Friday, November 25, 2011

Rock La France

Let me be the first to admit that there is something to the story of the following 12" I just do not understand. Now, I have been ranting about Rock La Flow since Dope Folks Records re-introduced him to the world. Thanks to them, and also Jamille Records, we've been given a whole catalog of fantastic music by this dope Milwaukee MC, and his equally impressive producer Tory Tee, that would've otherwise been completely lost to the ages. But what about the music that hasn't been issued from decades old vaults? What about his music that was actually released when it was meant to be?

To that end, I bring you today's record, "Proud By Choice" by F3. Who the heck is F3 and what do they have to do with Rock La Flow? Nothing, really, so far as I know; but it's a split 12"'; and the B-side is an original Tory Tee produced Mister Rock La Flow jam from 1990 called "The Harder the Better (Extended)." Where is there a non-Extended Mix for this to be in relation to? I don't know... as far as I know, this is all that's ever been released. Maybe he sold some cassette tapes of an original mix locally?

Here's a more compelling question about this record. Look at the label... Made in France? How/ why is a local, virtually unknown Milwaukee rapper making his vinyl debut in France? Ya got me. This record is on a label called Square Biz, a label that seems to otherwise only release club/ dance/ electro-type records in Europe, like this. But in 1990, apparently they dipped their toes in the underground Milwaukee rap scene, before the underground movement in hip-hop even took off. Either they were suddenly and briefly very progressive, or there's an interesting story there we don't know.

But why look a gift horse in the mouth? It's a banger! Interestingly, it opens with that same crazy vocal sample Raw Produce later used for "Mister Dope America." Then a hot, fast-paced track with a fresh rolling bassline - that sometimes switches up to a classic guitar sample - and non-stop scratching (uncredited, as Rock declares in the song, "my DJ, until further notice, remains unknown!"). And Rock just spits the same, non-stop, engrossing flow we've come to know him for. If you've been loving the Dope Folks releases, you'll want to have this one just as much; it's easily up there with the best songs on those releases. And the fact that this came out in 1990 means this is actually several years older than his Flowgram EPs or even The Ultimate LP; but that's definitely not a bad thing. Interestingly, this extended version is basically just the song from beginning to end which then blends into the instrumental replayed, replete with the same ad-libs and cuts. It's like the equally curious "Paper Thin" by MC Lyte.

Oh, and as for the A-side? It's pretty dope, too. F3 is a female group that comes nice and hard, with a serious message, "we have to send our love to the continent of Africa." The track, by somebody named D.A. Rock, outshines the MCing, with a nice blend of familiar samples (there are a lot of elements here previously used on Doctor Ice's "The Chillologist") mixed with new ones to form something original and edgy. It's bumping head-nodder, and these girls are kicking something serious - especially by 1990 standards. It would make for a pretty nice little pick up even if Rock La Flow wasn't on the flip side, but he is; so this record ends up being a real treasure. If you can fin it, I highly recommend it.


  1. here is a really short version of the story of this record. f3 stands for "funky fresh females". they were "kinda" discovered by tory tee back in the 80's when tory was in a group called "def supreme". f3 was from milwaukee too. this record was supposed to be the first single from a full lp of all milwaukee artists(that was never released). more later(maybe).
    darrell d. jamille records

  2. @Darrell - Thanks for the back story! I wonder how the rest of the LP would've been. Any idea why it was made in France, though?

  3. not sure why this was pressed in france of all places. i soke to rock la flow and he's told me he doesn't know either. the album that was never released was supposed to be titled "90 miles from chicago".