Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Untold Tale of E-Marvelous

When Latee's lost demos were given the crisp vinyl treatment this Spring, one of the songs on that EP - the best - featured two guest rappers, including a guy named E-Marvelous. Well, on the label's forums, Smoov pointed out that it could be a guy named E-Marvelous that was down with D-Nice. I said it probably was, because D-Nice was one of those already established artists who joined the second generation Flavor Unit when Latifah and co. changed the line-up and dynamic of the original crew. And Latee hadn't quite been phased out of it at that point.  ...So here's the whole E-Marvelous story.

Remember D-Nice's crew, The Rescue Squad?  What's that? No? Nobody does? Well, The Rescue Squad was the name of his posse at the time of his second album (1991), which is why it was called To tha Rescue, and why he had a big red cross symbol on the back cover.  The Rescue Squad consisted of: McBooo (a producer who was also down with BDP), Tone, Robo-Cop, J-Boss, L'il Lowe, our man E-Marvelous and of course D-Nice.  I don't know who most of those cats are, or what they've done, if anything... except that a lot of songs on "To tha Rescue" mention "backgrounds" by the Squad as a whole, so they must've just been the generic voices on some chanted hooks.

But E-Marvelous actually did something noteworthy on that record - he performed a duet with Nice at the end of the album. The track-listing only credits the big-name guests (Krs One, Naughty By Nature and Too $hort. who must've gotten lost while wandering around the offices of Jive Records that day), but there's one more MC who spits on this album, one who doesn't get his name listed on the back-cover. "And There You Have It" is co-written and co-performed by E, with D sharing the mic with "my man from Uptown," E-Marvelous.

E went on to appear on D-Nice's final single, the independently released B-side to "Nice, Let Me Know It," that Nice put out on his own label (Nice Records, natch) called "All Out" in 1994. And that same year, he appeared on a single by R&B singer Roz, who D-Nice was also producing. Don't remember her? Roz sang back-up vocals on the token love song off To tha Rescue called "Get In Touch With Me."* Roz's solo career lasted for two singles - one featuring D-Nice, and the other, called "U Can Be My Lover," which is more of a clubby drum 'n' bass kinda thing, featuring E-Marvelous.

And that's the whole story of this mysterious Harlem MC until those Latee demos were unearthed earlier this year. He just had verses on those three songs, but - oh no, wait!  E-Marvelous came out with his own, super rare record. It's not on discogs and no place else online seems to even make an off-hand reference to it. But I'm sitting here looking at it, so it exists.

It's a 12" single called "Let 'Em Know" on Grand Sounds Entertainment (who only seem to have done this one release, but from the credits, I gather it's run by McBooo) in 2002. That's a good chunk of time passed since the other music I've been talking about, but just in case you're doubting it's the same guy, read the label credits: "Mixed by D-Nice and McBooo." This is our man, no question.

So "Let 'Em Know" comes in three flavors: Street, Radio and Instrumental, and it's produced by some guy named Mike Wrecka. Flip it over, and there's a B-side called "Move To This," which comes in Radio, Main and Instrumental, and is produced by McBooo.

So, how is this single? Well, even all the way back on "And There U Have It" and the Latee demo, E came off nice enough, but he wasn't exactly a mind-blowing MC. He was pretty neck and neck with D-Nice. He has a solid voice and fine, basic flow which sounds good over super hot, 90's jazzy production. But this is a 2002 single, to its detriment. E sounds good, but none of his lyrics stand out as especially above average. Over a better track he has the potential to be a compelling MC, but the beats are, well, at least kinda underground style for the time, and New Yorkish.  They'll get your head nodding when you listen to this, but once it's over you're not going to be in a hurry to hear it again.  "Let 'Em Know" is dark and tough, but it's all sample-free studio sounds. And "Move To This" is more of a club track, with an uncredited male singer half-crooning in the background - interesting, but again compiled entirely from out-of-the-box studio sounds. At the end of the day, it's a good, respectable indie 12"; but nothing to get excited over.

 And now, finally, that's really the end of the E-Marvelous story.  An interesting, extended footnote in the history of - wait a minute! What's this? The one in the white suit who raps second. That's gotta be a different E-Marvelous... right?


*...which, amazingly, they chose to be his second single.

2 comments:

  1. That's not all of him. After 94, he was a member of a group named H.D.M.(Harlem Dangerous Minds) and released a single 'I Need Money' in 1995 and a 5-track Ep in 1997 named 'Uptown Anthem' which was fully produced by McBooo!!!!!!

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    1. Oh, I heard of HDM but had no idea E-Marv was involved... interesting! Thanks for posting!

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