Saturday, May 26, 2012

Who's On the Payroll?

Roughly five years ago, a little label calling itself Madison Square Garage Recordings put out a nice, double CD set of Payroll Records' (almost) entire catalog of rare 12" singles and even a cassette-only promo tape.  All their great bangers from the late 80's and early 90's by guys like The Bizzie Boyz and Supreme DJ Nyborn are rounded up here, including the Instrumentals and Acapellas. I remember seeing another CD compilation by this label called Random Rap and thinking to myself, "there's no way they tracked down all those artists and rights holders and cleared all this stuff." And, yup, turns out I was right and despite the fact that they got their releases into some respectable outlets, these guys were straight bootlegging. And the real Payroll Records guys came in and put a stop to the shenanigans. So, it was a shame for a couple reasons... One, the right guys weren't getting paid for their music, and two - Payroll stopped MSGR before they could put out the vinyl EP that was supposed to accompany their CD set!

Well, thanks to Dope Folks, both of these injustices have been set to right. Here we have the vinyl EP, Rare Tracks '88-'91 (limited to 300 like all Dope Folks records), that contains the rarest tracks from the CD set (the ones that didn't wind up on the artists' full-length albums and stuff).  And unlike MSGR, Dope Folks' aren't bootlegging.

So we've got eight killer tracks.  Supreme DJ Nyborn is represented the hardest here, with three of his rarest cuts and remixes, including "The Smooveness," "Versatile Extension (Remix)" (a 12"-only remix of his single "Versatility") and "Breathless." Plus there's "It's Time To Get Paid," the Superb DJ K-Nyce 12" he's featured on that, interestingly, was absent from the MSGR CDs.

The Bizzie Boyz just have one song on here, but it's fresh. It's the remix to "Hype Time." Not to be confused with the Club Mix from their "Hype Time" 12" (which really isn't very different from the original mix), this is an even rarer remix, which adds a bunch of energetic scratching to the original instrumental. It's not a huge change - it's basically the same rhymes over the same track, just with some extra bits. But it's better with them than without them, effectively making it new definitive version.

Then you've got a song from The Original MC Spice called "Take It To the Stage," where she's dissing The Real Roxanne.  I'd never heard of this MC Spice (there are other "MC Spices" out there, which I guess is why this one decided to add "The Original") before the CD set; but it turns out this a rare early venture by N-Tyce, who would later sign with Wild Pitch and join the Wu-Tang Clan's girl group, Deadly Venoms!

There's also MC Capone, who only released one song on a split 12" with Nyborn, and this is it - "Smoove Style." And finally there's B.A.D. Rep, a.k.a. DJ Def and Dizzy Dee, with a rare song called "Uphill Peace of Mind." While most of the material here is about just flexing and sounding dope, this one's about kicking knowledge and uplifting.  It features another MC named KSB Fresh, who had a song on the highly sought-after Back To the Lab album on Overdue Records. And DJ Def, meanwhile, went on to greater fame under the name Mark Sparks, producing all kinds of big stuff, including Grand Puba's "I Like It" and Will Smith's Men In Black song.

But nothing here is anything like "Black Suits Comin'." It's all hip-hop in its purist form, which is why Payroll's original 12"s are so expensive and hard to find, making this a pretty handy compilation. Better still, several of the songs here are making their first ever appearance on vinyl, so even the hardcore collector who already has everything will be adding this to their collection.

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