Friday, November 1, 2013

Second Era Chill Rob

This is the first of Chill Rob G's comeback singles after his separation from Wild Pitch Records, The Flavor Unit and The 45 King's production. This dropped in 1996 on Echo International. I love Echo. I mean, it was terrible for its roster's careers. They had zero promotion, and every artist I've heard mention it has had horror stories about not getting paid, or even that their releases through that label were unapproved bootlegs. But they put out so much material by so many artists who had otherwise totally dropped off the map. And while it usually wasn't their best stuff, being low budget and all; it was usually on a nice, underground east coast boom-bap tip.

And that's what this is. low budget, raw 90's boom bap from a classic NY MC who'd long since disappeared. It's a two track 12", "Let Me Know Something" b/w "Know Ya Place." Both songs are produced by a guy named Storm who knows the right thing to do: provide solid but low-key beats. consisting of a hard, no frills looping drum beats, sparse basslines and head-nodding piano loop and one other subtle sample (a horn in "Know Ya Place" and a snippet of a female R&B singer on "Let Me Know Something"). The loops have basically no change-ups or deviations through the entire length of the song. The hooks are also just simple, lightly scratched vocal samples. They're good enough to keep you feeling the track, but small enough not to distract from the MC. If you've lost your access to classic 45 King loops, this is what you do. Keep your head down and do just enough not to distract. Anything corny or superfluous would just kill the whole song, as so many producers have been proving through the 2000s and 2010s.

But of course, that strategy only works if your MC is strong enough to carry the weight. This is fucking Chill Rob G, so of course he is. He's got the classic, deep voice that could carry a record acapella if he had to. And while he definitely keeps things simple here - really basic concepts and a straight-forward delivery with a true school aesthetic - he's also updated his rhyme writing just enough for the 90's. He's got some clever rhymes in there like:

"I ain't never been a fan of yours, I make a list and check it twice; I'm like an evil Santa Claus. And I ain't bringin' no gifts and toys; I got a bag full of hard times, black eyes and mad noise." 

He doesn't go full "punchline rapper." He definitely is putting some updated 90s-style cleverness into the wordplay, but still keeps it hard. He definitely proves that he's an artist with more than a couple classic Wild Pitch singles in him.

Several years later, he would include both of those on his very rare, self-released Black Gold CD. But this 12" has the added bonus of an Accapella, in addition to Radio and Street Versions of each track, plus an Instrumental for "Know Ya Place." And the nice thing is that Echo singles are hardly ever rare, so you can add this to your crates pretty easily, which I recommend. Chill Rob G should never have been allowed to drop off, he could've produced a much longer, richer and genuinely worthwhile catalog. But at least there was Echo to give us a little bit more.

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