Saturday, August 9, 2008

Arrest the President

This was the third and final single off of Intelligent Hoodlum's debut album - after the understated "Black & Proud" and the commercial bid, "Back To Reality" with that whole Soul II Soul vibe - and undoubtedly the best. It seemed like the album had run its course, not unsuccessfully, when Trag and Marley snuck in this one final blow, which was easily the best track off the entire album (and his entire career, I'd say, despite my special soft spot for "Live and Direct from the House of Hits").

The production was like "Marley does The Bomb Squad." High pitched sirens, fast, banging drums and the occasional, gritty horn stab. And Trag just spits hard, fast and angry, only briefing stopping to repeat the line "arrest the president" a few times before kicking the next verse. It was the last song on the album, too; the perfect way to end was a little bit of a mixed bag... on one hand his most progressive track, on the other, a sort of a throwback to the sound of the raw, underground collaborations of Marley and the man then known as MC Percy.

There was a video, but it hardly got any play. The label and media had pretty much moved on already after "Back To Reality," which is a shame because it was a good video, too. The unapologetic message probably turned off some higher-ups, but with the proper promotion, I think this could have been a really big record in 1990. It's like this i the record they put out just in case they never got the chance to make another one. And it remains a classic to those Juice Crew fans in the know; but it definitely never became what it should have. In fact, the single never even got released.

The 12" was a promo only, with its hand-written label well-known to hip-hop collectors worldwide. Three tracks: "Assault Mix," "Predicate Felony Mix" & "Convicted Mix," and one crossed off: "Album Justice Mix." Despite throwing the word "Justice" in there, I'm going to assume that was just the album mix, so no big loss... we've all got it on the LP (and if you don't, get it now... I'll wait).

So we've got three mixes here. Two aren't anything to get excited about - despite the fancy monikers, they're just the instrumental and TV tracks ...although, this has to be on everybody's short list of must-have hip-hop instrumentals, so go ahead and get excited about that, too. Now, that leaves us withjust the one, basic (also Marley-produced) remix. You might ask yourself, why would you really want a remix to one of hip-hop's potentially greatest all-time beats?

Because they actually made it better. This isn't some crappy "New Jack Swing" remix, or just a slightly reworked "Blue Mix." It keeps the signature sirens, and even the same drum track. But now Marley is constantly cutting and scratching throughout the whole song (mostly a horn sample, but sometimes a vocal sample or two get cut in for a split second as well), and it's all laid down over a great, rolling bassline. Flat out, it doesn't get any better than this, folks.

As you might imagine, this record doesn't usually go for cheap... the combination of scarcity + greatness will do that. And, strangely, Traffic didn't see to fit this, or the other important 12" single tracks, on their reissue of the album... instead throwing on stuff like "Live Motivator?" So, anyway, definitely grab it when the opportunity presents itself.

I'm afraid I have no myspace links or anything for ya. After releasing his slightly presciently titled eighth album The Death of Tragedy last year, our man got locked up on a drug charge. According to sketchy online sources (hey, what do you want from me?), he's scheduled to be released in 2011. But that doesn't mean they still shouldn't arrest the president, too. :P

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