Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Fila Fresh Valentine

It's Valentine's Day, and what better way to get into the spirit of the holiday than to dig out on of hip-hop's corniest token love songs ever? Usually token love songs were album fillers, but The Fila Fresh Crew decided to make "I Wanna Know What Love Is" a 12" exclusive. Maybe they felt it didn't really fit into the atmosphere they were making on the rest of Tuffest Man Alive.

The R&B hook (sung by one male and one female vocalist) is taken right from the chorus of Foreigner's classic 80's song, "I Want To Know What Love Is." If you're a pure hip-hop fan like myself, who's really not familiar with all the mainstream pop stuff, and you want to hear this song for reference, just hang out for a few minutes in your dentist's waiting room. That's where I heard it to know they were aping a famous song; then I just had to look up who it was by on wikipedia. ;) Anyway, yeah... so the title and chorus are lifted from Foreigner, but the basic instrumental, with it's single-note-ber-beat xylophone like keyboard and the MCs' semi-spoken word delivery (there's even a little spoken intro) is 100% ripping off LL Cool J's "I Need Love."

It's interesting to note that the second verse is by someone calling himself, "Tito, the youngest of the crew." I don't know who he is, I guess someone they brought in to take the place of The D.O.C. who apparently decided to sit out of this one ...which they should've taken as a bad sign. But, anyway, Dr. Rock and Fresh K each provide two romantic verses each, for a total of five. Let me share a little of the love:

"I've been through many women like books in a library.
To live without love, girl... is kinda scary.
I'm the doctor of the turntable, girl, you know it's true.
No matter how I try, I can't find a girl like you.
Love is like a game that's played by foolish men;
I play this game over and over but never win.
I'm looking for a love, girl, that's blue and true;
And if you're out there, girl, this song's for you."

And, girl, here's one more for you, girl:

"Girl, you're the new attraction... in my life;
Sometimes I fantasize... that you're my wife.
But then I pinch myself, 'cause I know I'm just dreamin'.
You're like a drug, girl, and I keep fiendin'.
See, to be truthful, I feel real bad;
'Cause I was too glad to know the love I had.
Feelin' heartburn, I was cryin' and ballin',
Knowin' your love was like London bridges fallin'."

Note that this is the "Hug Mix." Apart from the instrumental, there are no other mixes of this song released anywhere... I think the Fila Fresh Crew just decided that you needed a hug. :)

This is the b-side to a very un-Valentinesy song, The D.O.C. solo track (although, interestingly, the only writing credit on this one goes to Dr. Rock. Hmm...), "Fear Of the Rap." It's actually pretty hot... there are some cheesy (even for its time but especially today) "scary" keyboards that will turn away heads who insist on taking their rap music too seriously; but they're still pretty effective once the beat - which is kickin' - and The D.O.C. get rolling. It's a real showcase of the fierce lyricist who'd go on to record No One Can Do It Better - essentially him just rhyming like crazy, occassionally pausing to let the DJ scratch a little for the break. In fact it opens with Doc-T (as he was known at the time) doing the first half of his verse accapella over just a soulclap. Then there's a hornstab and the beat kicks in while he keeps flowing. At the end, the DJ cuts up Whistle's signature whistle sound, and there's some live guitar - the Crew definitely put in the time to try and get this song right.

This is the only 12" exclusive from the Fila Fresh Crew, except for a couple remixes off their post D.O.C. album, Taking Charge, as The Fela Fresh Crew. So relax, pour yourself a drink, put this 12" on your turntable, and have a happy Valentine's Day... unless you actually have a signficant other, who'd then probably insist that you "turn that silly crap off." But, hey, it beats being alone, right? <3

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