Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't Stop Pumping It

"3-2-1 Pump" was the fifth single off of The Redhead Kingpin and the FBI's second full-length, The Album With No Name. And by the time it rolled out, I think audiences were finished with the whole album, so it got a pretty thrifty release. That's a shame, because I think it had the potential to be a bigger hit, and made a much better choice for a catchy single than the first four.

This 1991 Virgin Records release is clearly meant to be a sort of sequel to his previous hit, "Pump It Hottie;" and not wanting to repeat himself may be why Redhead held off releasing this as a single for so long. It's produced by Kingpin himself, using the bassline from Earth, Wind and Fire's classic "Let's Groove" with a lot of original instrumentation/ programming, and DJ Wildstyle expertly slicing up Trouble Funk's (or maybe it's Melle Mel's version; there's no telling) "Pump It Up" on the hook.

Naturally, the lyrics aren't mind-blowing or anything... this was Redhead Kingpin, after all, not early Ras Kass; and one of his club songs on top of that. But he's got genuine talent on the mic, able to kick a sly line that would fit in nicely alongside the T.I.s or Jay-Zs of today. And when he spells his name to the rhythm in a cool off-beat/on-beat kind of way, it's really pretty fresh; it's too bad he got caught up in gangsta rap driven, anti-New Jack/R&B/dance backlash:

"You can try and try again,
But the situation's worthless.
You may think you're doing damage,
But you haven't scratched the surface.
The girls are always screamin' for the Redhead one to rock...
[Pause, then spoken:] I'll be right down, baby.
Now ask your girlfriend,
'Does he look better than me?'
She'll say 'I hate to break your heart,
But I prefer the R-E-D
P-I-N; he's the one.
I need a night alone with him
'Cause he's a freaky son of a gun."'

As an interesting side note, by the way: in addition to the proper 12" pictured above, there's also this white label version I found online. There's no official printing anywhere on it, but the handwriting on the sleeve incorrectly labels it as "Pump It Hottie" remixes (the seller I got it from also thought it was "Pump It Hottie"... I just don't think people can wrap their heads around the notion that there's two Redhead Kingpin singles with the word "Pump" in the title). The track-listing is exactly the same as the proper version, though. I just thought I'd point it out.

Anyway, there's two mixes on this 12". Both sides of this record are labeled A; so I'm just going to baselessly assume that the Extended Power Mix comes first. It's credited to someone named Jerry Moran. I've no idea who that is (I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess it's not the Kansas City Republican congressman), except that he later provided another remix for Redhead, on The Private Investigators' "Who Am I (God)?" single. This mix takes it back to the Earth Wind and Fire original, replacing some of Redhead's original production with more elements from "Let's Groove," including the vocals on the hook. The remix also features a faster beat and new breakdown, where Redhead tells us he and his crew are gonna do their dances (guess you had to see it performed live), and DJ Wildstyle gets a chance to showcase his scratching. I tell you, that guy's skills were underrated. And when it ends with the original Earth, Wind and Fire horns... I'm sorry. No matter how much you might hate on New Jack Swing or Redhead, it's just one of those great musical moments I don't think anyone could front on.

The other remix, the Street Mix, is also credited to Mr. Moran. Here he takes it back to a slower, more straight hip-hop and less dance-oriented vibe (just like you'd expect from a "street mix"). This one actually slows things down a bit too much, making the broken down hook dull and lifeless. It also features some Planet Patrol/Soulsonic Force-type samples that you'd expect to hear on a faster Miami bass record and tries to blend them into the groove. All in all, it's kinda wack; but the Extended Power Mix is definitely worth checking for if you're a Redhead fan.

There's also a cassingle, which is the only release with a picture cover and features the Edit version (basically the album version slightly shortened - it's also the one they used in the music video) and Power Mix, plus the fun but forgettable album track "Harlem Brown." The regular (as opposed to Extended) Power Mix included here feels a bit short, though, especially at the end where it fades out just as you're starting to get into the horn loops; so you'll want to stick with the 12" in the long run.

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