Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Get Raw, Get Raw

Raw '91 is an interesting little release. If you want to watch 3 years of your life drift away, get into an online argument over whether it's an EP or a maxi-single, and don't stop until somebody wins. Whichever way you classify it, it dropped in the middle of a prolific period of Big Daddy Kane, released in conjunction with his fourth album, Prince of Darkness. It's been suggested, and it makes sense to me, that it was made as a response to critical fans who thought he was going to pop/ r&b. It's generally held in pretty high regard amongst Kane fans, and not for good reason, but as we'll see, there's really not much original material on this.

We start off with "Ooh, Aah, Nah-Nah-Nah (Master Mix)." "Ooh, Aah" is a Prince of Darkness album track, and despite it's title, it is one of the harder, more straight-up hip-hop jawns on the album. It starts with Kane rapping acappella, and then the hard beats kick in and it's on from there. I mean, it's not the greatest Kane song ever - the hook isn't great, and the last verse, where he just shouts out a bunch of the major rappers of the time, is a gimmick he's used several times too many - but considering he produced it himself, it's surprisingly strong.

Oh, and if you're wondering how this Master Mix differs from the album version... it doesn't. Same mix exactly. So that's one that looks like an exclusive but actually isn't. You do get the Instrumental a little further down the track-listing, though, so that's something.

Then you've got the title track "Raw '91." Of course, that's a Prince of Darkness album track, too. But it pretty killer. Of course, it's a sequel to his classic "Raw" and has him spitting over roughly the same beat and similar scratches. But, then, as the song goes on, new samples are swapped in for others and the tune keeps changing as Kane (who also produced) flexes how he's grown lyrically since the 80's. I'm not saying it tops a classic, but it's a damn great song.

Next we've got "It's Hard Being the Kane Remix Radio Edit)." This is a Marley Marl remix of the the lead single from Taste of Chocolate. This is a darker and moodier remix, which is in keeping with the tone of the EP. I'm not sure it replaces the Prince Paul original in my eyes, but it's a dope alternative. Unfortunately, this was already released on the "It's Hard Being the Kane" single from 1990, so it's nothing new. What's more, this is the Radio Edit, as opposed to the preferable Extended mix on that 12".

The album version of "It's Hard Being the Kane" is also on here.

But finally we come to the EP (or maxi-single)'s one real exclusive: "Taste of Chocolate (Remix)." This stood out to be as odd the first time I saw this on the track-listing, because "Taste of Chocolate" was never really a song on the Taste of Chocolate album. There was "Taste of Chocolate Intro" and "Taste of Chocolate Exit," but those weren't full songs... The first was an intro with a single verse, and the latter was just shout-outs over the same beat (another BDK self-production, by the way). So what's this? Well, it's the Intro expanded into a full song. The track is the same and the first verse is the same. But where the Intro ends, this Remix comes back with an all new verse:

This one stands out, because it's not hard like the rest. It's still fresh, freestyle rhymes, but the beat is soft and smooth. Or as Kane says, "this is that particular beat for all the fellas feelin' mellow to pump in their jeep." All in all, it's no masterpiece, but it's a good, worthwhile Kane song. And Raw '91 is the only way to hear more than a snippet of it, making it a must for completists. And it comes in a cool picture cover [shown is my CD single, but the 12" has the same cover and track-listing], so it's not a bad little pick up.


  1. Thanks for the info. I always loved Taste of Chocolate Intro. Good toknow that there's a full version.

  2. I remember first hearing that full version of "Taste of Chocolate" on the CHOCOLATE CITY video. I was so glad when they finally released it on a single.
    As I recall, there's a UK 12"/CD for "Keep Em On The Floor" that has another remix of "It's Hard Being The Kane" as well.