Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pass da Remix

"Pass da Mic" is Da Youngsta's [what's with that apostrophe, by the way? Is their name meant to be an incomplete, possessive noun? I guess what it can only mean is that the trio, collectively, is the belonging of some mysterious entity known only as Da Youngsta!] second single off of their first album. It's also their best song, and the only song off their debut to feature a guest verse: Mentally Gifted of The Hilltop Hustlers*, which definitely helps. So four MCs kicking freestyle verses over a dope beat, with a simple hook ("pass the mic, yo, pass the mic!")... what more could you want?

Well, how about a Pete Rock remix? Yup. The remix, actually credited to Pete Rock and CL Smooth, is the real reason most people would probably pick this up today (and why the price never sinks to bargain bin status online). This track is as fresh and addictive as anything the duo were doing back in the day.

What's also interesting about this remix is that it's a lyrical remix as well. Qur'an's first verse (by the way, this is where he spits the line "money growin' like grass for the mass appeal" that Gangstarr made famous) and Mentally Gifted's last verse stay the same, but the other two completely abandon their verses for new ones.

Tarik's original verse started by talking about how, "Honeydips flip cause they know I'm well equipped. They drop their bottom lip, then they start to unzip the XYZ. But I ain't down with HIV; so I keep my J-I-double-M-Y in my back pocket, just in case I wanna knock it." Considering how they were 11 years old when they recorded their debut album, it's easy to imagine why someone figured they ought to make a few alterations before shipping the video out to MTV. So instead he went with a more typical, posse cut style freestyle verse that goes, "I've come to riggidi-riggidi-rip the rhyme again and again and again. I go for what I know, more ready than I've ever been," etc.

Taji also changes his verse. "You're unstable, unable to get on a weak label. You still be home writin', watchin' me on cable. Steppin' to me, yo, you're bound to take a fall. I put you in pocket like an eight ball**," becomes "I'm known to riggidi-riggidi-rip rip a rhyme [yes, both verses start out with the phrase "riggidi-riggidi-rip a rhyme" on the same version of the same song... seems like Quality Control was asleep at their post on that one] like Jack the Ripper. Slick syllables slip; I got more juice than citrus. Suckers can't get with this - I ring more bells than a Jehovah witness." So yeah... both verses are completely, 100% different than the originals. It's hard to say which verses are better (except for thankfully dropping the uncomfortable references to 11 year-old sex)... I'd say it's a dead tie. But having them be different makes the whole listening experience less repetitive since both versions are on this single, and the original beat by LG is pretty tight, too.

And to answer your question before you ask it: yes, there is an instrumental to the Pete Rock remix. There's the dub version, with the background vocals still on it, and the instrumental proper. They don't include the instrumental to the LP version, but oh well. They got the important one.

I've upped the picture of the cassette maxi-single, since it's got a picture cover. The 12" is a sticker cover, with just their logo and the track-listing on it. Said track-listing is the same on both formats though, and also feature one more song: the album track, "Neighborhood Bully," which pretty much vindicates all your preconceived notions based on the title ...which is to say it's exactly what you think it is, but the beat is dope. Again it's by LG, who pretty much did their entire debut LP, which makes sense since two of Da Youngsta's are his sons. How else do you think these little kids got major label record deals?

Today Da Youngsta's [file under Y, people, not D. You wouldn't file "The Youngsta's" under T, would you?] have long since split up after their last album - which was I'll Make You Famous, not No Mercy as most online write-ups would have you believe - but they still maintain a myspace page. Qur'an has gone on to become a producer in his own right, and has his myspace here. Meanwhile, Taji a.k.a. Taj Mahal has some tracks up on his myspace, where he's working on a solo career as an MC... or at least he was in 2006, when he upped all that material.

*I'm pretty sure this is who Hansoul was referring to in my last post, since their was no one actually named "MG" in Da Youngsta's.

**Update 7/16/08: This is a total bite! Man, I knew I'd heard that verse before, and have been trying to place it for the last couple of days. Taji's original verse is completely lifted from Mentally Gifted's cameo on Cool C's "Watch Your Back" off of Life In the Ghetto from the year before - not just the part I quoted... the bite keeps right on going. Da Youngsta's really hyped themselves as being better and realer than all the other kiddie rap groups out there because they wrote their own rhymes... let's just say this doesn't exactly alleviate my skepticism on that score.

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