Monday, November 2, 2009

Pro-Black Radical Raps Upliftin'

Though he's been relatively consistent over the past 20(!) years he's been recording, Paris's later material is often met with skepticism and disinterest in the hip-hop community... probably due to his going a bit overboard with the P-funk. But you'd be hard pressed to find somebody who'd front on his debut album, The Devil Made Me Do It.

And 1989's "Break the Grip of Shame," the second single on Tommy Boy/Scarface Records (the latter being Paris's own label), is as strong as anything on the album. Hard beats, deep, ominous bass notes, a little rhythm guitar, a fast-paced, angry delivery from Paris with something serious to say, and some tight scratches by Mad Mike? It's hard to improve on that formula.

Not that he's saying anything too complicated or profound. Basically, all three verses boil down to a declaration that he'll say whatever he wants and take no shit:

"With a raised fist I resist;
I don't burn, so don't you dare riff
Or step to me; I'm strong and black and proud,
And for the bullshit I ain't down."

And it's not necessarily expressed positively:

"Life in the city's already rough enough
ithout some young sucka runnin' up.
You don't know me, so don't step;
I roll to the right and then bust your lip."

It's just that straight up, hardcore flexing you want from a rough hip-hop record:

"I stomp sixteen solo,
Straight for the jugular. Hope that I don't
warm and bust a cap by night, so
ou just keep your place, 'cause I won't stop."

So, you can see from my photo that this comes in an ill picture cover (which may've misled you into believing this was going to be a song about police brutality). It features two mixes: the Radio Mix, which we don't care about, and The Final Call, which we certainly do.

The Final Call clocks in at 8:10, which makes it more than double the length of the original version, which is about three and a half minutes. This is an extended mix, alright; way extended.

You'll notice the first difference right at the first second. You know how the album version features a clip from a Malcolm X speech between Paris's second and third verses? Well, this version opens with another speech clip. I miss the days when hip-hop did this semi-regularly. It sounds dope.

Anyway, from there you've got some typical "let the beat ride" moments that you'd expect in an extended mix. But after Paris's last verse is when the bulk of the new material kicks in. The beat keeps on as Mad Mike takes over the rest of the song for the next four minutes. Sometimes he busts some serious, fresh scratches and other times he just drops in various vocal and instrumental samples over the track (including a P-funk breakdown to herald things to come in Paris's career).

The only downside is that The Final Call uses the censored, Radio edit of the song. Now, Paris doesn't curse as much as a lot of his contemporaries, so it's not like it renders the song as unlistenable as many radio edits do. But it's a definite flaw; and it's a frustrating shame we can't get a "proper" version of this. Still, there's no alternative; and this record's definitely worth your time regardless.

1 comment:

  1. yer right no one can front on his first one, mad mike is a king!! extended mixes are sorely missed in 12"s these days, wait a minute 12"s are sorely missed these days!

    remember the Devil made me do it 12" with the poach apig remix!! man mad mike was a true sav, what happened to the cutty?