Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Krs-One's First Word

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(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.

Friday, May 12, 2017

3rd Bass: Pieces of Ichabod's Cranium

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(3rd Bass's third album was supposed to be entitled Ichabod's Cranium.  It never got completed.  But what bits and pieces are out there?  Youtube version is here.)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Destruction From the Exterminator

Never heard of MC Destruction before?  That's okay, neither had I until Dope Folks put up sound-clips for their latest preorder.  But one listen and I immediately had to find out everything I could.  Unfortunately, though, that's not much.  Destruction's from the Bronx, and he only released this one, super rare 12" single on Black Wax Records, all four songs of which are being repressed now by Dope Folks.  He was produced by Marc Niles, who later went on to produce some Crustified Dibbs stuff for Jive Records; but you'd never imagine the two acts were connected listening to this.

There's a strong Big Daddy Kane influence in Destruction's work, and some serious pre-Wu Tang Genius mixed in with a bit of a Supreme Nyborn vibe at times.  The single was originally recorded in '89 and released in '90, which may explain a bit about why it didn't blow up Destruction's career to a major label level.  It sounds more like it's from '87-'88, so anyone looking for the next big thing would've moved immediately past this.  But now in the era of looking back for lost gems, '88 is perfect.

One thing that really works for this record is that, like Kane, he's very consistent as an MC even while his songs are very different from one another.  This Blow Of Death EP captures that, but without any of Kane's later "Groove With It"-like misfires.  We start out with the title track (changing the sequencing from the original record), a slick burner where Destruction slips into some hardcore fast rap, "those who try to beat or defeat me; they can't because my rhymes are overlooked by Nefertiti."  My only criticism is that Blow Of Death uses so many samples you've heard before on other rap songs, to the point where, for all intents and purposes, you've heard the instrumental for "Goin' Off" at least a dozen times before.  This EP is fantastic, but originality is not its strong suit.  In fact the most original song might otherwise be its weakest track, "Maria."  Yeah, it's about a girl like the title suggests, but thematically it's much more in tune with "Jane" or "Mary Go Round" than a love song.  "Murderin' MCs" is like a smoother take on "Blow Of Death," by his DJ Absolute.  And finally "Comin' Off" is a duet with an unnamed second MC (though by the writing credits, we can guess his government name is Howard Dodd), where there's a real cool, almost gangsta rap influence as they represent their Black Wax Posse over James Brown's "The Payback."

Now the original 12" was actually a split EP, with MC Destruction's four tracks on side A, and four cuts by another guy named Corey Pee (clearly not the other guy from "Comin' Off" unless he really switched up his voice) on the B-side.  For both of them, this seems to have been their only record.  So, for serious collectors, there's still a reason to hang onto your original 12", but there's no question MC Destruction's is the side that needs to be preserved.  Corey Pee was okay, his song "Come Get Some" is pretty good; but he was definitely going for more of a mainstream-friendly, crossover tip, with some corny R&B hooks and junk.  His song "Step To This" in particular is like a budget C&C Music Factory joint.  So MC Destruction's stuff doesn't just edge out Corey's side as the superior material, it's on a whole other level.

This is limited to Dope Folks usual 300 copy run, the first 50 of which are on yellow vinyl, and the rest are on traditional black.  By the way, am I alone in thinking that black wax is particularly appropriate in this instance?  And by the way, how awesome is it that Dope Folks now have custom label sleeves?  It's tempting to say that I was more excited by the surprise of seeing that sleeve when I opened the package than the actual record, but I can't because the record's too hot.  I was having a discussion with someone recently trying to tell them how much I was feeling this record, and they were kind of dismissive, like "yeah, everything on Dope Folks' stuff is great."  And yeah, that's true; but I would put this over even most of the other Dope Folks Records in my collection.  This is a real must-have.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Stickers Must Die!

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(Just a little mini-video for you today.  I wanted to try something I'd been reading about: removing old, crackly stickers from record covers.  Usually you wind up tearing up the covers if you attempt it, but some online sources recommended using a hair dryer to heat it up, and as you can see... it works!  An amazing modern miracle of super-technology!  And we'll return to my regular-style programming next vid.  😉  Youtube version is here.)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Dirty Jersey Week, Bonus Day 8: Razzle Dazzle, Old To the New

Okay, I had a whole other post lined up to round out Dirty Jersey Week, but I actually got put on to today's release as I was writing this series, and I had to include it.  I won't mention who got bumped because I don't want to break any hearts.  😄  But this is somebody I've been meaning to cover on this blog for a while, and he's just come out with a brand new reissue of his classic album with all new bonus tracks... of course I couldn't resist!  I'm talking about the limited edition CD release of Scott Lark's underground Jersey classic Razzle Dazzle.  If you missed it, check out this video interview I posted with Scott a couple years ago.

You're going to see some recurring themes here if you've been following Dirty Jersey Week: Tony D, Contract Recordings, and these cats like B-Fyne again.  Scott Lark is another one of those underground Hip-Hop acts Tony D was working with for Contract Recordings, just like Blaque Spurm, Wise Intelligent and his own breakbeat compilations.  But Scott Lark didn't fit in with those cats or any of the other typical, "random rap" NJ hardcore 90s groups.

Scott Lark has a very west coast influenced, laid back stoner vibe going on, with a smooth but very fried voice.  It's the kind of style that requires some very strong production to work, and so it's lucky for everyone that Tony D handled his entire catalog in this period.  So it doesn't sound like a west coast album, and Lark's lyrical enough that it doesn't sound like mainstream fare.  It's kinda unique.  It's got a great cool-out vibe, with Tony giving it a lush, robust sound-bed.  You'll recognize some samples here and there, but they've been given a very new context here.

And some of Scott's lyrics feel like they're written freestyles conceived while completely under the influence.  Songs like "I Killed a Hoe" and "The Movie," will definitely have you pausing like, wait, is he saying he smoked a bomb with Saddam Hussein on his plane and "he had a jacuzzi with five groupies holdin' uzies?"  Yup, and the story proceeds, "that chick Suzy, she said, hey ain't you that rapper? She slapped me in the face and called me a chick basher.  She stuck her gone in my nose; I froze.  Made me lick her toes and her asshole!  I couldn't do it.  I had to do it."  He always lives up to the backpacker standards of "lyrical" in his construction, but content-wise, he could get very stream of consciousness.

Now, Scott had two 12"s on Contract in '95 and '96, "Insight" and "Razzle Dazzle."  Both of those, including all the B-sides and everything, then wound up on his '96 full-length, Razzle Dazzle.  In fact, it's almost more of an EP than an LP.  The original cassette version, which is what I've always had, is eight tracks deep.  The two 12"s had seven songs between them, so it really only added one new song ("Stomped" featuring B-Fyne).  Apparently there was a CD version, too; but I'd never heard of it until it got listed on discogs many years later.  Anyway, the CD doesn't add anymore songs, but fills up the disc with the instrumentals and radio versions from the 12"s.

This new CD dumps the old CD's filler, returning to just the core eight songs... and adding three unreleased tracks!  One of them is a brand new remix of his debut single, "Insight."  It's produced by The Custodian of Records, and it's really good.  It almost rivals the original, although the vocals do feel like they're mixed a little low and get lost behind the instrumental.  But that's no reason to kick it out of bed; it's got fantastic horn samples and a killer bassline; you'll definitely be impressed.  Then the other two songs are vintage unreleased cuts from Lark's crew before Razzle Dazzle called Unfound with three other MCs named Drunk, Draz and Gee Cope.  And one of these two songs is a posse cut with The Funk Family.  So that tells us these were probably recorded around '92.  Lark does sound younger.  They're rawer, higher energy songs and yes, Tony D produced these, too.

This CD is limited to just 100 copies.  I know Scott Lark's not exactly MC Hammer famous, but I think they're underestimating heads' interest in this one.  It's being released through Cha-Ching Records; Tony D's old label, but now shipping out of Germany?  (shrug)  Anyway, it comes with some new liner notes and the bonus stickers you see in the photo above.  Not the cassette, though; that's just my old tape.  Here's their BigCartel.  I hope we'll see a lot more of Tony's unreleased catalog coming soon.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dirty Jersey Week, Day 7: Tony D's Eminem

I've covered the most recent Shawn Lov projects before, but this is the perfect Week to go back and look at his most recognized record.  If you go through his catalog now, it's not his first release, but basically any of the earlier stuff is online-only material that most fans have been discovering in retrospect.  This was his vinyl debut, produced by Tony D in 1999 on his own Cha-Ching Records label.  And this is really when he started appearing on diggers' radars, in no small part because it had a real Eminem vibe just as the Eminem craze was blowing up.

I don't mean to say that Shawn was like an Eminem clone; this is no Dasit situation.  Even in his super early stuff, Shawn was very much his own artist.  And I know there was a bit of a kerfuffle for a while about every white MC getting compared to Eminem and accusing them all of sounding alike, a la Asher Roth's "As I Em."  But first of all, Asher did come out with Em's sound, and secondly, that complaint is kinda B.S.  Nobody ever said Vanilla Ice sounded like The Beastie Boys or the Insane Clown Posse sounded like 3rd Bass.  In fact, at the time, Eminem was getting a lot of his signature style from The Outsidaz.  But ever since I first heard this single, you're going to have a hard time convincing Tony D didn't put Shawn on thinking he was catching a little bit of the Eminem wave with this kid.

And to be clear, that's not a bad thing.  When people were saying The Wizard of Rap sounded like Rakim in '89, that wasn't their way of saying, "waiter, take this back to the kitchen."  It was more of a reason why "you gotta get this record!"  Eminem is still one of the most respected rappers around, but there was no better time to sound like Em than '97-2000.  That was his peak.  Think about it: Tony D producing an indie 12" for Eminem back then, wouldn't you want to hear that?  Well, you almost kinda sorta can.

So let's finally talk about this record for a minute.  The first song "That's What's Up," is just a fun, punchline heavy battle freestyle rhymes over a bouncy beat.  And yeah he sounds like Eminem sounding like The Outsidaz... his voice with the higher pitch, the way he races from line to line, changing voices to respond to himself.  But then the B-side, "Respect This," is less so.  He sounds more like himself here, more natural.  The beat is heavier, too, and the rhymes are less jokey.  He's free of the influence, and actually I think this song has aged much better for it.  In 2017, this is really the song I mostly revisit the vinyl for.

But there's one more song, called "Pathetic," and I think this is actually his most Em influenced sounding of all.  Instrumentally, it's not.  Tony D lays down a cool and jazzy but very familiar track.  But then Shawn comes actually sounding like he's doing a deliberate Emzy impression on this song.  The way he packs syllables into punchlines, pitches up on the hook and again changes voices is all so much like "Just Don't Give a Fuck."  It's almost like Tony made a smoothed out remix with Em's Acapella.

Now, let's head over to Shawn's bandcamp page, because he wrote out some cool descriptions for all his back catalog, and I'm curious what he says about this.  The songs here were only physically released on this 12", but he has a whole mp3-only album (or maybe there was a rare CD?) of these sessions he recorded with Tony D called The G.O.D. LP, and all three songs are on it.  One quote from there kind of confirms my theory, at least partially: "Recorded in 1998... The G.O.D. was the album that was intended to introduce Shawn Lov to the Hip-Hop world at a time when there were no other 'White' Emcees with comparable talents."  Pay particular attention to the "recorded in 1998" part, because he also writes, "I'm Pathetic,' a self-deprecating song created a year before Eminem came along, who enjoyed global success using the same humorous shtick."  I'm glad to see this because it shows I'm not the only one drawing the Eminem connection.  But more to the point, the 12" was released in '99, but these songs were recorded in 1998.  Okay.  And what year did The Slim Shady EP come out and make the underground scene go crazy?  1997.  So my timeline holds up.

But "Pathetic" has a unique premise which is not out of the Slim Shady playbook.  It's basically a diss record directed at... himself.  Non-stop vicious and comic lines putting himself on blast, "I feel frightened and alone even when my crew's around, 'cause they don't even give me pounds," "I ain't got no rhythm, no soul, no breath control.  What I need to do is grab a control and start playin' rock & roll, 'cause I ain't nothin' but a wack-dressed crash test dummy.  I only lost my virginity 'cause this big bitch took it from me!"  It's a genuinely clever, original concept.  The only song I can think of that came close to that idea is Esau the Anti-Emcee's "Boo."  And since I've just been breaking Shawn's balls about timelines, I have to give him full credit and say this handily pre-dates Esau's record by 2-3 years.

All told, this is a cool slice of wax that belongs in the crates of any underground late 90s heads.  Of course, it's a must for Tony D collectors.  And ironically, most of us were checking for this back in the days because of the Eminem sound; but now the song that holds up the most is the one where Shawn steps out of his shadow.  The 12" comes in a sticker cover and features instrumentals, dirty and clean versions of the first two tracks.  Unfortunately though, "I'm Pathetic" only has a clean version, and it does include a few curse words which get silenced.  But it's not too distracting.

Oh, and by the way, Day 7 was naturally going to be the last day of Dirty Jersey Week; but tomorrow I'll be adding one more last minute bonus day.  And yes, I'll actually post it tomorrow-tomorrow.  😛

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dirty Jersey Week, Day 6: The Lost YZ/ Shaq Collaberation

Here's an interesting limited vinyl (and CD) release I almost passed over: the unreleased EP by The Rat Pack called Porno Stars From Mars.  Okay, but who the heck is The Rat Pack, you ask.  It's a crew YZ put together in the late 90s.  It's four up and coming (well, at the time) MCs, specifically Delowe Marshalis, Sean Pender, The Third aka Boo the Product and Canon, with YZ producing them.  Can YZ even produce?  Has he done it before?  Well, he's had co-production credit on a lot of his earlier work, so maybe?  Surely we'd rather he rapped, but well, let's find out.

Porno Stars From Mars is an EP worth of material: six songs and a skit from 1998.  And actually the production's pretty solid.  The opening track in particular sounds hot, with a great chopped piano loop over some crispy drums, and the smooth vibed "Supa Shine."  With four MCs you've never heard before, I can't say any of them really distinguish themselves; only the guests do.  And this EP has some noteworthy guests: Taji from Souls of Mischief, Keith Murray who sounds really good on here and, yes, Shaquille O'Neal.  He sounds like his usual clumsy self, "The conceitedness of Brick City's Wells Fargo.  Get it, motherfucker?  'Cause I got a lot of dough.  And all y'all hatin' ass niggas, y'all be makin' me sick.  But since y'all pussies, squeeze your balls and cut off your dick."  Um, okay.

Overall, it's a pretty solid EP.  The production's better than I was expecting, and you definitely won't be able to listen to some of these tracks without nodding to them.  But I really wish YZ was rapping on here.  These guys are on a cool, hardcore tip, but sometimes their content's a little too basic.  The EP's limited to 500 copies, the first 100 of which come in full color picture covers pressed on translucent red wax.  Both the vinyl and CD also come with a photo postcard of the group (the one pictured above), and you can also buy a bundle which includes a T-shirt as well.  This is all on the Nustalgic record label, with all the B-Fyne material I covered on Day 1, which brings me to some other CDs they have on there I want to touch on briefly.

There's another group on there, who you've probably never heard of anymore than The Rat Pack, called Good Biz.  Well, Good Biz is actually a project B-Fyne was doing around 2010, basically a pair up of him and a guy named KP.  There's also sometimes a third member who sings some of the hooks; I think she's part of the group like Miss Jonez was part of The Get Fresh Crew.  But she did make it onto two of the covers.  Anyway yeah, they have a bunch of material: two EPs (Principles & Interest and Checks & Balances), a CD single ("Mr. Original"), and a full-length album (Sound Investment), plus another digital-only remix EP (Soul Proprietor) and KP solo album (Slaps).

I've been going through their stuff, and it's good but not great.  B-Fyne is a better MC than KP, and a lot of their production sounds kind of cheap.  But some tracks stand out with richer production, and there's some very interesting guests interspersed, including YZ (on a couple songs), Crusaders For Real Hip-Hop's Rahzii Hipowa, UGK's Bun B, Cool Nutz (remember, B-Fyne has a Texas connection) and Brother J.  Some of the more noteworthy songs are "Mr. Original" with YZ about sneakers and B-Fyne doing a little Special Ed homage, and of course the song with Brother J.  A lot of the production is by The Are, who they say is "of The Track Masterz," but I'm pretty sure The Track Masterz consists solely of Poke, Tone and sometimes Frank Nitty.  I think this might actually be the guy from K-Otix.  Some of these tracks also have some nice, subtle scratching on them, which is a plus.

Anyway, it's good to hear more material from B-Fyne and YZ.  It shows they've still got it.  But I also actually kinda hate some of the music here, like "Y'all Can't Ball" and "One For the Money."  They've got the kind of roster I love to cover on this site, but musically, I'd say it's better to pick through this material than go nuts and buy everything.  Most of the digital versions of the Good Biz projects are free, so you can download all that, and see if any of it inspires you to throw a CD in your cart while you're picking up some of the bigger ticket items, like the Blaque Spurm and Rat Pack.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dirty Jersey Week, Day 5: Redman Going Solo

Here's a really interesting record: Redman's "It's Like That (My Big Brother)."  What's so interesting about it?  Well, let's work our way up.  One thing that's interesting is that it's pretty typical for a major single to have a promo version and a nice picture cover version.  But the promo doesn't usually have its own, unique picture cover.  Red definitely can't complain that Def Jam was fronting on the marketing budget for his upcoming third album; this is down-right excessive.  But, hey, it's cool for DJs and collectors to have something more than just a black and white no frills label in a plain sleeve.

The next reason is that it marks the comeback of K-Solo.  He'd basically disappeared when his deal with Atlantic wrapped up in '92.  Plus, when EPMD split, he seemed to side with PMD's less successful Hit Squad than Sermon's powerhouse Def Squad.  Not that he made any appearances on Hit Squad projects either.  But now he was coming back on the most anticipated release from any of these guys, and it was on the Def Squad side, not Hit Squad.  The beat for this is co-produced by Erick Sermon and Redman (though it's basically just a slight tweak of Mantronix's classic "Cold Gettin' Dumb" for Just-Ice with a little "Top Billin'" laid over the top).  Did this also mean the Def/ Hit Squad split was healed?  Had everyone gotten back together and was an EPMD reunion next on the way?  Fans were understandably excited; and yeah, next year EPMD was Back In Business.  But K-Solo's career got left in a closet somewhere.  All he got out of it was a guess appearance on Stezo's indie 12"; and that guy was more on the outs that Solo.

So anyway, you already know the song on the Muddy Waters album is called "That's How It Is (My Big Brother)."  Redman and K-Solo trade verses back and forth over "Cold Gettin' Dumb."  But on the promo 12", the song has an alternate title: "That's How It Is (It's Like That)", and one of the versions on there, besides Instrumental and Acappella, is "(My Big Brother) - Radio Edit" (the Dirty version's on there, too).  So, that begs the question, what is "That's How It Is (It's Like That) - Radio Edit," a completely separate track without the "(My Big Brother)" part?

Let's look at the retail version.  Here, we get entire different sets of song credits for "It's Like That (My Big Brother)" and "That's How It Is (It's Like That)," even though they have identical writing, production, mixing, mastering, publishing and sample clearance credits.  There's just one difference.  Only "It's Like That (My Big Brother)" also credits additional vocals to K-Solo.  Yes, both 12"s have the duet you're all familiar with from the album and music video on them.  But they also have an alternate version with the same beat, but minus K-Solo.  Redman's verses are all the same, but since removing K-Solo would make the song about 90 seconds, he also has all new, additional verses at the end.  The song also has a different hook and is missing the "Reggie Noble's stinking ass" intro.

I'd love to know the story here!  Did Redman record the song solo, and then K-Solo came around last-minute, so they re-edited it to cut him in?  Or did they record the duet and then remake it without him?  Was this the result of the tumultuous Hit Squad/ Def Squad drama still bubbling, or maybe Redman just wanted a solo version so he could tour with the song when Solo wasn't around?  Which version came first?

Anyway, I've always been a K-Solo fan, so I like him being on there.  I mean, his return was what made the song so exciting in the first place, and the two of them going back and forth with their distinct voices gives the song more energy.  If the song's not a duet, it's a little too much like just an unnecessary "Cold Gettin' Dumb" rehash.  But on the other hand, any Redman fan is going to also want the solo version with twice as many bars of him going crazy like, "I go down to White Castle to get a bitch who's on the dick for the whip. The lyricist is shit; I explode at full blitz to put Time Warner on the fritz."

Both 12"s have exactly the same track-listing, which is unfortunate because, while they come fully loaded with the instrumental and radio edits of both versions, they only include the Dirty and Acappella versions of the K-Solo song.  And yeah, I like that one better; but it means we don't have an uncensored version of the Redman solo song; and as you just read, he definitely throws in some words that they had to cut out.  Still, either 12" is a big step up from only having the album and the one, famous version of the song.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dirty Jersey Week, Day 4: Old School Blue

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(It's time to take it back, way back, to an obscure, 80s Camden group... who may actually have roots in Philly, but never mind.  It's Dirty Jersey Week Day 4!  Youtube version is here.)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Dirty Jersey Week, Day 3: More Wax

Okay, now that we're past the novelty rap, how about some brand spankin' new Jersey Hip-Hop?  The Custodian of Records is one of the contemporary producers I've been most excited about in the last couple years; he's produced for projects you've me carry on about like 7 Immortals, Sparrow the Movement, Shawn Lov, and the Written On Your Psyche guys.  Now he's finally hitting us with his debut solo vinyl release, Less Work, on his own imprint, Adult Edu.  You might remember me tweeting about his GoFundMe campaign for this record last year.  Well, it reached its goal, the whole project's completed and donators are now getting their wax.  And happily, since I never like to spoil it for myself by listening to any digital musical samples in advance of a physical release, it lives up to expectations.

Every time I cover an instrumental album, which isn't often at all, I mention that I'm not a huge fan of instrumental Hip-Hop albums in general.  Hip-Hop instrumentals are usually more simplistic and repetitive than other forms of pop music because the lyrics are so much more dense and require concentration.  And that all works great for complete songs.  But when you get a break-beat album, you're like, "this is a nice little loop, but these three seconds are just going to replay unchanging for the next four minutes?"  Even DJ Shadow albums and the like, yeah they have more change-ups and samples swapping in and out, but they still seem to ask you to vibe out to some pretty basic grooves for long periods of time.  And all that's fine if you're a DJ buying a breakbeat album to mix or produce with; but it leaves regular listeners a bit cold.  Or at least to me, it feels like reading a screenplay instead of watching a movie.  But Less Work is more in line with, say, DJ Jazzy Jeff's "Touch of Jazz" in that it's meant to be listened to and keep you hooked.  Except without the scratches.  Maybe next EP, Custodian could add some cuts.  But then again, listening to this record, it doesn't need any.

Less Work is eleven tracks deep, though in terms of length, it's essentially an EP, as most are two minutes or less.  So that helps keep the pace up.  But more than that, it's just that these tracks are  more complex than just break-beats, with lots of vocal and instrumental samples coming and going.  And the tracks fit nicely together despite having really different types of drums and moods.  The fact that it keeps shifting definitely makes it feel alive, so you're rewarded for paying attention and you want to.  It's actually disappointing every time you hit the end of a side of the record, because it's pulled you in and left you wanting more.  It's definitely not often you find albums you can say that about.

So as you can see in the picture above, this comes in a fresh sticker cover.  This is available even if you didn't contribute to the original campaign, but it's super limited; only 100 copies were pressed.  So that doesn't leave a you a big window of opportunity to jump on this.  If you want to order a copy, new copies are being sold through discogs.  That's about it; it's a pretty exclusive release.  And very much worth it.