Monday, December 27, 2010

E-40 & The Click Week: Day 2: Mr. Flamboyant Himself

You know how I said, yesterday, that fans might be confused by seeing a "Tanji II" on what was ostensibly being presented as a debut album? Well, I'm not gonna front. Back in the early 90's, I was confused by it, too. If Federal was E-40's debut album, even before he signed to a major label, where the heck was "Tanji" part one?

It wasn't until years later I discovered the answer to that was a rare, earlier debut called Mr. Flamboyant, released on Sick Wid' It Records back in 1991. The label actually credits it to "E-40 and the Click" on one spot, and just "The Click" on another; but hardly anybody raps on any of these songs except E-40 himself (B-Legit is credited, but he only speaks briefly between 40's verses on the one song). So, though The Click does share production credit, it is essentially a solo EP.

Now, granted, the title cut was also included on The Click's debut album, Down and Dirty, from 1993; so odds are that you've already got the song... This version is a bit different, though. It has more of a raw, demo-ish feel here. It doesn't have that intro with E singing, "yeah, I'm just a hustler..." over sleigh bells, and it doesn't have all the vocal samples that appear on the later version. But musically and lyrically, it's pretty identical, so the differences are essentially academic. Not so exciting, even if this one came first. But the rest of the EP consists of all original songs, unique to this EP. So now it's got your attention, huh?

Now, first of all, what songs you get depends which version of Mr. Flamboyant you get. As you can see, I have the vinyl version, so I get four songs, including the title track. If I had gotten the cassette version, I would've gotten three songs (including the title track) plus the instrumental for "Mr. Flamboyant." So you have to choose between a song called "Shut It Down" or the instrumental. Oddly enough, though, both versions fill space by putting the songs "Tanji" and "Club Hoppin'" twice, once on side A and once on side B. There's no difference between them, side B doesn't have instrumental mixes or clean versions... they just stuck the same songs on twice. Strange, but there you have it.

Now to "Tanji." Interestingly, "Tanji" is a short (minute and a half), single verse song, that's actually - lyrically speaking - contained entirely within "Tanji II" from Federal. The first verse from "Tanji II" is the single verse in this "Tanji"... that's why the first verse of "Tanji II" ends with "stay tuned for the next episode." It makes more sense when it's the end of the song and promising a sequel. So, anyway, the verse is the same but the music is completely different... it's got what I think are opera samples mixed with old school bells and stuff. It's kinda crazy, but works and goes with his flow and story. I'm not sure if it's better than "Tanji II," because I'm a big fan of that one... but I'd say they're both about equal, just different.

There's more old school samples on "Club Hoppin'," like the horns or whatever that sound is from "Cinderfella Dana Dane." This whole EP has a more classic hip-hop vibe to it. I guess you could say that's because it's older, so of course it sounds older. But I think E and his producers were just coming more from a place of respecting the golden age traditions on this EP, at least in the music... his flow here is still pretty cutting edge/ out there, after all.

Both "Club Hoppin'" and "Shut It Down" are very up-beat party songs. "Shut It Down" uses a little more P-funk, but they're both very 80's rap dance songs. E-40 does still kick more game than your average pop MC: "one day, moms gonna get a call, 'wouldja wouldja wouldja come identify your son?'" But this is like the NWA equivalent to "Something 2 Dance 2" rather than "Fuck the Police." Me, I always like "Something 2 Dance 2" a lot, and think it provides some much needed energy to their catalog... and I think the music on this EP works the same way for E-40. But if you really want one type of song and one type of song only from your gangsta rappers, this might be too far removed from the formula for your tastes.

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