Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Keef Murray

This record doesn't just scratch another high-priced banger off my Want List; it blows said banger away!  The original Keefy Keef 12" is the rare and impressive debut release of Keith Murray, before he was discovered my Erick Sermon and co*. It was a hot, little two-song single released on Great Music Vibrations in 1992, produced by - and featuring - Curt Cazal of the JVC Force. It's one of those records that's so limited and sought after that it was booted in the 2000s, and now even that bootleg goes for crazy money.

The title track is a cool, raw Keith Murray prototype that's as good as anything he's released since. His voice and flow is just like the Keith we all came to know and love when he blew our minds on No Pressure and "The Most Beautifullest..." In fact, you can even hear some lines here that would later go on to become famous later on ("so what you saying, black, with all that yakkity yak/").  And it's fun to think of Keith... sorry, Keef in the role of another ill-sounding JVC affiliate, like the great Sirocalot. He fills it so well. And there's even a little bit of "Strong Island" reprised in this instrumental.

Better loved than the A-side, though, is probably the B-side, a mini down-the-line posse cut with featuring Curt and a guy named Sham..And here's where this new version, on Chopped Herring Records, starts blowing the past versions out of the water. See, they didn't just repress the first 12", they went back to Curt's reels, mastered them, and have come up with an original demo version of "Three's Company." It's the same instrumental, but on this version, Curt's verse is completely different (like 100%, all new punchlines, etc). And at the end, there's now a fourth freestyle verse by Kelly Kel (a.k.a. Kel Vicious, who's been down with Keith since the very beginning, and is probably best known for his later Def Squad appearances). It kinda makes you wonder why they called it "Three's Company" if it originally featured four MCs, but anyway. Neither of these verses have ever been heard before.

And that's not the half! After this unheard Original Demo version of "Three's Company," we also get three also never before released tracks Keith recorded with Curt during that pre-Def Squad era. Suddenly this dope single is a whole EP, and the other tracks are definitely on par. All these tracks are produced by Cazal, too., and have an authentically pure, early 90's aesthetic to them. "Thoughts My Brain Consumes" is an unusually laid back track for Keith, with a narrative song-style; but it has a funky sample merged with a kicking drum set that's right out of the JVC playbook. "Flow Swiftly," on the other hand, is Keith flowing viciously and playing to his strengths. And finally, "Lethal Dosage" has him spitting over some traditional, old school samples. Playing it safe maybe, but it sounds good, and it's cool how they extend the horn sample from "My Philosophy" so we can hear how the rest of that original riff played out.

Chopped Herring continues their standard of excellence with a top notch release all the way. All five songs - plus the Acapela version of :Flow Swiftly," which is also included - sound great, taken and restored, as I mentioned, from Curt's original reels. It comes in a cool sticker cover (showing said reels), and as per usual, is limited to 300 copies... 75 pressed on clear(clear)  & black vinyl, 75 on silver (silver) & purple and the remaining 150 on your traditional black. This is another stellar release from Chopped Herring, one of the best probably even among their own catalog... But, if I could point out one little complaint: it would've been really nice if they'd also included the previously released version of "Three's Company." As it is, that version also as an exclusive Curt Cazal verse... and putting both versions on here would've made this completely definitive. I, and I think a lot of other fans and collectors, would've really appreciated that. But, putting aside what could've been and just taking this release as it is  - this is one exciting and terrific release. You should get it.

*His debut release, but not his debut appearance on wax... He actually had a cameo verse two years earlier on the LP of a guy named Mark Dee on MCA Records.

No comments:

Post a Comment