Monday, August 15, 2011

A Dangerous Diss

Rally Ral's debut single first came out on In-A-Minute and No Limit Records in 1993. But it was later picked up by Priority for their Street Fighter soundtrack; and so it was released again as a single in 1994, remixed and smoothed out. The original's better, and it's got three additional songs on it, which all bump harder than this smoothed out remix, so it's generally considered the one to own. Plus, it's just usually a good rule of thumb in hip-hop: when in doubt, get the original, indie version.

But this second version has a couple exclusives itself - specifically 2 songs featuring E-A-Ski. Now, Ski's appearance kinda goes without saying... he also appeared on one of the songs from the original "Something Kinda Funky" single, and E-A-Ski & CMT were Rally Ral's regular producers who featured him on a couple of their other projects as well. He was pretty officially down with Infared.

So, one of those exclusive songs - "I Thought You Knew" - is just okay. The bassline has been used often, and it usually sounds better than this, plus the sung hook is lame. Still, Ski and Rally come pretty hard, and the scratching, which is kept pretty low in the mix, is kinda nice. But you should watch out, because there's one version of this single that only features "Something Kinda Funky" and "I Thought You Knew." Completists might want it, too, because it's the only version with the "I Thought You Knew" instrumental; but then you wouldn't just be missing out on the picture cover, but a killer Dangerous Dame diss!

Yeah, flip this one over and there's the song "Lost a Few Screws" where E-A-Ski goes hard on Dame. That's a little surprising, considering they were label-mates on No Limit at the time, and it's unclear exactly what the beef's about. They do start out by saying, "what's up with the disrespect," so I guess he said something to start it, intentionally or inadvertently, but who knows? Whatever the reason for it, though, no punches are pulled. While they never quite say his name, if you pay close attention to key lines in the lyrics ("'I Call Your Name' like your wack-ass song, bitch!" or "Make Room 4 Daddy? Nah, nigga, we don't want it!"), there's no possible way they're talking about anybody else:

"Always a has-been nigga on my back 'cause he's wack.
Starvin' for some Ski & CMT tracks. (Nigga, you can't have that!)
So back the fuck up, nigga, 'cause I know,
You lost a few screws from that mickey about a year ago."

That last line, besides justifying the song's title, is a reference to the crazy, but apparently true story Dame told on his Escape From the Mental Ward EP, where somebody slipped him a mickey which literally drove him insane. In fact, this song works just as well as an answer record to that song as a straight-up diss. I blogged about it back in January, including my transcription of the lyrics. It's pretty wild, so if you missed it, check it out here.

"Motherfuckers ain't shit.
Got dropped from Atlantic, now you're lookin' like a bee-itch.
Nigga, you can cup my nuts until they bust;
Lookin' for the Ski and CMT to bring your wack-ass up? (Never!)
I kinda figured you were jealous to the head, hoe,
When we rocked your wack-ass show. (That's right!)
Took niggas off guard with my presence;
An OG fuckin' with these young adolescents."

The whole song is just hard, hostile and personal: "Everyone knows the real scoop; You been rappin' for years, ain't got nothin' to show for it!" They even go on to challenge his authenticity as a ghost-writer. Everyone knows he wrote "Short But Funky" for Too $hort, but nothign else can really be verified, since he's not actually credited as a writer. Or, as they put it, "It ain't a rumor, it's a fact: this nigga's walkin' around sayin' he wrote Ice Cube and D.O.C.'s raps. How the fuck you figure this? A mental block to your skull makes you a walkin' lunatic."

The beat's okay, but pretty subtle. The only thing you're meant to be paying attention to are the vicious rhymes, and that's how it plays out. By the time the song's over, you barely even realize that there was no hook, or that Ski didn't even pass the mic. That's right, Ral doesn't even get on his own song. Ski just grabs the mic, murders Dangerous Dame, and before you know it, the song's over.

So yeah, it's a single worth picking up. I have the cassingle and 12", and both track-listings are the same: the three songs, plus the "Something Kinda Funky" Instrumental. But of course, like I already covered, there's also the earlier No Limit version with different songs and the promo version that's missing "Lost a Few Screws." Plus, there's another 12" which pairs "Something Kinda Funky" with the Hammer and Deion Sanders song from Street Fighter. So you've gotta pay attention to which version you're getting. If you just order "Something Kinda Funky" from some seller on Amazon, there's no telling what'll show up at your door.

Rally Ral might not've been the greatest rapper, or even one of the best gangsta rapper of his style and era, but he was cool because he came harder than most. Unfortunately, most heads were introduced to him by the A-side, this commercially soft "Something Kinda Funky" remix, the least representative of his work or what he was capable of bringing. The back cover says this is from his forthcoming album, Tighter Than a Virgin, but that never dropped. And while Ral put in another guest appearance or two, he never came out with another record after this. So, in the end, I guess Dame got the last laugh.

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