Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Where's Disco Rick At? (Part 2)

[Continued from Part 1. It didn't fit all in one post, so I had to split this one up.]

"Take notice that: This album is based on 3 subjects. Sex, politics, and violence. That is real life on the streets of Miami and LA," pronounced the jacket of The Dogs' debut, self-titled album, released by Joey Boy that same year. Of course, 90% of it was based on the first subject, but you really lose a little piece of your soul every time you nit-pick a release by groups like The Dogs… It was co-written, and of course produced, by Disco Rick, although, again, the scratching was left to somebody else - this time DJ FM. The album followed the same themes as Disco Rick's, but with a less angry/ serious bent, except for the first track, where Disco Rick rapped about his not-so-amicable separation from the GCII, using an exchange from the intro to "Show Bizz" (off of What Time Is It? It's Gucci Time) on the hook:

"Where's Disco Rick at?"

"I think he's in the booth."

"Gettin' ready to cut it up?"


…with Disco Rick shouting out his retort, "NO!" over the last line.

He trashed the crew, dropping lines like, "they do records that make people laugh; and when I hear it, I break it in half," and, while technically a Dogs album, Peanut and Ant "D" really just served as back-up to Disco Rick the whole way through. Rick still sometimes got serious on tracks like "Ten Little N…..s" (a song about being afraid of the local, inner-city children) and "F..k the President" (self-explanatory). Even on the generic shout and call songs, like "Lets Go, Lets Go" and "Lick It," the production set this album slightly above most of its contemporaries. This was also the record that features the infamous single, "Crack Rock," with a group of kids calling out, "your momma's on crack rock" to one little boy vainly trying to stand up for himself, “Uh-uh; no she ain’t.” Only "Who Gives a F..k," a litany of Disco Rick saying, "Who gives a fuck about ____ [The Guardian Angels, teachers, killing a bitch, Queen Elizabeth, etc]” to the constant response of "We don't, we don't!" and "Dog Call," Rick's misguided stab at lyrical respectability, were genuinely embarrassing (though perhaps not without camp value). Between this and The Negro's Back, Disco Rick managed to jump free of a derailing train and find his way back into the realm of dope hip-hop, at least for a short while.

That train, meanwhile, took one more shot at recording before finally crashing into that big, inescapable boulder painted to look like a tunnel. With new member Hollywood, the Gucci Crew II dropped G4 on Gucci Records/ Hot Productions, an album that was pretty terrible by anybody's standards. G4 was at its best only on tracks like "Pushin'," where they used samples and beats made popular by other, better hip-hop albums of the past, which, by that time, had gotten pretty seriously played out themselves. Even "Project Girl," a perfunctory sequel to "Sally - That Girl," and "Gucci Gumbo (Mega Mix)," a medley of Gucci Crew II's early singles, managed not only to suck the life out of their past hits, but to serve as a keen reminder that you were listening to the wrong, damn album. Besides missing Disco Rick, the crew had shed their trademark sense of humor, which made records like "Gucci Broke" and "Dating Game" worth their while, and replaced it with virtually nothing.

In 1991, Rick and The Dogs dropped Beware of the Dogs… like the hardcore answer to G4, they came off more like hacks doing a poor imitation of their previous efforts. The best song, amid a myriad of "Work that ass, baby"-type songs, was "I Know That Bitch," about a girl named, notably, Sally. Switching up to a more playful delivery, The Dogs actually managed a sort of engaging sense of humor they'd never been able to muster before or since. They took further cue from the Gucci Crew II to make a poor rehash of one of their biggest hits: this time, an obviously substandard follow-up to "Crack Rock" called "Life About Crack." Beware concluded with "Dogga Mix," a mega mix of The Dogs' earlier records, which was a hell of a lot better than "Gucci Gumbo," but, honestly, The Dogs didn’t really have enough dope singles to fill a mega mix with.

No doubt sensing another looming disaster along his current recording path, Disco Rick was on his own again the following year. No longer down with The Dogs, Rick started a third crew, and in 1992, Disco Rick and The Wolf Pack dropped Back From Hell on Luke Records. At that time, it was an impressive alliance. The underground producer behind some of the hottest, most influential Miami artists joining with what was becoming the leading hip-hop label of its day (this was right before MC Shy D's lawsuit effectively toppled Luke's empire). …Well, this was no masterpiece, but it was a Hell of a lot better than Beware of the Dogs, with Rick grabbing the mic to set it off on The Dogs, Joey Boy Records, and his own lawyer on the opening track, "F--k 'em Up Rick." A follow up to "Lets Go Lets Go," called "Let's Go Some Mo'," was reasonably entertaining, "Yes She Did" was a cheery throwback to records like "La Di Da Di" and "Just Swingin'," and "Let Me L--k U Girl" was a really cheesy, but inadvertently bemusing, attempt to be sexy.

The lead single, "Can U Feel It" was a hype, classic Miami record for the '92 era, featuring a collection of infamous hooks like "Don't stop; get it, get it" and, yes, "Whoop! There it is" over afast, semi-techno-bass track. And the follow up single, "Wiggle Wiggle" is a fun dance track, with the sort of bouncy, 50's guitar loop that Mr. Mixx brought to the hip-hop table a few years earlier. This album has its missteps (like a lame-ass reinterpretation of The 2 Live Crew's infamous "Fuck Shop" called "The F--k House"), but it's still a really strong entry in the Disco Rick oeuvre.

Left to their own devices, The Dogs stuck with Joey Boy and dropped K-9 Bass, sans producer/ guiding force Disco Rick - even going so far as to thank the Gucci Crew II in their liner notes. This was the lowest branch in the family tree to feature the "traditional" bass album cover, with a girl in a thong standing behind a brightly colored airbrushed logo. It featured some well-produced, effervescent tracks, but had anybody really been waiting to hear Ant & Peanut take the mic for themselves? K-9 Bass was a procession of silly, bass-driven, shout-hooked dance tracks (except for a dirty little ode to anal sex called "Dookie Shoot" and an endless, 4 minute skit called "Broamin"), but it was still a lot better put together than their last album.

MC Creep Dog (who would go on to put out It’s a Diggy Dog World with Joey Boy the next year) dropped by to steal the show and kick a verse on "Mutt Them Ho's," while "Dogga Mixxx II" was now twice as unnecessary as the lastone. They concluded by dissing Disco Rick in their shout-outs.

In 1993, one of The Dogs went solo (more or less), cleaning up his act and dropping Top Dog by Ant "D" & The Puppies on Joey Boy Records. The Puppies (Big Boy & Tamara Dee) are actually the son and daughter of DJ Uncle Al, the prolific producer with a string of successful albums and a pirate radio station (BASS 91.9) to his name. They went on to drop their own, self-titled album with Joey Boy later that year, and there it is. The legacy of Disco Rick and the Gucci Crew II ultimately eclipsed by a pair of kid rappers.

In 1994, Hot Productions put out the richly warranted album, The Best of Gucci Crew II. The only disappointing aspect of the record was that it lacked the scope to include the best of Disco Rick and The Dogs as well, and felt compelled to add tracks from G4, none of which were good enough to merit inclusion. Ant “D”’s path, tragically, took a far more serious turn. In 1999, he was convicted and sentenced to death for beating to death his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child Timwanika Lumpkins, as well as UM reserve linebacker Marlin Barnes, with the head of a shotgun at a post-Super Bowl party in Atlanta. …Curiously, Disco Rick never put out another release, though he has kept working as a producer, with his name occasionally turning up in the album credits of a few independent artists, a handful of Luke Record's projects, 2 Live Crew's The Real One, and even some releases by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The Puppies returned, backed up by The Pup Pound, for a follow-up album, Recognize, on Pandisc Music in 1996.

So, that’s where the story ended back then. Now, in 2007, I can update you guys with a bit more: Disco Rick increased his cache again producing for Lil Jon, and yes, he has his own myspace at: http://www.myspace.com/discomuthafuckinrick, which you should definitely check out. DJ Uncle Al was tragically murdered in September of 2001. There’s a tribute myspace to him at: http://www.myspace.com/ripdjuncleal.

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1 comment:

  1. The State of New York is set to recognize 1520 Sedgwick Avenue as the birthplace of Hip-Hop and will be considered a landmark.

    Organizers will hold a press conference Monday July 23rd announcing New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation have approved a July 2nd application to make the site eligible to be considered a historic landmark. The office says the site "meets the eligibility criteria being that it is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history."

    1520 Sedgwick Avenue will be eligible to be recognized as a national historic landmark by the State and National Register of Historic Places.

    The press conference takes place 9:30 a.m. at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the South Bronx.

                                        Platinum Ice Records
    Tom Simjian  203-506-0388  Sedgwick & Cedar Records