Friday, December 4, 2009

Lyte + Premier = Bootleg?

In 2006, MC Lyte made a lot of comeback noise with a hot Premier-produced track called "The Wonder Years." There was a fancy, CGI-heavy video for it on YouTube, and a lot of fans were suddenly interested in picking up a new MC Lyte record for probably the first time in a long time.

...But then it never came.

I guess she was hoping for a major label to pick it up, and she didn't get the kind of offer she was expecting? Or maybe the digital age's assault on music sales and the fact that this song was getting spread all over the place just made her give up and say "fuck it, everybody who's interested already has this anyway?" I don't know; but fortunately bootleg label Word of Mouth (who also did that Natural Elements EP I covered recently) were there to scoop up the dropped ball.

This is one of Premier's better recent tracks, and Lyte comes with that unique spin on braggadocios rhyming we hadn't heard much of since her early albums:

"Pull up a chair,
Let me explain how I maintain the youthful glow;
For you that don't know, it's called H2O.
So stop askin' when I walk by,
How I look so young and stay that fly?
It's elementary.
Kick the liquor when you turn dirty thirty;
The rest is a secret, so I keep it for the worthy.
Some of us need to be doin' a bid,
Spittin' lyrics that's worse than Ridlan for kids.
They say, 'Lyte, they ain't ready for nuthin' new, kid,'
So we kick the same stuff, as if they were stupid;
Take the same beat and loop it
50 times - why not? That other group did.
It's idiotic, average and robotic.
I keep it real;
My mental thick like a Harley clique.
I got 'em singing Bob Marley hits (I don't want to wait);
They don't want to wait in vain,
But I'm worth all the joy and the pain.

Come hard when I hit; you know the name."

The hook is the weakest link... It's not bad, but it's by some random guy (Premiere lip-syncs to it in the video; but discogs seems to think it's Shabeeno of the NYG'z, which seems more likely) and it just makes you think, "what's this guy doing talking on the hook?" Also, he calls her "the female G Rap;" and I guess you could say she is, sort of, in the sense that she's the most respected female MC, lyrically, who's been in the game for roughly the same amount of years; but... she doesn't flow or write anything like G Rap. You'd expect a "female G Rap" to come with 50 million quick rhyming syllables and violent mafioso tales, right? So it just stands out as a weird comparison. Still, it's a fine, passable hook, that at least manages not to ruin the greatness established by Lyte and the instrumental.

This song alone makes this a must purchase (and it comes in Clean and Dirty versions), but there's actually a whole lot Premiere-produced goodness on offer here, so let's move on.

Next up is Cormega's "Dirty Game." This isn't unreleased at all: it first appeared on a 2005 12" single, b/w "Dirty New York," and then turned up on his 2006 album with Lake (who's not featured on this particular song), My Brother's Keeper. A few years later, Cormega put it out again, this time on his 2009 album, Born and Raised. It's a dope track, but serious Premier or 'Mega fans probably didn't need it included it here.

Now, on the flip side, we've got some Teflon. First is another exclusive. Well, it's mostly an exclusive... it had turned up on a few mix-tapes back in 2005 under the title "Married 2 tha Game," but "Married To the Game" (as it's spelled here) had never received a proper, unmixed release... much less on vinyl. It's an interesting track, a little outside of Premiere's usual vein, with a dramatic classical violin loop and subtle, un-bouncy bassline. It's helped a lot by a guest verse from Styles P, and comes here in Clean and Dirty versions.

Finally the last song, "Showtime," was released as a 2006 12" on Premiere's label, Works of Mart. That 12" featured clean, dirty and instrumental versions of this song plus a B-side, "Just Rhymin' With Krumb" (featuring, clearly, Krumbsnatcha); but only the dirty version of "Showtime" is included here. It's another hot Premiere track in Teflon's usual, MOP lite style.

So, I guess the idea here is essentially a 2-song 12" with exclusive tracks (the ones in Clean and Dirty versions), and the other two songs (only in Dirty) are just sorta tagged on as bonus tracks (that's the nice thing about being a bootlegger, I suppose... you can tack on anything by anybody as a bonus track, and it doesn't cost you anything)? Well, hey, I guess that's reasonable. The Lyte track alone already made it a must-have for me, and it's good to see that Tef and Styles track get a proper - if not legit - release. And the rest is just gravy. Definitely one for the crates.

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