Monday, March 26, 2007

What More Can I Say? Lots of Childen

Here's a neat little single track 12" that's not featured on any of his albums.

M.C. Bobby Jimmy (minus The Critters this time, apparently) dropped this right between Roaches: the Beginning (an odd title for his second album; but I guess you have to expect oddness from a rap group called Bobby Jimmy & The Critters) and Back and Proud in 1987; and it's actually one of his most fun parody records.
Producer DJ Pooh hooks up a beat that's just a slightly lower-key duplicate of the Audio Two's classic original, and adds some fresh Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy sample scratches for a little extra freshness. There's even a special thanks printed on the label to "Daddy O" of Stetsasonic (I dunno why he felt compelled to put it in quotes) for letting him pervert his classic "Go Brooklyn" chorus.
If you haven't guessed which song he's parodying yet, just peep these lyrics:

"I had money;
Money I had,
Kids I don't know
Just callin' me Dad.
That's how it be;
Ask Ice-T.
I was havin' babies while I was in prison,
Jail,
For non-child support;
Had no job,
It's not my fault.
Pooh's got childen,
I've got childen;
What more can I say?
Lots of childen!"
This is one of the Jimmy's best records in terms of just timelessly cracking me up and getting my head nodding at the same time. Why this never wound up on one of his albums, I don't know. But it's definitely worth tracking down the 12". You can even just rock the instrumental on a mix-tape or whatever, and have everyone bugging out, "what the heck is that 'Go Jimmy; go Jimmy?'" ;)
Sticking with my trend, here's his current myspace page. Russ Parr (that's his real name) isn't recording as Bobby Jimmy anymore, but he's still hosting his radio show, as well as promoting a film and television project, which you can check out on his website: uptoparr.com.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The REAL Weekend Warrior

After releasing a series of really dope, indie 12"s ("...And I Rock," "Turn tha Party Out," "It's da Biz," and "Something For the People"), heads' anticipation for the Diabolical's full-length comeback was really high - high enough to wait the incredibly long amount of time (we're talking years and years) since Remember Me? was first announced in the back pages of The Source).

Finally, in 2003, Tommy Boy managed to push Biz Markie's fifth LP, Weekend Warrior, out into the stores. And, man was it a disappointment. I mean, for the really desperate (read: all of us) Biz fans, there were elements to pick out and enjoy. The first single, "Tear Sh_t Up" with DJ Jazzy Jeff was pretty hot, and "Chinese Food," produced by J-Zone, was a good song. But the bulk of the generic production, primarily handled by, umm... no one I'd ever heard of before, unappealing guest spots by Elephant Man, P. Diddy and Erick Sermon (actually, he came off kinda OK), and god awful, song-ruining hooks, often sung by some cat named Lil' Kal, really makes panning for the gold a chore.

But the secret turned out to be the bonus "Promo Exclusive" disc that came free with the CD when you ordered it from a site called Rap and Soul Mail Order online. It's a whole 'nother full length album (13 tracks with no skits); and it's soooo much better!

I think I remember reading (though I can't find it now to confirm, so it's possible I made this up in my subconcious... but it certainly sounds true) that this is essentially the album Biz wanted to release; but it's loaded with samples Tommy Boy couldn't or wouldn't clear. So, instead they got a bunch of their in-studio producers (though, to be fair, they did spring for The 45 King on one song... and it's a dope track. Too bad about that horrible, horrible chorus) to make cheap beats, and you all know the results.

This album is full of samples, some fairly familiar; but that definitely doesn't detract from the appeal. In fact, probably the best track on this LP (though it's really hard to pick), features the Biz ripping it over Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real" - I mean, come on... just TRY not to enjoy that cut. And you've gotta check "Imma Do It" and hear how he flips the Austin Powers soundtrack into a fat hip-hop track, the perfect match for Markie's style. Basically every track on here is at least as good as the very best moments of the retail CD.

There's only two missteps on this album, really. First and mainly are the three alternate remixes of songs featured on the commercial release. While it's cool to have them just for the sake of completion (and, hell, the whole thing was free after all), I don't know if we really need a version of "Tear S**t Up" without Jeff's scratches... his scratches are the best part! And "Games" and "Let Me See You Bounce" both just rate "eh" no matter which version you spin.

The second is the fact that one song: "Dance Party Scream and Shout," fades out after a minute and a half, mid-verse! I guess something went wrong with the recording, the second half of the master is screwed up, or something. If that's the case, it's cool that they included it anyway. If they just screwed up, then that's pretty sorry as. But yeah. It's not a whole song in any case.

But these two drawbacks don't keep it from being a HELL of a lot better than the commercial version of Weekend Warrior, and basically being the fifth Biz album we all wanted. And the good news is that rapandsoulmailorder.com still has this available, free with purchase of the official Weekend Warrior CD.

(P.s. - Sorry it's been so long since my last update... my harddrive died on me. Had to go to a "data recovery" place and get it replaced. Ugh. Fun fun.)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hell.... No?

Here's a curious little find...

First of all, as a longtime, big-time, finding an Outsidaz 12" I'd never known about was a definite, unexpected surprise. "Hell Yeah" b/w "Rehab" on Ruffnation (if you can tell me the difference between Ruffnation and Ruffwax Records, I'd love to hear about it): two decent but underwhelming album tracks from the disappointing follow-up to Night Life, The Bricks LP. Two odd choices to make a single out of... I wonder if they selected "Rehab" to follow "Hell Yeah" only because they follow each other directly on the LP?

Well, what makes it even weirder is when you play it, the first song isn't actually "Hell Yeah." That song isn't on this 12" at all. Instead what you get is the four versions of "Keep On" (as it would be for "Hell Yeah" according to the label: main, radio edit, instrumental and a cappella), a much more dynamic, natural choice to release as a single[1]... even though this version is nowhere near as good as their old demo version that everyone was tape-trading a few years before.

The B-side, on the other hand, is what it says it is: four versions of "Rehab," which is only on 12" here. Anyway, you can't go wrong with two Outsidaz acappellas, and at least the one side is exclusive; so it's worth picking up if you ever come across it.

[1] So much so, in fact, that Ruff Nation did indeed release "Keep On" as the lead single for The Bricks, b/w "Done In the Game."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Chillologist pt. 3

The best for last. Especially if you have the LP since, while all of the Doctor Ice 12"'s had some original content, this is 100% new stuff... The first track is a remix of one of the best album tracks, "Word To the Wise." This "Funk Swing Remix" by Full Force (who actually produced every album track and all the 12" remixes for all of Doctor Ice's 12"'s on Jive), might not be as appealing to the die-hardcore crowd (hey, it's not every day I make up a bad pun!), as it adds keyboards and a general new jack swing kinda feel to the track (though not quite as pop as, say, a Teddy Riley mix might be). But it's still pretty fresh and adds some new elements, including an introduction by Kool DJ Red Alert[1] and a new breakdown. The rhymes are some fun freestyle lyrics ("'Cause I was born without ya, and I'ma die without ya. If you step off, I won't cry about ya"), with the third verse going into some storytelling "Lick the Balls"-type territory:

"I was known to act the fool
With a friend I thought was real cool.
We started rhyming 'cause that was my thang.
See, me and homie was kool and the gang.
But he did things I did not know...
Like kick MY rhymes... at his show.
What should I do - confront him or chill?
Put the lead in his grill? That's kinda ill...
Though the rhymes I write are invincible,
But it's not the raps, it's the principle
Of biting the Doctor's style?
...I hope he's not his mother's only child."

The second track is the most skippable, the "Dreadlock Remix" of his token reggae joint (remember when rappers had token reggae joints on their records?) "Feelin' Irie," performed as his alias, Dread Doc. Still, Doctor Ice was better at it than many - probably falling somewhere above Special Ed and below Heavy D - so "Feelin' Irie" was definitely a passable album track... The instrumental to this version goes for a bit more of a traditional reggae vibe, and a little less hip-hop. Decent, and a good thing for us Doctor Ice fans starved for more material, but pretty forgettable to most, I'm sure.

The b-side, though, is the real gem. A brand new track featuring Red Alert again, "Make You Feel Alright" is a showcase of classic old school samples over a simple drum break and bassline and a scratched chorus. At one point, the track cuts back to nothing but handclaps as Doc Ice rips it "New Rap Language style." Then the propmaster drops his signature, "yeeeaaaaahhhhhh" and the beat kicks back in as Doc continues to rap:

"You see the time is overdue, for me to kick to you
Wisdom... and my point of view.
It goes word for word; every eye's open.
If I was a crackhead, knowledge I'd be smokin'.
But I've the knowledge, and I'm the teacher of everyone else.
If they had Knowledge Across America, I'd stand by myself!
Doctor Ice, yo, don't mistake me. (Wha-wha-why is that?)
Because there's a lot of malpractice in the industry.
But I'm the funky MD; you've seen the hearthrob,
That's reason enough why I'm fit for the job.
And if you're not impressed by the gift that I shoot,
Sucka.... file a lawsuit."

Of course, DJ Red Alert's still on the air, but just for the sake of completeness, here's his website: http://www.kooldjredalert.com/ and his myspace page. Full Force are staying busy in the industry, too, writing and producing for a lot of acts, including Britney Spears and all kinds of crap you'd probably be better off not knowing about and just sticking with your memories. But, anyway, you can catch up with them on their site at: http://forcefulworld.com/, and their myspace page... be sure and check out the video they've got up of "Ain't My Type of Hype" with an animated E-Crof - The Force says, "Word!"

[1] Doc Ice was a Red Alert favorite back then; he'd spin "Nobody Move" on his show all the time... in fact, I think it wound up on one of Red Alert's Next Plateau albums.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Chillologist pt. 2

"What, baby?
What is a love jones?
Come on, girl,
That's when you love someone
Very, very much,
And you just can't seem to get yourself together..."

If you were watching the rap video shows in the late 80's, you saw this one many, many times. "Love Jones" is the second single off of The Mic Stalker. I'm not going to try to make a case for this song, you either like this rap love song with spoken word (and non-rhyming) lyrics and a lot of R&B on it, or you'll want to stay a mile away from it. This was one of the better ones, though; for sure. An update of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's classic, of course, from his Gangster of Love album; the '89 "Love Jones" features Cheryl "Pepsii" (spelled with two i's to avoid any lawsuits) Riley, who was also a member of the Full Force Family[1], and the Force themselves.

Besides being able to add personality to battle raps, Doctor Ice has a knack for being earnest in his love songs, being able to embrace the inherently kitschy aspects of the song with a subtle sense of humor, showing enough intelligence to put this type of song across without trying to seem to smart for the material (a la the recent strain of "nerdcore" comedy raps). So you can smile at his delivery of lines like, "if you can trust anyone, you can trust... the Doc" without it feeling like a hacky joke. And that humor makes, then, makes the cheesier love rap stuff a lot easier to swallow:

"You see, girl,
I not only want you,
But I need you.
And that need is so strong,
It's almost like that of a basshead."

The single opens with an extended version, then the generic single edit. The flip side offers the ridiculous "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor Mix," which, after a whispered introduction...

"Hey, baby. Where you goin'? Nah, I'm not done yet... Now you know you've been givin' my cat to some other dog. That's alright; I'm here now. And after I'm done with you tonight, you won't want nobody else. Trust me... I'm a doctor."

...is the same as the album version. But about halfway through, it turns into a crazy clowning session with his crew, Hospital Hell[2], literally screaming, howlingand crying in the background. Very silly. Finally, there's the "instrumental," which really juststrips off Doctor Ice's vocals, and so acts as a well deserved showcase for the vocal stylings of Full Force and Riley, since their talents were definitely a key element in raising this above most songs of its type from the era.

Now, that's where my 12" stops; but there's a second pressing, which is otherwise identical, but also features the hot album track, "Bass Up - Bass Down." So if you haven't got the LP (and why, may I ask, not?), you may want to hold out for this version.

I already linked Doc Ice's myspace in my last update, but he's not the only "Love Jones" alumni still in the game and kickin'. Cheryl Riley's got her own cherylpepsiiriley.com, and for the sake of consistency, here's her myspace page. She's got a comeback album she put out on 2005, which you can still order off her site.

[1] Besides being the pop R&B group we all knew and loved for singles like "Unselfish Lover" and "Ain't My Type of Hype," Full Force produced a lot of other successful artists in the 80s, including Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam and Samantha Fox. UTFO was put together as their rap group... in fact, UTFO stands for UnTouchable Force Organization. They also chased Kid & Play around in the House Party movies.

[2] Hospital Hell = Juice and Wiz (the sick patients), Tammy Coleman (the nurse), Frankie D. (the surgeon) and Fly Tyrone (body guard). When Doc Ice came back on Ichiban in '94, Juice and Wiz stuck around as his R.O.S. (Rely on Selph) crew, along with a guy named Kay Kay. There ya go - bet you didn't know all that before.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Chillologist pt. 1

"Sue Me!" is the first of Doctor Ice's 12"'s off his debut solo album, The Mic Stalker. This single, like the album, is a hip-hop classic, pick it up and you will definitely not be disappointed. Both songs (produced by Full Force) are fast paced, with bangin' drums and the kind of James Brown samples that made so many fall in love with hip-hop in the 80's. The extended version adds a fresh 20-second breakdown in the middle of the song, which makes it the definitive version. With the production featured here, this record would be worth picking up with pretty much nay generic, no-frills MC on it. But the fact that it features Doctor Ice, at the height of his rap delivery game and with his distinctive personality (he, Slick Rick and Chubb Rock have to be pretty much the greatest MCs of all time in terms of sneaking a likeable charm into freestyle/battle rhymes) elevates it to an all-time great status:

"Suckers should be seen and not heard; that means you.
I'm not stutterin' - speak when ya spoken to.
And never ever ever diss a man you never met before;
Because a family of five is now a family of four!
...
'Cause I'm a fugitive like Robin Hood, I want wealth;
But if I steal from the rich, I'm goin' for self!
Love but don't fear me; you heard what I said.
You tellin' me to go to Hell? That's like a trip to Club Med.
I'll make you wish you never knew me...
Like it, lump it, or SUE ME!"

The b-side features "Sued! (Take Me To Court Mix)", with a totally broken down instrumental and a new verse at the start:

"I prepared my gear; this'll be my year
To give the people who come to party a reason to cheer.
I ain't sayin' I'm back (Tell 'em, Doc),
Because I never left, so get it right and exact.
You know, a few of you knew what Doc could do,
(I'm going) solo now, so don't act new (Boy!).
'Cause I'm new and improved, once again I'm born;
For those that are getting fed up (huh!) hold on!
And teach the newcomers somethin'."

You also get the original version's instrumental, and the great album track "Word Up Doc!" You know you can't go wrong when both song's titles end in exclamation points.

And before you ask, yes! Doctor Ice does have a myspace page with a new comeback song on it. It's pretty good, though the instrumental is... well, let's be kind and call it "familiar." He's also got the "Where Are They Now?" remix he's featured on up there.

P.s. - I've got the sticker cover, as you can see... But there's also a very cool picture cover release of this 12", which uses that photo of the Doc standing between two guys in jean jackets with "Dance With the Doctor" spray-painted on the backs. You can see it on his myspace page.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Uptown's Kickin' It

I'm going to come out and say I quite like his first album. And not in a guilty-pleasure kind of way.... I just feel it's a good, solid record, well-written and well-produced, that I can bump to this day. His second album, too. Sex Is Law? Ok, I'm with you guys on that one. But, really; I think Father's Day and Close To You are good stuff.

But even if you didn't like albums numbers one and two... even if you hated all his r&b hooks, love-themed raps, and can never forgive him for starting the careers of Mary J. Blige and Jodeci in the span of just two twelve-inch singles - to say nothing of his 1993 image transformation into a playa/pimp/superstar of the pop-rap times - you'd still have to give it up for his independent debut.

Father MC and the 1st Fleet Crew (who else was in the 1st Fleet Crew and what happened to them? The world may never know) released their debut 12" on Stupid Fresh Records in 1988. The only other record I know of coming out on this label is "So Good b/w "Complexion" by Master See Divine & MC Ace, released that same year. And the thing about it is: this record is hardcore. F'real. He sounds more like a hungry LL Cool J (think: "Jack the Ripper") than Markie Dee and the Soul Convention. This 12" features two cuts, "I'm Getting Better" and "Father M.C. Going Ill." Both tracks, co-produced by Father MC and KC & the Stupid Fresh Posse, feature fast basslines, hard hitting drums, snares, blaring horn samples and lots of scratching. "I'm Getting Better" features a cut up "Kings of Rock" sample ("rappers can't stand us... but give us respect!") on the hook and Father MC ripping it with a fast, half-yelled delivery.

"I'm not a New Jack,
You must be on that,
Black.
But Jesus Christ!
I'm from the old school."

The b-side is more of the same; all about the rapid-fire, hardcore flow, with the DJ scratching "Fa-Fa-Fa-Father MC!" constantly behind him the whole time:

"Special request:
The VIP gets, the best
Is yet to come,
So come and be my guest.
Witness...
A miracle at the lip.
Of course ya lost,
I'm boss, in charge of hip-
Hoppin' around;
Come to my town,
The Rockaway!
Rappers get weary and leary;
Hear what I say:
It takes skill
And vocabulary;
But not big words,
Don't front;
It's not necessary.
My name is Father,
A title that's more vital
Than any recital or bible;
I'm an old idol!
To describe myself?
Maybe I oughta...
That's a complete set-up
For man slaughter!"

I'm shattered, though; Father MC hasn't got a myspace or website to link. He does have a new video for a song entitled "Bad News," however, under the name of Fam Body (which would make his second ill-advised name change to date), which you can find on Youtube and other places. There's also another one, "Diamond," with a group called 2 Da, who're on Universal/Empire/Street Noise. And of course, he was also just featured on one of the Nas "Where Are They Now?" remixes. So, here it is, damn near twenty years later, and it looks like we'll be hearing more from Father... but not like this.