Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Puppies Are a Lie!!

It's time I got down to the bottom of The Puppies' conspiracy, and worked out exactly just who's for real in this mess. What? You didn't even know there was a Puppies conspiracy? Ha ha! You probably didn't even realize that Jay-Z is the head of an evil, Satanic cult that's brainwashing our children. ...Okay, no, but seriously. There is a real thing with The Puppies.

Look at this "Big Booty 12"" put out by Vision Records in 1995. The first track is by The Real Pupps, featuring the legendary Disco Rick and Fresh Kid Ice. They also have a song on the flip-side with MC Roni D. Well, why would you specify that you were "The Real" Pupps, unless you felt that there was another group out there, capitalizing on your name, style and the media attention that should be rightfully yours? I can't think of another reason, but if you can it doesn't matter because that's exactly what's going on here.

If you were paying attention in the 90s when kiddie rap groups became popular, you may remember The Puppies. They were the big Miami bass representatives of that phenomenon who scored some hits with tracks like "Funky Y2C," "Summer Delight," and to a lesser extent, their club rendition of the "Hokey Pokey." They had two albums: their self-titled debut in 1994 and its follow-up, Recognize, in 1996, both on Joey Boy Records. Listen to those albums and they name-check themselves hundreds of times. Look at the album covers, watch the videos... It's two kids, a boy and a girl, named Big Boy and Tamara Dee. Sure, we remember them.
But were those two always The Puppies? Let's delve a little further into the history of the group. The first place you would've heard of The Puppies was The Dogs' infamous hit single, "Crack Rock," where a chorus of children taunt, "yo mama's on crack rock!" Or maybe you the kid on the intro to "Where Is Disco Rick At," Disco Rick's angry response to his former crew, Gucci Crew II's "Show Bizz," where a young kid yells, "can somebody tell me where Disco Rick at?" How about the chorus to "Ten Little N....s?" They were never credited (the album was very light in song credits in general), but this was the inauspicious debut of The Puppies. That's the origin of their name - they were the little kids version of The Dogs.

A later album from The Dogs featuring Disco Rick, Beware Of the Dogs, is fortunately a little more forthcoming with its credits. The liner notes there spelled out the line-up of The Puppys[sic.] as: Li Greg, Extherlena, Sereba, Cantrell, Keysa, Latrell, Disheka, Chanelle, Terrick, Donta, Shalena, Dorena and Shunda. Holy crap, that's a lot of kids. But you'll notice two names that aren't there: Big Boy and Tamera Dee. Then, two years after that album, when Disco Rick left the label to sign with Luke and Dogs member Ant "D" released his solo album, Top Dog, featuring The Puppies, the credits were a little different. They list the line up as: Big Boy, Tamera "D," Pup Pound, Melissa, Monique, Shante and Porsche.

Well, things are starting to become clear now, right? In between Beware Of the Dogs and Top Dog, Disco Rick left the label to sign with Luke. The Dogs was always essentially a solo act of just Disco Rick backed up by his crew. He did all the rapping, song writing and production. The line-up of The Dogs was pretty large on the early LPs, including guys like Rodney, Baby D, Damien, JJ, Peanut, Nova and DJ Tony Tone. When Rick left, Joey Boy Records tried to keep the group alive by making dancers Ant D and Peanut the lead rappers, and doing all the production themselves. Then, when Ant D wound up getting put on death row for murder, the label owners just became The Dogs themselves. They were certainly capable, since the owners are brothers Carlton Mills and Calvin Mills II, a.k.a. The Rock Force, who actually produced a large majority of the artists' albums on their label.

Now let's look Big Boy and Tamera D's real names... Calvin Mills III and Tamera Dee Mills. That's right, Joey Boy just stuck their own kids in and took over the group name, making them the new Puppies. Pretty much the same thing they did with The Dogs... the artists were out but they kept the group names and continued to release records as if they were still the original act.

By the way, just to be thorough... you may've noticed that The Puppies second album, Recognize, says it's featuring The Pup Pound. That Pup Pound consists of Tinika, Tamyra and Candice, who may or may not be the same Pup Pound from Top Dog.

So, okay, here's the chronology of Puppies albums... Top Dog with Ant D in 1993, self titled in 1994 and Recognize in 1996. Now, this Big Booty 12" on Vision Records (which Disco Rick was a co-owner of)? 1995. Putting The Real Pupps right in the middle of The Puppies two major albums. I suspect these songs were recorded for what was intended to be a full-length album by The Real Pupps, designed to challenge The Puppies for their name and clout; but Vision became a graveyard of Rick's unrealized projects at that time, with singles and compilations promising albums by acts like Silence (Down 4 Life) and Roni D (Mind of a Mother's Child) that never came out. So they wound up just being included on this EP and a CD compilation called Bass In da Hood.

But just who are The Real Pupps exactly? Bass In da Hood has more detailed liner notes than the 12", but even that doesn't tell us much besides the interesting tidbit that Quad Star and Don Ugly (of Madd Blunted) had a hand in "Get Low, Get Low" and that both the Pupps' material is being released in conjunction with Phat Rat Records (who presumably would've released the album, had anybody done so). But actually listening to the songs, it gets a little more interesting...

They start laying claim to their authenticity by asking, "remember back in the days when we used to kick it with The Dogs?" They rap, but a large part of their act (just like the other Puppies) is making up hooks and shouted choruses. And a lot of that is sampled and replayed by the producers. Interestingly, though, a major refrain from both of the new songs is actually a sample from the intro to the original "Crack Rock" song ("oochie wally wally, oochie bang bang" - long before Nas or The Bravehearts recorded their songs!), I guess to demonstrate that these are the real Pupps. But they name-check themselves, too; and while it's a little hard to make-out since they're talking over some very busy instrumentals, it seems to be just two girls named Sereba and Noochie (guessing on the spelling, of course). Now let's scroll back up to the list of kids from The Dogs' album before the Mills brothers substituted their own offspring.  Sereba's there, but I don't see any Noochies. Maybe it's a new nickname, or maybe it's just one more kid being thrown into the mix. If anyone wants to come forward, I'd love to know.

At the end of the day though, all The Puppies/ Real Pupps kids sound the fucking same, and a large percentage of their performances seems to be created by their producers anyway. But I like that at least one of the original Puppies girls got to come back for a second round while The Mills' kids were making deals with Sony and Pandisc. It's a shame The Real Pupps' album never came out, not so much for the lost art, but just because it would've made for a pretty entertaining publicity battle to have two kids groups claiming to be the authentic Puppies. It would've made for some amusing Source articles, and all these puppy records are at least fun examples of the more hype side of 90s Miami bass; you can never have too much of that.

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