Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Biz Goes Schizo!

So Don Byron is kind of a big time, contemporary jazz guy, I guess. He's on (or been on) Blue Note, which is like the Def Jam of jazz labels, and he's been putting out albums for decades. I think his main instrument is the clarinet. I know hip-hop, not jazz, so that's all I got for ya on him.  Except for this: he released an album in 1998 called Nu Blaxploitation (on Blue Note/Capitol Records). I don't think it got much of a release here in the US (you can only get it from Amazon as in import) like it did overseas, but a promo copy found its way to The Source magazine, where it lived unwanted  But I saw it and asked if I could have it because look who's featured on it - the diabolical Biz Markie!

So, skipping right over the rest of the album (that's not a criticism or saying that it's bad or anything, that's just what I do when presented with non-hip-hop albums), we go right to track #6. It's called "Schizo Jam," and it's over fourteen minutes long, so this is a little more than your typical, negligible "he's only on one song" single verse cameo. It's a fucking jam, a... schizo jam?

To be honest, even being familiar with the long and having listened to it a bunch of times, I can't really figure out why it's called "Schizo Jam." The word is never used, the concept of schizophrenia is never brought up, and Biz isn't acting particularly erratic.  At least, no more than he usually does. At the beginning of the song, the Biz is introduced by saying, "in the whole history of African American entertainment, there is nobody like this cat," which is both absolutely true, and I guess the closest to an explanation for the song title as we're gonna get.

Like the title does suggest, though, the song isn't about anything... Biz just kicks freestyle verse after freestyle verse the way only he can:

"I'm the original,
Eatin' peanut butter and jelly.
Look at my big belly!"

And the audience reacts with perfect enthusiasm. Yeah, there's an audience. Usually, I'd be disappointed to receive a live track as opposed to a proper studio song; but for this jam, it's actually perfect. The live, free-form instrumentation, Biz's equally free-form personality, and the way the audience screams when he rhymes, "on my t-shirt is SCOOBY DOOBY DOO!" just couldn't be recreated in a recording booth.

Oh, and Don Byron raps, too.  Biz does most of the rhyming on this song, but Don gets on at more than one point, and one of his verses is actually really nice. He doesn't have the flow or naturalism of Biz, though, and he sounds like "somebody who shouldn't be rapping," but I actually really dug the lyrics to his second verse. The band is kickin', there's lots of nice horns and shit throughout the full fourteen minute jam, never getting redundant or repetitive. It's really a cool song, and you'll definitely want to track this CD (pretty sure there's no vinyl) if you're a serious Biz Markie fan.

Heck, I'm almost tempted to listen to the rest of this album.

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