Thursday, May 7, 2009

Demo Week, Day 1: Ahmad

Today begins Demo Week here at Werner's! Where, obviously, we'll spend the week looking at demos by different artists. And we'll start the week of with Ahmad.

This demo dates back to 1998, which is the perfect era for some unreleased Ahmad material to originate, because it's after his early pop-MC days, when he showed us he could be really impressive with slick, complex wordplay when he wanted to be. And it comes before he started playing second chair to his crew, which gets more "neosoul" by the album.

Titled Call It a Comeback, this 8-song demo largely consists of what would become his crew 4th Avenue Jones' debut album, No Plan B, which, like this demo, came out on his own label, Look Alive. But this has more of an emphasis on Ahmad the MC... this was an Ahmad demo, featuring his crew, not a 4th Ave album. So while many of the songs here are the same as on No Plan B: "I Know," "Move the Crowd," "Truth or Dare" with Pigeon John, "All I Have" and "Betcha Bye," a couple of the songs are exclusive and were never subsequently released.

"Where You Go There You Are" features a hard drum track and piano riff, with fellow Jones member Senoj kicking the second of three verses, and their R&B singer Tena Jones doing the hook and some back-up. The hook is a little sappy, but it's all about the MCs rapid-fire flows, spitting syllables over the punchy drums. And of course, with it coming from Ahmad, it's got a message along with the clever wordplay.

"I got a question, Senoj,
How can I win if I never race?
Say I like it if I never taste?
How would I catch it if I never chased?
Our people running in place
When we shoulda took a leap forwards;
And when we got it,
God created us like him
With talent allotted,
Like an apple 'till it's been rotted:
Coulda been great,
Coulda ate it,
Had it sliced up;
Coulda been baked.
Man, you get outta life... whatever you make."

"Rules of the Game" is off of No Plan B, but here it has a different beat. The demo version has a very distinct (flute? slide whistle?) sample over the entire track. I'm not sure which version I prefer, actually... the album version has grown on me somewhat. But if nothing else it's a cool remix for fans of the official version. It's hard for me to hear the album version without hearing the demo version in my head though! LOL

"The other demo-only track is called "No, I" and again features Senoj. It's got a fast based beat... the samples and Senoj's flow actually sound more like the kind of hip-hop that's in vogue at the moment. It's also a short song, with each MC only kicking one verse, and a short hook in between. It's definitely not a favorite, but it's not bad and Ahmad kills it again, so it's definitely worthwhile for Ahmad's verse, and Senoj's flow is nice, with some clever interplay from Ahmad doing his back-ups. I'd like to hear this one remixed over another beat, but I guess I'm lucky just to hear it at all. :)

4 comments:

  1. I was just listening to some 4th Avenue Jones stuff. Can you send me an e-mail at tkburton@mts.net. I have a question for you.

    Thanks

    Tim

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  2. Actually spoke to Ahmad through email a couple times, he's trying to make a come back. Rather interested to see what he comes with.

    I wasn't the biggest fan of the early stuff, but you are right some of the stuff he did later was rather good.

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