Friday, April 30, 2010

Mad Child's Early Days In a Jazzy Hell

What the Hell is the group Mad Child was in with DJ Flipout before he created Swollen Members. They dropped this single, followed by an album, on Tandem Records in the early 90's. Now I'm not gonna front like I was rockin' this back in '93. Like a lot of indie hip-hop fans, my head was blown when Swollen Members came out of seemingly nowhere with a series of amazing 12"'s (and eventually albums). So I looked into them and found out about this earlier project, and thanks to the miracle of the internet, picked up used copies of the album and single cheap.

Predictably, he sounds younger here, and the Swollen Members atmosphere that's especially present in their best work, is absent here. But his distinctive voice is unrecognizable, and while this doesn't sound like a Swollen Members-minus-Prevail record, it's still pretty nice. Imagine Pharcyde kicking naighty rhymes ("oh yeah, it's really important that you don't fill out a statement!") over DITC production, and you've got a rough idea. It features a nice Beastie Boys sample cut up on the hook: "The girlies I like... are underage!"

We're then laced with two exclusive remixes of "Young Girls," the Rogie Mix and the Manooshi Mix. The Rogie Mix is so named because it's produced by a guy named Rogie Swan; and the Manooshi Mix is called that because it's produced by a guy named... David Christian. haha I dunno. Anyway, the Rogie mix is pretty cool. It uses the same crackly old horn sample, but slows it down about 50% and adds a little extra instrumentation (vibes especially)... it gives the whole thing a moody, soulful feel. That kinda clashes with the subject matter, but it works if you don't think about it too hard.

Conversely, the Manooshi Mix speeds things up. It uses a cool bassline that kinda sounds like "Cool Like Dat" or "Juice (Know the Ledge)" but played at triple time. Even the vocals are sped up considerably, giving the MCs cartoony voices (think Big Scoob when he rapped with that awful accent or B Real)! If you just heard this song on its own, you might think you'd accidentally set your turntable to 45. This one's jazzy, too, with some more scratchy old samples and nice drums. Long story short: the production is surprisingly good, and the rhymes are juvenile but fun.

Finally, the B-side rounds out with two more tracks taken from the album, "Summer Styles" and "Down Like This." After "Young Girls," "Summer Styles" is more of the same (which is good). Classic, jazzy style production and high-pitched raps about the summertime. There's a lot more scratching provided by a DJ Ajax which is nice, cutting up the same vocal sample 3rd Bass used for "Steppin' To the AM" ("What time is it?!"). And everything I just said about "Summer Styles" can be said about "Down Like This" except this time they're kicking harder battle raps.

Seriously, the production on this 12" is surprisingly good. In fact, I would say great. Even if you're thinking "ah, I don't care about this indie, art fag rap type shit. Just give me Freestyle Professors' '94 and leave me alone," check this out. I think you'll be really surprised and have to add this to your collection or wishlist.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

1, 2, 3, the Crew Is Called Jam Rock Massive

What we have today is "Stop the Violence" by Jam Rock Massive & Krs 1 (not to be confused with "Self Destruction" by his Stop the Violence Movement, which was named after this song). This was released independently on Massive Records on 1988, and has that classic B-Boy Records feel.

Now, you may remember that "Stop the Violence" was featured on Boogie Down Productions' second album, By Any Means Necessary (also 1988). Of course you remember: "I say: one, two, three/ the crew is called B-D-P/ And if you wanna go to the tip-top/ Stop the violence in the hip-hop/ Y-Oh!" In fact, they released it as the second or third single (not sure if "Ya Slippin'" came before or after it), with a colorful picture cover and everything. But this is the original version, that didn't wind up getting put out by Jive/RCA Records.

Well, this mix is the one for sure. I don't know why Krs bothered to remix it for the album, except possibly they felt every song on a Boogie Down Productions album should be produced by them on principle? Because production here is credited to an R. Stafford... which I guess is a government name for one of Jam Rock Massive? Anyway, it's still got that funky, reggae vibe, but this version has a different, much funkier bassline; and while it doesn't include the horn section from the album version, which was decent, this one has an ill horn clip that sounds like it was sampled off a turntable with a busted belt. Fortunately, both versions feature that silly Caribbean library tune that comes in after he says "the president's on vacation," though. :)

This 12" just has the one song, but it's fully-loaded with all the elements: Extended Version, Radio Version (which is about a minute and a half shorter), Instrumental and Acapella. There's no picture cover like the major label version, but it does come in a bright red sleeve, which is coming close.

I wish I had more info to impart on who Jam Rock Massive is exactly... All the vocals are pretty much Krs-1's except possibly some back-up on the hook. And they never released any other records that I've ever heard of. It's also possible it's a fake name... in the May 1988 issue of Spin Magazine, where they write, "the single's sparse underproduction and relaxed pace make it more exciting than anything on the album," Krs-1 replied that it was just "a bootleg of a demo recording." But whatever it is, it's dope.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

InstaRapFlix #27: Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop

It's been over two months since my last InstaRapFlix review, but I'm still workin' it. Today's is a little different than the ones I've been looking at lately (using the term "lately" loosely, I admit)... It's not a vanity piece for a Southern rapper, it's not approximately half an hour long. This looks like a real hip-hop focused documentary film. Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop has a rating of 2.5 stars on Netflix, which is high for an InstaRapFlix movie. What can I say? Guess I'm usually attracted to the trash. But have I elevated my standards this time, or is this really just more of the same?

Well, it's a QD3 (he did the Beef DVDs) Productions from 2005, and it's narrated by Saul Williams. It's from 2005 (though Netflix dates aren't always the most accurate) and opens with a clever credits sequence.

It starts out with a sequence about how rappers are profiled by cops. It features a pretty impressive line-up of rappers addressing the topic - everyone from 50 Cent to Biz Markie. But it gets more interesting when it gets into how The Miami Herald [Hey; I once wrote for them!] first caught word of a police department specifically gathering info on hip-hop artists. Impressively, they interview the staff of the Herald, the cops, lawyers... this is a thorough doc. Anyway, it all eventually boils down to the fact that almost all these hip-hop related police efforts are directly connected to one retired police officer named Derrick Parker, who calls himself the hip-hop cop.

Soon (and we're only about 15 minutes in), the film transforms into a glorified vanity piece on Derrick, who gives a series of interviews, drives us around in his patrol car (retired officers still drive patrol cars? silly movie fakery), and they even do a cheesy 70's cop-show sequence for him. Any airs of this being a "legit documentary" breaking any kind of important story soon blow away, and we're left with a silly puff piece of Derrick boasting about what rappers he's performed security for.

After about the first half hour, it gets pretty dull. It's a Derrick shows us pictures of him at Jack the Rapper with Heavy D, his dad shows us around their apartment, his former boss talks about what a good cop he was. All that's cute, but the bulk of the film is just Derrick talking and talking with not much to say. It was a real test to my dedication as a reviewer not to start fast-forwarding through a lot of this.

Oh well. Started out promising, and slid down hill, slowly but surely. I can't even say it's worth the free watch, because it IS long. And goes nowhere, flailing around without a point. Blah. Maybe the next one.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fat Joe da Gangsta

It's DITC Week over at Diggers With Gratitude, where each writer is reviewing a classic DITC album. Mine just went up today... an album I hadn't played in a while, but enjoyed going back to: Fat Joe's Represent.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sharper Than Your Kitchen Shit

You know a label is rugged when they misspell their own name on their record label. Well today we've got Stratus (or Sratus, depending where on the label you look) bringing us the raw with a dope, indie NYC 12" from the 90's. This is the first and I believe only release by Strippoker (and indeed the only release on Stratus), titled "Reign Supreme." To be honest, I hadn't heard of it until I stumbled across it being sold cheap online. It features Craig G, so I figured worst case scenario, I'd be padding out by Juice Crew collection a little more. But no, turns out this is hot.

It's a three-song 12", and all three are produced by Art Well Smart, a name I've never heard of and that does not inspire confidence. But whoever he is, he's provided three simple but solid street-level beats. The A-side, "Reign Supreme," features Craig G, DV Shines, and DJ Sinista - possibly Mista Sinista from The X-Men? Anyway, it comes in three versions: Street, Radio and Instrumental, and it's a winner. The beat features your standard hard drums and bass with a nice Spanish guitar loop, some atmospheric samples, and killer, creative scratches on the hook. All three MCs come nice, but Craig G steals the show with some surprisingly tough lyrics:

"My words are sharper than your kitchen shit.
I'm a Mac-11, fifty shot clip in it,
Hollow point rhymes blazed down your block -
Nobody witnessed it!"

The first B-side is "QB To CO" [I believe that's referring to Corona in Queens NY, not Colorado], which also comes in Street, Radio and Instrumental versions. It's not quite as good as "Reign Supreme" - it's short a killer verse from Craig and without the nice cuts from Sinista, the track isn't quite as compelling - but it comes close. It's got a cool piano loop which reminds me of some early Jedi Mind Tricks material, but with a nice scratchy old sax sample on the hook. The label doesn't credit anybody, but there's a second MC on this song as well (maybe DV Shines again?). Whoever he is, he and Strippoker actually comes a little tighter on this track than the last one, I think:

"I be where the crooks and the thieves rest,
Crackin' St. Thug and puffin' on mad bless.
If you got beef, we be comin' to your address,
Runnin' in ya crib with the gats, 'causin' madness."

The last song is a little bit lighter, and only comes in one version: "Black James Bond." In the tradition of classic songs like "I Go To Work" and "I'm Large," this is another hip-hop track that incorporates James Bond theme music into a hip-hop beat. Lyrically, he's mostly just busting more ill freestyle rhymes ("I wet niggas up like girls' drinks") rather than any crazy "The Mission"-type Bond stories, but it's a fun track regardless.

It's a shame this 12" seems to be so slept on, 'cause it's a definite winner. So it's a real disappointment there was no follow-up. But considering most people (myself included) didn't even know this one existed, I guess we should just add this nice sticker cover to our crates and be happy. :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Malcolm McLaren In 1990

I just found out that Malcolm McLaren passed away earlier today... He's not necessarily "a hip-hop guy," in that he's surely better known for his work with rock, punk and pop bands. But thanks to his involvement with The World Famous Supreme Team, he does share credit for some cornerstone hits in the genre, including "Buffalo Gals" and "D'ya Like Scratchin'." But instead of the obvious, I thought I'd take a look at one of his more overlooked hip-hop projects.

Now, it's not news to say that a Malcolm McLaren project is kinda weird, but this one is really weird. It's an album he recorded on Virgin Records in 1990 called Round the Outside! Round the Outside! It's credited to Malcolm McLaren Presents the World Famous Supreme Team Show he title is of course a reference to the chorus of their 1982 hit "Buffalo Gals:" "all buffalo gals go 'round the outside, 'round the outside, 'round the outside!" The title is a throwback and the reference to the WFST is a throwback; but the throwback content of this album is relegated to just two tracks that come towards the end of the album, "Buffalo Gals II (Remix)" and "World Famous Supreme Team Radio Show (Remix)." Both are a lot of fun... they're never gonna replace the originals, but they're good mixes with some new scratches and breaks that make for fun alternatives. The most marked difference in "Buffalo Gals II" is the addition of an R&B singer (Seduction, apparently, from the credits) who enthusiastically belts out a epic rendition of the "it's a pity that you're so dirty" portion. It's a lot of fun.

Those two remixes, however, mark the only appearances by The Supreme Team as we know them: See Devine and Just a Lot of Superstar [as their names are spelled here]. The rest of the album is a collaboration of a new hodge podge of artists, both known and unknown - would you expect anything less from Malcolm?

The first song was also the first single, "Operaa[sic.] House!" As you might not expect even though they're pretty upfront about it in the title, it's a house track with opera-style vocals provided by Mona Lisa Young, best known for her songs with The World Class Wreckin' Crew. Some of her vocals are original and kind of your typical club diva style, but further into the song, she gets into covering some actual, classical opera arias. But if that isn't out there enough, just wait! There's also a rap duet on this song, performed by none other than the great Grandmaster Caz and Sparky D. Yes, the original Caz and Sparky.

That's Sparky's only appearance, but Caz and Mona Lisa Young are actually all over this album, contributing to several songs apiece. The other most prominent recurring artist on this album is Low Profile's DJ Aladdin. He even has a solo song at the end of this album, "Aladdin's Scratch," and unlike Aladdin's own albums, this album really showcases why he's a world champion DJ, adding killer cuts throughout the album (for some reason, on his own albums, he never once touched the turntable!).

So that's your main line-up. Some other singers, a spoken word poet, and a rapper named MC Hamlet also appear. I suspect Hamlet may be an alias... he only appears on a song called "II Be Or Not II Be," and outside of this album, I've never heard of any MC Hamlet. Actually, there are short bios in the liner notes. Will that shed any light on this mystery? Well, his reads, "Dancin Black Indian Poet. II Be Or Not II Be!! From Alaska to Venice Cali that is the question: 'is it more noble of mind this decision to die and lie still for lifes ills and torture.'"[again, sic.] Yeah... sounds like a made-up bio for a made-up rapper to me; but who knows? It doesn't help that whoever wrote the bios doesn't seem to be terribly well-informed... did you know that Grandmaster Caz was "part of the TREACHEROUS THREE?" Me either.

So what else is on this crazy album? Well, there's the aforementioned "II Be Or Not II Be," where MC Hamlet turns a section of Shakespeare's Hamlet into a rap. There's "Romeo and Juliet" (which was the second single) a Grandmaster Caz solo song (essentially... there are some uncredited R&B vocals on the hook), which is basically a play on his classic "Yvette," but changing the name Yvette for Juliet. I mean, literally, he kicks the exact same lyrics including the infamous "somebody's comin'" line from "Yvette."

There's a song called "World Tribe" which has basically the same instrumental as Special Ed's "The Mission," but with female R&B singers and some extra instrumentation instead of any raps. And there's "Un Coche De Agua Negra," which is a combination of singing, spoken word poetry, Aladdin scratching a lot of records and none of it's in English (though I could male out another reference to "Romeo and Juliet" in the lyrics). Crazy.

The rest of this album is padding. In fact, if you count the classic Supreme Team records being remixed as padding (which really they are), more than half of this album is padding. "Diva Loves Operaa House!" is just another version of "Operaa House!" minus the raps, and "Wherefor Art Thou?" is another version of "Romeo and Juliet." Even "Aladdin's Scratch" is him getting busy over the "World Tribe" instrumental (Aladdin's version is awesome, though). So, really, basically, there's just five original songs on here.

So it's really not hard to see why this didn't catch on... a crazy mix of house, rap, and r&b with VERY pretentious, heavy-handed attempts to get the kids into opera and Shakespeare. Then add in the fact that most of this album is unnecessary remixes and filler, and you've got yourself a pretty tough sell. Oh, plus MC Hamlet is corny as hell.

But the good moments: Aladdin getting busy, fun (if recycled) raps by the one and only former Cold Crush Brother (you hear me, liner notes guy??) Grandmaster Caz, and Malcolm McLaren's insane musical flourishes makes for a pretty enjoyable listening experience. I mean, you know what? Mona Lisa sounds pretty damn good singing opera over a funky house track. This album should be a huge disaster, but it's not. Quality production and genuine talent from the artists involved turned even this colossally bad idea into a damn enjoyable listening experience. And that was the magic of Malcolm McLaren.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Girl, You Know You Want It!

It's time for another DJ Magic Mike single, I think. Today's is "Get On It Dog Gon' It" from 1994 on Mike's own Magic Records. That's right, no more Cheetah Records. This is the year Magic Mike struck out on his own, releasing his music on his own label. This is the single off of the album Bass Bowl, a generally disappointing album overall, going a bit overboard on the speaker-testing rumblings and light on the incredible scratches and the rhyming.

Fortunately, however, "Get On It Dog Gon' It" has both. This is one of the few tracks not produced by Mike himself, but rather one of his Royal Posse members, DJ Chief, who also provides some of the scratching (along with Mike himself). Unlike a lot of the mainly instrumental content of the album, this song is a more traditional number, with three verses by Posse member Daddy Rae, broken up with a shouted hook ("Get on it, dog gone it! Girl, you know you want it!") and some nice scratching of Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" ("Ow!"). For the most part, it's not a stand-out song in Mike's catalog... it's a very standard Miami bass cut, with very the staple samples every Miami bass artist had already been using for years... the bulk of the instrumental. In fact, is the same as The 2 Live Crew's "Move Something" but with ultrasonic bass notes. And Rae's rhymes dedicated simply asking the girls to shake their booty to the song. There's a fun moment, though, where Mike himself takes the mic to spit his own verse at the end ("I'm like Jenny Craig 'cause you know I knock off the pounds").

But the highlight comes on hook and especially the breakdowns. The cuts are are fast and furious - of the "holy shit!" variety - and he changes the flavor by bringing in some classic old school breaks. And the effect is amplified on the 12" exclusive Club Mix, which doubles the length of the song. This mix really turns a good song into a great song, sometimes just letting the beat ride, and other times providing extra cuts.

But if you're bored 'cause the beats are too familiar, the B-side has Mike's Funk Mix, which swaps out all the samples for ones you've never heard before. Personally, I prefer the original - there's a reason the old tried and true standbys became the tried and true standbys - but it's a cool alternative. The B-side also includes the instrumental of the original version.

This isn't necessarily one of Mike's best songs... the breakdowns are a real highlight but otherwise he plays it too safe. But hard drums, deep bass, competent rhymes, fast breaks and wicked cuts always add up to a winner. And Magic Mike himself must've liked this one a lot. Not only did he pick it for the single, but he returned to it a few years later with "Get On it Girl" on The Ghost Is Back album (his reunion album with Vicious Bass) and again with "Get On It ('98 Style)," on Scratch & Bass.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Dream Team... Posse?

Ok, to appreciate this one, you'll need to know the history of The LA Dream Team; so let me break that down real quick to start with. The Dream Team consisted of two guys, Rudy Pardee and Snake Puppy, who started putting out catchy hip-hop club records in 1985 on their own label, Dream Team Records, which was distributed by Macola (their label also put out some other early West coast artists). On the strength of their hits like "Rockberry Jam" and "Calling On th Dream Team," they got signed to MCA Records. There they put out a couple full-lengths and a bunch of singles, which are generally critically frowned on by the hip-hop community... They were like light, kid-friendly, with very pop-music production sensibilities. I think they're fun records, but it's all definitely dollar bin material.

Finally, in 1989, MCA dropped them, and that was the end of the LA Dream Team. Snake Puppy quit, and Pardee continued to perform solo as The Dream Team for a little while, but that was it. Pardee tragically died in a scuba diving accident in the 90's and there were never anymore records. Except there was. This one.

In 1990, Dream Team Records (and Macola again) released its final record, "The Bounce" by Dream Team Posse featuring Rudy Pardee. I'm not entirely sure who the "Posse" is in reference to, since this song is written, produced and performed by Rudy Pardee. He does credit a DJ for the scratches though, Black Caesar, so I guess he's one.

Anyway, you'll probably be surprised to hear that this record is actually good. I mean, if you hate everything from the Dream Team including their early stuff, this isn't gonna convince ya. But if you like their brand of old school west coast hip-hop, this is a solid entry. It's obviously a simple dance track, but Rudy steps up his lyricism as much as he was ever going to, and with a slightly harder delivery than usual. The track uses some fairly common (one might even say cliche) old school samples, but layers a bunch of them, combining the familiar into something new you haven't heard before. And it all fits; it never feels like a jumbled wall of disparate noises. The aforementioned scratches are about as barely here, there's only one or two little ones during the breakdown, but they do add to it all.

Given the chance to craft full verses on his own (with no back and forth, etc), Rudy shines here. And it makes me wonder what a full Pardee solo album would've sounded like. But, maybe this one single is enough.

I'm showing the cassette single here, but the 12" uses the same cover art. Both the tape and the 12" feature just the one version of the one song, no instrumentals or anything, on both sides. Don't put this at the top of your wish lists or anything, but if you're looking for an old school west coast single that you haven't already heard before and you can pick up on the cheap... you could do a lot worse than "The Bounce."

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.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Word To Your Mother

I'm sure you're all at least passingly familiar (whether you want to be or not) with this album[left]: Vanilla Ice's To the Extreme on SBK Records from 1990. It's still one of the biggest selling rap albums of all time. The success of the lead single, "Ice, Ice Baby" led SBK to drop their entire hip-hop roster and focus exclusively on promoting the ice man for years, costing us some dope albums in lieu of lots of awful, awful Vanilla Ice follow-ups.

But how many of you are aware of the prototypical Vanilla Ice album that preceded To the Extreme and the break out success of "Ice, Ice Baby?" It was called Hooked[right] (named after the song "Hooked" which was also on To the Extreme) and came out on Ichiban Records earlier that same year. It's basically a rough, unpolished version of To the Extreme... When SBK signed him they rerecorded the music and added a bunch of extra songs.

So, yes, "Ice, Ice Baby" is on here, too. Ichiban actually originally released this as a B-side to what they thought was the hit of the album, "Play That Funky Music." It didn't take off, but as the saying goes, "B-side wins again," and "Ice, Ice Baby" started getting radio spins. And that's what led to SBK signing him.

It's actually my contention that "Ice, Ice Baby" isn't a bad song. Let's face it, the beat caught on because it was an ideal hip-hop sample (Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure")... which is why dope hip-hop acts like The UBC and The SCC used it since (and probably a lot more would if it wasn't tainted with Ice's legacy lol). The lyrics are freestyle, so while he's often criticized for not saying anything substantive on this track, that could be said of a lot of rap classics ("DWYCK," anyone?). And the delivery is actually pretty fun and effective... in fact, you may remember my theory that he lifted it from another, lesser known Miami MC named K-Ponce. So, it's a probably stolen rhyme scheme (at any rate, he certainly at least had co-writers, including his DJ Earthquake, who are credited)... but hey, I'd much rather hear a tested style that sounds good than something that's original but crappy. Unfortunately, he didn't keep stealing styles (or at least not any good ones), because he never made any songs one iota as compelling as "Ice, Ice Baby" since.

So, yeah. The songs are "remixed," but essentially they're the same. They use the same samples, lyrics etc. They've basically just been re-recorded with better technology, so the basslines sound smoother, the drums sound richer, etc. It was apparently a regular practice with SBK Records... you can read in my Keymaster Snow interview how they used the same process on Partners In Kryme's material. They also added several additional songs. The songs "Yo Vanilla," "Stop That Train," "Life Is a Fantasy," "Ice Is Workin' It," "Juice To Get Loose Boy" and "Havin' a Roni" are only on To the Extreme, not Hooked. That sounds like a lot, but a couple of those are just skits.

Hooked does have one exclusive itself, however (not counting the rough versions of all the songs as exclusives, which they really kinda are... and in some cases at least, like "Hooked," they are a little better): "Satisfaction." And it's actually one of the best songs on either album (for what little that's worth). It liberally uses the sample of The Rolling Stones' "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" married to a fun, very 80's drum track. That sample is why it was left off To the Extreme - couldn't clear it - but it's also what makes the song fun. A version without that sample would be pointless. They did eventually wind up releasing a live performance of the song on his live album, Extremely Live, but this is the only album with the original studio recorded version (although SBK eventually released a single with some studio remixed versions later on).

Anyway, it's Vanilla Ice, so it's hardly a must-have... But it's an interesting artifact, no?

Happy April First!