Monday, January 16, 2012

Hidden Bustdown Remix

So, I recently picked up Bustdown's single "Pissin' Razor Blades" from his 1991 Effect album, Nasty Bitch (Chapter 1). I'd never picked it up previously, 'cause I already had the album and I don't generally sweat picking up every 12" single that has nothing new to offer besides a Radio Edit and maybe some kind of Dub mix. But it was cheap; plus, as you know, a boy can't really become a man until he's completed his Bustdown collection. So I finally broke down and bought it along with some other stuff. Well, three cheers for wasteful spending, because this 12" turned out to be a Bustdown essential!

There's four tracks on this promo-only 12" (I'm pretty sure there is no non-promo version). "Was It Worth It" is the B-side - a pretty cool album track. It's surprisingly mellow for Bustdown as he kicks a serious message. But he sounds sincere, doesn't come off as too corny and the instrumental's pretty interesting, so, while it's not a highlight, it gets a pass.

But then there are three versions of "Pissin' Razor Blades:" the Nasty Version, which is the one from the album, and the Club Mix are on side 1, and on the flip you have... also the Club Mix. Well, that's redundant. But if you look a little closer, you'll see the label lists two different running times for the two Club Mixes. These are actually different versions. Presumably one is mislabeled, because the Club Mix on the A side is a full-blown remix.

Now, it's a little difficult to say who produced what, here. the label credits everything, collectively, to the trio of Mike Fresh, DJ Toomp and Rodney Terry. Well, Toomp is dope and Mike Fresh is one of the greats... Rodney Terry I don't really know, but still, that group of producers is all promising. However, there are shenanigans afoot.

This 12" credits the production for all four tracks to those three. But having spoken to Ice Mike - Bustdown's original producer - personally, I know that's not entirely accurate. "Was It Worth It" was one of his productions, along with several other tracks Bustdown recorded before he signed with Luke/Effect and hooked up with those producers. But then, as Ice Mike explains, "on the record, my name didn't come out. I mean, it's on the 12" that Luke first pressed up ["Putcha Ballys On"], but the CD has another guy's name, Mike Fresh."

But he didn't name "Pissin' Razor Blades" as one of his... and even if he did that beat, by the time they got around to making a remix for this Effect single, he was probably fully in the camp of the Fresh/ Toomp/ Terry team, so they probably did that one. But regardless, Ice Mike, Mike Fresh, Toomp... they're all ideal producers for Bustdown, so either way we're in good hands.

The album version that we all know and love is a gritty tale (as all of Bustdown's tales are) of the dangers of STDs. It takes a liberal dose of Parliament's "Mothership" (the same killer loop Sweet Tee used in "On the Smooth Tip"), and sweetens it with the dash of the famous whistling from Eric B & Rakim's "My Melody." All that supporting Bustdown's cocky, no bullshit flow - probably inspired by Willie D - makes for a great little record that makes you wonder why so many people slept on Bustdown causing us to never get a Nasty Bitch (Chapter 2).*

The new version, smooths things out a bit, with an emphasis on a super funky, rolling bassline. But it's kinda quick and upbeat, giving a more humorous tone to Bustdown's angry condemnations of the girl who burned him. The "Melody" whistle is still here on the hook, along with that crazy riff from The Fearless Four's "Rockin' It." It's a little less dynamic than the original, and so it feels less "signature." But it's real cool. It won't replace the original, but it's a great companion to it. And considering we're so starved for Bustdown records, we can't afford to pass these things up.

So, that's the Club Mix on side A, what I consider to be the mislabeled remix. The actual Club Mix, on side B, is a slightly tighter edit of the album version, but with a few interesting changes. It has a new skit for an introduction, with a guy sounding like an advertisement asking, "has this ever happened to you?" that sort of reminds me of the silly sketches NWA used to do. And, more compellingly, during the breakdown in the middle of the song where Bustdown argues with his girl over the phone, they add a really smooth horn sample that breathes some fresh life into the whole proceedings, possibly making it the preferred definitive version.

So, if you're the Bustdown fan who thought he had everything, make sure this one's in your collection, too.

The answer, of course, is that he was associated with Luke, and thus the bass music stigma that was prevailing outside of Florida.

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