Friday, October 26, 2012

Shaq Chino and Pun

So Chino XL's new album just came out. It's actually a double CD (no vinyl, naturally), called RICANstruction: The Black Rosary. The caps are there because otherwise you'd never get the pun. I'm me, though, so I had to check it out immediately. There I was, listening to the sound clips on ughh, and I see that one of the songs features Big Pun. I'm sure I don't have to tell any of you reading this that Pun died twelve years ago. I got to interview him right before he left us; he really was a Hell of an MC. So immediately, the instant I see that, my heart jumps a little and I'm wondering: wow, has Chino sat on an unreleased Big Pun collabo all these years? After all, he said exactly that when he was promoting this album back in 2009 ("I do have a project that everybody is about to hear with him. is vocals [from Big Pun] that no one has ever heard."). This could be some crazy, ill... But my brain doesn't even let my heart finish that notion. Don't set yourself up for the world's most predictable, crushing disappointment, dummy. Give it a listen, and it's gonna be some old Wake Up Show freestyle or something that you already have.

So I play it and it's a new song, called "Kings," produced by a guy named Focus, who I think was one of the many younger producers on that DoItAll album. Anyway, it's a duet. Chino brags about it on the hook: "this collaboration is biblical, mythical, insane... Chino and Big Pun, a true lyricist dream." And for some reason, the DJ feels compelled to make a thing about the fact that both Chino and Pun have referenced Nat King Cole at some point in their careers[oh, and that's why this song is called "Kings." I honestly just got that this second. Oy vey], by cutting up both of their old lines in the hook. Well, regardless, Chino makes no bones about the fact that he wrote his part long after Pun had passed on, saying, "Big Pun's in Heaven making angels sing; Chino is still in the physical, making your name ring." Predictably, though, Pun's verse is hauntingly familiar.

I just couldn't quite place it. We're now past the point where any teeny, tiny piece of me might still be holding onto the hope that we've been given a killer, unreleased Pun verse. Now my brain just wants to label it as a part of whatever song it's from and file it away forever. Fortunately, this is the internet age, so instead of spending all night dwelling on it, I just google a couple of Pun's lines and see that they originate from a song called "BX Niggas," which debuted in 2008. Apparently it's an epic, unreleased track discovered by the filmmakers of a retrospective Pun documentary called Big Pun: The Legacy; and to hear it all, you've gotta buy the DVD.

Bull shit on that. I recognize this Pun verse, and I've never heard of this screwy doc before. I reviewed another, quite good documentary on Big Pun; but this ain't that. This is something I feel confident calling screwy even though I've never seen it because they're advertising some tired, old Pun material as a special unreleased exclusive for their movie.

So back to Google. Now I'm getting results that say it's a part of some song "The Bigger They R."  Apparently it's an unreleased song from the 90's that we're only getting to hear these days because it's been leaked onto the internet by producer Domingo. But, no, damn it! Whatever song this verse is from, it's something I own and have had in my collection for years. Long enough, at least, for me to have completely forgotten what the heck it is. Get out of here with your phony Youtubian "internet leak" mythos. Whatever I've got, I know it's not called "The Bigger They R." But, looking at these later listings, I come upon the piece of the puzzle I needed to put it all together.

This song features Shaq. Yes, that Shaq, the only Shaq. It also features Fat Joe, but that doesn't narrow anything down when it comes to Pun. Shaq, however? I have every single record by Shaq ever released. I don't just mean the full-length albums; I have all the 12" singles, guest appearances, the soundtracks, the multiple promo EPs of his unreleased Superfriends album, the picture disc that looks like a basketball, the greatest hits, the German 12", Kazaam. And in return for me sharing that last little piece of information with you, all I ask is that you never ask me why. I just have it.

And now I can picture the record sitting right there on my shelves, with a bright, blue label and their names running along the top. Pun has only appeared once on any of Shaq's projects, and it's this 12"! It's called "Shaq Crack and Pun," and it's a dodgy white label (well, it has blue labels, but you know what I mean) release claiming to be from "Avalanche Recordings," and the track-listing is all screwed up. It lists a Dirty Version on one side and a Radio Version on the other; but just looking at the wax, you can plainly see there's four versions on here. One's an instrumental and one's a TV Track or something. But hey, it's "Shaq Crack and Pun!"

The track's nice and hard... I'm assuming the internet's right about Domingo having created it, because it sounds like his work, and an excellent example of it at that. Of course Pun steals the whole show and there's really no reason for anybody else to touch the microphone after him; but Fat Joe manages to come with some slick rhymes too. And Shaq? Well, he just kinda bounces around from one silly reference to another (he is, after all, the world's only graduate from The Fu-Shnickens' school of MCing), mashing up the English language to force multi-syllable rhymes and concepts that don't really exist: "movin' like the predator, camouflage injectorer, rhyme wreckerer." You can tell exactly the kind of fast-paced, rugged, mind blowing bars he wanted to deliver here. But hey, I bet Joe and Pun wouldn't've looked too impressive on the basketball courts either. Life has a nice way of balancing everything out.

As for "Kings?" It's got an all new beat (for that matter, "BX Niggas" seemed to have an original instrumental, too) which is pretty bombastic and pulls you along with it. And this is hardly the first time a deceased rapper's material has been recycled so a newer MC could make like they were collaborating with one of the greats. It's not even the first time it's been done to Big Punisher. The practice has become so common, it doesn't seem to even trip radars anymore. Notice how I'm the only blogger talking about this. But - and I'm not being entirely facetious when I say this - I think I would've enjoyed this even more if Chino had left Shaq on there.


  1. Is Moe Bee on the blue label, or is he only on The Bigger They R?

    1. Nah, it's just the three of them (Pun, Joe and Shaq) on the 12".

    2. Hmmm... I wonder what's up with the version with Moe Bee on it, the one Domingo leaked on SoundCloud. Do you think that's really the OG version (like it claims to be), or is it one of those "No Love/Analyze This" things, where Bee's verses were added years later?