Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hip-Hop Music and The Lost Sequel

"Well, it's about time for us to get off. Cut the rattle, yo; get set in your saddle. Mount your horse; the countdown's begun. The Groove B Chill surprise:"

Today, Groove B Chill may be best known for providing the forum for the production debut of Pete Rock. But to those of us who were around to experience them at the time, Groove B Chill will be forever remembered for their wacky but catchy "Hip Hop Music" video, along with their roles in the original House Party. Remember that bit about the guy who passed out drunk at the party, so his friends drove him home, propped him up against the front door, and rung the doorbell, so he collapsed on his parents? Well, if you're a hip-hop fan and you're my age, for some reason you do and you always will... pop media etched onto our psyches. Well, anyway, that was them.

And this was their big, hit single (it's #7 on the "Rap Celebrates Itself" list from Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists).

In 1986, Groovy Groove, B. Successful, and Chill-E-Dawg were featured on an Uptown/MCA Records compilation called Uptown Is Kickin' It (that song, "Why Me," was also released as a promo 12" single). The group then went on to record their lead single, "Hip Hop Music," featuring the infamous Daddy-O vocal sample, "It ain't nothin' like hip-hop music. You like it 'cause you choose it," (from "Go Stetsa I" off Stetsasonic's On Fire album) on the hook, and remixed by the one and only Hitman Howie Tee (A&M Records, 1990). If you were really up on it, you caught the 12", with the "Super Hitman's Theory" remix, which features a cheesy six-second Superman theme song snippet at the top, and is otherwise completely unchanged. There's even a separate instrumental version for that. [Did they cut Howie a seperate check for that? If so; that's game right there.]

The song is zany; the boys even break out singing the Roy Rogers theme song ("happy trailllllls to yoooouuuu... until we meet again"). And the video was on the same tip, with Groove B Chill rapping and dancing in day-glo suits along with little kids, an old lady, two guys dressed as construction workers, a russian immigrant with a photographer, nuns... I guess every outfit A&M's models had in their costume department.

The beat uses the same basic drum track and sample that Kool G Rap & DJ Polo rocked on their album track "Jive Talk" a few months later, except minus the horn sample, and this version's constantly being juggled by a DJ scratching it back and forth on the tables. Groove combines a little singing with his verse, while Chill drops a more straight-forward but doper verse about the genre:

"Who said rap ain't music? Please tell me how;
Elvis Presley ain't do nothin' that we ain't doin' now:
Sellin' records by the millions, girls gettin' laid;
We must be doin' somethin', brother, because bills gettin paid.
You mean rap is selling?
Nah, rap done sold.
We been overcame, but you just... wasn't... told."

"I loved 'Hip Hop Music' because we made a statement with that song," Mitchell told Vibe magazine in 2005. "Hip hop is not a culture. Hip hop is not black. It's a vehicle of expression that will invite any culture that will embrace and accept it."

Their subsequent full-length, Starting From Zero (A&M/ Uptown Records, also 1990), was kinda fun, but sales were lackluster. I mean, they weren't the greatest lyricists (and the singing on their token love song, "Where Were You," was downright frightening), but the production was late '80's/early '90's-style hype, and their rhymes were at least smart and sometimes clever. Pete Rock provided the two opening tracks on the album: the title cut, "Starting from Zero," which is especially fresh, and "There It Is," while Prince Paul did two others. In fact, one of his, "Let It Roll" (featuring a brief sample from the classic "Music for the Stetfully Insane," amongst about a million others), is pretty ill; too bad it wasn't a single. ...There was a follow-up single in fact: "Swingin' Single;" but even though it's a solid album track with a hot rhythm and hook by Dave Hollister and co., it wasn't really designed to stand on its own, and it fell flat.

Rather than for his MCing, though, Chill is known to mainstream audiences as actor Daryl "Chill" Mitchell, who made the leap from those House Party flicks to becoming a regular on The John Laroquette Show. After TJLS's run, he took co-starring roles in films like Sgt. Bilko with Steve Martin, until ultimately landing another major sitcom role in the relatively successful Kirstie Alley vehicle, Veronica's Closet. And his biggest role to date is probably his part in Galaxy Quest.

So, in a not-at-all recent, open on-line interview for Talk City Presents (circa 1998), Chill fielded questions mainly about Veronica's Closet, his films, and even a few about Groove B Chill. But more interesting than any of that was when someone asked if he had any new musical projects in the works, and he said, "Look for my new single; it's 'The Sequel.' I have a new production company. It's called Two Jams Production Company with Nigel Miguel; and we are getting ready to produce music, movies, television shows and videos." He later added that, "well, I have been approached by Puffy and Rapper Kim, both to do songs together; and my own producer-DJ 'B' of Groove B Chill... They're talking about doing a Veronica's Closet soundtrack. If it ever comes to reality, I'll be doing a song or songs on the soundtrack CD, but the project I'm doing is a solo project by Chill, produced by Groove B Chill, due out this summer and called The Sequel."
Well, of course, the soundtrack never surfaced (and it's not gonna... the show's been off the air for the past eight years), and if Puffy hasn't put him on by now, it's probably not happening. I haven't been able to find anything to suggest that Two Jams Production Company is actually in existence anywhere, either. But who knows what had already been recorded and is now sitting in Mitchell's garage? And of course the other question would be: if it exists, could it be any good? I certainly wouldn't expect a lost hip-hop classic, but maybe some decently produced parry grooves with some reasonably witty Will Smith-level lyrics sound very plausible. I'd certainly like the chance to find out.

Sadly, in November 2001, he was paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident, suffering a complete spinal injury. Despite now being wheelchair bound, he returned to acting, including a recurring role on the TV series Ed. He founded The Daryl Mitchell Foundation (, originally known as All Fa Wheels, and has been a spokesperson for The Christopher Reeve Foundation and The Paralysis Resource Center's Minority Outreach Campaign. "We were just rappers in the 'hood who caught on," he said in '05. "And 'Hip Hop Music' allowed us to move around. I'll forever feel blessed by where that vehicle took me."
During the Talk City interview, when user Halfbaked asked him, "if I wanted to buy just one of your songs, which would you recommend?" Daryl replied, "okay, I would say 'It Ain't Nothing Like Hip-Hop Music' ...but just wait for 'The Sequel'!" Well... I think ten years has been a long enough wait. Go pick up a copy of "Hip-Hop Music;" it's dope. And if he ever leaks The Sequel on his myspace (surely you knew that was coming), you know which blogger's gonna be all over it. ;)

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