Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Real Crazy Like a Foxxx

Ok, this post is about the recently released, long awaited Crazy Like a Foxxx album by Freddie Foxxx. And before I go any further, let me just ask: where is the vinyl LP of this? Seriously, Fat Beats, what the fuck?

Ok, that just had to be said. Now onto the real point of this post: the Crazy Like a Foxxx double CD that Fat Beats just released is not the same as the old Crazy Like a Foxxx album that's been in circulation since it was sent out to the press for review back in '94 (3 mics in The Source if you're interested)... not the Jailhouse version on disc 1 or the DITC demo on disc 2.

The differences start right at the intro. In fact, "Intro" on the original version is essentially two intros in a row, neither of which are on the CD set. The first is a brief welcome to the album by Foxxx, where he tells us every song has a hidden message. Then there's a second one where he and his partner Shorty Dog talk shit for a while over a beat. And midway through the original, there's another "Intro #2," where he talks about the concepts of the album and gives his message to all MCs, which was also left off this release. Now, none of these are great losses, but I can't help feeling like it would've been nice to be completist on a project like this.

Anyway, playing a little further into the album we find another skit that's not on the Fat Beats release, of a violent highway shoot-out. Then, just one song later comes another unused skit, where Shorty Dog brings two Chinese gangsters to meet Freddie, who demands to be cut into their operation. And leading up to "Step" is yet another skit absent from the Fat Beats set. Here a narrator asks us about dreams over the signature Twilight Zone theme, followed by a look into one of Freddie's gangster dreams, where Italian mobsters threaten to drop him out of a window. It's kinda odd. All in all, the original version of the album was definitely going for more of a "cinematic" skit-heavy vibe that I can't really say I'm so sad to see go.

But there's more absent here that I actually do miss, including "Raw Skill:" a pure, acapella rap. And it's no quick freestyle verse, but a full, political and angry track that just happens to not have a beat or hook. Dope stuff.

And the unreleased album also included the superior "Mellow Mix" of "So Tough" (in addition to, not instead of, the "Video Version" present on the CD). This isn't as big of a loss though, since it was already featured on the 12" single, which was properly released back in the day. And that single also features an exclusive, third mix of "So Tough," so you'll be wanting to pick that up if you haven't already got it, regardless.

Finally, the O.G. version concluded with a full-length shout-out track over a hot beat called, "Mr. Microphone," with his DJ getting busy cutting up some vocal samples at the end. That's been removed as well.

But the changes here aren't all subtractions. Besides, of course, the delightful inclusion of the DITC Demo version on the second disc, Fat Beats also sneaks a couple of extra tracks into the Jailhouse version. In fact, that was the first thing that occurred to me when I saw the track-listing for this release: "I don't remember a track with Tupac on it...!"

Track 8 on the Jailhouse disc, "Killa," sure wasn't on the album any of us heard before. And in addition to 2Pac, it also features an uncredited Ray Benzino. It's not hard to imagine why Fat Beats might've decided to leave his name off of their CD and press-kits. But of course it's only natural he's present, as The RSO was part of Latifah's reinvented/defiled Flavor Unit at the time. Now, this is really a reworking of an unreleased track that's been floating around the internet for a while called "Tryna Get Through This." The beat is different (it's better, and doesn't feature the sappy R&Bish hook), and Foxxx and Benzino kick different lyrics, but it's definitely the same 'Pac verse. ...I'd love to hear the full story behind this song.

Also new to the Jailhouse version is "Do What You Gotta Do," a song originally released on a rare 12" single I blogged about some time ago [Update 8/25/08 - the version on the CD is a bit different. The basic beat, hook and bassline are the same, but the piano and some of the change-ups you hear on the CD are new... it sounds like the 12" is the original, and they did some tinkering for the version on the CD.], and the "Crazy Like a Foxxx (Alternate Mix)." The Jailhouse version also adds a new "Interlude" skit of a guy picking up a prostitute... it would've really fit in perfectly with the ones from the old version, but it's actually being released here for the first time.

So, all in all, what would have been better? The real O.G. version with its crap-ton of skits and a few exclusive bits, or this remade version with all its odds and ends thrown in. Ideally, of course, it would have been nice to have it ALL included... but there's no denying that this is a must have 2-disc set of never-before released material no matter how you look at it. Even if it's not on vinyl.

Update 5/22/09 - The versions of "Step" and "Pressure On the Brain" (both the Demo and Jailhouse versions) in this set are also substantially different than the ones on the original (and the originals are better!). The original mixes were made available, however, on a limited 1996 white label 12" that I review here. This review gives detailed coverage of the differences in the versions.

Update 7/30/09 - Newly added pictures of the O.G. tape and sleeve, courtesy of Noz of Cocaine Blunt$.


  1. Nice man. I was happy to see they were finally reissuing this, but, like you, am bummed that it's not been released on vinyl. And now I'm a little more bummed to find out it's not even the original.

    But, I'm sure I'll still pick it up...

  2. Sid's Mellow Mix IS the same as the video version, if I'm not mistaken. The original version with Latifah was not used for the video (and isn't on the Traffic double-disc.

    1. You, sir, are 100% correct! I just checked my copy. I guess it just seemed so obvious that they'd use the Original mix on the album, my brain wouldn't let me process that it was actually one of the 12" remixes on there. :P