Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Raheem Knocks Slick Rick Out the Box?

What? To posts about Raheem in a row? No, no, no. That post was about Raheem of the original Ghetto Boys, not to be mixed up with Rahiem from The Furious Five, Lil Rahiem from the Boogie Boys, Raheem from Jazzy Jay's crew or Prince Raheem from Miami. This is Raheem the Dream, who added to the confusion by dropping the "The Dream" part of his name later in his career. He started his career recording some cool, mid-80s single with underrated producers Mike Fresh and DJ Toomp. But he pretty quickly struck out on his own, recording single after single and album after album all on his own. Meaning, in addition to the rapping, he produced and wrote all his own stuff, and released it all on his own label, RTD (get it?) Records. He eventually renamed his label to Tight 2 Def... yup, he's the guy behind Dem Franchise Boyz, The Dream (who just left Def Jam earlier today) Young Dro, etc.

So Raheem is pretty expert at pimping our little music industry; but I've never been too into his stuff. Very typical Miami bass kinda stuff (though, strictly speaking, he's from Atlanta)... with lots of gimmicky pop-chasing dance songs. The only other single I have by him is "Short Shorts" (which is exactly like you think it is) because it featured the return of MC Shy D after the whole Luke Records disaster, and I was more than curious. He's not terrible and his success over many different hip-hop eras says a lot; but generally speaking, he represents the kind of bass music that makes me want to tell people "there's more to the scene than just that!"

Still, I had to pick up "Knock 'Em Out the Box." Why? Because, as its title makes pretty clear, he's flipping Slick Rick's classic [and I realize I can be guilty of over-using that word, but it absolutely applies here in every sense] "Children's Story."

This 12" was sorta rare, back before Serato and the consolidating power of the internet made every record with a pressing of over 200 copies cheap as chips. It comes from a little dip in his career, after his initial come -up, but before he achieved some bigger dance hits later in the 90s, and it's taken off one of his least known albums, the Straight From the G State EP. But as far as I'm concerned, if you have this 12", there's no need for the EP.

So, the song starts out with a familiar Ricky D sample being cut up, "As we go a little something like this." Then the beat kicks in, which is the "Children's Story" instrumental, except with a deep, deep bed of thundering bass drops laid underneath.Raheem doesn't work too hard on this one, but he comes off well enough, just kicking generic raps about girls, "rolling with the fellas" and his status in the rap game. No complex or clever rhymes or anything, and he throws in lots of empty lines like "Kriss Kross made you jump, but I'ma warm it up." But his voice sounds real cool over Rick's track and he delivers some basic lines in some fun, creative ways. Couple that with some nice cuts by his DJ Fly Ty, and you have a song that may look like a tacky knock-off on paper but in reality just works. It's fun. And the bassed up version of "Children's Story" is just dope.

The B-side here is "Drop Them Draws" (also from G State), which is utterly predictable; but still well produced and fun. It's every cliche in the book, including samples and percussion you've heard a million times before on a thousand other songs just like it. But it's certainly a well crafted and catchy example - this Raheem is undeniably a pro even if he isn't elevating anything.

Round that out with a clean edit and instrumental (or "Bass-A-Mental") version of "Drop Them Draws" and you've got a pretty neat little 12". "Knock Em Out the Box" is obviously no threat to the original; but it's a really fun regional variant that I think anyone who's a serious enough head to be reading this blog will be surprised how much they end up digging it.

1 comment:

  1. or this raheim ;)