Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Green EP Plus Three

Surely you all remember the big mess that came about when Good Felons Records closed after taking everybody's pre-orders for Kev E Kev and Ak B's terrific Dopeland EP. The EPs were pressed, but nobody was going to get their copies because GoodFelons had gone MIA... until DWG linked up with Kev E Kev, rescued the vinyl, sorted the whole mess out and got everybody their long-awaited wax. But Dopeland wasn't the only release lost in GoodFelons' folding, and it turns out DWG wasn't the only heroic label to step in and save our records.

Another release GoodFelons had all lined up was called The Green EP, by Marco Polo. You may remember an advance Sean Price track being spread around the blogs last spring. It was a hot song, with Rock on it too. This was going to be an 8-song (really 7 with a brief intro) producer EP by Polo with a another of his impressive line-up of underground artists, all doing songs on the subject of weed. Fortunately, I don't think it made it to the pre-order stage, so nobody lost money and no vinyl was pressed and locked away at a pressing plant. But still, all the music was recorded and with GoodFelons now an unresponsive corpse, it was all just sitting there, out of everyone's reach.

Well, it's got a pretty strong line-up, There's:
Masta Ace - Who of course has already had a very successful collaboration with Polo. This track's no "Nostalgia," but it's still a solid Ace cut with Ace taking on the role of a drug dealer.
MC Eiht - Who, by the way, really doesn't sound like he used to. Not just on this EP, but all his new material. I wouldn't even recognize him if he didn't keep saying "jeah."
Ras Kass - Who, surprisingly, has one of the most compelling tracks on here.
Copywrite - Who starts out strong, but his punchlines get cornier and cornier as the song devolves.
Guilty Simpson
 ...And one of the groups featured on that EP was the Constant Deviants.  I assume it's thanks to that connection that this release was saved. Because the Deviants' label apparently reached out to John of GoodFelons and got permission to press this up. And it was released in May as a limited vinyl EP (at a standard, non-limited price), with some on green vinyl, the rest on tradition black, and all in a sticker cover. In fact, it's apparently even "dedicated to the pursuit and full exoneration of JOHN "BIG MAN" VENIZELOS." Interesting. Anyway, it's a solid EP. Marco Polo has managed to create some really good singles in the past; but I tend to find most of the rest of his albums are filler (production-wise, at least), with lots of hills and valleys. However I found this EP to be nice and consistent throughout.

And now Six2Six have taken things even farther, expanding The Green EP into The Green LP, for a new CD release. This features the entirety of the EP, plus three new bonus tracks, bringing it to full album length. Interestingly, these new tracks are not produced by Marco Polo (even though the cover still has the "ALL PRODUCTION BY MARCO POLO" declaration on the front cover. But before you dismiss it with an, "oh, weak" and walk away... Let me tell you, these tracks are 100% up to par with the rest of the EP, and even stronger than some of the tracks. We get two all new songs and one remix, all from Six2Six's roster, naturally.

The remix is the Constant Deviants song, which they sometimes spell "Chronicles" and sometimes "Khronicle." Either way, it's the same vocals with an all new track by Custodian of Records. Now, like I said earlier, I was already happy with Polo's production work on here, so I wasn't sure how much this really needed a remix, but what Custodian has done is totally flip the atmosphere, giving the song a totally different feeling. If you weren't paying careful attention to the lyrics, you wouldn't even think it was the same song.

Even better is another Custodian production, "Rehab" by Sparrow the Movement. It's a refreshing take on the theme. Not to me all sermonistic about drug use or anything, and I can't front on Heltah Skeltah boasting, "I been high for days. Two pulls and look at you, you're sweating, nigga, wipe your face!" But it's refreshing to hear an MC with something realer to say by the end of this album. And Custodian does a nice job of matching his surroundings. If you weren't aware going in, you could listen to this album all the way through without realizing the producers swapped out at the final stretch.

Finally, you get one more, all new Constant Deviants song, It's self-produced, but production's always been their strong point, so that's all good. At the end of the day, the hardcore vinyl heads probably won't feel compelled to double down for a CD to get the bonus tracks. But the mew material definitely enhances the product. Removing the question of format, The Green LP is definitely preferable to The Green EP, and I'm happy to see this second edition get a physical release at all. Hell, I'm happy just to see another release get rescued from GoodFelons' collapse. Props to Six2Six!

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