Sunday, August 10, 2008

Arrest the President, 14 Years Later

Now that we're under the administration of Bush #2, The Arrest the President All-Stars dropped a sequel to Intelligent Hoodlum's original "Arrest the President" in 2004 on Anticon, with a pic cover (enlarge the image and find Rev Rhyme!) riffing on the old We're All In the Same Gang album cover. The All Stars were made up of Pedestrian, Sole and Jel, who rhymes as well as produces on this one.

The whispered hook is the same; and the instrumental echoes the original... you hear hints of the signature sirens, but Jel fades them out quickly as he's actually crafted an all new instrumental for us, though roughly in the same energetically angry vein. It's a bit closer to the remix, I suppose, in that it has a proper bassline and is generally a bit more "musical," though it forgoes the scratching that Marley did in favor of a variety of vocal samples of everybody from Bobby Seale ("the long arm of fascist surveillance, reaching from the '60s into the present") to LL Cool J ("guilty, face down on the pavement!"). For the most time they alternate kicking four bars, but for the second "verse," they rhyme in unison, which kicks the energy up another notch. Then they split back up again for the final segment:

Blood against blood, he threatens neighbors with nukes
When he's reading his cue cards and punching the camera.
Don't look at the forest, he's burning it down for
The royal family and the prison landlords.

We ain't the band for no campaign tour;
We rap to distract in these times of war.
We're not righteous, but might just make you want to listen...
Yo, I'm Elvis with the words of wisdom.
[<--3rd Bass quote, kids]"

This single was actually one of those "double A-sides," and the flip is a Pedestrian solo cut called "The Toss and Turn"(both this and "Arrest the President" appear on his debut album, Unindian Songs vol. 1). Pedestrian describes the tune better than I surely could, "[f]ormally, 'The Toss & Turn' is all about appropriation: jel's music is essentially modeled after raw, early '60s novelty dance tunes (like 'The Funky Penguin') and the rapping is in the late-'80s, New York vein. Thematically, the lyrics modify and in some cases invert the associations of those two genres, so that it becomes a swingy, up-tempo song about loss, a conscientiously clubby song about solitude, and a clearly, coldly rapped song about anxiety." Maybe that'll strike you as a bit pretentious, but I gotta say it all works for me... Ped's staccato flow over Jel's funky beat is perfect; the theme is substantive enough to relate to, but simple and catchy enough to just enjoy as fun, too.

This record also comes with a formal, written apology [I can't be bothered to scan it; it's double-sided. Just buy the record.] for his past discography, which is pretty silly. I mean,. if he wants to apologize for something, he'd be better off apologizing for the vinyl exclusives that also appear on this 12".

There's three (not including the instrumental for "A.T.P."). There's "Resurrection Morning Sermon," a five minute literal sermon in his preacher character (continuing a series of skits from off the album). It's actually set to a dope beat by Jel, and there's occasionally some nice scratching during the breaks. But essentially the sermon is one long, self indulgent drag.

Then there's this weird thing where some guy named Adrian Bayless (I've no idea who he is, but apparently he owns a computer!) takes the "Toss and Turn" acappella and distorts it unto an indistinguishable series of noises for about a minute and a half. Then some sound effects fade in, and this continues on for a total of roughly four minutes. If you make it that long, god bless ya.

Finally, producer Odd Nosdam takes another stab at distorting "The Toss & Turn." He basically takes the chorus and one verse, turns the drums into some kind of awful, piercing mess, and lays it over an actually kinda funky organ loop. This one would be pretty catchy if it wasn't literally painful to listen to.

Anyway, you can't really complain since they're just "bonus tracks" on a 12" with two great songs on it. So cop that shit... right after you've copped the Tragedy, of course. Do it for yourself... Do it to support good music... Do it for your country. 8)

Unfortunately, I've no idea what Pedestrian is up to nowadays. I know he left the country for a while, and that he has a very uninformative myspace for his preacher character (Evangelist J.B. Best); but that's about it, and that's seriously old news. I think he did a little writing for one or a couple Anticon-affiliated projects recently ("cbf" as the kids say), so if you find him, remind him he owes us an Unindian Songs vol. 2 soon. He takes way too long between projects, and should be chastised at every opportunity.

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