Monday, June 24, 2013

Questionable Lyrics #3: Beware the Beast Man...

The only thing more impressively dark than Paris's sociopolitical debut album in 1989 was his follow-up: Sleeping With the Enemy. He made the top hardcore artists of the day like NWA seem like clowns for not daring to get as political and serious as he did, and righteous, political acts like Public Enemy seem meek for not being as bold. This is the album George Bush himself spoke out against (ostensibly because of the anti-police song "Coffee, Doughnuts and Death," but more likely because the album cover originally depicted Paris about to assassinate Bush with an uzi. His label, Tommy Boy Records dropped the controversial album but Paris didn't give a fuck, he put the damn thing out himself. Shit was serious.

And he wasn't just picking safe "stick it to the man" targets. Who can forget "House Niggas Bleed Too?" One of many heavy, ominous beats and Paris spittin', "Thought I forgot ya, but I caught ya, punk; I thought ya knew: house niggas bleed, too. Shit ain't through."

But before we got to rhyming, the first half the song was the a recording of a traitor, the voice of temptation, selling out his race:

"What's wrong with having it good for a change? And they're gonna let us have it good if we just help 'em. They're gonna leave us alone, let us make some money. You can have a little taste of that good life, too. Now I know you want it... Hell, everybody does."
"You'd do it to your own kind..."
"What's the threat? We all sell out every day - might as well be on the winning team!"

But the song winds up having a slightly different feel to it if you recognize the vocal sample. Once you realize it's the voice of character actor George "Buck" Flower in the science fiction campfest, They Live. The race he's selling out is the human race, as he tries to convince wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper that he should fall in line with the secret race of space aliens that he can only see when he wears his special sunglasses. They're talking outside the aliens' underground television studio/ interstellar airport, and the guy who interjects, "you'd do it to your own kind" is the great Keith David. At the end of his speech, Flower pushes a secret button on his watch, says, "see ya, boys" and disappears from the movie.

I actually think it's more impressive that Paris was able to pull such atmosphere and earnestness out of such a (charmingly) silly movie. It's one thing to sample a gangster movie on a gangsta rap record to evoke a little mood. But this took a real creative element to transform one set of emotions into something totally different, yet perhaps even more evocative than its original context.

And this isn't the only example of such a subversive move in Paris's catalog. Who wasn't chilled by the creepy, ominous words at the end of "The Devil Made Me Do It?"

"Beware the beast man, for he is the devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport... for lust... for greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him. Drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death."

That sounds like some crazy, gothic cult leader telling you judgement day's about to drop on us, right? Unless you're a film buff. Then you're picturing Roddy McDowell in a monkey mask reading this to Charlton Heston and friends out on the sunny Atlantic, beach. Yes, these lines are from the ending of the original Planet Of the Apes, and these words are spoken right before Heston gets on his horse and rides off into the sunset with his mute slave-girl to re-propagate the human race in the forbidden zone. But Paris makes it sound like some frikkin' scary-ass devil music.

Oh, and how I mentioned "Coffee, Doughnuts and Death?" That one opens with a dark exchange of police officers grievously abusing their authority and ultimately assaulting a woman: We hear police sirens and tires squealing as a cop car pulls up and two men jump out.

"Let's go. Inside!"
"Police! I said open up!"
"Isn't it a little late, officers?"
"This is an emergency. May we come in?"
"I'm... not really dressed."
"It's okay, we're police officers."

Would you believe an 80's James Spader horror movie about Jack the Ripper coming back to kill people in Los Angeles on the 100th anniversary of his death? Yup, it's called Jack's Back! I remember it because I was a hardcore horror fan as a kid, and taped every single horror movie that played on cable in the 80s. Spader plays twins - check out the trailer!

Paris's later albums seemed to lack the punch of his first two. I got Guerilla Funk, and that was alright. But I haven't really kept up, even though he kept releasing albums well through the 2000s. But it might be worth going through the rest of his catalog just to sample hunt, I don't know. Does he have a song where he harrowingly narrates the horrors of the Rwandan genocide that opens with a one and a half minute clip from Hollywood Hot Tubs 2: Educating Crystal? Because if anybody could pull it off...

1 comment:

  1. Nice. I always wonder about these types of things. Have you checked Sonic Jihad? That uses a clip from a movie that I can't place. It's a woman talking, explaining why the protesters want what they want.

    Also, as a bonus that includes him "rewording" one of Dubya's speeches for the people. Best editing EVER!