Friday, November 9, 2007

Where the Hell Is My Wise Intelligent?!

"Blackdraft" is an okay track off of Professor Griff's third album, notable for its deep, slow bassline and catchy sax sample over the hook. Like the picture cover suggests, Society and Griff share equal time on the mic here. Society was somewhat involved with the previous album, getting a co-production credit on one or two tracks, but by Disturb N tha Peace, he was as much a part of things as Griff himself, essentially joining the Professor's production crew The Soul Society (Griff, Tone Control and Kavon Shah), appearing on most of the songs, including this and the lead single, "Sista Sista;" and even getting "mix," "illustration" and "album concept" credits in the album's liner notes (and there weren't even any illustrations!). And after this, Society went solo (though Griff and co. were still down and involved with his project). ...But back to this 12". It also includes the instrumental, "blaccapella" and two remix* versions of the title track, both by Griff and Society. For my money, the Blacksteel Pineal Gland Mix is gonna be your "Blackdraft" of choice.

But let's face it, unless you're a hardcore Griff fan (and why not; his albums were all pretty underrated after all), the real reason you're buying this 12" is because the sticker promises, "The Pre-Released Remix of Verbal Intercourse Featuring Brand Nu-Bians [their hyphenation and pluralization, not mine] & Poor Righteous Teachers." Now, the original "Verbal Intercourse" isn't actually on Disturb N tha Peace, but his previous album, Kao's II Wiz *7* Dome; and except for a brief vocal sample of the phrase "Verbal Intercourse" that turns up at the very end of the tune, the two versions are completely unrelated to each other. The original was a subtle and expertly produced track (again by The Soul Society), that followed a fun, back & forth, question and answer flow like, "why does the devil keep callin' our people Africans? To keep the people divided and not knowin' who's your brother man."
On the other hand, this "pre-release remix" (whatever that means... it certainly wasn't released before the original version, like the name would imply) dumps the original lyrics, dumps the instrumental, and dumps the whole concept. Suddenly, it's a posse cut that uses a very familiar, hardcore piano loop [damn, I wish I could remember where it was originally from; I can hear it in my head... it's become a staple for freestyles now, like the "Tried By 12" beat] for the hook, and swaps that out with a toned down, catchy bass and occassional blaring horn sample underneath the verses. Griff takes the mic first, followed by an MC I can't name (the 12"'s credits aren't too helpful here; they just say, "featuring Brand Nubians, Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers"), then after the hook, Lord Jamar and Sadat X each take a verse. After the third hook, Society gets on the mic, and then Griff comes back to round out the show. It's tight, but... wait a minute. Where was Wise Intelligent?
Now, admittedly, I couldn't identify that first MC after Griff, but there's no way that was Wise Intelligent. Actually, I'm guessing that Wise Intelligent was the voice we sort of hear at the beginning of the song... there's an intro where someone is talking (it sounds like an answering machine message in low, static quality), but we can't hear what's being said because vocal samples of "understand, man" "check this out" and "verbal intercourse" are being repeated over and over at a much higher volume. I have had my ear to the speaker and the volume turned way up and it is IMPOSSIBLE to tell what he's saying, or even if that's Wise Intelligent. I don't particularly recognize his usually distinctive voice; I'm just assuming it must be him because he sure isn't anywhere else on the record. What a frikkin' rip-off.

And there's one more piece to this puzzle that actually just confuses matters more. The liner notes for Disturb N tha Peace, specifically the track "Respect tha Art-Kill-Tech," say, "additional voice by Lord Jamar of 'Verbal Intercourse.'" Now there's absolutely no one saying anything on that track except Professor Griff, but there are two vocal samples being cut up during the hook. One is clearly taken from the opening of Naughty By Nature's "OPP" ("drop a load on 'em"), but the other one COULD be Lord Jamar's voice, saying something like "educate the youth." It's hard to make out just what he's saying or if that's Jamar, but comparing the two back to back I can tell you it's definitely NOT a line from his verse on "Verbal Intercourse." ...Griff's albums are frustrating in that they have extensive, detailed liner notes, but it's still impossible to tell who's contributing what to each song. >:[

Anyway, this 12" also features one more number - the album track, "107. Point Live (At the Slave Theater)," a surprisingly grimy, east coast sounding track, featuring members of his posse Nappy Ness, Buda, Tech "G" and Studdah, again produced by The Soul Society and with constant scratching by DJ Toomp (a DJ who worked with MC Shy D, Poison Clan, and went on to form 2 Nazty with Brother Marquis). It's kinda like a Rumpletilskinz track, but rougher than anything they managed to release. Griff gets on at the end, and doesn't come as ill/ hardcore as his crew before him, but still manages to hold his own.
So, yeah. It's definitely a 12" worth having, even if you're not otherwise a Griff fan. Just don't go into it like I did, expecting to hear Wise Intelligent, and you won't be disappointed. Besides, the awkwardly homoerotic overtones of the picture cover (not just that they both have their shirts off, but the way that Society is positioned just behind Griff like that...) demand a place in any hip-hop lover's collection.

As to where they are now, well... I already posted Griff's myspace in my last entry. Society, meanwhile, signed to Slip-N-Slide records in the late 90's, even appearing on Trick Daddy's album, www.thug.com. Society's album never came out, and he pretty much disappeared from the scene. He did drop one or two verses on Griff's fourth album, but no longer seemed to be involved in the production and as far as I know he hasn't had anything to do with Griff's new stuff.

*Fun fact: according to the notes on this 12", the word "remix" is actually an acronym for "Rule Equality Master Islam X." If you missed it, kids, ridiculous acronyms were all the rage in hip-hop from the late 80's straight into the early 2000's, when Killah Priest finally took it too far and killed the whole thing.

6 comments:

  1. I've read online about a PRT album released in 2001 called "Declaration of Independence" on Exit 7A Records. I can't find any tracklist or any other info, cover art, etc. Have you ever come across this album? I'm not asking for a rip, just really curious as to whether or not it actually exists! Thanks for any help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think it ever happened, though the single ("I Swear Ta God") came out, and it wasn't bad.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the info!

    ReplyDelete
  3. There was an EP too. It had several songs. All but one were radio edits if I remember correctly, it's not in front of me at the moment. It also had some instrumentals.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Are you talking about this?

    http://www.discogs.com/Poor-Righteous-Teachers-That-Sht/release/1970327

    Those are the only two releases discogs has listed for Exit 7A Records

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yep, that's it. Great songs but kind of frustrating to only have the edits. They do the backwards masking so it messes with the flow of the songs.

    ReplyDelete