Monday, March 19, 2012

Allah Got a Shotgun!

Lord Mustafa and DJ King Born Allah had a disappointingly brief but amazing run as Movement Ex on Columbia Records. Not that their careers ended after the release of their sole, self-titled album in 1990 - DJ King Born went on to produce for Erule through pretty much his entire career, and Mustafa became a freestyle legend on The Wake Up Show.* But their stint together as Movement Ex was almost more exciting for how quickly it came and went, like a sudden flash of light across the night sky. These guys were tough, high energy, serious and controversial. And not "stick Nine Inch Nails in each one of your eyeballs" shock value-style controversial, but real "we're here to say some political, social and even religious shit that mainstream America absolutely does not want to hear" controversial.

If you're not sure what I mean, just read the title of today's single: "Freedom Got a Shotgun." A rallying cry for armed revolution packaged in picture cover with no picture, there's nothing cute about this record. With a syllable-flipping flow, he tells us he's out for "the blood sucking serpent that needs to be impeached!" But just in case you think he's only talking about impeachment, he comes back to clarify that Bush needs to suck his gun barrel like "the gays in Egypt." He announces, "This government's full of shit; this gun will be the laxative," and even gets into racial conspiracy theory territory like, "it's a scheme, they inject the blacks with syphilis... then they tried to take us out with the AIDS virus!" Amazingly, Columbia put out a video for this.

Produced by their regular producer Sir Randall Scott, this is a hell of a track, too. Just the horn sample could stand alone as a killer instrumental, but coupled with rapid fire drums, an angry electric guitar riff and fast bass notes, and you've got the perfect sound-bed for some rough, energetic raps - the antithesis of g-funk.

The 12" starts out with the Single Edit, which is the version you heard in that video. It's shorter, and naturally replaces the curses ("this government's full of it"). It also replaces the conversations that took place on the break of the album version: "Did you read that article in Newsweek, man? They're trying to diss rap! Them, the FBI, The PMRC. Yo, that shit should stand for premeditated rap conspiracy! You know what I'm saying? And what about that time they dissed Griff? I don't understand these people." And they cut off the shout-outs. In a way, the Single version is actually tighter and might be preferable.

Then you've got the Power Mix, which disappointingly just turns out to be a slightly extended instrumental. And you've got another album track, "I Deal With Mathematics," a smoother, funky track that definitely deserves the extra shine of being highlighted on the single.

But the most compelling exclusive they save for last. "Freedom Got a Shotgun (Allah's Mix)" is a an all-new remix. They really change the tone - the signature horns are gone (for the most part, a piece of them comes back in the hook) and the guitar foundation. This is smoother... similar to "I Deal With Mathematics" in a good way. It almost plays like a whole new song, except fo course the words are the same. And considering how short the world is on Movement Ex songs, that makes this a real must-have.

*Quite un-intuitively, the rapper now known as Born Allah was Lord Mustafa, not King Born Allah.

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