Sunday, April 22, 2007

You Got It!

Here it is: the 12" single for one of my all-time favorite hip-hop songs. Cool C's "The Glamorous Life." A break-through rap hit that pinnacled a rise to fame for Cool, starting with indie rap 12"'s like "Juice Crew Dis," through his successful major label single and video "I Gotta Habit" and ultimately to this 1989 great. This song was on the radio ALL the time for years, had a hot video that got regular play on all the video shows... it is a definite rap classic, and frankly a classic record of the 80's of any genre.

The production for this record, by LG Goodman and Steady B is just perfect, with enough pop appeal for mainstream audiences, but a banging enough beat to keep the real hip-hop heads from frontin'. The hook features a fresh Shiela E-sampled chorus (from her own hugely successful 80's dance hit, also called "Glamorous Life"), the infamous Hilltop Hustlers' signature call ("Ooo-ooohh!") that gained international recognition after this record, and some unforgettable scratching by his DJ, Tat Money - and when the breakdown comes towards the end of the song and Tat cuts it up... man, hip-hop just doesn't get any better than that.

"Glamorous Life" is actually a sequel of sorts to Three Times Dope's "Funky Dividends" (another great Philly record that belongs in your collections). 3XD used to be down with the Hilltop, but when they split with LG because they felt he was holding out on them financially, the Hustlers turned on them (check 3XD's self-produced second album's liner notes. In small print it says, "L. Goodman didn't do a damn thing on this record, but our lawyer said we have to give him credit due to our settlement agreement."). Ironically, years later, Steady and the rest of the Hilltop crew would also part with LG for the same reason and self-produce their own records.

Anyway, "Funky Dividends," about a girl who MC EST falls for until she starts to expect money from him, features recurring dialogue with him and the girl, Michelle, throughout. At one point, in the middle of the song, she complains, "When I was with Steady B, I had it all: Gucci, Louie Vuitton, gold, Liz Claiborne... I had it all. You ain't giving me nothin'!" And on "Glamorous Life," she's back! This more fun yet cynical joint's all about gleefully showering riches on the girl you adore ("a girl that has no price... when she's in the glamorous life"). Towards the end of the song, Michelle returns to have a conversation with Cool, "When I was with Steady B, I had everything. I was rollin’ phat... livin’ large. I had all the luxuries of life. But when I was with that nut EST, he ain’t give me nothin'! I guess it's like my mama used to say..." Tat Money than cuts in a vocal sample, "We gotta use what we got to get what we want! U-u-use what we got... to get what we want!" Cool C answers, "Yeah. Girls like you, Michelle, is hard to find. That's why I had to make you my wife - so you could live the glamorous life." I guess that's meant to be a diss... like EST can't afford what the Hustlers can, but really it just confirms what EST already said on his record... that he's not down with paying gold diggers and he gave her nuthin'. But if there was any doubt that maybe it was just meant to be a playful nod and not a diss, the video left no doubt. Right after that exchange, there's a shot of a 3XD record lying on the sidewalk, and Cool C aggressively steps on it.

Besides having a fun picture cover (he's stuffed his pants with money!), the 12" is a must have for the extended version that's not featured on the I Gotta Habit LP. Remixed by LG, this features an extra keyboard sample (not really necessary, but it doesn't detract either), a keyboard solo during the breakdown (it's really pretty tight, though it might turn off the hard rocks), and most importantly, an all new third verse from Cool C!

"Glamorous girls are an exception...
You have to give them love and perfection.
Try to fill all their needs
So that your love can succeed.
That doesn't mean let them use you...
'Cause some of them may choose to.
For a girl who's just that hype,
No need to juice me, 'cause I like
To give her all that I can give,
'Cause I like my girl to live
As large as possible,
So that my girl will know
That I truly, truly love her,
And I place no one above her.
That's why I don't think twice
To give her the glamorous life!"

The b-side is another cool album track, "Enemy Territory," and instrumentals are provided for both.
Of course, I don't need a myspace link to show us what Cool C is up to these days; he's still on death row, awaiting execution for fatally shooting a police officer during a bank robbery gone wrong with Steady B (who's also in prison for life, though not death row).

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