Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Newcleus: The Twixt Generation

Of course, you all know who Newcleus are, and remember their classic jams: "The Wikki Wikki Song," "Jam On It," "Computer Age," etc. And you probably have at least heard of Newcleus: The Next Generation, who came out with an album and a bunch of singles in the 90's - it was mostly new members, but a couple of the kids from the original line-up were in that one. But there was a short-lived iteration of Newcleus in between these two formations. It featured some original members, and some new members who didn't stick around to be part of the "Next Generation." This version of the group never released any albums, but they did put out a couple 12" singles on Super Power Records in the late 80's.

This is one of those in-between-stage Newcleus joints, and it's actually pretty good. They retain more of the lively, old school vibe of the original line-up, but still steer themselves more in the raw hip-hop direction of The Next Generation. ...You know, as opposed to that pop 80's sing-songy style the original crew had started drifting into with songs like "Why."

I can't say I expected to enjoy this 12" when I put it on my turntables for the first time, so it was really a nice surprise. The song is called "Huxtable House Party," an ode to the The Huxtable dance, and it came out in 1987. Huxtable, for those of you too young to remember, is the family name of the characters from The Cosby Show. Though for some reason they deny the connection: "no, we're not talking about TV; it's not Theodore and Rudy." What is it, then, if not a Cosby Show reference? Of course it's a Cosby Show reference!

The Newcleus kids (Kid Fresh and Lil'-O-Me) are still on-hand, filling pretty much the same role they did on the original hits, ad-libbing with their vocoder voices... even at one point doing a little "wikki wikki wikki." A new member takes the place of Cozmo or Chilly as the traditional, lead MC and does a pretty good job of emulating the style and the effect of his predecessors. His voice doesn't hit quite as hard or deep, but he's still holds his own on the track just fine. There's also a brief bit of singing on the chorus, which really only goes to show how "Huxtable House Party" is just all about being a light, catchy song over funky beats in the style of their greatest hits. It's not exactly 100% as good as "Jam On It;" but if you like Newcleus, you'll certainly like this as well.

The 12" has four versions: the main version, and the "Dub," "Edit" and "Bonus" mixes, all of which are pretty self-explanitory. The "Edit" is just a 4 minute version of the original six minute version, the "Dub" is a brief (2:23) instrumental, and the "Bonus" just fills out the rest of the record with bonus beats.

Before I go, I have to tell you guys about this. Newcleus has now entered into a fourth generation. The quartet of Cozmo D, Chilly B, Al T. McLaren and Lady E now make up the group, and they have a great official website over at Yeah, they have a myspace, too. They're working on a new album called Return To Earth. Apparently, they experienced some delays (there's an excellent blog post all about it here), but they now site March 24th as their release date. it will be CD, mp3 "and we will do vinyl as well if there is a demand." Well, I'm keen to hear it.

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