Saturday, December 22, 2007

U Don't Hear Him Tho'

So, in my last entry, I mentioned an interview on West Coast Pioneers where Rodney O says he wasn't that pleased with his first single, "These Are My Beats." The interviewer then asked him what he felt was his most successful (artistically, etc.) single. Interestingly, he didn't say "Everlasting Bass." He didn't pick anything off their classic debut, in fact. Instead he named a record most of you probably haven't heard before.

"U Don't Hear Me Tho'" came out on Psychotic Records in 1992; the lead single off their fourth album, F__k New York. And it's a good one. It flips some P-funk samples into a fairly hardcore, but still funky, hip-hop track. It's not so much so that it isn't a fun song, but Rodney O (who says, "when I die, put a sound system in my hearse") was clearly angry on this album. The liner notes read, "F-K New York This album was inspired by all the negative people in New York who have disrespected us in the past & because no one else would speak up about how New York disses L.A. Now someone finally has." The intro to the LP, a mock interview with Rodney O & Joe Cooley, explains this further.

The first (proper) song on the album, then, was this lead single. And Rodney jumps right into the subject:

"I got a New York critic in a choke hold.
He tried to diss me 'cause he didn't like my vocals;
And now I'm showing him the meaning of loco!
I'm not friends with my peers, so I'm overlooked.
I got the P-funk, fool, on the funky hook.
I'm paying suckers back for all the years of dissin' me;
But now I'm rollin' and there ain't no stoppin' me."

Joe Cooley takes the mic (yeah, sometimes he rapped, too) to add his own thoughts:

"I'm not down with that R&B; it makes me sick.
Singin' and cryin', and tryin' to add a rap don't help a bit.
You know what I'm talkin' about; that shit's not real rap.
They try to add the hip-hop flavor, but it's still wack."

There's no scratching on the record as a whole, but Joe Cooley performs a nice, quick number afterhis verse, a perfect example of what is real hip-hop. Then Rodney comes back for a third verse and then finally an uncredited MC (I checked the album, too, and the notes there don't say either) who I'm gonna go ahead and guess is General Jeff gets on for a short fourth verse, telling us, essentially, not to diss Compton.

The radio version (which, interestingly, they also decided to include on the LP), features newly recorded, clean vocals ("they didn't give a fuck about you years ago" becomes "they didn't care about you four years ago," and so forth). And the "Club Mix" features some new samples into the mix, but is essentially just an extended instrumental version (odd to start the 12" off with an instrumental), so it's cool that they added something, but it doesn't have a lot of replay value.

Finally, the other track on this 12", "Chase the Bass (Joe Cooley's Turntable Show)" is exactly what it sounds like: a showcase of Cooley's impressive turntable skills. There's no vocals at all, it's a pure DJ cut with just Cooley scratching up a variety of samples over a beat. Despite the addition of the new subtitle on the 12", this is exactly the same version of "Chase the Bass" as you hear on the album.

So yeah. All in all a nice little, overlooked 12" that Rodney O isn't entirely alone in remembering fondly.

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