Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ed O. G & da Bulldogs Week, Day 1 - I Got To Have It

This is where it all began. Actually, it isn't. Ed O. G, or Edo Rock as he was known at the time, actually made his debut on wax back in 1986 with the song "Suzi Q" on the Boston Goes Def compilation. He was part of a group called the FTI (that's Fresh To Impress) Crew. Heck, I even owned the 1988 follow-up, Def Row, which also included two of their songs, back in the days. But let's face it, if you weren't living in Boston (and possibly not even then), the name Ed O. G didn't really mean anything to you until 1991.

That's when Ed O. G & da Bulldogs released their stunning debut single on PWL/ Polydor/ Mercury Records, "I Got To Have It." When that video turned up on the regular shows, it was a given: a new crew was on the scene and everybody was going to pay attention. How could you not, with that fantastic, ahead of its time, pure crate digger's beat (and that incredible sax breakdown!)? The track was co-produced by the well-known pair of Special K and Teddy Ted, The Awesome 2; so pretty much all credit was given to them at the time. But looking back on it with 2000's eyes, the other co-producer's name stands out, Joe Mansfield. Don't know who that is? Well, if I told you he was now better known as Rhythm Nigga Joe of The Vinyl Reanimators, making his major label debut (he did produce an indie 12" or two prior to this), I think you'd suddenly see where most of the credit for finding and blending these incredible samples probably belongs.

Of course, Ed O. was noticeable on the mic, too. He had a somewhat deep, smooth voice, easy enunciation and a fun, freestyle-type of flow that effortlessly dipped in and out of non-sequitors and serious topics. He goes from making anti-violence statements to battle rhyme disses in the same sentence and it sounds like one coherent thought. Still, he did contrive a few awkward rhymes and clumsy phrasings ("When you're in like food in your stomach they wanna stick with you").

Now, this version comes in the standard Hard Version (read: album version) and Clean Version. What's interesting is that, while the Clean Version does use a bleep and sax sound to censor the words "ass" and "rectum," he also re-raps some other lines. "I stay hard like an erection" becomes "Ay yo, brown is my complexion." And "jerkin' ya jimmy but you still can't come off," becomes "step back, relax, 'cause Ed O.G's about to come off." Why, if he's replacing the vocals to get rid of "erection," does he still leave the word "ass" in there, requiring a bleep? It's oddly inconsistent, but oh well. There's also some funky bonus beats and a proper instrumental version on here.

There's a hot B-side, too (produced by all the same guys); the title track to their debut album, Life Of a Kid In the Ghetto. The hook is a nicely scratched line from EPMD's "Big Payback" ("A young kid from the ghetto, kiddie from the city") that leaves in the devastating horn jabs of the original instrumental. And the rest of the instrumental is as expertly assembled: snapping drums, the rugged bassline most famously used in K-Solo's "Fugitive" (in a context that's so different here, it's almost unrecognizable) to a super smooth piano line and whistle. Other elements - a funk guitar loop that sounds like it's straight off an NWA record or a dusty horn sample - fade in and out of the track, too.

Lyrically, it's not quite as catchy, because it's a narrative of his youth in the ghetto rather than freestyles. But on the other hand, that helps him iron out some of the awkward bumps. There's still a few questionable lines ("in the ghetto, there wasn't no horses, no lake and no meadow"), but it's easier to let it all slip under the radar in the service of a consistent story. And, for every line that's slightly cringe-worthy (in either song), there's a fresh line where his delivery and the choice of words makes it sound really dope. This is a serious contender for 1991's single of the year, and still holds up as one of the all0time greats to this day.

As soon as I saw that video for the first time, I knew: this new jack was gonna be one to watch out for and explore whatever catalog he had. Fortunately, over the years, he's had a pretty extensive one. So join us again for Ed O. G Week, Day 2. 8)

4 comments:

  1. Very dope read.
    There's so many examples of edits that made no sense, I've always noticed that. Of course I can't think of any now.lol

    I should smack myself for not realizing a Vinyl ReAnimator was involved in the production on that album.

    I'm guessing you saw the most recent interview with DJ Shame?
    If not, here you go homeboy-
    http://heavyinthestreets.blogspot.com/2009/10/my-collaboration-with-dust-and-grooves.html

    Thanks for the knowledge. Peace.

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  2. Oh cool; I hadn't seen that. But I'ma check it out now. :)

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  3. K-Def also did production on the first Ed OG & Da Bulldogs albums but wasn't given no credit.

    I read that in various interviews.

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  4. Hmmm... I could see that. Would explain what Pure Blend was doing singing on there. And might explain why he used the sample from this single for that joint with Dacapo, if he felt it was his in the first place.

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