Monday, April 1, 2013

Sheep Doggy Dogg

Well, it's April 1st! And you may be looking at the artwork to the right and thinking: nice one, Werner. But I must assure you: that is no April Fool's Day joke. "Give a Dog a Bone" by Sheep Doggy Dogg is a real single by a real artist that was really released in 1994. The artwork is obviously a play on that of Sheep's namesake, Snoop Doggy Dogg, who Joe Cool (Snoop's cousin) depicted as a similar cartoon dog on his early album covers (Doggystyle, plus the singles for "Gin & Juice" and "What's My Name"). Just in case you thought it might be, no, this cover art is not by the same person, but a guy named Jerry Sprankel.

A couple interesting things to note about this cover, though, before we move forward:

1) Sheep is depicted as a stripper on the cover. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions there.

2) There's a dog holding the "Sex & Money" sign; but that other sign, "It's Like This" is just floating in space. Look at it.

3) The whole thing is so damn silly, it feels like a parody record... but like it says right there on the cover, this is "the female answer to da Snoop Doggy Dogg." It's not a joke song riffing off his hit single, where instead of rhyming about loving gin and juice she professes a love of shepherding and docking. This is actually played straight.

I should point out now that Boomin' Records and Sheep Doggy Dogg are from Florida. Not that it sounds like a Miami bass thing; but that's probably because this is clearly a variation on "What's My Name?" It's actually pretty well done, in how it mirrors every element of Dr Dre's infamous instrumental but doesn't duplicate it. The drums, bass, keys... all clearly similar enough that they're meant to be recognized; but they're different enough that it's a distinctly different song. It's actually refreshing to hear something more original than the "Atomic Dog" drums again, so I've gotta give props. A pleasant surprise.

The hook's not quite so impressive. Part of it's a 90's style shout chorus, where they flip Dre's line to "bow wow wow, yippie yo, yippie yay, Sheep Doggy Dogg's in the motherfucking house." And the rest is some guy named Paul Hawthorne singing a variation of the "What's My Name?" hook. But this guy comes nowhere near the Funkadelic-style chorus of the original, it sounds like the worst budget knock-off you could wind up with. It's not so bad that it ruins the song, per se, but it definitely makes it less fun than it otherwise would've been.

And the rhymes?  Well, Sheep takes the song pretty earnestly, sort of coming off like a Lady of Rage-lite.  But she also keeps name-checking herself, which causes a schism: we can call you Sheep Doggy Dogg or we can take you seriously, but we can't do both. It seems like maybe everybody wasn't on the same page here. She's not being funny, and she's also not dissing Snoop, though she's referencing him and his record constantly. It's like half the team was making a novelty answer record, and the other half was trying to establish Sheep Doggy Dogg as a legitimate artist, laying down the groundwork for a long-term career. But again, you really cant do both at the same time; it just comes off as a knock-off who's taken copying a hit artist's sound to a whole new level of rip-off.

Now, I'm showing you the cassingle above, but there is also a 12", minus the picture cover. The track-listing is the same for both. including a Radio Edit (which does not edit out the curses), Extended Radio, and Bow Wow Wow Mix (basically a TV Track) of the main track. There's also a B-side, "It's Like This (Live)," which features two of her label mates, Def-Soul and LSD, who produced this single. They're basically just advertising their own album, Nigga Bass, over Scarface's "A Minute To Pray and a Second To Die" instrumental. Sheep isn't even on it. And it's also not really live; they just loop some fake crowd sounds over the whole song. LSD adds some nice cuts on the hook, though.

Sheep actually followed this up with a full-length album, Doggystyle Funk, also on Boomin'.  This features both songs from the single (there is no non-"live" version of "It's Like This"). It also features songs with titles like "Dear Bitch," "Get a Job Bitch," "Don't Ask Me 4 Shit" and "Deep Money." I do have it, and in short... the quality seems to have dipped after the single. There's too many guests (including DJ Spankx, of "Tryin' To Get Paid Like Luke" fame); Sheep's on less than half the album(!); and nobody's verses are compelling enough to hold your attention when they're not connected to Snoop, which basically none of this album is. There's a song called "F**k Snoop Dogg," but it's a false promise - it's really just an unfunny skit. The best songs are an instrumental megamix called "Gangsta Groove" and "Child Support Blues," with a liberal but effective use of a Stylistics classic, some nice cuts, piano and a good topic; but the rapping is too basic and clumsy. What I suspect is that they just recorded the single as a one-off; but then found stores were interested in a full album. So they just quickly threw something together using a bunch of random left-over recordings and outtakes they had in the studio.

Surprisingly, though, Sheep's story goes a lot deeper. She actually made a record years before, in 1991, as the front-woman for Operation Panic, called "Ring On My Finger" (also produced by LSD). What's more, she's then changed her name to Red Sonya, and is still doing her thing to this day. Here's her facebook and her youtube. If you search around, you'll see she's put out tons of stuff on CDBaby, Datpiff, Itunes, myspace, etc over the years. In a few more years, she may turn out to be the longest lasting female MC in the genre - wouldn't that be a heck of an April Fool's surprise?

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