Friday, March 19, 2010

Chubb Rock's Popeye Tune

If you're anything like me (and I've slowly come to grips with the realization that not many of you out there are), you've always been curious about the Chubb Rock line, "a rhyme kicked to this Popeye tune" in his super club banger, "Ya Bad Chubbs." Well, I finally picked up the 12" single of this classic and got to the bottom of it.

"Ya Bad Chubbs" is the big 1989 single from Chubb & Howie Tee's second album, And the Winner Is... It opens with the Radio mix, which is the same version that's on his album and was in the video. It's the "Ya Bad Chubbs" we've all grown to love, with the catchy drums, hand-claps, rolling piano riff and of course the perfect LL Cool J vocal sample from the beginning of his "I'm Bad" record, "AwwwwwWWWW!!" This 12" also includes the instrumental version, and that alone (well, coupled with the killer picture cover - Chubb is raging on that mic!) would make this worthy of a place in your crates.

Y'all know the words:

"This is an introduction,
With music that just be pumpin'.
While hips just be dippin',
The intention is for humpin' the floor;
Shinin' the wood with your jeans.
If it's denim, don't worry,
It's hip hop; don't hem 'em.
Money earnin' concernin',
I'll be teachin' and learnin';
Gettin' high from my rhymes and my looks,
Not from bourbon.
No solution, no remedy,
No cure. Like a deodorant,
Yo, you have to be Sure
That if you talk up or walk up into my face,
That you wouldn't become a big public disgrace,
'Cause I'll ban you, burn you up, and tan you,
Treat you like the elephant
And man you will be hocked and locked in a jar with a lid,
Hangin' on a wall in Michael Jackson's crib.
'Cause I'm bad. In fact, I'm a thriller.
I drink milk, that's why I'm a top biller.
Like a funeral home, I'll make a killing.
I'm not Giz even though I'm still chillin'.
Guys say I'm scary. Girls say I'm cuddly,
Rough like bark, but dark and lovely.
This ain't no game and I'm no toy,
And like Anita Baker, I'll bring you joy
With my word when I open my mouth;
Scare Oliver North to go and break South.
A homo is a no-no, but you know I'll smack a faggot.
Boy, you got to see me, I'm rich like Jimmy Swaggart!
I'm a loon; and ya know comin' soon:
A rhyme kicked to this Popeye tune.
This is hip-hop with a little be-bop,
And I won't flop 'cause I can't stop.
I will mop up the slop and then go to the top,
'Cause I'm not Robocop, I'm Chubb Rock."

But what the Heck is he talking about, "Popeye tune?" Well, the second track on side 1 answers that easily enough, the Chubb Club Mix, which is co-produced by Howie Tee and one Randy "Scotti-D" Scott. At first you'll just notice it's set to a different drum break. It's cool... the original's probably a little bit better, but both are good. The piano riff is the same, oh and the LL sample isn't used here. But once he gets to the Popeye line, the Popeye theme music kicks in on a keyboard that sounds like it's on a xylophone setting. And it's not just there for that line bar, like a back-drop punchline to his lyric; they keep the Popeye tune going, and it comes and goes through-out the song! And they also add a funky, new bassline that compliments it. It may sound a bit crazy, but then you have to remember this is the 80's, and people like Fresh Gordon and The Kartoon Krew were throwing little cartoon and sitcom ditties into rap songs all the time. I can't count how many times I've heard "Mary Had a Little Lamb" used in an otherwise very hard, street old school rap joint. It's kind of a time-honored hip-hop tradition - albeit a damn silly one - and it works if you can get past how corny it is that they're using Popeye music.

There's also a Crib Mix on side B, which is more of a house version, with a much more dance-oriented beats, stuttered vocal samples, synths and longer periods of extended instrumentation. It's also got some new Chubb lyrics, though, so be sure to check that out. He re-performs most of his lyrics as brief couplets or single lines. But he mixes in a bunch of new stuff, too. It's way more Club-y though. In fact......... I wonder if it isn't possible that the 12" here is a bit mislabed, and the funky mix with the Popeye tune is actually the Crib Mix, and this dance version is the Chubb Club Mix co-produced by Scotti-D (this one also sounds removed from Howie's style, unlike the other one, which makes me think it's Scotti's work). That's certainly my suspicion.

This 12" wraps things up with two "bonus beats." I put that in quotes, because despite the titles, they're full vocal versions. Howie's Beat is basically the Radio version with slightly tweaked percussion. And Bonus "PE" Beat is a more stripped down mix of the version with the Popeye theme (that's the "PE," in case you're feeling a little tired) but with even more of it (and it also only lasts the duration of the first verse).

Anyway, I suspect the "Chubb Club Mix" is actually the original version of this song (and, like I said, I also suspect it's really the Crib Mix). It's the only version that makes sense with the lyric, and I can understand why they would feel that if they were going to push this as a major single that they should beef up the hardcore sounds and nix the cartoon music. I'm sure the album and video version will always be the primary "Ya Bad Chubbs" in our hearts... I used to sit in class as a kid with that break and piano on loop in my head; and of course the "AwwwwwWWWW!" But this is like the lost, true version. And, just like it was meant to be when they recorded it, it's a lot of damn fun.

1 comment:

  1. lol I've owned this pretty much since I discovered ebay & have never let that remix play long enough to hear the popeye music! Good work