Friday, May 30, 2008

InstaRapFlix 1: Queens of Hip Hop

I was bored and scanning through Netflix's browse instant list... they don't have a whole lot of movies yet, but I just discovered that they have a whole ton (well, comparatively) of hip-hop docs. So I que'd them all, even the really hokey, trashy looking ones. And I'm gonna review 'em on here every time I watch one.

The first one I watched was Queens of Hip Hop (Netflix rating: 1 star). I can sum this one up really easily. Good but too short.

First of all, it has interviews with a whole ton of female MCs. Way too many to list, but some are: Salt N Pepa, Roxanne Shante, Pri the Honeydark, The Poetess (remember her?), Rah Digga, Charli Baltimore, Champ MC, Synquis of Finesse & Synquis, Nikki D, Medusa, etc etc. This film came out in 2003 and I'd bet some of the interviews were done even earlier, because MCs like Queen Pen and Lady Luck are talking like they're on top of the rap game.

But the documentary is only 58 minutes. Take away the time for opening and closing credits, and a pointless series of clips where the MCs shout out the documentary they're in (you don't have to promote it; we're already watching it, guys!), and you're down to like 45 minutes.

So basically each MC gets a little video clip... roughly 1 minute long to tell their story (who they are, how they got into the game), and then it's on to the next one. Then, for the last 20 minutes, they come back, and some of the MCs get a second clip, where they talk about how being an MC has influenced their family life. Every once in a while, they also show a short clip of one of their music videos, and two of the MCs (Paula Perry & Invincible) even freestyle.

Most of these MCs are pretty damn interesting (albeit some more than others), and it's really a shame the filmmakers never ask any questions... when Lady of Rage says she's suing Death Row, no one even says, "really, tell us about that?" When Roxanne Shante claims to be the first female MC, no one brings up The Sequence, Sha-Rock, Mercedes Ladies, etc. It's just a couple sentences and then CUT! onto somebody else.

There's also the problem of cheesy graphics. The gimmick of having four on-screen images zoom past each other during the opening credits was so annoying I had to skip past them (and the equally cheesy opening credits song didn't help). And every once in a while, during the interviews, the image splits into three for no discernible reason... it's just distracting. But the worst was the on-screen comments. Like, when Invincible stood up to freestyle, this flashing purple text floated all over the screen saying, "She's bangin'!" Yowza!

Now I can sort of guess why they did this. When you're just stringing along a series of unrelated short clips, as an editor, you're surely thinking "I've got to do something to make this more of a 'movie' and justify my fee." Of course, the thing to do to make this a more substantial movie would have been to get deep with the interviews, ask probing questions and maybe even explore the subjects more than once in a quick in-studio interview. The fact that it would have stretched the running time out to proper feature length would only have been a bonus!

But, for all its flaws, it's still cool. They do get a lot of dope MCs, and even the wack ones and complete unknowns (Mary J. Wanna, or some girl named Diamond D who was signed to Ruthless but never came out) are interesting to hear from for the short time they're on.

It's so short and superficial, I'd be mad if I bought the DVD. But for an instant viewing on Netflix? It's definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Before He Was Goldy...

Call It Like I See It by Mhisani is the little known debut album by Dangerous Music's Goldy under his original name. Mhisani Miller is his real name, but if you have to include a pronunciation guide on your album cover, then you can't really be blamed for deciding to change it. Call It came out in 1991 on the indie label Timbuktu Creations, which as far as I know only put out Mhisani's material.

Surprisingly, the sound of this is very pop. Both the music, and the man's voice and flow would fit in perfectly on a tape with Snap, Rico Suave, Kyper, Mellow Man Ace, etc. The first song "Hump" could easily have been a hit on MTV, except the lyrics are way too x-rated. It's fun if you can embrace your inner preteen and lower your standards enough to let lyrics like, "I slid my car into her garage; it was a tight fit because my car was large" slide.

Mhisani is a guy looking for an identity here, really. On one song he complains about police mistaking him for being a drug dealer, then on another song he talks about how he deals drugs. "Midnight Rendevous[sic.]" sounds like his real bid for the mainstream, though, with poppy singers on the chorus and clean love song lyrics. Just listening to this album, you get the impression he's one of those artists that was "put together" by the label or management, like Menudo or Timex Social Club.

There are some scratches by his DJ Macaroni and a mixture of new and familiar samples... all in all, like I've said, it feels really poppy. One song is practically a Miami bass song, until the Pink Panther theme suddenly pops in and he starts kicking some sex raps (his favorite topic). The only guest star, Rich Nice, pops up to kick a verse on "This Is How," their ode to Oakland (he uses the same instrumental for his shout out track at the end of the album). He has some "message" songs (though they're mostly ham-fisted and simplistic statements of how violence, racism and drugs (when he's not supporting them) are wrong. He also comes out against the theory of evolution (yes, really) and women using men for their money. There are a couple of uncredited skits in between songs... including a fun one where "the man" hires a hitman to assassinate Mhisani for telling the truth to the people.



So, yeah. This album was successful enough to get him a deal with Jive Records and a membership in Too $hort's Dangerous Music Crew. And he released his "debut" (as Jive advertised it) album, In the Land of Funk, in 1994. But those in the know remembered Mhisani for who he was. In fact, the b-side to his first single (first as Goldy, that is) "Whipped Cream, Nuts & Cherries" (pictured above), "Prostitute" was lifted right off Call It Like I See It, although this time the production credits go to Goldy and Pee Wee, and it has a little more a g-funk element to the instrumental.

That "Whipped Cream, Nuts & Cherries" has a funky little hidden interview track on it, where to introduce himself (and Too $hort's upcoming album as well) to the world. It goes like this ...notice how neither make any mention of the fact that he already put out an album years before:

TS: Ay yo, Goldy, what's up, man?
G: What's happenin'? What's goin' on?
TS: You know what? You've been on two Short Dog albums, you've been on two Ant Banks albums.... by now, man, I think people wanna know: who is Goldy? What's up with Goldy? When's your album coming out? Something.
G: Check this out, y'all. Motherfuckers been anticipatin' this Goldy album for the longest. I done put in hard work and effort in the ghettos to come up and stay where I'm at, right Dog?
TS: Right.
G: I done wrote shit like "Parlayin'" for Ant Banks' The Big Bad Ass on his album, right?
TS: Right.
G: Now I gotta lay down this mack, pimp vibe I got. You know, I done sucked up game from the last nine albums you done dropped, right?
TS: In the Land of Funk.
G: Exactly. In the Land of Funk about to drop; and it's hittin'; and every time you see Goldy, guaranteed to hit. Pick it up. Check it out. So, Short Dog, check this out, man. Banks got The Big Bad Ass, you're nine albums in the hole, now you got Cocktails comin' out. What's happenin' with that?
TS: You know, pimpin's been around since the beginning of time, and it's gonna go right on until someone puts the lights out on this little planet, you know what I'm saying?
G: I hear ya, man.
TS: It's a pimp thing, straight from the Oaktown. We always represntin' Oakland, bitch.
G: East side, west side, in the house.


As Goldy, he finally settled on his image, an Oakland player as heavy on the sex rhymes as ever. Jive only opted to put out the one album from him, but he did a number of Dangerous Music guest appearances...

Update 6/6/8: In the comments of this post, manmyheadishuge (great name, haha) pointed out to me that I missed a Goldy album. So I immediately found a copy (how awesome is the internet that I could instantly find a copy of the cassette for $8 and have it at my house in about a week?), and here's the new addendum to my Mhisani write-up: Thanks!

Goldy came back on the independent tip (Cool Cats/Anansi Records) in 1998 with his third album, The Golden Rules (plus a single for the song "Ghetto Star"). He's still on some straight playa shit (the liner notes include 14 "Golden Rules" of pimping written out like the ten commandments. This is actually his best album! He really steps up his delivery, often going for a sort of E-40ish tongue twister, fast rap. The production is handled by Gruvlyne, Black Hornet Productions and Ruff Knight, and the album features some nice guest verses by G.A.M.E., Thicker Than Water and T-Rell. Yeah, no Dangerous Crew involvement; but he still carries the label on his album cover and shouts out Too $hort and the fam in his liner notes.

Said liner notes also promise another Goldy album "coming soon," called Cork Poppin' & Paper Peelin', but it never came out.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Once Again Back Is the Incredible...!

I'm back from the festival (good times), with another indie comeback 12"... this one from rapper Bust Down (often spelled as Bustdown, or sometimes even Bust-Down). It's "Anotha Fonkey Rhyme" b/w "There It Is" on Sheska Records (a small New Orleans label... I think their only other release was the DJ Let Me Play EP by T-Mann), and it came out in 1997.

Bust Down's comeback story is almost identical to Clayvoisie's, which I recently wrote about. Both artists were hardcore, up and coming MC's signed with Luke, on his sub-label, Effect Records. Both put in appearances on records by Luke and Poison Clan, and both may be best known for putting out a diss record on one of Luke's albums, co-rapping with JT Money (Bust's was "Pussy Ass Kid and Hoe Ass Play (Payback Is a Mother Fucker)" off I Got S--t On My Mind). The only difference is, since Bust Down came up first (by about a year), he got several singles and his entire album released on Effect before it shut down (as opposed to Clay's single 12").

So like Clay, Bustdown came back with an indie 12". Both songs here are produced by an Abdul "D.J.W." Abdullah, who does a pretty nice job. Production-wise, this sounds a little more like the NY indie 12"s that were big at the time (which is not a bad thing at all), and Bustdown's flow is the same as ever.

"Another Fonkey Rhyme" has a brief intro (and outro) between Bust and his DJ, and then it's just Bust ripping one freestyle rhyme for the entire length of the song over a fairly mellow track. It uses the same bassline as Grand Daddy IU's "Nobody Move;" but the beat is flipped differently enough to feel pretty unique. The instrumental for "There It Is" is slightly faster, with a little go-go even - a bit more in tune with his first LP. And D.J.W. provides some nice if unexceptional cuts to the rhythm of both tracks.



Update 8/2/08: This was also released on cassette and CD, with the same catalog number and a picture cover (see above). Interestingly, those made "There It Is" the A-side and "Anotha Fonkey Rhyme" the B-side. Even more interestingly, the cassette notes promise it's taken from the Bust Down's upcoming album Back On the Map ...though that was never released.

More interestingly still is the story of the record label, Sheska Records. It was owned and run by Richard Pena, a notorious New Orleans drug kingpin whose suppliers and main distributors, like Bust Down, came from Miami. In a VH1 news article, Scott Ando of the DEA explained, "The drug-trafficking organization that Pena led was responsible for bringing thousands of kilos of cocaine into this area over the last several years... He not only employed people that were involved in drug trafficking in the middle-man kind of level, but he had police officers on his payroll, policeman who kidnapped people so they could be killed." Pena is also the guy that No Limit rappers Kane and Abel got involved with and indicted on drug-trafficking for. Pena's operation was shut down, with over 20 people being convicted (including three police officers), in 1997 - the same year this 12" came out. So I guess it's no surprise that Bust Down's Back On the Map got sadly lost in the mess.
Anyway, this is a must-have for any Bust Down fan, and a nice, underrated 12" for the collection of anyone into the indie 90's vinyl scene... even if you wouldn't normally check for Poison Clan-type artists, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

There's Three of Them, But They're Not the Beatles

If you got all worked up when the Wu-Tang Clan announced they were sampling The Beatles on their latest album... If you're one of those guys who talks about how Paul's Boutique is, like, the most clever record ever because of all those crazy samples by artists like The Beatles... If you thought his mixing of Jay-Z acappellas and Beatles loops on The Grey Album was proof positive that then up-and-comer Danger Mouse was the next generation's Primo... Then you'll be needing this.

In fact, a rap group had acquired the rights to a Beatles song long before the Wu's mis-announcement. See, the Clan originally claimed that "the first single from [8 Diagrams] is the first legal sample of the Beatles ever used, appearing as the backing track to "The Heart Gently Weeps.'" on their myspace. But they later back-tracked to admitting they had George Harrison's son Dhani Harrison and John Frusciante of The Red Hot Chili Peppers replay some of the song's elements, because they couldn't clear the rights to the original. But years before all this, manager Charles Stettler went through some major negotiations to get the rights to The Beatles' "Baby, You're a Rich Man" from Michael Jackson (who owned the rights to their catalog at the time) for his superstar group, The Fat Boys.



Their version of The Beatles' "Baby, You're a Rich Man" (the b-side to 1967's "All You Need Is Love" on Capitol Records, pictured above) was featured on the soundtrack to their film, The Disorderlies in 1987. The soundtrack came out on Polydor Records, the major label that scooped them up from Sutra Records that same year. The Fat Boys also perform "Baby, You're a Rich Man" in a scene about midway through the film. And it was finally released as a 45bpm (even the 12" was 45, yes) single on Polydor in '88.

The song was produced by Paul Gurvitz (who also produced their cover of "Wipeout," which actually featured The Beach Boys), and was edited by Albert Cabrera of The Latin Rascalz. It opens with just a sytar and Buff Love beat-boxing, and then the beat kicks it into a full-fledged Beatles rap cover! The writing credits only name P. McCartney and J. Lennon, but somehow i doubt they had a hand in Kool Rock Ski or Prince Markie Dee's rhymes:

"Now rich livin' is def
So funky fresh
Ya have so much in life
And won't settle for less
You can live like a king
And pursue your career
To be a billion - or trillion -
or zillionaire
You can have what you want
Or what you desire
So much money
You could set it on fire!
If I was rich
I'd be a selfish star
Have champagne for breakfast
With caviar!
Girls at my feet
And gold on my neck
And when I get real bored
I'll write out checks!
A fourteen karat
Gold solid band
And a bag full of money
The rest by hand!
I'll cruise around the city
In my black Rolls Royce
And choose the finest lady
Of my choice!
I'll get real ill
But won't get greedy...
Donate half of it
To the needy!
But if I ain't set
And not legit
Get the girls off my feet
And take the gold off my neck!"


Interestingly, he's not credited on the label anywhere, but Dweezil Zappa played guitar on this song. There's an interview with him on IdiotBastard.Supanet.com, where he talks about it, "I think it was on a soundtrack, but I haven’t heard that since I played on it. I remember that was the shortest session I ever did. I went in, they played me the song. It was tuned down a half step and my guitar I tune to A4-40, and so it was like a really weird key for me to play in at that point. It was like B-flat I had to play in, because my guitar was not in tune with the track. And I remember just playing one thing, and once I got to a certain point on the neck, I got confused as to what key I was in because it wasn’t standard tuning. I started doing really weird stuff. And they kept it. That was it. Just one take of the solo. And they said. 'That was it! Great. No problem. Thanks very much.' OK."



The 12" includes three mixes: the "!2" Version," "Single Version," and the "Album Version." Except for the fact that the "Single Version" is heavily edited down to about half the length of the other two, the three mixes aren't all that different. The actual 7" (pictured above), by the way, only features the "Single Version" and has a unique b-side the 12" doesn't have: "Jellyroll" (a song that would later be featured on their album Coming Back Hard Again).

...And if after you get this record, it still hasn't been enough, then you'll just have to track down the square- and star-shaped vinyl singles of "The Beatles Rap" by The Quoreymen. That'll finish you off, for sure.

Finally, before I close this, a quick note to my regular readers: I'll be going away for the next couple of days to speak at The Connecticut Film Festival (which is also screening my first film, Lunch Break). So there won't be another update for a couple of days. But I hope I've left you with a good one. ;)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Goddess

It seems like a lot of heads have heard vaguely of Wanda Dee as a hip-hop artist but don't really know much of her... while pop fans will know her as the front woman for KLF during the time of their biggest hits. But those who were checking for great but slightly off-beat hip-hop in the late 80's will surely remember this wild Tuff City 12".

Wanda Dee started out as a member of Afrika Bambaataa's fam, and she released a pretty cool, more club-oriented 12" a few years earlier [I'll blog about that one someday, too]... but this is where she really made a name for herself. It's a double A-side in the truest sense... even the picture cover has two alternate fronts images.



"To the Bone" is a hot track, produced by Jazzy Jay. In some ways it's dance oriented, with a bouncy bassline and snappy drums, but Jay uses some great, dusty horn samples for the hook and throughout that really ground it in soul. And Wanda raps pretty hardcore. It would fit right in with the material on Jay's classic Cold Chillin' In the Studio Live album. She very briefly sings, "I Wanna See You Sweat" which is the sample KLF first took.

...See, what happened was they sampled her voice on two of their singles which blew up, so they then brought her in to be their live vocalist. Later they broke up, and got heated when Wanda continued to tour with their name. But, really, who cares about the KLF stuff? This 12" is where it's at!



The other side, "The Goddess," is produced by The 45 King in his prime. It's cool and surprisingly less dance-oriented (considering he was doing all those house-type tracks for Latifah around this time)... it's uses some familiar elements, but combines them in a new way. There's a little "Oooh, love to love you baby" vocal sample on the hook; but it's greatly overshadowed by Wanda doing some really intense straight-out-of-a-porno moans of passion between each verse. I don't know if it really adds anything musically, but it sure gets your attention and made the track a memorable one (bear in mind, this was almost twenty years ago). On this song, both Wanda's delivery and lyrics walk a strange line between hardcore raps (and also shouting out the other female MCs of the time who she considers queens) and a softer, sexier style:

"God fearin', domineerin';
The blood in your face Is searin'.
The Lips? Succulent and bold.
Physique is the peek: body of goddess mold.
Skin of bronze, hair of gold;
Wild child from the Nile - my tale is told.
Serious, delirious and imperious;
Call me just the queen? I get furious!
Eternity's a certainty.
'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust?'
...Ain't for me.
'Cause your love strong I live on;
That's what I came to explain
...In this song.
I give my flesh the best, and yes,
That's what I came to confess...
I'm the goddess!"


There's vocal and instrumental versions for both songs, and there's a hidden (not mentioned on the sleeve or label) acappella for "To the Bone."

Disappointingly, she doesn't seem to have a myspace. In 2003, though, Wanda Dee did make a comeback, forming her own record label (Goddess Empire Record Label... adding the "Label" so it would acronym into G.E.R.L. - get it?) and putting out a new album (and at least one 12" single), The Goddess Is Here. Among other things, she sings a house music version of "La Vie En Rose." 0_o She's a talented and energetic singer; and if you like that electro-dance-diva kind of stuff, it was a pretty underrated album. But me? I'll stick to Wanda Dee the MC.


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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Black Power In Miami

Oooh. Just discovered this one (thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the Internet). Clayvoisie (sometimes spelled "Clayvoise") was an upcoming artist on Luke Records. He did a couple appearances on Luke & the Poison Clan's albums... You'll probably remember him mainly for rapping alongside JT Money on Luke's infamous Dre diss "Cowards In Compton:" "You can fool a groupie, but you can't fool a gangsta."

Well, Effect Records (a subsidiary of Luke Records) got as far as putting out one single in 1992 ("I.O.U. Nuthin'"), and then dropped him. To be fair, that was probably as much to do with their financial problems as anything against putting out his music... Effect Records closed up shop in '92. In fact, "I.O.U. Nuthin'" may've been their last release.

But Clayvoisie apparently didn't give up that easily. He came out with this independent release on Black Power Entertainment. I don't know exactly what year this came out, since there's no date on the label and I missed it when it first dropped, but I'd assume it couldn't be too long after stint on Effect... so I'd say '93 or '94 is a safe guess.

It's three tracks deep (with instrumentals for all on the flip): "What I Feel," "Voodoo" and "City Boy Funk" with an uncredited guest MC (it just says "Featuring Special Guest" on the label). There are no production credits either, so I've no idea who did any of the music. As far as I know, this is also the first and only release on the label (the catalog number in the run-out grovve, BP-001) suggests that, too.

"What I Feel" has a distinct g-funk influence in the instrumental, but still rough... Clay sounds a little different, but still hardcore and angry, just like we like 'im. :) The hook's a little corny, but passable. There's an R&B singer doing back-up vocals, but she doesn't detract.

"Voodoo" uses some of the same formula as the first track, with the g-funk elements; but the instrumental's a little rawer. The song is literally about voodoo in the inner city, which is pretty damn interesting ("somebody nailed a damn cow tongue to my door!"). He uses the obvious Brother J sample, "voo-doo... runnin' from my madness," but slowed way down.

"City Boy Funk" has Clay doing the classic Miami thing... fast sex raps ("ride this dick, ho!") over a super fast beat, scratching, and a hyper, shouted chorus. But it's not like a lot of the Miami bass style junk that might first pop into your head... I mean, yeah, there are themes in common of course, but you'll be genuinely impressed hearing Clayvoisie keep up with a bpm this high. Where a lot of groups would give up and just do shout and calls over a track like this, Clay keeps busting verses.

It's a great thing that I can still unearth lost music from artists I was digging fifteen years ago. Clayvoisie on Black Power Entertainment... who knew?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

(Werner Necro'd) Lyrical Kuruption - Kurupt Interview


This is one of the first interviews I did, back in '98. I was interested in getting Kurupt in because he was just starting to get recognized as a lyricist beyond the Death Row type of music he was coming up in. Rumors of the Headless Horsemen "supergroup" were just starting to form, and Kurupt was coming out with his own label, and and his solo debut, Kuruption.


So tell us about the double album.

Well, you know. One CD is for the East Coast; one CD is for the West Coast, ya know what I mean? A lot of people be twisting my meaning, though. They be thinking I'm putting it out for this East Coast/ West Coast war, but I don't see no war. I see the media creating an East Coast/ West Coast war, so what's the purpose of putting out an album like that? Especially when I don't care about that. Me, personally, I'll grab the mic with anybody. You know, I'm head-huntin'. I did it because I'm from the East, but I grew up on the West. East Coast is what gave me my skills, and the West Coast is what gave me my career. So I gave the East their own eleven songs to love, and I gave the West their own eleven songs to love.

And, now, you're no longer on Death Row anymore, right? You've got your own label, Antra. What's up with that? What's it stand for?

Entrepreneur. That's one meaning, then the other is meaning, really, what it stands for, is: All New Talented Recording Artists, because I spelled it with two A's. 'Cause I feel like, when you jump back into the game, you gotta come with the hunger of a new artist, homeboy. You can't play no games. We're just getting started. It's just gonna begin from my album. That's where the whole thing kicks in, but you know.

Now, you got a song coming out on the Pace Won album, right? Tell us about that?

Definitely. What you know about my homeboy Pace Won? It's a heater, too. You won't believe how I hooked up with my homie, Pace, man. I was in my little car, man, and I went to stop at this little spot, probably to get some cigarette or something. He was comin' in there to get something, and he came out, and he was like, "Yo, Kurupt. What's up, man?" I shook his hand; we was chillin'. And he just met me right then, and he was like, "Yo, I'm in the studio right here, man. You can just come right, through." And I'm like, "Alright, cool." So he went into his studio, and I went into my room which is just across the street from where his studio was. So, then I just left the studio, went right across the street, went upstairs, like, "What's up?" They was like, "What?" I'm like, "What's crackulatin?" Let's do a jam." They were like, "Hell yeah, let's do this." That's the way the game is. I love skills. I wanted to hear how he sounded, and he was dope, so I was like, "Yeah, that's it. It's time to drop some heat."

And you're on that Gangstarr "Three Men and a Lady," right? The remix?


Yup. Lady of Rage. That was the bomb. 'Cause it's Gangstarr, ya dig? Gangstarr, homeboy! OG and I grew up to Gangstarr. Just like doin' that song I did with Pete; I'm a legend, homeboy. So I was just like, "Damn!" But that's what I came into the game for. To do them type of things, man. You know, it's to the point where you can rock with people like that; it's like, damn. You're there. That's what this game's made of.

Now, everybody knows you came up on Death Row... What's the deal today, with you and Suge?

Well, all I can say is my homeboy took care of me. The reason I left is the game he gave me, ya know I mean? Suge broke it down on how to run a company. And I wanted to do it. You see how you didn't hear nothing about Kurupt leaving, but then you hear Kurupt got his own company. I left when I went to Philly to go live with my mother... take care of my mother. Spend some money with my family out there. So, after I did that, I wanted to open my own company. Why not? This game is made up of big business, baby.

So, are you still working with Daz, or are you split?

No, we ain't split. We'll never break up. Dogg Pound is forever, baby, yo! So, we're gonna drop the EP, Aftershock, and then we're gonna release the album, Dogg Shit.

Is that gonna be on your label?

No, that's gonna be on Death Row, definitely. I'm still gonna make money with my homie. And he's gonna make money with me.

Ok. Now you've kinda started making a name for yourself in an almost more East coast, lyricist-type way, lately, you know; like your recent battle with Graffix...

Who?

Graffix?

Who's that? I battled him?

You don't remember that?

I remember I chopped some cat's head off. That was him? Ok.

Ha ha Cool. Well, between that and doing the Wake Up Show freestyle LP's, etc... That's something a lot of people mightn't expect from you, just knowing you from being with Snoop and the Dogg Pound...

That's my thing, man. That's all I know. I'm the king of that. To me, that's the top of being an MC. Break somebody off.

So, what do you think is the next project for your label, now, after the LP?

Well, I got a movie comin' out in '99. With Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez. Starring me and Lisa Lopez and Frank Dileo . I told her I was gonna make a movie. I said, "You wanna be in it? 'Cause I'ma make it about us. I'ma come over with some things, it's gonna be me and your movie." So she said she was down and I made it. I brought it to the table, at first, she was like, "What? You're a movie maker now?" I was like, "Hell, yeah! Let's get this thing poppin' now." And the soundtrack's gonna be on my label. That's the little two-pronged money attack. It's gonna be on the big screen, though. It's gonna be dope. Frank Dileo is the cat who played Tuddy Cicero in Goodfellas, so he's G'd up in the game.

You're directing?


Nah, I don't know who we're gonna get to direct it, yet. We're lookin at that guy who did Oz - that little series on HBO - Dr. Dre, and my homeboy, DJ Pooh. That's who we're really lookin' at.

And what's up with the Four Horsemen project?


You know... What you know about the horsemen, boy? We're gonna start in '99. All four of us got companies. It's gonna be on all four of our companies, you know? It's Kurupt - Young Gotti, the Headless Horseman, my homeboy Canibus, Ras Kass, and the killer Killah Priest, nigga. For sho'. The Horsemen, homie. We're dangerous, too, boy. No dance music! No samples, just raw attack. I'm gonna get Dr. Dre to drop us some heat. I got a couple other cats. We'll get Daz to drop us some heat. They gonna get some niggas to drop some heat. We got it locked. Dangerous. Strictly for MC's, nobody else, just MC's.

Alright, now I know a lot of people want me to ask you about Foxy...

That's my fiancee.

I heard you were gonna do an album together, too, based on that?

Yeah, but we're just basically gonna chill for now. We really just wanna concentrate more on the relationship than anything now. I met her in LA; I just ran into her. We went through a lot of ups and downs. You know, we've been together for three years. We've been through a lot together.

So, you got any last thing you wanna say to your fans checkin' this out online?

Yeah. What up, y'all? Dogg Pound gangster, assassin number one. The Horseman, Headless Horseman, speakin', spittin' atcha. Live online. What the fuck? (Laughs)

Kurupt has a myspace, naturally, as well as a Flash-heavy website at younggotti.com. Both seem to be out of date... the myspace is still touting his 2006, even though he's since dropped both a solo and DPG album in '07. I don't have any word on anything new, really... but it hasn't been that long yet since his last album.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Kurtis Blow's German Period

Here's one even some of you bigger Kurtis Blow fans probably missed: "Chillin' At the Spot" b/w "We the People." It came out on Public Attack, a division of Moonbase Records; a label out of Frankfurt, Germany in 1994.

1994 was a comeback year for Kurtis. He hadn't recorded or released any new material since his run ended with Mercury Records until '94. Then the Raiders of the Lost Art compilation came out, featuring a new Kurtis Blow song ("G-Party"). Mercury put out The Best of Kurtis Blow. And Kurtis Blow... went to Germany. There, he did a couple guest verses with German recording artists Techno Cop and Power Nation; and he made this 12".

It's an interesting 12". The first song comes in two versions: the radio and "Jeep" mixes (plus instrumentals for each), both produced by local producer Rudy Rude. Unlike, say, "The Boys From the Hill," this doesn't fit in perfectly with his classic material. It's definitely more contemporary (for '94, that is); and like "G-Party," this song also features a couple of essentially unknown guest rappers (they're uncredited except that the writing credits name a T. Washington and D. Wedington). They're not bad... but they certainly don't add anything better than what Kurtis Blow could do on the mic himself. And Blow is, after all, the selling point here. So I'm not sure why he seems to've felt the need to bring in younger cats to fill all his new music.

The beat has a lot of layers, including a really nice horn sample, some nice slow drums, snare, a guitar sting on the hook and a bassline that almost sounds like it was played on a xylophone. It's definitely attempting to fit in with the more relaxed, cool sounds of the time, by artists like Pete Rock & CL Smooth, and is reasonably effective. The beat and samples switch up for some of the verses which is cool, too.

"The Jeep Mix" is ok... a bit more stripped down with a cool vocal sample on the hook. But without the catchy horn sample, it's just not as compelling as the original.

The subject matter is simple and summed up entirely by the title. The hook features a couple girls (or one girl with an echo effect) softly singing the familiar line, "chillin' at the spot... with my homies after dark. Oh yeah..." A few of Kurtis' lines are corny (hey, at least try to look surprised); but for the most part his and the other MCs' rhymes are fine... just a simple, summer cool-out jam.

The B-side, "We the People" only has one mix (though there are instrumental and "Bassappella" mixes). Like I said, they songs don't sound like vintage Kurtis, but his style was always progressing (for good or ill), and just like Back By Popular Demand sounds different from "Rappin' Blow," it feels like this would naturally have been his sound had he never stopped recording. This song sounds a little less focused, and therefore less appealing, than the A-side, but it's ok. It features the same guest rappers, plus a reggae artist this time (presumably M. Breunig from the writing credits). The beat is listenable, with a cool drum track, the same "shaker" percussion that was used by Slick Rick and Dana Dane on songs like "Treat Her Like a Prostitute;" and simple and repetitive bassline that'll stay stuck in your head, and like the title suggests, the lyrics are on a political tip, very much along the lines of "The Message," which he even quotes at one point. I wouldn't mind hearing these lyrics with the delivery and instrumental of say "8 Million Stories" or "Street Rock." As it is, it's all too relaxed and "smooth" to really catch your interest.

If you're a serious Kurtis Blow fan, or just a general old school completist, you'll want to track this one down (woot! picture cover!)... it's certainly an interesting moment in Blow's career (after these 1994 German recordings; he wouldn't do anything until Nadanuf featured him on their remake of "The Breaks" several years later) and not bad for what it is. But if you don't fit into either of those categories, you can sleep peacefully at night having given this one a miss.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Extra Prolific's Master Piece

After his second, indie album, Texas-born Duane "Snupe" Lee, better known as Extra Prolific, was promptly kicked out of Hieroglyphics. The crew put out a release stating, "the crew decided that Snupe would be better off on his own, pursuing his own solo career... His last, and sophomore album, "2 For 15" will no longer be sold online, and is the last piece of work fans will here[sic.] of Snupe's material, while he was a part of Hieroglyphics." They even held up release of their 3rd Eye Vision album to remove all his verses and solo cut (all of which they later featured on hieroglyphics.com).

During our interview (you can read the whole thing here), I asked Casual - who started freestyling with Snupe back in high school and first brought him into Heiro - if they were still down and he said, "Nah. I mean, we might see him every once in a while, say 'What's up,' or whatever, but we don't get down like that." And when I asked him what he's up to now (at the time, which was 1999), he said, "I don't know. He released a few independent tapes in the Bay, but I guess he wasn't really pursuin' it like that."

Well, he did actually come out with a third album: Master Piece on his own label, Snuper Records, in 1998. This flew under the radar of pretty much everybody who wasn't from the Bay except the most die-hard Heiro fans; but those in the know were able to order this tape straight of his Iuma page (remember those?).

Extra Pro sounds as smooth, with a flow as hypnotically engrossing as ever.he was back in the "First Sermon" days - in fact, there's a "Second Sermon" on this album. Snupe handles all his own production here, which is cool, since he's been producing all his own material since his debut (Mike G is often credited with the production on the first album, and being the other half of Extra Prolific, but he actually only produced the 41 second intro to that LP). I don't know if this is quite as good as Like It Should Be... there area few corny hooks ("Call Me" or songs with an over-reliance on off-putting R&B singers like "I Don't Know Why" "When You Hoes... (Remix)" or the aforementioned "Second Sermon"), and in general, the absence of his Heiro mates is felt. But Snupe can definitely hold his own - perhaps more than most of the others could. And songs like "That's a Shame, "Can't Reap Til You Sow a Seed" or "Action Set In Flight" bump as much as anything he's ever done.

Lyrically, he flips between freestyle rhymes and kicking game ("'why can't we keep the room?' Because I'm done fucking you!"). His delivery is as relaxed as ever, though sometimes he kicks it pretty wickedly fast. The fact that he manages to be both relaxed and fast at the same time is a testament to his talents.

There're also some skits we could really do without. What's the point of the one where his girlfriend leaves him a message saying she missed his page, but she call him back? I guess it was just the times... when rappers would just put anything off their answering machine on their albums.

After this album, Extra Pro dropped off the radar for a bit, but he didn't actually disappear. He changed his name to Lee Majors and formed the Christian rap duo White Majors with partner J-White. You bet they have a myspace! It's myspace.com/whitemajors - check it out and listen to the songs they have up: not bad (if a bit corny), though Snupe is a way better MC than J-White. For some reason they don't link to it off their myspace, but you can order their album Iron Sharpens Iron (on CD) from chillmarkproductions.com.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Makin' a New Artists' Page

So, I decided to make another new artists' page on my site, and make a post about doin' it. I picked Home Team, 'cause they're an under-rated group I've always just felt belonged on my site. It's the same reason I just added Kurtis Blow - how could they not be there?

I'd kind of held off for a while. I guess always hoping in the back of my mind that Malignant Graffiti would turn up (see this post for the story about their unreleased second album). And without it, their discography is kind of small/simple. One album, two singles (at least one has an exclusive remix, right?)... But working out their guest spots was a little more involved and made the page worth making.

Of course, right off the bat we've gotta have the "...and, as a member" line crediting DeBonaire's membership in The Poison Clan for their first album. And of course Drugz is featured on the skit "Drugz Bullshittin'" on Poisonous Mentality. That's the easy stuff out of the way; now it's time to get a little more involved.

First, I went through my tape and record collection and pulled out all my "related" albums... Luke's albums from the 90's, all the Poison Clan albums, Bust Down's album, etc. Even take out Sports Weekend, just to double check the liner notes there. I could've sworn at lease DeBonaire was featured on The New 2 Live Crew's "2 Live Freestyle;" but it turned out to just be a guy named Phat-Daddy. We're talking, like, fifteen years ago here, so I have to double-check everything I think I remember.

Ok, so the next thing to do is go through all the Luke solo albums... I remember some of the guest spots, but definitely not all, or which albums they appear on. The liner notes are only partially helpful. In the Nude flat out reads, "Home Team appears on 'Bad Land Boogie' and 'Freestyle Joint' courtesy of Rocksville Management" and has similar credits for the other MC's featured on the song "Freestyle Joint" with them, so that's easy enough. 1994's Freak for Life 6969 credits Home Team's appearance on "Represent," but also lists two songs ("That's How I Feel" and "Movin' On") as being just with Poison Clan. Well, "That's How I Feel" is just JT Money with a little ad-libbing by Luke, but "Movin' On" features JT with DeBonaire and the also uncredited Likkle Wicked, Luke's in-house reggae artist*. I guess they figured because Deb and JT used to both be in Poison Clan, they'd just credit it as a PC song. I check the other Luke records, but those are the only ones with Home Team on 'em.

Next up is the compilation album Christmas At Luke's Sex Shop. The cover only mentions, Luke, The 2 Live Crew, Poison Clan & Jiggie Gee (misspelled as "Jiggy G" here), but I remember them being on it. The liner notes don't specify who's on what, but listening through the whole album it's pretty easy to pick them out on "Christmas Freestyle" and the short "Jesus Is Black." There's a couple other MCs on "Christmas Freestyle." Clearly the first is JT Money, and the other two say their names, so I know one is Sir Gucci (who was down with the Poison Clan and drops a verse on one of the later PC albums); and the third guy kind of mumbles his name...

I read the thanks and liner notes to all the Poison Clan albums, but there's nothing there. Listening through all their albums, I finally catch the guy's name shouted out at the end of "Game Recognize Game" on Ruff Town Behavior. Between the two, I'm sure the name is Milky Mil, now; though admittedly I'm guessing on the spelling. Also through listening through all their albums (not exactly a chore... I wouldn't be making these pages if this isn't the music I felt like sitting down and listening to at the time), I also catch DeBonaire talking for about a minute on the intro to "Afraid Of the Flavor." I'm on the fence when it comes to including guest spots where the MC doesn't actually rap on the song, but their discography is already on the short side, so I decided to include it.

So, that's it. After typing out the track-listing the their album and two singles, I've completely cataloged the Home Team's discography (and, by the way, those songs off the Luke albums are fresh!)... though I still hope to one day stumble upon a test pressing of Malignant Graffiti. And that's my process. Hope I didn't bore you to tears. ;) 

I can't find any sign of what Deb Rock or Drugz are up to today, but JT Money has a myspace page, and is still doing his thing, now on the independent tip. He's got some new songs up from Pimpin' X-Treme, an album he seems to have been promising since 2006.


*Likkle Wicked put out an album on Luke Records, but I think was mainly kept around whenever groups like Poison Clan needed some hardcore raggamuffin-type hooks.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Alright, Now I've Had Anuf

To compliment my new artist's discography page on my "main" site, I'm reviewing a single straight off of it. This is a 1994 retread of Kurtis Blow's classic "The Breaks" featuring the man himself, guesting with Reprise Records' start-up group Nadanuf.

Nadanuf never took off - they put out their full-length (with contributions from Def Jef and Howie Tee) and one other single and then disappeared. The group consisted of two young girls from Cincinatti, Ohio: Skwert and Phor-One-One. See? The Cincinatti scene was being represented before Mr. Dibbs and Dose One. Anyway, these girls had a bit of a shtick where they always wore goggles, which they explained in an interview with Urban Network Magazine, "The goggles are kinda like a vibe. It's like our head gear or more like our armor to take on a crowd. Just like our bright clothes; if it's bright that's just Nadanuf. It has to be extra or it's just Nadanuf." Okay...

If they don't already, labels should have a position for the guy who comes up with their rappers' gimmicks' explanations. Not the designer or whoever who first comes up with the ideas like, "you girls shall always wear goggles," or "Y?N-Vee, you girls will always wear your pants below your thongs" (remember them? What marketing genius came up with that idea?). I'd just like to be the guy who comes up with the official explanations after the gimmick's been chosen. Like, "it's our vibe... headgear, armor..." that's weak sauce. See, if it was me, I'd give them something more along these lines: "See, there's all these forces in the world trying to control your perspective... our vision of the world. Corporations, government, the media, all trying to shape the way we perceive events, like, this 'you should want this product' or 'these people are guilty' even before the trial. So the goggles are our way of saying, 'hey. We're going to view the world the way we choose to see it. We're going to think and make decisions of how we choose to act based on our ideas and our unique perspectives.' No matter hwo much you try to change us, or control us, and make us see things the way you want us to see them, you can't ...'cause we got these goggles." That shit would've got the girls a full-page write-up in Rap Pages! But did they come to me? No. And now it's too late.

So, anyway, yeah. A remake of Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks" by up-and-coming major label unknowns sure doesn't qualify as a "must-have" in my book - not now and not in 1994 - but they went the extra distance by actually getting Blow on the track, so I picked up the cassingle for 99 cents when it came out. Now, in the same Urban Network Magazine interview, they talk about how that all came about, "Babyboy [producer Aaron "Babyboy" Griffin] just came up with the idea to re-do the song and at the time we were working with Def Jef because we had just finished recording 'Worldwide.' Def Jef said, 'I know Kurtis, he's just right around the corner. I can call him up.' Kurtis came by the next day. At first we were just going to ask him to do his original 'Clap ya hands everybody.' Then he asked could he do them all. So he re-did the whole song with us. Afterward we ran to 7-Eleven and got a disposable camera to get our pictures with Kurtis." It's not really bad, but the final verdict is obvious even before you hear it: there's no reason to play this song when you could just as easily play the superior original.

This is ok as an alternative, though - the music is essentially the same, but with more traditional verses by the girls. Then Kurtis Blow comes up with new "that's the breaks"-isms for the hook (it may possibly be your only chance to hear Kurtis Blow say "late night creep" as well, so think carefully before passing this one up). He actually has a lot of energy and sounds damn enthusiastic to be there, which makes this a pretty fun listening experience.

The B-side, "Many Emcees (Madd Drama)" is actually better than you'd think. The first MC (sorry, I've no idea which is Skwert and which is Phor) comes out with fast freestyle rhymes: "You musta thought we couldn't get down, you under estimate, you smell like shit now, we makin' hits now, we been down, we take you MCs to four thousand degrees, you others make me sneeze, like infect-u-ous disease. I tear you into pieces as I hit you with my thesis; I release the vocals that you smoke to," etc. She wasn't exactly going to be the Canibus-before-there-was-Canibus; but she holds her own on a posse cut. The secondMC, then, comes and steals the show with a surprisingly compelling, smoother verse. Finally, the third verse is shared by two guest MCs who aren't credited in the liner notes; but a little online searching tells me their names are Elmyzik and Manzini. They come out doing their best Onyx impression ...which is frankly a bit silly. Just try to remember: it's all in fun.

Today, Kurtis Blow is still performing (and preaching!). He's got a myspace, of course, and he's got a new mp3-only single with his new Christian rap crew, The Trinity, called "Just Do It." You can download it at b4entertainment.com. One of the other members of The Trinity has several mp3-only albums available there, too... a couple of which feature Kurtis, and one even features Bushwick Bill! Their next one, apparently come soon, is called "Crunk Wit It" b/w "Grace of God" with the Gospel Gangstaz. So look out for that. ...Unless you're like me and think it sounds terrible, in which case stay far away from it. You know which choice is for you, I'm sure.

(The Nadanuf girls don't seem to have any myspaces... goodness knows what happened to 'em.)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

NOW You Abandon Vinyl?

Check out Pace Won's new joint... it's on his myspace, Youtube, etc. Even if you threw away your Outsidaz fan club membership long before they split, or if you were only somewhat into them in the first place, I'm confident you'll dig this. It's almost "Nostalgia" part 2. Man, what an ode to hip-hop, with contemporary, fresh lyrics that are still witty and original over an addictive beat, a sampled hook and some nice scratching by his new producer/DJ Mr. Green... I can't wait for the 12" to drop!
Except, when asked (via myspace, thanks soulcondor) about it, his response was:
"Vinyl?
Definately Mp3 and CD...

Won"
Now, this is not me having a go at Pace Won. ...Well, maybe a little bit (I mean, come on!). This is about the indie hip-hop scene in general. Have a look at UGHH.com's store page. Their 12" list has been blasted with a shrink-ray! It used to be this impressive list of brand new and pending indie 12"s, and now it's tiny, dwarfed by the CD list.
If you missed this November '07 Wired article, you should really read it. Go ahead; I'll wait here. Essentially, it's a thorough, encouraging piece all about how, while the RIAA cries about downloads killing the music industry and CD sales dropping at record speeds [yes, that was a pun. Sorry. but they're dropping very far and very fast is the point], record sales are, as Ian Connelly, client relations manager of independent distributor alliance IODA, put it, "way up. And not just the boutique, limited-edition colored vinyl that Jesu/Isis-style fans are hot for right now."
Amazon.com even created a new vinyl only section, which they didn't even have in the heyday of Sandbox and Hiphopsite in the late 90's.
Now, Wired just made a new article where even the RIAA, who long tried to deny the vinyl resurgence, finally had to admit that "the American music industry sold 36.6 percent more Extended Play (EP) and Long Play (LP) records than it had in the previous year, increasing vinyl sales revenue by 46.2 percent. CD unit sales, on the other hand, declined 11.7 percent with revenue dropping 20.5 percent during the same period." That's a really drastic difference for a single year!
And where is hip-hop? Look at that Amazon vinyl section I linked. Today their featured pieces are R.E.M., Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, the Juno soundtrack, and Elvis frikkin' Costello. There's not even a single, crappy crossover psuedo-hip-hop release in the sidebar. Now go back and look at UGHH's emaciated "New Vinyl Singles" selection again.
After years and years of us hip-hop fans buying and supporting vinyl when everyone else on the planet would look at us like we were escaped mental patients and ask, "you mean, the big round black things I used to play as a kid? Ha ha How novel!" After years of "SUPPORT VINYL" t-shirts and impassioned articles by DJs and collectors in Subculture, Rap Pages, Vinyl Exchange, URB, etc. etc.... Now my real estate agent and the hipster at the local supermarket are building massive 33 1/3 collections.

And when I reach out to the great old and true school artists, the leading figures in holding it down for the hip-hop underground, asking when their next 12" is dropping, I get, "LOL wut?"
Seriously, vinyl is up 46.2% just this year, while CD sales are still plummeting so fast record label CEOs are slitting their wrists in their high-rise offices,and NOW is the time you guys pick to abandon vinyl? I'm sorry, but my best, most thoughtful response to that is, "you suck!"
Now, I appreciate that a lot of indie artists are on low to no budgets... but you know who else is? Me! And if you want me... and by extension, I daresay, the rest of us remaining hip-hop fans who haven't completely given up on the notion of supporting you artists and voting with our dollar, to just downloading all your albums as illegal mp3s for free. If you want us to show you some love, you've gotta get your acts together.
Records are back! But a time for celebration turns into a pitiful day when we see Madonna and Elvis Costello proving to be more hip-hop than Pace Won or, say, the entire roster of Koch Records.
[Edit to add: it occurs to me that my "Mini Posts" are actually all, like, really long. Maybe I need to come up with a new name for 'em; what do you guys think?]

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Mmm Dropped?

So, in my the comments to my recent post Hot Garbage, on the subject of Hot Karl's debut album (or his second, depending how you look at it), it was brought to my attention that Hot Karl was featured in a documentary called Dropped. It's distributed by Sundance, but seems to be a Netflix exclusive (I guess they mainly bought it for their channel). So, anyway, I told him I'd rent it, and I did... and here's the scoop:

It's a 60 minute (roughly) film, broken up into 7 or 8 segments, each on a different music group that got dropped from a major label. It's not hip-hop specific, but three of the segments are on hip-hop acts (including, yes, Hot Karl). With that many pieces crammed into that short a running time, you might think they couldn't possibly get into very much depth - and you'd be right. They're mostly just short interviews mixed with performance clips for each artist or group... they play like EPKs for the most part. I'm just going to touch on the hip-hop acts, 'cause, you know, nobody cares about rock music on this blog. ;)

I've just watched this, and I already don't remember much about Spearhead's segment. It's the most EPK-ish of the three... a single interview with lead vocalist Micheal Franti who spends most of his time talking about the first Spearhead album. He makes the point that he's glad he was dropped because this way he can continue to address topics his label wouldn't get like because they were too radical.

The Hot Karl piece is actually much better... it's the one they open the film with, it's the longest by far, and it features interviews with a bunch of people besides just Hot Karl himself. A couple radio DJs talk about how he won an on-air freestyle contest, which is what got labels interested in him - they seem pretty genuinely enamored with him as an MC. Will I. Am shares some memories of being on Interscope when all of the label's attention was focused on Karl. As Karl elaborates, Interscope was apparently convinced he would be the next big thing and gave him a limitless budget. Whatever he asked for he got... at least until they signed Eminem, after which he was totally shut out, his project was shelved and they lost all interest in him. Mack 10 (which this doc continually spells as "Mac 10" on-screen) talks about how he tried to sign Hot Karl to his own label but Karl held out for the Interscope deal (hindsight is a big theme in this doc). You can also tell by how his clothing and the location keeps changing that they interviewed Karl on more than one occasion, unlike the other artists in the other segments - this is clearly their star segment. I'd bet the doc was originally intended to be all about Karl, and then the other interviews were done to broaden the subject matter into something more marketable.

One thought I had while watching the Hot Karl segment... he takes a shot at A&Rs, saying they're all really just frustrated musicians who wish they could rap or perform but lack the talent. It's almost painful how he misses the irony that the exact same thing could be said of former musicians who get dropped before releasing any records. Both statements are unfair, mean-spirited, and true probably about 95% of the time. Maybe he should be applying for an A&R position at Interscope?

Finally, the third hip-hop segment claims to be about Burning Star, but I think the filmmakers are just confused here... The segment consists of just one interview with Apl. De Ap who talks all about The Atban Klan. He tells about how they were signed and dropped by Ruthless Records, which is kinda interesting, but it's much too brief to really get hook us. Bizarrely, Will I. Am was interviewed for the Hot Karl segment, but not this one, when he was a member of the Klan! Now, Burning Star is a band that did a few songs with Klan/ Black Eyed Peas, but Apl. is not a member, and the whole interview is about the Klan, not Burning Star. There are a few seconds of footage of a Burning Star show, which I guess Apl. was at when they interviewed him. Considering the filmmakers didn't know how to spell Mack 10's name, I'm guessing hip-hop isn't really their "thing" and they just didn't understand the distinction between the two groups.

Anyway, all in all, Dropped doesn't get nearly close enough to its subjects, and is too lazily assembled to be considered a good film. The Hot Karl segment is the most compelling and the best done, and even that's way too short to really be worth tracking the film down (basically what I wrote above gives you all there is to be found in the three hip-hop segments, and the rock segments are no better), so you can save yourself the trouble... but if you happen to catch it on the Sundance channel, it'll hold your interest for the short time investment it takes.