Friday, November 6, 2009

Ed O. G & da Bulldogs Week, Day 2 - Bug-A-Boo

"This is the meaning of a bug-a-boo: it's a person that's constantly buggin' you."

Now that you've got a handle on the concept, we're ready to begin our discussion of "Bug-A-Boo," Ed O. G & da Bulldog's third single (following "Be a Father To Your Child" - wanna talk cringe-worthy lines? How about that "ladies, can I hear it?" "Thank you!") off their debut album.

As the new guy on the scene, you could see Ed O. was trying to cover all his bases. He had his freestyle song, his ghetto stories song, his serious message song, and now his kid-friendly song; and as such, this could just as well be performed by Kid 'N' Play or Young MC. So, it's easy to see why many of his fans would just as soon have it that this song never existed. But for what it is, it's rather excellently crafted. It's got a simple, and instantly relate-able premise that's always bemusing without straining to be funny; and the hook just invites you to rap along.

More than that, though, it's just got "one of those" beats. One of those beats that's instantly addictive on the first listen and that you could still hear playing in your head even if you haven't heard the record in twenty years. It's produced by the same trio again, of Special K, Teddy Ted and Joe Mansfield of the Vinyl Reanimators. The beat is hot, with slick drums and really effective use of handclaps (how often can you say that?), but if you've ever heard the song, you know what crucial element I'm leaving out, the funky, "bump, bump-a, ba-bump-a, bump-a, bump!" bass. It's also got a nice, underplayed "Mr. Welfare" scratch on the hook. But you, me and our future grand kids will basically just remember the bass.

Well, this 12" has just the one song, but it's still pretty loaded. First we've got the basic, O.G. version you remember from the album. Next we've got the Shout-Out Version. This is exactly the same as the original until we get to the end. Now, I'm not one to get all excited about some shout-outs tagged onto the end of a song, but in this case, they really enhance the tune, because they feature a lot of extra scratching. Basically, the DJ constantly the phrase "bug-a-boo" as Ed O. G shouts out people one by one, "DJ Doc is not a" and the DJ finishes "b-b-b-bug-a-boo!" Granted, hearing it for the first time isn't an "oh my god" revelation, but it's a genuine improvement. It's just fresh (in the old school sense of the word), and once you get this mix, you won't wanna go back to the album version.

Then the A-side rounds itself out with the Instrumental.

Now flip it over, and we start out with The Awesome Remix, which is presumably named after The Awesome 2 ...who maybe did more of the production rather than Joe this time around? Mind you, I'm just guessing here. Anyway, it's a pretty solid beat, but I think they'd've been better off saving it to remix a different song. It removes the signature sound of the original version (i.e. that bass, though they do bring it in for a few moments towards the end of the song); and while it's a solid track in its own right, it's just never going to be the version you want to hear when you decide you want to listen to "Bug-A-Boo." Also, this is just clearly not the beat Ed O. was rapping over; it just feels like they sloppily threw a beat under an acapella and said, "done!" Not that it's off-beat or anything, but all of the fun interplay between Ed and the beat, where he changes his delivery to match when it cuts out or switches up... all of that is lost here. But again, it is pretty good if you're looking for an alternate version (maybe, especially back in 1991, you'd heard the OG version so often it'd played itself out for you and you were getting sick of it). And to its credit, this remix does at least use the shout-outs version with the extra cuts.

Also included is the Awesome Instrumental.

Finally, there's Bass Dub Vocal 1 and Bass Dub Vocal 2. These might sound like some short, throw-away dubs with the hook left on them or something, but they're really full-out remixes, which use elements of both versions of the song, and also add in some new samples (less so, #2 is more stripped-down). They're pretty cool, and certainly make you feel like you're getting some extra value for your 12", but they of course run into exactly the same problem the Awesome Remix does: the original instrumental is already inherently definitive.

"Bump, bump-a, ba-bump-a, bump-a, bump!"

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