Monday, June 16, 2008

Doug E. Fresh 2000!!

Most people missed it, I think, but Doug E. Fresh came back in 2000. He put out two four[see update below] white label records for the new millennium, got slept on, and then stepped back. But as always, I've got 'em both right here, so let's take a look.

First up is a live 12" called "He's Coming" Live meaning in the "Party Rocker Vocal" version has been recorded before a live audience. He really captures the energy of his live shows as he leads an enthusiastic audience through a sea of old school choruses, shout and call responses and hooks. The beat constantly changes from old favorites to contemporary hits (well, contemporary for 2000 - i.e. Big Pun's "Still Not a Killer").

It's debatable how much this kind of thing translates to record. What must be a blast to experience live leaves me feeling a little like "I kinda wish he'd just rap already," and I'm not sure how often I'd revisit this record, though I'd me more likely to come back to the (not recorded live) Instrumental version on the B-side. But if you're gonna listen to a "It's Your Birthday"/DJ Kool-type song; there's no denying Doug E. is the master of it and this is one of the best (the fact that he's not shy about slipping into a hot beat-boxing solo sure helps).

Next up is "Come Again" (I'm really not sure which was released first... I'm just assuming from their titles that "He's Coming" precedes "Come Again"), another Live track. This time in instrumental is a consistent (and not bad) track, as opposed to a parade of crowd-pleasing loops and breaks, but other than that it's very much along the same lines as its predecessor.

What's much more compelling on this record though is the two new studio tracks. "I Could Make U Dance" (which we're helpfully alerted is his "Dirty South"-style record) really isn't bad. Doug's versatile enough to ride the Southern-style production and change his flow to match without putting on a cheesy accent or otherwise trying to "force" himself to blend with the genre unnaturally. A surprising guest verse from Lonnie B., of Virginia's Supafriendz crew, and both MCs shine with how quick and clever (without no reliance on punchlines) they can kick their raps (Krystal, who's also credited, is just doing back-up vocals on the hook). This should really suck, and it doesn't at all, which is impressive.

But the last song, "Throw It Up," is the real highlight for me... in no small part because it features Big Daddy Kane. The production is unexceptional, but it'll do for Kane to rip it with a hot verse, and while Doug tend to forgo straight rapping for all his party-type material, he holds his own spitting after Kane. My only complaint is that it's too short - one verse by Kane, followed by one from Fresh, then a couple of hooks (which is where the other credited MC, Damage, fits in) and it's all over. Cutting down the hook-age and throwing down two more verses by each MC would've been perfect, but I guess they figured why risk ruining a good thing when you've got it?

Like the last 12", this one ends with a not-live Instrumental version of its live track, too.

Today, Doug E Fresh of course has (say it with me) a myspace page; and he also has his own dot com at: There's an online store there promising a new CD single (called "Left Right Front Dance") and album (called Global Warming), but they're both listed as out of stock. Now, if you click on the Global Warming page, it says, "...will be available June 15th;" but that's actually what it said this time last year, too; so I don't think it's coming anytime soon. He DOES have a children's book that you can order from there, which includes a CD: "Rap and Read along with Doug E. Fresh;" so you seriously hardcore fans may want to pick that one up, I don't know.

Update 2/18/2010: Apparently, this is only half the story! He released two more 12"s, including a "Mayham Party Mix" of "He's Coming," around 2000. Check this post for full write-ups on those.

Also, I've been reading on discogs that apparently there's an alternate version of the "Come Again" 12". The other version doesn't include the song "Throw It Up," but instead features an additional instrumental of "I Could Make U Dance." Now, personally, I'd feel pretty let-down if I didn't get the song with Kane, since it's easily the highlight; but the fact that both versions exist is cool for collectors, as the other version at least gives you an exclusive instrumental. At least you can tell them apart, though. The version with "Throw It Up" is the one I've got pictured above, with the catalog number printed on the label and the song title labeled as "I Could Make U Dance." The one with the exclusive instrumental calls the song "Could I Make You Dance," and also lacks the catalog number.

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