melle Mel? This project would be perfect for him. But instead Bambaataa handles all the MCing here, so the raps are very basic. They're fine; there's nothing wrong with them. He doesn't say anything stupid or sound terrible, and it's a worthwhile message. But I think that's what held this the top rank of hip-hop classics. If "Unity" had a "child is born with no state of mind" level verse on here, it would be on every old school rap compilation ever. And the famous hook, "Peace! Love! Unity! And having fun" says it all. The rest of the vocals don't really impart anything more.

Pay attention to James's acapella ad-libbing on the introduction to "Part 2: Because It's Coming" and you'll hear where Steady B got his hook for "Believe Me Das Bad" from. The Beastie Boys' "Shake Your Rump" also comes from here. This is a highly sampled record, actually.

Instrumentally, "Part 2" doesn't stray too far from "Part 1," with most of the same riffs recurring in the same pattern. But lyrically, it's totally different. Now Bambaataa's rapping against nuclear war and his fears of an imminent World War 3. This one's also got a bit of James actually singing, as he and Bambaataa go back and forth singing "all throughout the land." And some other outside vocalists even get in on it as well.

"Part 3: Nuclear Wild Style," like its title suggests, is more World War 3 future world problems. This one's got more of a punk feel to it. In fact, it has more of a Time Zone feel to it, specifically. James is barely on this one. He has his acapella instrumental, and about halfway through they start bringing some of his instrumental themes back in. But I have a feeling James wasn't even in the studio for the recording of this one; we never hear his voice apart from the intro. It's got a great bassline and some funky, more modern playing on it, which is cool. But it feels like Bambaataa's getting a little carried away at this point.

"Part 4: Can You See It" brings it back to the original. James is back, the original non-nuclear lyrics are back, the original horns and music are back. So what's different about it, what makes this one special? Well, every version up to now was about three and a half minutes long. This one's nine. It's basically a a giant extended mix of "Part 1." And it has stuff from "Part 2," too, like a shorter version of the "all throughout the land" bit. "Part 1" is the version with the most life beyond this 12"; but if you ask me, this is the preferable definitive version.

"Part 5: The Light" makes you want to see what they're doing in the studio while they're recording their adlibs, because James proclaims whatever Bambaataa's doing is going to wipe out the moonwalk. This one has some - but minimal - vocals and a lot more emphasis on the horns. That's really it. The production's a little more modern (for its time), and it's a funky little production pretty much created to give the horns their time to shine. Fun, but definitely the kind of thing that could only exist on a 12" B-side.

And finally "Part 6: World III" is an acapella. Always cool to get an acapella, especially for all the young producers out there looking to make their mark with remixes; but it's disappointing that they label it as a whole sixth "Part," because it makes you expect one more full version of the song, rather than just an element floating by itself. It's not even a complete acapella, really; it's just some parts strung together. All the isolated James Brown screeches have surely made a great DJ tool for a lot of heads over the years, though; and The Jungle Brothers used a crazy Bambaataa laugh as a distinct piece of their "Sounds of the Safari" instrumental.

Overall, it's a pretty fun record, albeit more for instrumental enjoyment than lyrically. It's also important just by virtue of what it is, historically: James Brown coming together with Afrika Bambaataa to make a record together, showing musical and generational unity as much as all the other types of unity they talk about in the song. Today, if Drake switched places with Justin Beiber, I'm not sure anyone would even notice. But in 1984, this kind of thing was a big deal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Some Old Sluggo Guest Spots

Today I'm revisiting a couple of early guest appearances by Slug, as in the lead MC of Minnesota's Atmosphere, plus Deep Puddle Dynamics, Dynospectrum, etc. These are some local, home state collabos from long before Atmosphere ever got on MTV or any of that craziness. It's also more traditionally b-boy kinda stuff, compared to the material with any rock influences that might've creeped into his music later on. He's young, his friends are young. Not that this is his very earliest material, that I suppose would be the first Headshots tape when he still used the full name Sluggo. But this is pretty raw, don't worry.

First up is Beyond. This one's pretty obvious, since he was a fellow Dynospectrum member; but it came out in 1996, which seems to make these Slug's first properly written and recorded verses (since the early Headshots tapes were just freestyles and live performances, not proper songs like the later tapes). Beyond went on to change his name and record as Musab, but his debut album, Beyond Comparison, is the first vinyl and CD Rhymesayers ever pressed, preceded only by those first Headshots tapes.

So Beyond's got two songs featuring Slug: "B.L.A.K. Culture" and "Unaligned Sperms" (the latter of which is only on the CD version), both produced by A.N.T. The beats are pretty simple boom bap drums with a couple samples on top, but "B.L.A.K." has Slug performing a catchy hook that goes, "Life, love, stress and set-backs. For those trying to breath, show me where your head's at." That's all he contributes to that song, however; the raps are all Beyond.

"Unaligned Sperms," on the other hand, opens with Slug rapping. He's actually kicking a verse from Headshots 4. But I guess it would be more accurate to say he's performing that bit he recorded for this album live on the Headshots tape. But either way, it became a fairly famous (by indie, underground 4 track rap standards) verse by Slug. "Shut your eyes and count to twenty 'cause I'm hidden. Religion made you think that you saw me comin', but you didn't. The jizzim and I come past; you dumb ass kids that be tryin' to run past these tongue lashes. I must be numb 'cause I don't feel you. Arise from your sleep and smell the burnt brain cells, kid. You felt it hurts; the truth hurts, but no pain is no gain. So cut your cocaine with Rogaine. I aim to clench you by your nose hairs. You flinch from the air he hits. I'm taking care of kids. Happily, rappers be catatonic when I splatter vomit verbal yellow chunks. Smell the spunk and the lacerations that I castigate when I notice the mental masquerades and focus on the masturbation. Out come: dripping fascination. You can ask my sibling Nathan; he knows the Headshots sinks from the hatred. I scratch 'till it flakes, and I scratch 'till it aches, and I scratch 'till it breaks like the back that I dismantle on a Camel Light 100. No, I'm straight, dude. And when you're dead, I hope somebody digs you up and rapes you. I hate you and your fake crew, but I'ma bust a fat nut in your embalming fluid. Beyond, run through it."

It's got a lot of raw wordplay, rambling cleverness mixed with youthful, slightly cringey gags. You know, putting the phrase "bust a fat nut" into a battle rap is pretty teenagery; and I'm sure Slug would never write a trite punchline like "I must be numb 'cause I don't feel you." So maybe it hasn't aged so well; but you can still see why all us 90s backpackers would've sweated it. With the way he keeps flipping his delivery and making so many different lines instantly memorable, you could tell Slug was the MC to watch of the crew, the guy who'd be going places. And that's just the first minute of the song, which has three more of Beyond and Slug just passing the mic back and forth, dropping names and flexing their skills.

Then, in 1998, A crew called Kanser dropped one of their earliest tapes, called Network. It's a purple tape, a la The Cella Dwellas, Raekwon and Sonya C. They've got two guest spots by Slug, one called "Progress" and one simply titled "4/10/98," which is presumably the day the song was recorded. Interestingly, A.N.T. produced their first tape, and has a song on here, but not one of the ones with Slug, which are both handled by Kanser's own Mesh.

"4/10/98" is just a fun, freestyle song with head nodding flows over a strange, little beat. The Kanser guys sound really good on here, but their voices are all kinda eye, so it's a welcome moment when Slug's baritone kicks in, "Yo yo yo, tell 'em to shut the fuck down and tell 'em what they feel, 'cause I've been flippin' lyrics since D-Nice had a deal. Back when the Jungle Brothers was on Warner Brothers, I was on a Minnesota corner flippin' rhymes with ya older brothers. And oh brother, if they could only see you now, they'd whup that ass and make ya go home to work on ya style. So I'm a stand tall 'till all starts fallin' and The Source starts writing an obituary column." It all feels off the cuff, like it was freestyled in one take, errors (you can even hear the twitchy slip of the tongue where "shut the fuck up" accidentally fuses with "sit the fuck down" to form "shut the fuck down" as he says it) and all. This has aged well, since it's still a blast; and any flaws that might be more apparent today just trip more nostalgia anyway.

"Progress" feels like a more polished song, but Kanser brings all the same qualities here that they did there. Slug's verse feels a little more mature, too; although he still squeezes in tacky (literally!) innuendos like, "eat that sandwich. Ingredients is good for ya head. Plus I spread my special mayo on both sides of the bread." Maybe it's not high art, but both of these Kanser songs have high replay value that I'm still getting a kick out of in 2015.

Finally, let's look at a song called "Hunger Pains II" by Oddjobs. It's off their debut album, Conflicts and Compromise, from 1999. Their line-up has changed a bit over the years, but on this album it's Anatomy, Deetalz, Advizer and Crescent Moon. Besides Slug, "Hunger Pains II" features a guy named Carnage and New, one of the guys from Kanser. In fact, Oddjobs were on Network, too, just not the songs with Slug. The CD's booklet doesn't specify production credits (although it tells us there's some live guitar by someone named Alex Macintosh on the song), so I guess it's just by Oddjobs as a collective.

The beat's kind of a perfect blend of upbeat and hard, just right for a big ol' posse cut. Although Slug describes it another way on his verse, "this ain't a posse cut; it's a farmer co-op. And I'm a vendor pushing vegetables to boil on your stove top. Hungry? To hell with hungry, I'm starvin'. I'm tryin' to catch a carton of Camels and some land so I can grow a garden. Pardon me, but I'm just tryin' to handle. It's hip-hop, and everywhere I walk is an example. And I linked more words to the ink in this pen, than I do the ink printed on that paper that you spend. Silly rapper, your rapper ego don't move me. You studied too many actors, you've watched too many movies. And soon we will capture the wasted canned soupy attention spans that gather near the base of my loose leaf. So here's a slap on the wrist. Class dismissed. Go home and practice before that ass ends up a past tense. Quit tryin' to be like and sound like him. Plant your own seeds and grow your own limbs. Minneapolis!" This was the kinda rhymes Slug was delivering in the 90s, tongue twisty battle rhymes with plenty of Camels cigarette references.

By the way, if you're wondering about "Hunger Pains 1," you've got me. I guess it's from some obscure demo? In 2004, Crescent Moon made "Hunger Pains Three," though, with Doomtree member P.O.S., for Rhymesayers Ent.

Anyway, it's kinda fun to think all those fancy new Atmosphere songs sprung from this. It's also nice to hear him without the rock and country elements that've drifted into his more recent music. Everything wasn't all better back then, shit was flawed, and dude was just beginning to find himself. And maybe nostalgia's infecting my tastes a bit. But I'll still take these messy old songs over the last couple Atmosphere albums any day of the week.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Spyder-D's Jazzy Break Dance Fusion

So in 1984, a jazz/ Caribbean/ Latin fusion kinda band headed by Matt Bianco released an instrumental called "Matt's Mood," which was a pretty big success for them. They've stuck together over the years and released sequel songs "We've Got the Mood (Matt's Mood '90)" and "Matt's Mood III" in 2004. Yeah, this kind of music doesn't interest me either. I think it sounds like what plays when you call your college and they put you on hold for fifteen minutes.  But it's got a catchy little riff in there I guess; and anyway the point is that it was a big enough record for a hip-hop crew to make a break-dance version of. The group is The Breakout Crew, The Breakout Krew, or The Breekout Krew. They've released records under all three spellings. And even though most pressings don't credit him, including my copy, the MC they got for it is none other than Spyder-D.

Frankly, I'm not even convinced The Breekout Krew is an actual crew. They're all basically produced and performed by one guy, Tony Carrasco, who's done a ton of dance record under his own name and others. I suspect, at its core, The Breekout Krew is just Tony plus whoever happens to be in the studio with him whenever he's in the mood to make a breaking record. I don't know; maybe somebody will cough up a glossy press photo of like four guys posing with different instruments and we'll know that's the official line-up; but I'll believe it when I see it. All their stuff has Carrasco's sound.

Of course, "Matt's Mood" also has Bianco's sound. If you've heard the original, this version is instantly recognizable. The same bassline and basic instrumentation... it's the same groove. This one just has bigger drums and hip-hop elements laid on top of it. Oh, and of course it has raps by Spyder-D.

I've seen some references to this song that imply Spyder's only on the Rap - O Version released in Germany. You can see why people would get that impression, because it's the only pressing that actually credits him on the label or cover, spelling his name Spider-D. So if you were going by discogs or something, you'd just see him on that version. But if you listen to the song, that's his very distinctive voice on all the more common versions. It's the exact same vocal track... In fact, the Rap - O Version doesn't sound any different than the US version. I think that was just what they called it to distinguish it from Bianco's original in Germany.

Anyway, Spyder-D sounds pretty great over this track (and for the record, he spells the crew's name with an "E-A-K"), and the chintzy instrumental sounds pretty decent as a slightly harder hip-hop dance track. It's kinda corny, maybe, and but it's actually pretty cool. Spyder's lyrics don't particularly help, he lets his delivery carry all the weight. But he always sounds great, especially on these early 80s style tracks, so it works. There's a little bit of singing on here, too; which is cool but by someone who is clearly not an accomplished singer. I actually think that might be Spyder, too; but maybe not [Confirmed by Spyder himself on twitter. He also posts a couple other fun facts about the song, so click here and here!].

There's a B-side, which is a pretty cool, more traditional break dance track called "Break, Break." It's basically an instrumental, with just a few sporadic vocoder lines. It's pretty funky and typical 80s break dance stuff, not based on any jazz fusion kinda stuff. Both songs also have Dub mixes, at least on the Next Plateau US pressing I've got. If you're in the mood for an upbeat, fun time that doesn't call for a lot of analytical brain power, throw this one on. It's pretty neat.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Big Daddy Kane's Two Additional Gunmen

Alright, so we just looked at the best single from the Gunmen single, now let's look at the second best: Big Daddy Kane's "Gunman." Now, Rakim's single was a wide, general release; but Kane's is promo only. This single definitely came out single, because Rakim's 12" and the full soundtrack are both from 1993, and this is dated 1994. It's interesting to note that Kane's last single for Cold Chillin' was in '93, and he started coming out on MCA in 1994, so this single may've played a part in that transition - maybe it's even what got him signed.

"Gunman" is produced by Kane himself and co-producer Michael Stokes. Stokes is an old funk/soul producer who got his start working with Kane on "Groove With It," so uh, not a good sign. He also produced that Patti LaBelle record Kane, which was also on MCA, back in 1991; so yeah, I'm sure we're seeing the hints of how Kane switched labels in here. Anyway, fortunately, "Gunman" is not a poppy dance record like "Groove" was; it's a pretty hardcore track. It's got a shout chorus: "gun 'em down, gun 'em down, gun 'em down!" and some old west-style samples over a slow drum track. That old west sound kinda reminds me of "Road To the Riches" or "The Symphony" vibe, though I wouldn't hold this record to those standards. But it's a pretty cool record with Kane in hardcore more; his voice sounds great here.
By the way, all this Gunmen talk got me curious to actually watch the movie tonight. It's not a western, which makes Kane's sample selection a little odd. It's also not a good movie, which I anticipated. But a fun surprise for hip-hop heads, all three guys from the soundtrack have cameos. Frost has a quick scene with Christopher Lambert improving some corny joke to him. Rakim is sitting next to Kadeem Hardison like, "yo man, we gonna do this business?" And Kane? Man, he's performing almost the entire "Gunman" song. See, Kadeem's character hangs out in some inexplicable American hip-hop club in the middle of South America or where ever this movie's supposed to be taking place. Ed Lover and Doctor Dre even cameo here ("yo, man, why does everybody here have guns?"). So yeah, Kane's up there performing, and not just in the background. The movie pretty much stops dead so he can do the first half of his song.

Later on, the characters return to this club and Rakim is performing "I Know You Got Soul" with Eric B! What? How did they manage that? Did they break up mid-film, so they shot those scenes and then Rakim was like, nah, I'm doing this song myself?

Well, anyway, back to "Gunman." The song's not quite Greatest Hits material, but it's a solid Kane track. But like the Rakim 12"s, the single doesn't have the album version on it (you have to get the full soundtrack for that). Instead, it's got an exclusive Remix Master Version. This version Kane did by himself, and it's an improvement. The original version was fine, and this one is still no masterpiece, but it's a little doper. It's still got some of those wild west instrumental elements in it - even new ones - but it's faster and tougher. It compliments Kane's flow a little better, too. There's some really cheesy voice saying something indistinguishable during the chorus which I could live without, but despite that, this one's better.

If you've only heard the album version, I recommend checking out the remix; it's dope. And if you've never heard either mix, while the album version isn't much worse; I'd say you can skip right to the remix and just cop the 12". It's got the Instrumental on here as well. So this and the Rakim promo 12" are the two to own, and then there's really no need to bother with the full soundtrack album.