Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Where's Disco Rick At? (Part 1)

[This is going to be a long post and not quite in the style of my usual blog entries, because this is actually a (slightly modified) article I wrote for The Vinyl Exchange some years ago. It was accepted and it was going to run, but then things got held up and help up again; and it was always “going to be posted” on VE for a very long time (that’s why my tag on the VE boards is “Disco Rick Historian.” Hehe), but it never quite happened. That sort of thing happens to me a lot, by the way… I was accepted to write for Six-Too’s terrific little indie hip-hop site Tryple-Bypass right before it shut down, and RebirthMag and UrbanDigital have both closed... it’s possible I’m cursed. Anyway, years later now, I’ve got this blog and this old, unpublished Disco Rick article… it was a little more informative at the time, before some of these artists had wiki pages and listings on discogs, but I think most oif you guys will still learn a lot from it, so let’s have at it!]

See it all began in 1986, when the Gucci Crew II (Gucci M.C.V. a.k.a. Gucci Man and TFS a.k.a. 2-40, w/ DJ Disco Rick) released their debut 12", "Gucci Bass" on their own label, Gucci Records. Thus began a succession of kinda fresh/ kinda novelty-value hit singles, including "The Cabbage Patch" and their seminal hip-hop classic: "Sally - That Girl:"

“One, two, three…

And I woke up early this morning

And I went to the five and dime;

I saw this pretty young lady

That was real, real fine.

I tapped her on the shoulder

And said, "Mmm, mmm,

Excuse me, ma'am."

She pulled down her pants

And said, "Splack these hams."

In 1987, these were collected onto their debut album, So Def, So Fresh, So Stupid. The Gucci Crew II came with light lyrics and a quasi-hardcore style over cool, bass-heavy tracks (before "Miami bass" had that stigma attached to it), and a bevy of fresh scratches by Disco Rick.

In 1988, the Gucci Crew II came with their second album, What Time Is It? It's Gucci Time, featuring the marginal hit single "Truz 'N' Vogues," which kind of reversed the traditional gender roles of gold-digging: "I don't need a girl that's walking; I don't need a girl that's talking… I don't need a girl that's on her back; I need a young lady with a Cadillac." It also featured the delightful homage to Run DMC (clearly a huge influence on the trio), "Why's Always Got To Be Run," about their invariably coming in second to the kings of rock. There was "Shirley," a shameless but not-entirely-unsuccessful attempt to recapture the magic of "Sally - That Girl," and the more direct, "Fuddy Duddy," a silly parody of Doug E. Fresh & MC Ricky D's "La Di Da Di," with MCV performing as "Slick Vick," and TFS providingthe human beat-box.

They came again, the following year, with Everybody Wants Some and the single, "Five Dollar High." Say what you want about Floridian rappers from the 80's, but short of "White Lines" itself, those guys always made the most entertaining anti-drug songs. The beats were still pretty fresh, but with a decided bent towards sampling their flavor from overly familiar p-funk records. The Crew was getting better as MCs, but it was already the end of a brief era, with the magic's progressive seepage from each Gucci Crew release coming to a hilt as DJ Disco Rick struck out on his own.

Standing in flames, looking sweaty, relatively buff, and really pissed off, with a Ku Klux Klan hood in one hand and a noose in the other, Disco Rick was obviously tired of the jokey, self-deprecating attitudes of his former front-men. 1990 brought The Negro's Back by Disco Rick featuring The Dogs (Ant "D" & Amazing Peanut) on Joey Boy Records. This time Disco Rick took the mic - leaving the actual DJ work to a DJ Tony Tone - to vent a lot of anger, "like Ice Cube said, 'no sell out,' and if you do, get the Hell out the black race!" He decried social injustice, racism and "rednecks" on records like "Stopped In Mississippi" and "Babies In the Trash Cans." The flip side featured some more traditional Miami-style tracks, like "Hi-Ho," "S..k That D..k," and "Let Us Get That A.. Baby," featuring ‘shout and call’ hooks and the sort of scratched up Dolemite samples made popular by 2 Live Crew's early records with Luke Skyywalker. Those aside, though, The Negro's Back was a brilliant (in its way) example of the kind of 80's over-the-top, shamelessly unself-conscious hardcore rap records that I think we all, frankly, rather miss.

...They also put out the 12" only cut called "Rap Protest" that same year, showing their support to The 2 Live Crew, Public Enemy and MC Lyte(huh?) in their fights for their first amendment rights.

[Ok; I've just found out when attempting to post this that I'm limited to a certain length in blog entries. So this will be immediately followed up in a Where's Disco Rick At (Part 2) post.]

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