Monday, April 30, 2007

Unreleased Slick Rick, Chapter Five

Like I said in my last entry, it seems J-Love lowered his standards between the first and second version of his Legends vol. 2 CD as far as what can be considered "Unreleased." The second time around he included "The Sun," with Ghostface Killah, Raekwon and RZA as an "Unreleased" track.

"The Sun," along with another song that doesn't feature Slick Rick called "Good Times," was originally slated to appear on Ghostface's 2002 album, Bulletproof Wallets. Both were eventually removed from the final release version of the album, but not before the clean promo copies were pressed and released to the public.

Ok, so that sounds pretty worthy of being labelled "Unreleased," right? After all, it was only put on the clean, radio version of the album that wasn't really made available to the public. That was the thinking, I'm sure, when Archives Inc. rereleased this on vinyl one year later on their Ghostface Killah EP (which also features "Good Times" and one or two "original mixes" of songs that were different on the clean promo than the funal album).

So, now it's been released twice. Once as a promo-only vinyl pressing (though it's not terribly rare... you can still score copies of this online for less than the original sale price), and once as an independent (bootleg? just how legit are Archive Inc.'s releases, anyway?) vinyl EP, which is still easily available... pick it up from ughh.com if you're interested. But that's still pretty "Unreleased" as far as the average consumer is concerned. I mean, it's not like this was put out on a mainstream vinyl and CD release that's still in print and available wherever new music is sold, right?

Oh, wait. Actually, this song was included on Ghostface and Trife da God's double album, Put It On the Line, two years later. Go ahead and order it new or used from Amazon; it comes with a bonus DVD of a Ghostface stage show recorded live. Now, I don't know how much more released a song can get than all that.

The song itself is just OK. The beat and hook are kind of monotonous and most of the lyrics are a bit goofy, with each MC rapping about the sun. Ghostface says, "Yo, the sun can never be pussy; he always come out. He'll sit right there, even if you pull your gun out." Slick Rick steals the show with easily the best delivery; but lyrically, it's still album filler quality. And frankly, they should've removed RZA's bit all together.

And actually, in 2004, Wu-Tang producer/DJ Allah Mathematics released a mixtape called The Next Chamber with his own remix of "The Sunn" (as he spells it), where the instrumental - if not the lyrics, which are naturally unchanged - is far superior. So, really, there are a lot of other buying options for this particular song, all of which are preferable ...if you think it's worth bothering with at all.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Unreleased Slick Rick, Chapter Four

Ok, on the second version of Legends Vol. 2, Slick Rick's "Women Lose Weight" has been added as an "Unreleased" song. This song really isn't very unreleased... "Women Lose Weight" is a guest appearance track he did on Morcheeba's Charango LP, on Reprise Records (2002). It was also released as a single that same year. In general, J-Love seems to have loosened up his standards for what can be labelled "Unreleased" for this second mix.

To be fair, J-Love doesn't use the album version, but the impresive Alchemist remix, which is featured on every version of the single, but not the album. I've included a picture of my copy, with the sticker cover; but there's also a more commercially available picture cover featuring the Morcheeba logo over a shot of a subway car interior.

If you're not familiar, Morcheeba's kind of a funk sorta band, with two guys playing various live instruments, and a female vocalist (at the time of this song, Skye Edwards; but she's since been replaced by Daisy Martey), much in the vein of The Brand New Heavies. They've done a couple other songs with rappers, including Pace Won and Biz Markie, and the results have been consistently good. A lot of their songs feature guest instrumentalists as well... For "Women Lose Weight," band member Ross Godfrey (on guitar and keyboards) is joined by Richard Harrison on bass, Dan Goldman providing additional keyboards and Miles Bould on percussion. Skye sings the hook and Slick Rick provides all the rest of the vocals (it's really a proper Slick Rick song, not a single verse drop in). But all that live instrumentation is stripped away for a more traditional hip-hop track in Alchemist remix's... even Skye Edwards is replaced with various scratched vocal samples by Mobb Deep, Brand Nubian and MC Lyte (it's actually rather Premier-like), leaving no Morcheeba at all on the record.

It really is a great song, with Slick Rick at the top of his game. It's a funny, twisted first person narrative, where Rick decides his wife has gained too much weight and wants to leave her for his secretary... but since there's "laws which enforces divorces," he has to kill her.

"Screamin', 'who done took my heart?!' Acting shookin' up a lot;
At the funeral, thought everyone was lookin' at me odd,
Like I did it. Like I was the reason my mate's slain,
Murmuring, 'I heard he was displeased with her weight gain.'
While my secretary, sort of a sexy blonde, can’t cook -
All she does is order from restaurants.
'All of the sex you want'
I doubt could address: clothes not washed proper, and house look a mess.
And talkin' to detectives that was waitin' outside,
How I took a long lunch break day the wife died...!"

As with a lot of the best Slick Rick songs, he ends with a break from the narrative for the final verse, speaking as himself to tell us the moral: "desire is important... so watch your weight, it'll keep your mate smitten; it's a given. Though, lookin' back, I realize: I didn't have to kill her!"

There's actually a rarer, "Women Lose Weight (Spare Tyer Remix)," which keeps the original hook and sticks with original, live instrumentation. It's featured only on one, more limited 12" version from Reprise, and would've been much more deserving of the "Unreleased" title. I'm not sure if it's quite as good, though (I'd say it's about an even tie with the LP version... though the music is fairly different, and really all three are worth having), so you can't really blame 'im for going with the more common version. But I like how it gives the same vibe as all the old Sugarhill records, with the band and all. Certainly, if you're going to pick this up, it's worth holding out for the version with both remixes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Unreleased Slick Rick, Chapter Three

Well, I already had the first version of J-Love's mix CD, but when I saw the second one had a track called, "VANESSA WILLIAMS ( UNRELEASED )," I had to hear the second version as well. I'd never heard of that one!

Upon hearing it (thanks, chr!s), I discovered it actually wasn't anything I didn't already have in my collection. See, back in the early 90's, a guy named Gregory Moore used to advertise in the "Tapes" section of The Source magazine. He sold 60 and 90 minute cassettes of old school live performances... here's a scan from the August, 1994 issue:

You sent away for the list and he had, I dunno.... maybe 50 live tapes (he later added almost a hundred more), of live performances like DJ Hollywood performing classic raps and mixes at Club 371 in 1976, the entire infamous Kool Moe Dee vs. Busy Bee battle (the full show, including performances by the Cold Crush, Force MC's, and even the seperate amateur battle event that came first), or a tape of LL Cool J's birthday party, with performances by Ultramagnetic MCs and Afrika Islam. Dude had everything.

Eventually, in 1996, a commerical album was released (on Sounds of Urban London Records, co-produced by Moore) of his tapes, entitled Rap Archives vol. 1, which was made pretty widely available (I got mine on cassette at the Wiz here in my NJ hometown). It featured clipsof performances by Run DMC, Master Don, Biz Markie & Big Daddy Kane, and a whole bunch more. One of the performances was Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh at the Lincoln Project, NY 1984, performing "La Di Da Di" and "The Show."

Now, the highlight of this performance is when, at the end of "La Di Da Di" as we all know it, they announce they're going to "finish it," and Slick Rick bursts into an all new verse about what happens next in the song. And that's what "Vanessa Williams" on the Legends mix is - just a short (1 minute and 15 seconds) snippet of that exclusive verse.

J-Love's listeners might've found it a bit confusing, since he has it come randomly after "Captain Caveman." So, they didn't hear it in the context of the rest "La Di Da Di," where it makes considerably more sense. Here's the end of the classic verse we all know and love...

"I said, 'Cheer up!' and I gave her a kiss.
I said, 'You can't have me; I'm too young for you, miss.'
She said, 'No, you're not,' and then she starts crying.
I says, 'I'm nineteen...' she says, 'stop lying!'
I said, 'I am - go ask my mother.
And with your wrinkled pussy, I can't be your lover!'

And now the new material begins:

"She didn't hear, 'cause I said it kinda low;
And then I broke out because I really had to go.
I saw Miss America - she got millions!
Talkin' about that ho named Vanessa Williams.
She saw me, MC Ricky D.
She came up close and she grabbed my body..."

Unfortunately, I don't believe Mr. Moore is selling tapes from his catalog anymore, but at least Rap Archives vol. 1 is still pretty easily found on CD... Amazon has a couple copies up for about $7. Sadly, there was never a vol. 2.

Unreleased Slick Rick, Chapter Two

Ah, now we're getting into the goodies... This 12" hails from Japan, land of many alluring and exotic bootleg records. "How?" we ask, "when?" But I don't think we can ever truly learn the answers to these questions. They just exist... and when there are no original presses to be had, we are grateful.

We're offered two never before released Slick Rick tracks on this 12", better than most of the material on his later LPs. These are real treats.

The bulk of "Sleazy Gynecologist (Triple X Version)" (delightfully spelled "Gynacorogist" on the label), is a first person narrative of Slick Rick as a... well, sleazy gynecologist (not entirely unreminiscent of some Dr. Octagon lyics). Each verse is an increasingly dirty story of R.D. taking advantage of lady patients. In the first one, he gropes the breasts of a woman who comes in complaining of chest pains:

"'I hope it's not cancer, or I'll flip out.'
A pity. Well, lie on this couch and whip out your titty.
Let me see. With both hands startin' ta...
'Shouldn't you have some kind of gloves on, docta?'
No. And I do not do this for liesure,
Although it may appear an unusual procedure.
Now, relax and stop riffin'.
Meanwhile carressin' her nipple as they both start stiffin'."

In the second verse, a woman comes in complaining of hemorrhoid problems (at this point, one begins to wonder if Slick Rick is entirely clear on exactly what a gynecologist is, but never mind)... you can imagine what that might lead to. And in the third, he finally loses control with an underaged girl:

"Still pokin' in her poom-poom... what an easy score for me.
Until I heard, "stop, Rick; get off of me! Get off of me!'
Couldn't stop now; still poundin' in the stuff of her.
The police even found it hard to get me off of her.
Life. It ain't a sign to follow this.
Me, R.D., one sleazy gyneocologist."

Yeah. Like Kool G Rap's "Hey, Mister Mister," it's not hard to imagine why this song might've had a difficult time finding its way onto one of Rick's commercial releases. Finally, in the fourth verse, thie song reveals it's true nature, as SlickRick (now, presumably, as himself) tells his girl he doesn't like her seeing a male doctor: "I don't want no other man touchin' my girlfriend's bum up; unless some emergency of some sort come up." Not a lot of rappers have what it takes to pour their own insecurities so openly into a dope song like the Rickster.

The b-side, "Feels Like ~," is what J-Love titles "The Nutty Professor" on his disc. It's easy to see why, as the story of the song follows Jerry Lewis's plot pretty exactly, even down to the name of the character he transforms into, Buddy Love. But of, course, this version's told in Slick Rick's utterly unique style. No production credits are given for either track, but this one sounds decidely Pete Rock produced to me. Both tracks = much fun, and this 12" is definitely a must-have for any Ricky Walters fan, bootleg or no.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Unreleased Slick Rick, Chapter One

(Note: if you haven't already, please read my intro post first. :)

Ok. The first unreleased Slick Rick song we're going to look at really isn't so "unreleased." Don't get me wrong, most of the tracks marked unreleased are some real hard-to-find or genuinely never-before-released tracks that'll give any digger a struggle scratching off their want lists. But not this one.

"Why You Doing That" is straight off of Mix Master G-Flexx's We Shine album. It's a compilation album of all new collaberations with him producing tracks for various hip-hop artists (the single was a track with Mad Lion), that received a very wide commercial release. Out here in Jersey, it was in every store at both my local malls (Sam Goody's, The Wiz, etc). You can buy it off Amazon for a penny.

This song was released again, in 2003, on Mix Master G-Flexx's Platinum Sounds album, on the admittedly pretty obscure label, LoveCat Music. That album's more of a career retrospective for G-Flexx, I guess, and features many of the same songs as We Shine. Eight, in fact. You might feel a bit jerked buying one if you already have the other, but anyway, you can get Platinum Sounds directly from the label's site, lovecatmusic.com or from CDBaby.com.

I'm guessing what happened here is that J-Love stumbled onto this white label 12" single (pictured), and not knowing about the G-Flexx album(s), thought this was otherwise unreleased. The label is certainly bereft of useful information, not even telling you the name of the artists featured. In any case, it's a really great song. It's got a pretty mellow, understated track with a nice horn sample on the chorus, and Slick Rick, in full earnest-examination-of-his-relationships-slash-storytelling mode, is at the top of his game, lyrically:

"Up against the wall, minding my biz at the Roxies',
Then I hear a reggae joint - nice jingle,
Slow grindin' on me like a motherfucker's single...
A model! That's all she wrote.
I was this close to shoving my tongue down the bitch' throat:
'Luh luh luh luh!'
Anyway, actin' like we screwin',
And her sis come, askin' how my girl doin'.
(You know) we broke up, sorta, and ignored her."

I mean, how many rappers will drop lines like, "My girl stayed home; what a bummer! Now when the phone bill come, I gotta hide that shit from her." That right there is why Slick Rick needs to come out with a new album! And not overload it with high profile guest stars and irritating skits this time. ...But I digress.

The B-side to this 12" is Brand Nubian - "Comming [sic.] Thru (Main Mix)." Don't get too, "oh wow; I never heard of that one before!" though (like I did when I first picked this up), because it's actually just a mis-titling of "Straight Outta Now Rule" from their Foundation album (that's the one where Grand Puba reunited with the group).

If you want the 12" (the sound quality is good, but there's only "Main Mix"es included for each), it can still be found pretty easily... I guess a lot of copies were pressed up. As of this writing, there's at least one copy for sale at gemm.com.

Ok, that's it for today. Next time, will be a more fun and obscure one. :)

Unreleased Slick Rick, Prologue

(Note: this particular blog entry is, essentially, just a very long "intro" to the next several Unreleased Slick Rick entries to follow.)

I only have one mix-CD by J-Love, but as far as I can tell, he's not much of a DJ. The CD I have is Slick Rick - Legends vol. 2. Three things separate this "mix" CD from any generic, half-assed mp3-made CDR kids make to clutter the internet with:

1) A super short "Intro" (specifically, it clocks in at 24 seconds), with J-Love saying something over a Slick Rick instrumental... I can't tell you exactly what he's saying, because the vocals are mixed far too low and so are completely washed out (and for the record, yes, I own an original copy of this mix-CD, not a dub or downloaded copy).

2) Some super lazy radio blends between songs... apparently doing the bare minimum to say, "yes, look, this is an original MIX; not just a bootleg; please don't sue me!"

3) J-Love annoyingly name dropping himself over various tracks, so other DJs can't steal the tracks for their own mixes. Another DJ might protect his work by making a top quality mix, full of creative blends, beat juggling, cutting & scratching, and maybe even a few freestyles to make his mix instantly recognizable as creatively hsi own. But J-Love isn't that kinda DJ... he falls less on the side of DJs like Q-Bert, Babu, Battery Brain and Dr. Dre, and more on the side of Craig G, S&S and DJ Clue. To put it another way, he's less on the side of musically talented hip-hop DJs making a significant musical contribution, so much as making money by selling illegal copies of other artists' music.

So, why on Earth would somebody actually pay money for this crap? Well, two reasons, depending on the listener. For the more casual Slick Rick fan (assuming they don't mind supporting the piracy and who also haven't, for whatever reason, mastered the art of downloading for free), it's because Def Jam has yet to release an official "greatest hits" LP, so mix-CDs like this are a cheaper alternative to buying his full albums. For most of us, though; it was probably because of this: "********** 11 UNRELEASED SONGS **********" printed across the front cover. Holy cow! Eleven never before released Slick Rick songs? I'm sold!

Which brings us to the point of this blog and the ones to follow (no, it's really not to bash on one particularly hapless phony DJ following a long tradition of talentless phoney DJs who've been giving a terrible name to the art form for over a decade... though I have to admit, it's super easy and kinda fun hehe). The unreleased songs. Here's the track-listing for his CD, where he helpfully notes for us which are the ones he considers "unreleased" (all spelling, punctuation, etc. is exactly as he has it printed on the inside cover):

1. INTRO
2. THE SHOW FEATURING DOUG E. FRESH
3. MONA LISA
4. I SPARKLE
5. WORLD RENOUN FEATURING PETE ROCK (UNRELEASED)

6. CHILDREN'S STORY
7. A LETTER TO (UNRELEASED)
8. VENUS
9. HE KILLS (UNRELEASED)
10. STAR TREK (UNRELEASED)
11. CAPTAIN CAVE MAN (UNRELEASED)
12. THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (UNRELEASED)
13. GAMBLING (UNRELEASED)
14. THE MOMENT I FEARED
15. LA DI DA DI FEATURING DOUG E. FRESH
16. SITTIN IN MY CAR FEATURING DOUG E. FRESH
17. I OWN AMERICA (UNRELEASED VERSION)
18. WHY YOU DOIN THAT (UNRELEASED)
19. SLEAZY GYNECOLOGIST (UNRELEASED)
20. SAMPSON (UNRELEASED)
21. MOSES
22. HEY YOUNG WORLD
23. TREAT HER LIKE A PROSTITUTE
24. I SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE IT

That CD came out in 2004, by the way. A little internet searching shows he's rereleased the CD more recently with a different track-listing (and artwork), including some more unreleased stuff:

1) INTRO
2) TROUBLE - PRODUCED BY J-LOVE
3) WOMEN LOSE WEIGHT ( UNRELEASED )
4) SITTIN IN MY CAR
5) I SPARKLE
6) THE SHOW FEAT DOUG E FRESH
7) MONA LISA
8) MONA LISA PT 2
9) CHILDREN'S STORY
10) IOWN AMERICA ( UNRELEASED VERSION )
11) I SHOULDN T HAVE DONE IT
12) VENUS
13) HE KILLS ( UNRELEASED )
14) A LETTTER 2 ( UNRELEASED )
15) STAR TREK ( UNRELEASED )
16) WORLD RENOWN ( UNRELEASED )
17) CAPTAIN CAVEMAN ( UNRELEASED )
18) VANESSA WILLIAMS ( UNRELEASED )
19) WHY YOU DOING THAT ( UNRELEASED )
20) MEMORIES
21) HEY YOUNG WORLD
22) THE SUN FEAT GHOSTFACE KILLAH,RAEKWON,RZA ( UNRELEASED )
23) MOMENT I FEARED
24) GAMBLING ( UNRELEASED )
25) SLEAZY GYNECOLOGIST ( UNRELEASED )
26) NUTTY PROFESSOR ( UNRELEASED

So there it is, our starting reference point. In the next few entries, I'll be examining these unreleased tracks... where they're from, where you can get them "unmixed," etc. Join me... won't you?

Oh, p.s. - Did I mention the sound quality really sucks on this CD? Because, yeah. It does. :-P

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bring It Back

Following up my L.O.T.U.G.M.O.N.E.Y.U.P.D.A.T.E. post (they never make it clear in the song just why the title "Money" was written as if it were an acronym... maybe just because "C.R.E.A.M." was), this is the second indie 12" from LOTUG, which came out in '97. And it's definitely a cool record.

This wasn't destined to become any kind of major hit, since The Lords are just rapping over a very familiar, old school beat (KC & The Sunshine Band's "That's the Way"); but hearing DoItAll and Mr Funky go back and forth over a classic, funky bassline is pretty much the ideal formula for a LOTUG record, short of producing another "Funky Child." This is the sort of record, really, you wish would've got a little airplay when it came out.

The B-side is a DJ track by The Infamous Backspin (pretty sure this is the DJ Backspin who provided scratching on the second Fugees LP and what-not), very much in the vein of something like Frankie Cutlass's "Puerto Rico/Black People," with various, repetetive vocal samples being laid over Naughty By Nature's "Uptown Anthem" instrumental. It's a good, engaging track, because "Uptown Anthem" is a good, engaging track, but Backspin really doesn't do much with it, so you can go ahead and file this under "nothing special."

Undaground Buttas steps up their game this time around, providing instrumentals for both tracks. Definitely worth obtaining of you're a LOTUG fan. And it's typically pretty easy to find if you look, since I don't think a ton of people really know about it.

There are several DJ Backspins... One from Detroit, one from Paris, one from Massachusetts, one from San Diego... Seriously, if you're an aspiring DJ, do us all a favor and think of another name. So, I tried to find a website or myspace link, but couldn't find one. He might have one, but... there are just too many DJ Backspins. :P

Sunday, April 22, 2007

You Got It!

Here it is: the 12" single for one of my all-time favorite hip-hop songs. Cool C's "The Glamorous Life." A break-through rap hit that pinnacled a rise to fame for Cool, starting with indie rap 12"'s like "Juice Crew Dis," through his successful major label single and video "I Gotta Habit" and ultimately to this 1989 great. This song was on the radio ALL the time for years, had a hot video that got regular play on all the video shows... it is a definite rap classic, and frankly a classic record of the 80's of any genre.

The production for this record, by LG Goodman and Steady B is just perfect, with enough pop appeal for mainstream audiences, but a banging enough beat to keep the real hip-hop heads from frontin'. The hook features a fresh Shiela E-sampled chorus (from her own hugely successful 80's dance hit, also called "Glamorous Life"), the infamous Hilltop Hustlers' signature call ("Ooo-ooohh!") that gained international recognition after this record, and some unforgettable scratching by his DJ, Tat Money - and when the breakdown comes towards the end of the song and Tat cuts it up... man, hip-hop just doesn't get any better than that.

"Glamorous Life" is actually a sequel of sorts to Three Times Dope's "Funky Dividends" (another great Philly record that belongs in your collections). 3XD used to be down with the Hilltop, but when they split with LG because they felt he was holding out on them financially, the Hustlers turned on them (check 3XD's self-produced second album's liner notes. In small print it says, "L. Goodman didn't do a damn thing on this record, but our lawyer said we have to give him credit due to our settlement agreement."). Ironically, years later, Steady and the rest of the Hilltop crew would also part with LG for the same reason and self-produce their own records.

Anyway, "Funky Dividends," about a girl who MC EST falls for until she starts to expect money from him, features recurring dialogue with him and the girl, Michelle, throughout. At one point, in the middle of the song, she complains, "When I was with Steady B, I had it all: Gucci, Louie Vuitton, gold, Liz Claiborne... I had it all. You ain't giving me nothin'!" And on "Glamorous Life," she's back! This more fun yet cynical joint's all about gleefully showering riches on the girl you adore ("a girl that has no price... when she's in the glamorous life"). Towards the end of the song, Michelle returns to have a conversation with Cool, "When I was with Steady B, I had everything. I was rollin’ phat... livin’ large. I had all the luxuries of life. But when I was with that nut EST, he ain’t give me nothin'! I guess it's like my mama used to say..." Tat Money than cuts in a vocal sample, "We gotta use what we got to get what we want! U-u-use what we got... to get what we want!" Cool C answers, "Yeah. Girls like you, Michelle, is hard to find. That's why I had to make you my wife - so you could live the glamorous life." I guess that's meant to be a diss... like EST can't afford what the Hustlers can, but really it just confirms what EST already said on his record... that he's not down with paying gold diggers and he gave her nuthin'. But if there was any doubt that maybe it was just meant to be a playful nod and not a diss, the video left no doubt. Right after that exchange, there's a shot of a 3XD record lying on the sidewalk, and Cool C aggressively steps on it.

Besides having a fun picture cover (he's stuffed his pants with money!), the 12" is a must have for the extended version that's not featured on the I Gotta Habit LP. Remixed by LG, this features an extra keyboard sample (not really necessary, but it doesn't detract either), a keyboard solo during the breakdown (it's really pretty tight, though it might turn off the hard rocks), and most importantly, an all new third verse from Cool C!

"Glamorous girls are an exception...
You have to give them love and perfection.
Try to fill all their needs
So that your love can succeed.
That doesn't mean let them use you...
'Cause some of them may choose to.
For a girl who's just that hype,
No need to juice me, 'cause I like
To give her all that I can give,
'Cause I like my girl to live
As large as possible,
So that my girl will know
That I truly, truly love her,
And I place no one above her.
That's why I don't think twice
To give her the glamorous life!"

The b-side is another cool album track, "Enemy Territory," and instrumentals are provided for both.

Of course, I don't need a myspace link to show us what Cool C is up to these days; he's still on death row, awaiting execution for fatally shooting a police officer during a bank robbery gone wrong with Steady B (who's also in prison for life, though not death row).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

L.O.T.U.G.M.O.N.E.Y.U.P.D.A.T.E.

Will the updates EVER slow down? Holy cow; I'm on a major roll! Blog updates every day, discography updates, new artists' pages... I need to get out of the house more! Well, here's another one for ya.

After their period of great success, it was several years before the Lords of the Underground came out with their third, comeback album, Resurrection. But to us indie hip-hop record collectors, they really hadn't been gone. Their last releases on Pendulum records, the "Faith" and "What I'm After" remix 12"'s, which had some buzz mainly due to a timely Keith Murray guest appearance, came out in 1995. Then this came shortly after in '96, just as we'd all found out they were officially dropped by their label. I remember seeing this sticker cover up on the new release wall at Armand's Records ('at's in Philly)... so to me, they were always around.

No production credits are given here, so I don't know if Marley or K-Def had a hand in this, but judging from the sound of it, I'm guessing it was self-produced by DJ Lord Jazz. Which is not to say it's bad; this is a pretty cool record, really. The sound, with a cool guitar sample over a basic beat, bassline and a lot of snare, is definitely catchy. But with much more relaxed flows (though still distinctive voices... when DoItAll jumps on for the second verse, there'll be no doubt who you're listening to), this ain't no "Funky Child." Instead, with a cut up Method Man vocal sample for a chorus, this fits right in to the underground, indie vinyl style of the late 90's.

The b-side, which I again suspect but don't know to be produced by DJ Lord Jazz, is by Lunatic Asylum, which is also the name of the song. They haven't done much else, but did turn up again on LOTUG's third LP, on the cut "Infinite." This one features a slow, heavy bpm, that snare again! and a subtle piano loop that eases in mainly just during the hooks. It's ok, but the generic lyrics - continually drifting between being a realistic look at hard times and talking about how Crazy Psycho Nutzoid they are - and deriviate deliveries won't make you respect The Lunatic Asylum as MCs. Not that they're terrible, but with raps like these, you'd need need a hot beat to sell you on the record, and this one ain't it. So, you'll play it once or twice when you first get it, but A-side wins out here for sure.

So, yeah. In addition to this post, I've made a new artists' page for LOTUG, which also includes affiliate De'1 (Sah-B already has her own page). As for what they're up to these days... According to (yes!) their myspace, they're working on their fourth album, House of the Lords. And they've got this site: stilllotug.com, promoting a documentary DVD about themselves.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The First Stand Out Album of 2007?

So, you may not've noticed, but I've linked another "Favorite Hip-Hop Site That Ain't Mine" to my blog links. Oh Word is a fun, well-written site that I've been sort of checking for every so often.... but not so much because they focus on contemporary hip-hop, no matter how dreary and commercially painful the scene has become. I mean, do I really care about comparisons between UGK & Outkast, or commentary on Cam'Ron's latest album, even if the writer is clever? I don't know, maybe I'm just a cranky ol' curmudgeon. But, anyway, I was just browsing through a bunch of their old entries I'd missed the first time around, and there's some really good stuff, so I finally added 'em.

But, yeah. That brings me to the object of this post. The only new releases in 2007 that I've had any interest have been part of the recent (and really fantastic) wave of unreleased old school material being put out for the first time. The Ultimate Force LP was just released, Freestyle Professors just rereleased their obscure '94 EP with all new tracks from the period, DWG is putting out a 7-track EP of great, unheard GodFather Don songs from the late 90's... But finally, a new album has come out that's really woken me up; a 2007 release that actually ranks higher than "eh, I guess that's alright."

Sacred Hoop's latest album, Go Hogwild actually has a copyright date of 2006 on it; but Atak has only just added it to their catalog, and until recently, the Hoop had pre-mix, earlier versions of some of the songs on this album up on their myspace. Which makes me think the album was just recently completed, but they printed up the artwork earlier. Just a guess. Anyway, they're only just now promoting it and making it available.

And it's hot. Damn, go get it. Vrse's production is spot on, DJ Quest and DJ Raw B's scratches add new life to the prerelease demo versions (although, frankly, I miss the driving piano sample from the original version of "Chicks Pack Heat" - can we get a 12" single that combines the best of both worlds please, guys?), and Z-Man, as ever, is on hand to add some ill guest verses. And there's no filler; this is at least as (possibly moreso) consistently solid as Sleepover. Gone is their lo-fi, 4-track Sexy Henrietta sound, but you won't miss it. The Hoop is definitely at that rare point where they've matured and elevated their sound without turning into it into dumber, commercial gloss.

So, yeah. You can pick this up from Atak or direct from their official site, sacredhoopfan.com. Live it up. This might be the only worthwhile new album 'till 2008.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Other Dana Dane Comeback 12"

Before I start, just so's ya know, I'm making a couple of improvements around here. First off, I've already gone through all of my previous blog entries, and everytime an artist I've made a discography page for on my hip-hop site comes up, I've linked their name to their page. Inversely, I'm also going to go to each one of my artists' pages and on each of their records I've made an entry about, I'm going to link the title to the specific its blog entry.

<--Just look for the Blog button. This should make navigating around the site quicker and easier when you come across something you want to look up, and maybe also help you find some stuff you didn't know was on this site. Anyway, onto this entry:

In a previous entry about Dana Dane's (notice the link, by the way? that's what I'm talkin' about!) latest comeback record, I mentioned he had an "other" one first. Well, this is it. "Let Me Do My Thing" came out a year before "Fame 2000" on Hardball Entertainment, and it's produced and co-written by, believe it or not, Redhead Kingpin and David Wynn (I don't know much about Mr. Wynn, but there's a definite Teddy Riley connection here, as he's co-produced stuff by artists like Wreckx-N-Effect and Blackstreet).

This was a pretty low-key, limited release... when I mentioned it to Redhead Kingpin in a 1999 interview, he was pretty surprised anybody'd heard of it. Redhead was making a bit of a comeback as a producer at the time, producing for R&B singers like Mona Lisa, Case, Kandice Love and Kym Rae. He was mainly pleased by how different they were able to make Dana sound from his old school work, and that if you were to hear this on the radio, you wouldn't even recognize that it was him (which is true; Dane's famous accent is almost entirely lost in the deep, whispered ultra-laid back delivery on this record). Now, I don't really know how good of an idea it is to take a beloved old school entertainer making his comeback and strip him of his most appealing and sellable aspects on his "debut" single, but hey. It's what they wanted to do, I guess; and they succeeded.

So... the song's not bad. The production is kind of bouncy, but slow, with a very "all music created by a studio technician with no samples or instruments" kind of sound. Dane's rapping is adequate, but completely uninspired. I doubt anybody would really dislike the song, per se; but you'd have to be a pretty serious Dana Dane fan to really care if you heard it a second time. The b-side features a remix, with the same basic instrumental chopped a little differently by Mate Boogie (he also did a remix for that Redhead produced Kym Rae single I mentioned before), who also adds some scratches to the mix... which manages to make it slightly more interesting, but still nothing more than mixtape filler.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any current links for Redhead Kingpin (though he was recently featured on the 90's remix of Nas's "Where Are They Now?"), but I did find DJ Wildstyle (of the FBI crew)'s myspace. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Crash! Boom! Here Comes Flynamic!

Here's a really rare one. Before becoming the hosts of the Wake Up Show, Sway and Tech were recording artists on Giant Records. And before they signed to Giant, they were known as The Flynamic Force, and released a classic EP on their own label, All City Records. Sometime between the Flynamic EP and Giant record came this odd, little 12".

Titled "Wild Style" (or maybe that's meant to be the name of the record label; who knows?), is a 12" single of mixes by Alexander (no, I don't know either) for On the Beat Productions. The catalog # is OTB001, which suggests the label is actually On the Beat, and that this is the first and - presumably - last release on that label. They're three instrumental mixes, blending instrumentals of its time like Heavy D's "Somebody for Me," Twin Hype's "For Those Who Like To Groove" and Technotronic's "Pump Up the Jam." And they're actually quite good; dude has mixing skills. And, notably, one track features some slick scratches by King Tech.

Which brings us to the real jewel of this 12"; an all-new Flynamic Force song called "Truly Funky." The song starts out as a mock radio show interview, with Alexander, Sway and Tech being interviewed by Michael Erickson, who hosted his own show on the same station as the WUS. But this isn't an actual radio freestyle pressed on wax, this is definitely a fully produced, original song. He starts out by asking them about their new movement, FFORM, Fighting For Organized Rap Music (I guess that idea didn't last very long, since I never heard it mentioned anywhere else), then Sway starts rapping as the instrumental kicks in. When you think the song's about to end, Michael Erickson comes back on, "yo yo, man, that was truly funky, but uh... that was only three minutes. I paid you for five." Tech says he ran out of beats, so Sway rocks it over a human beat box. Then a fresh drum track blends into the mix. This is just a really good late 80's rap record, at least as good as anything on the Flynamic Force EP, maybe even a little better. The instrumental for "Truly Funky" is also included.

Because I'm utterly unable to break away from my own insignificant traditions, here's a link to Sway and King Tech's myspace page and their official Wake Up Show website. If you haven't checked my main page (and why haven't you, may I ask?), you might be interested to learn that this blog entry is being posted in conjunction with a brand new artists' page I made for the Flynamic Force, so you can see their complete discography (note: I didn't bother including any of the mix CDs and freestyle albums they host, since they don't actually feature music by Sway and Tech).

Monday, April 9, 2007

Who Is Tucka da Huntaman?

Who is Tucka da Huntaman? Well, contrary to the popular (and quite understandable) misconception, he's not Nine (D. Keyes). Tucka, who gets his alias from his real name: K. Tucker, came out with a single 12" in 1995 on Profile Records (same label as Nine). "Da Hunt Is On" b/w "Watch Yout Back" (I went with the cassingle so you could see his picture, not included on the 12" sticker cover), to keep it brief, is dope. It's just a really good, east coast hardcore rap record, that's still sought after today (fortunately, it's not that rare), produced by Nine's producer at the time, Tony Stoute. And his voice sounds a lot like Nine.

Unfortunately, I can't find where I read it (dude, this was like 12 years ago), but I remember Tucka was a young MC coming out under the wing of a radio show host (Red Alert, I think it was) after making noise with some on-air freestyles. He first appeared on another Profile release, Bodyrock's "Groove With You Tonight (Crush Sounds Flippy Remix)" in 1994. But Tucka was only signed for a single 12" deal, and I guess Profile thought Tucka would forever be in Nine's shadow, or just generally didn't have a lot of commercial potential, because they didn't grab him for a full-length follow-up, and apparently he dropped out of the game entirely, never releasing any music again.

I wish I could link to a myspace or something, but I've searched pretty hard and come up with nothing. If anyone has any info on where he is currently, or anything he's done since, please leave a comment here or send an e-mail. Cheers. 8)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Red, Red, Fat and The Dr.

I just made a discovery. That alone is pretty darn cool for me. What's even cooler is that it's a discovery that was already in my collection. :) What'd I find? The first rap appearance of Red Hot Lover Tone.

I just recently sorted all my CDs, and have been revisiting a few albums, like this one, that I haven't listened to wee hip-hop colecting lad. Along with everybody else, I was getting everything on cassette in those days; but in 1990 my parents bought a CD player. My first two CDs were Long Live the Kane and The Cactus Cee/D.

Well, one of the few other CDs I bought that year was Cool Lover Boy by Red Bandit on Motown. What can I say? I was buying everything in those days. I didn't spend my money on anything else (well, I went through a couple comic book phases at certain points in my childhood); when I got my allowance, that meant I could go to the mall and get a rap tape. If I saved enough change to make $2, I could buy a single. You would fall over if you saw the amount of tapes I had (and still have) by the time cassettes were taken off the market.

Anyway, the CD is ok. You've got a lot of R&Bish rap love songs ("Please Don't Cry" features Ricky Bell of Bell Biv Devoe), and a couple of poppy dance songs. Red Bandit is no great MC, but for these kinda songs, no exceptional skill is really required. It is what it is, and if you like that sort of thing, it's alright.

Now, it's no secret that this album features some of The Trackmasterz' (Red Hot Lover Tone's hugely successful production team with partner Poke) earliest work on record. It may even be their first (everything they first started becoming famous for, like their work with Chubb Rock and Tone's rapping career, started in 1992). They produced cowrote his house track, "House People."

But what I think will be news to most of you reading this, is that the CD version of Cool Lover Boy features a bonus track not available on the LP or cassette. It's a posse cut called "Can I Get a Little," featuring Red Hot Lover Tone, Phat Doug (here in the liner notes spelled "Fat Doug," but I'm pretty certain it's the same guy) and Dr. Freeze (who produced most of this LP, and who had some big production hits around that time, like BBD's "Poison" and Color Me Badd's "I Wanna Sex You Up"). The mic gets passed down the line, with Tone definitely shining as the best MC on the track (though Phat Doug comes tight, too). Then at the end, the mic gets passed back to the first MC, and each MC kicks another verse. Finally, producer Spiderman (who I never heard of, and doesn't seem to have done anything on this album, but I know he's a producer from reading the album's special thanks) gets the mic and briefly closes the show. Pretty nice find in my own collection, 'ey?

You may remember Bandit better for his "All Men Are Dogs?" single, with production by Postive K, and a remix by Sean Puffy Combs featuring Faith Evans. This was later turned into a major posse cut, with Grand Puba, Positive, Snagglepuss, Notorious BIG, Raggedy Man, Grand Daddy I.U. & Pudgee the Phat B_stard. More recently, in 1998, he changed his name to Jimmy Crooks, started his own indie label, and put out a compilation album of his crew, The Nighthawks (comprised of B-I, Ill Flo, Bigman, Rockiem and himself), The Nighthawks Family Album. I thought it pretty well sucked, but hey, whatever. Then, in 2001, he put out a new solo CD called Straight Ghetto Remixes, which features some surprisingly big name guest appearances like Snoop Doggy Dogg, Queen Latifah, Usher and more (there was also a single off that album, "R.E.D.B.A.N.D.I.T.," if you really want to complete your collection). You can order both of those albums new from CDBaby.com. And as always, of course, I also have the link to his myspace page.

And since this post is reallymeant to be about Red Hot Lover Tone, here's a link to his (Trackmasters') myspace page, and official website. Dr. Freeze has a myspace page, too; but it's currently set to Private.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Well, Guess What? He Doesn't Care Either

Ok, I know most of you guys probably couln't give a flying fudgsicle about Father MC, so I promise this'll be the last post on him for a long time. But I just found a 12" by him that I'd never known about; so even though it's not all that great, I'm a bit geeked.

This came out on Echo International in 1997, the same year he created some curious buzz by signing with the unlikely Luke Records. I'm not sure if this came before or after that stint, but it's interesting to note on the sticker cover that this single was touting a forthcoming album entitled Men With Millions. Of course, that album never came out, and this was Father's only release on Echo ...though they did include two of the three songs on this record on a compilation they released the following year, called East Coast Flava.

"I Could Care Less" (available here in street and radio versions), is sort of a laid back message to everyone who doubts him (he doesn't care what you think), with a very relaxed flow, mellow beat and a very undramatic, repetitive chorus by a female vocalist. It all adds up to one boring song, really.

"It Ain't Where Ya From," however, is a bit livelier, and decidedly more hardcore... not in that M.O.P. hardcore sense, so much as in the Snoop Doggy Dogg, talking about "hardcore" crime-type topics sense. In this case, he's up for two back to back life sentences because some of his crew snitched on him. He warns, "take it as a threat, you might get wet if you ain't doin' what cha rappin'." He even mentions having connections to the Russian mob! I do like this line, though, presumably directed at parents who object to his new, gangsta steez: "If you don't want your kids to hear, and they hear it, you deal with it." Yeah, you tell 'em.

"No One's Gonna Love You" is in more traditional Father MC territory, with Father lyrically kicking it to a lady about how no one will ever love her like he will (no, he's not calling out some really unlikable lady, telling her how no one could ever love her - though that could've been a fun song. Opportunity missed, perhaps?). It's got a pretty heavily R&B'd out chorus, with both a male and female singers, which is actually kinda good, and a real Video Soul-reminiscent instrumental.

You can check the track-listing for this 12" and the rest of his discography on my Father MC page. You probably haven't noticed, but I've actually been "stealth updating" the discography pages of the artists I've been writing about in my blog as I go. And, in fact, I've just done a proper update of my main page, including the first new artist's page in a really long time! I've also finally sorted all of my records (and CDs), so I'll be adding more stuff to my store in the coming weeks, too. In case you missed it, the link to my main hip-hop page is at the top of the links column to the right. :)


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