Friday, June 3, 2011

Science Officer Mr. Spock Vs. Professor X of the X-Men

If there was one thing Macola Records knew how to do, it was repackage songs. If a song was released through them once, you can bet it was released at least ten subsequent times in a short amount of time. In just the span of two or three years, they issued many represses and dozens of compilation albums, all with the same 15-20 songs reshuffled over and over again. And one crew that Macola repackaged quite often was The X-Men.

The X-Men was a west coast DJ group headed by the Unknown DJ (years later, the NY DJ crew consisting of Roc Raida, Mista Sinista, etc, would claim the name... but these guys came first). There were two major X-Men 12" singles, recorded by Unknown and DJ Slip (who also went by the name The Juggernaut to fit the theme), "The X-Men" and "Revenge Of the X-Men," both in 1988. Unknown and Slip were the core, but there were also affiliate members, who either contributed or were shouted out, including DJ Battery Brain, Battlecat, and Arabian Prince, who released the third X-Men 12", "Professor X (Saga)" under the alias Professor X, in 1989.

Now, because Macola has re-released the "X-Men" and "Professor X (Saga)" tracks so many times, it's become two of their best known songs. Both have made more recent appearances, too, on budget Dr. Dre compilation albums, even though Dre had nothing to do with these records besides being in the same west coast scene at the same time. But what most people probably don't know is that "Professor X (Saga)" is actually a competing version of another, more obscure X-Men song using the same instrumental.

"Revenge Of the X-Men" is already a far less exposed song than "X-Men" and "Professor X (Saga)," but it has a very interesting B-side that you hardly ever hear about called "It's More Fun To Sample." Now "Professor X (Saga)" says it's produced by The Professor (Arabian Prince), but he's really just recycling the instrumental of "It's More Fun To Sample" from the year before.

It's More Fun To Sample" features Unknown using another alias, Spock, which, yes, fails to properly fit the X-Men theme. Perhaps that's why they remade it. But anyway, "It's More Fun To Sample"'s production credit is given to Unknown and Slip, so they must've really created the beat.

The songs are very similar in other aspects as well. Arabian Prince's raps as the Professor are absent, of course.

"Professor X! I'm here, coming from my creator,
D 2 D, D A T, Master M emulator[or something close to that];
Conceived in data planet by DJ Unknown.
DJ Slip was on the mix when I came to be known.
Professor X is a scientist who studies all the music;If a guy grabs a girl, he can surely get into this.
'Cause computers that we use are so simple to create!One, two, three, four, five, six...
Working in my laboratory, making mutant tests;Strange reactions came upon you while sitting at my desk.Clearency[sic] must be achieved before I can tell the rest...The result is a creation of the great Professor X. Professor X!"

But instead we have verses by Spock/Unknown, using the same kind of bass-heavy voice modification for his rhymes.

"Soulsonic rocked the planet, but we're here to take control.Super beings sent to rock: he's DJ Slip, I'm called Unknown.
We have heard techno attempted; and yet sadly, you have failed;
You should stick to vice, Miami. Leave the techno to LA.
DJ Slip the beat programmer of this psychedelic groove;We'll scratch the beat while syncopated samples put you in the mood.You can't resist the X-Men posse, or the dope hypnotic beat;Clap your hands to what he's doing and I'm sure you'll move your feet.You must dance or be forgotten. If you can't, then you must try.
This is X-Men law, no need to front - perpetrate and die!

Techno music's here, so use it. Hear the groove and hit the floor.While the X-Men rock the planet like Soulsonic did before.Unleash the beat like it was fire, burn your speaker cones to shreds;Cerwin Vega rocks the house, X-Men bass upside the head!"

Perhaps more importantly, the signature vocal samples from the X-Men cartoons, like "the X-Men train to improve their mutant skills," aren't here. In there place are Star Trek samples like, "analysis, Mr. Spock" and "science officer Spock, transmit now!" The other signifigant difference is that "Professor X (Saga)," strangely, ended with a keyboard solo reprising the tune of Arabian Prince's previous record, "Take You Home Girl." "It's More Fun To Sample" ends more abruptly.

So I urge any fan of that late 80's west coast style to seek out both versions and see which is your favorite. Who best rocks this beat, Spock or Professor X?


  1. I think Spock was the name Unknown gave to his SP1200....sampling drum machine....and the origin of professor x is actually a short version of professor x (saga)....and it's more fun to sample is slower and only uses the same bassline sample as does professor x from kraftwerk's it's more fun to compute....both Unknown and Arabian Prince liked to use the pitched down voice....Unknown used it in Sweat by the Mechanic with Dr Dre...and Arabian Prince used it in Panic Zone by NWA..again with Dre....i like your blog...nice work...

  2. 'Cerwin Vega rocks the house'

    Cerwin Vega is a speaker brand that is known for its slogan that they make LOUD speakers.