Friday, July 24, 2009

Rappin' Tate

That's an awesome cover right there, isn't it? Let's face it, even if the record was blank on both sides, some of us would have to add this one to our collections anyway. The man right there is Chicago's own Rappin' Tate, often billed as Rappin' Tate the Great. I'm pretty sure this is his only record (technically that's my cassette single you're looking at, but the 12" has the same picture cover), though he had a couple other songs he performed live - "Ambitious" on T.O.M.A. Records from 1988. But he's been a pretty historical figure in Chicago's hip-hop scene, doing a lot as an activist, etc.

In his liner notes, he thanks LL Cool J, who he cites as one of his greatest inspirations. But we didn't need him to write it on the label to figure that one out. His flow here is clearly based on "I Need Love." The whole song's a little bit faster, but with the layer over layer of keyboards (credited to Ice Tea of E.T.S.), and his dual themes of "you can do it" and "girl, I love you;" it's at least twice as sappy. The flow's about as basic as you can get, and man, did I mention those keyboards? They're literally dripping off this wax.

It's ok to dig out for the occasional smile if you're up for reveling in the corniness; but forget it. It's all about the B-side. If "Ambitious" was his "I Need Love," then "My Cozells" (as in Cazal sunglassess) is his "Rock the Bells!"

Ok, it's still a little cornier than "Rock the Bells." It's not as synth-happy as "Ambitious," but there's still some on here. They're more hardcore and go well with the driving rhythm of the song, but synths is synths, and to some people they'll always just sound dated and cheap. But fuck it; it's a great old school song and you'll still rock out to it. It's super high energy, and really, this anthem dedicated to his sunglasses takes a lot (in a good way) from "Rock the Bells," as well as, of course, from "My Addidas." "My cozells - if you try to break 'em off my face; I'll hit ya so hard your nose will break!" He just plain raps better on this one, and the stuttering hook is a classic, "my-my-my co, my-my-my co, my-my-my coZELLS!!" Fuck yeah!

By the way, the instrumentals are worth checking out, too. "Ambitious" starts out as the straight instrumental, but on the second half, Ice Tea really crazy with the solo boards. It may actually be a more fun listen than the vocal version. And "My Cozells" gives us something extra, too. It's longer than the original, and unlike the "Ambitious" instrumental, it's actually more stripped down, with less synths and more emphasis on the percussion. It also features about 50% of the vocals, making it almost a remix. It's a little longer than the vocal version, too, and features the opening verse acapella. In both cases, they almost work better as a single, double-length song.

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