Friday, April 2, 2010

Some More CD Only Bonus Tracks

Craig G's second LP, Now, That's More Like It, was really good. But the CD was even better... by three whole songs! Still on Atlantic Records, Craig and Marley Marl were back (with a little help from Salaam Remi) in '91 with a unique but fresh sound. Granted, two of the songs were more than a little too new jack swing-ish for many tastes ("Girls" and "I Want To Be In Luv"), but there's really nothing else to complain about on this album. And fortunately, the three additional tracks don't break that record.

All three are produced by Marley, and none of them are on swing tip. They're strictly freestyle battle-rap type songs over fresh but hard beats.

The first is called "Swiftness." The track uses some funky, unusual drums and a cool horn loop. There's a little scratching on the hook, and Craig dedicates three verses of skill flexing "to all the MCs who that I couldn't get with it."

Next is "Live Off the Top." Like the title suggests, he rocks freestyle off-the-dome for the whole song. The beat is a solid head-nodder with rhythm scratches, hand-claps and a short but crispy horn sample. The rhymes feel a little looser than on the rest of the album, 'cause they're not written, but the production is layered enough that it really feels like a proper song rather than just a bonus freestyle.

Finally is "Going for the Throat." This is the one that gets the most attention, 'cause it's his infamous MC Shan diss. The track is cool - it uses a familiar old school funk-guitar sample, but changes up the drum and adds another sample, putting a new twist on an old standby. But of course, the first fifty times you listen to this, you probably won't even pay attention to the beat and just focus on Craig's vicious disses of Shan:

"It seems a brother that I went way back wit
Is coming out the woodwork, talkin' shit.
At first it didn't mean all that,
'Cause he was washed up and strung out on crack.
Freebase. His life was a waste to the rap world;
Nobody cared about him or his wack girl.
So, yo, I took it in stride,
And continued with the rest of my life.
Until recently, he showed some form of indecency:
Went in a magazine and tried to release on me.
Huh. But now it's the last straw;
I'm gonna wreck him and everything he stands for.
Go wash windows, that should be your career;
I could give a fuck about what you pioneered.
Straight up, that don't mean shit.
So won't you take your vine and swing the fuck off a cliff!
Yeah. I mean business;
Don't ever in your life try to diss this,
'Cause, punk, I'll rip you to shreads,
And mail your record company your head.
Hmph! I know it sounds a little graphic...
I heard your album's double plastic."

Shan came back at Craig on "Even If I Tore It," a B-side-only song from a 12" I covered recently, but Craig's disses were more vicious. Interestingly, though, Craig's second verse is the same verse he kicked on his classic duet with Tragedy, "Live and Direct From the House of Hits." It's essentially word for word, except Shan's name is occasionally added. So for instance, the line "slow down, kid, before you enter a speed trap" becomes, "slow down, Shan, before you enter a speed trap."

So these tracks aren't so obscure or overlooked as the Whistle ones I covered the other day. In fact, because of them, the CD tends to cost a pretty penny nowadays. But it's worth picking up, because they really enhance and already great album.

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