Monday, January 27, 2014

Hidden Breeze

Man, I can't get me enough Breeze! You may remember his slick, underrated album T.Y.S.O.N. on Atlantic Records from 1989, or maybe you just remember him from his cameos on all those King Tee albums. He was the best rhymer in The LA Posse; but he never quite broke through the music industry. He was signed to Def Jam, but they never released any of his material (labels, how can we make that happen??), and eventually wound up on an indie label that put out a cool, underground 12" in the early 90s, but never managed to release that long-awaited second album... which was to be titled, appropriately enough, Blackballed.

So, starved for Breeze records, I picked up his one cheesy, crossover-attempting single, "Great Big Freak." The video played on Yo! a couple of times, and it's not bad or anything. It uses some chunky funk samples and the Posse were pro producers. Furthermore, both Breeze and guest/ fellow Posse member Big Dad have kick some fly deliveries with an emphasis on fast, multiple rhymes to keep their core fans happy. But let's face it; a song about girls and excessive instrumentation really isn't the kind of song we wanted to hear from Breeze.

But this 12" has an exclusive remix on it. And like I said, until someone raids the Def Jam vaults, we're stuck with a dearth of Breeze material, so I picked it up. And the remix is pretty good. It uses a lot of the same instrumental, but adds even more. New samples, deeper bass thumps, a nice change-up for Dad's verse. At times it's almost too much and feels sloppy; but for the most part it succeeds in turning it into a more creative, energetic street mix. The idea seems to have been to a put a little more hip-hop back into the song, and it does... but at the end of the day, it's still "Great Big Freak." I recommend it for anyone who legitimately considers themselves a Breeze fan; but if you're just passing through, I'd suggest picking up literally any and every other Breeze song before copping this one.

The B-side, "T.Y.S.O.N." is much more in line with the kind of Breeze we want. A harder track with Breeze just flexing skills and battle rhymes, with these really awesome Muhammad Ali (no, not Tyson) vocal samples comprising the chorus. It's great. But, of course, it's just an album track. Hell, it's the title cut. And nobody should be checking out "Great Big Freak" unless they've already got the much stronger LP, so it's kinda pointless.

Rounding out the 12", we get the Instrumental for "Great Big Freak" on the A-side, and the Censored Version of "T.Y.S.O.N." on the B. So there you go, something even less desirable than a regular album cut. But if you were bored and and desperate enough to play the Censored Version anyway, like I was, you stumbled onto a pretty awesome surprise...

It's actually an exclusive remix! Yeah, they weren't lying about the "Censored" part, and that's definitely annoying. But this was Breeze in 1989, there's not a lot of cursing to cut out. So after the intro, it basically plays through unhindered. He just says "fuck" once in the first verse; and amusingly, they kind of miss the mark and censor more of the word after it than the "fuck" itself.

And the remix? It's dope. I mean, the original is already killer, so it doesn't need any improving on. But this is definitely a hype alternative. They're actually using the same philosophy as the "great Big Freak" remix, where they use the same core instrumental, including all the signature sounds (and yes, vocal snippets); they just sometimes swap it out to add more funky samples into the mix. Some of it has more of a P-Funk mix, which you'd think would be a step down from the edgy, screechy feel of the original; but it actually comes together perfectly. It never dips into sloppiness either. It's just def! And if you've listened to "T.Y.S.O.N." a million times over like I did as a kid, this breathes all new life into it. Oh, and where the original version always fades out, this remix keeps going with some fresh cuts by Smooth the DJ - not really like attention-drawing fast DJ-slicing-up-the-wax kind of stuff, but just rubbing in all these great grooves.

So it turns out this is something not just for the serious Breeze fans desperate to squeeze every last drop of music from his too short career. This is a hot little 12" that, because it's so slept on, can usually be picked up out of the virtual dollar bin. As you can see from the scan, my version is the promo version, which just comes in a plain sleeve with one of Atlantic's infamous "When You PLAY IT, SAY IT!" stickers on it. But there's also a regular, commercial release version which comes in a picture cover and has the exact same track-listing, including both remixes.


  1. I need that 'TYSON' remix in my life. The 'Freak' remix is pretty great, especially considering how dull the original was.

  2. I have a copy with the picture cover and I always thought they just had a typo that they did not want to spend the money to fix. The first song on the second side is a radio edit of the LP version with the intro talking cut out and the curse word back masked.

    The second song is an uncensored remix.

    Either way, dope, dope 12" from someone who should have been able to drop more music. His verse on Nas' Where Are They Now remix shows he still has it.

  3. Does anyone know where Breeze is now? My husband was the one who gave him the name Breeze and we have been trying to find him for years.....I would really like to find him for my husband, they haven't seen each other since they were 16. Looking for any information on him.