Saturday, June 30, 2007

And This Is the Way… We Rock the House!

This is a good 12" from a good group who's time has unfortunately passed. It's unspectacular - it's essentially a compilation of horn samples, basslines, and Public Enemy wailing sirens you've heard multiple times before... but all mixed into two undeniably agreeable instrumentals. And the lyrics aren't exactly what we used to call "next level:" "the hard rhymer, known for one-liners and puttin' skins in the Lay-Z-Boy recliner." But "This Is the Way We Rock the House" is just a solid hip-hop 12" for anyone who loves hip-hop (casual fans can skip over this and keep waiting for the next Gnarls Barkley).

The Kings of Swing debuted with a minor, late 80's classic called, "Stop Jockin' James" and wound up getting signed to Virgin Records and being produced by The Audio Two and King of Chill in 1990. It was definitely the formula for a nice, hip-hop record, if not a mainstream hit, and they scored bigger big with their single, "Nod Your Head To This." But not big enough for Virgin to back a second album (a shame, of course... but also not difficult to understand from their perspective). A couple years later, though ('93), I caught the Kings of Swing on a local NY hip-hop video show (WNYC 31) showing they were still in the game to win it. They had a black and white video to go with their first single (co-produced by themselves, Ismael “Ish” Allen, and DJ Master Tee, who’d done some stuff with MC Lyte and the First Priority crew) from their upcoming, self-produced album on their own label, K.O.S. (try and guess what it stands for!) Records. And they even changed their names from Sugar Kay and Mike Master to M.K. and Slash Boogie, to go with their new, rugged image. Well, apparently they never got as far as the album, but there were a few nice, hard-to-find 12"s going around of that single.

It was pretty rare, and I hadn't managed to find a copy, until The Sunz of Man's manager discovered a box of them (yeah, that’s about as random as it sounds), and sold them out through the Sunz' website. They had like 6 Sunz of Man vinyl and CD singles and one old Kings of Swing record. Well, I'd been looking for that for like a decade since I first saw the video, so you know I didn't waste anytime. :)

And I wasn't disappointed in the least. As I said, it relied on the familiar, and the Kings may've actually been lyrically regressing at that point (lines about having "more funk than comes out your ass-cheeks" could've just as well been written by Brian Austin Greene or somebody); but both the main track, and the B-side, "The Blunted" can still get your head nodding like they used to, and DJ CoCoa Chanelle steals the show with some nice scratching.

These guys were ahead of the indie 12" boom in the mid to late 90's, and it's a shame they didn't at least drop a few more rare jewels on KOS before calling it a career. Well, I don't know what's become of The Kings, but the Queen has been rather successfully DJing her own show on Hot 97 for some time. She's also apparently venturing into the rapping and production game, suggesting she's "the female version of Dr. Dre" on her myspace page, and hinting at an album, "like how Dre did on The Chronic when he came out and he's rhyming, he's producing, and then he's bringing new artists to the table." I suppose a couple Kings of Swing reunion tracks is too much to hope for... but, then again, if Easy Mo Bee can keep bringing out RIF on his albums, I can remain optimistic. :)

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