Monday, January 6, 2014

When Krs-One Brought the Cold Crush Back

The Cold Crush Brothers are most famous for their 70s contributions to hip-hop before it became a record-making musical genre, and everybody became record label recording artists. But they did release a series of fresh 12"s for Tuff City in the early 80s, and of Grandmaster Caz continued with some high quality solo material. I mean, there was that 1988 Cold Crush album, Troopers, but that was really just one Cold Crush rhymer, Almighty KG backed up by DJ Tony Crush. Most of the crew was MIA. And they stayed that way until Krs-One stepped in, and got the full Cold Crush Four (Caz, Easy AD, JDL... they're all back) back together for a new record in 1995 on his own label, Front Page Entertainment.

And it's a fresh, wild (and I suppose also fly and bold) little 12". It's produced by Krs One, and definitely has that rugged, mid-90s indie vibe. Hardcore New York ish. And over it, the Cold Crush are doing full-blown new routines, including their trademark harmonizing, verses and lots of active back and forth. This is no quickie throw away record; care was put into this and it shows.

It's three songs (plus instrumentals for two of them on the flip). The first, "Cold Crush Flava" sounds the most extreme in terms of its contrast between Krs's production and the Brothers' flows. They're really keeping the old school traditions alive, and the beat is really on some raw street shit. But it works, it's dope.

The next songs are even better though. Second is "Resurrected" which starts off with a guest appearance by none other than Chuck D. See? I told you this was no little throw-away. They clearly pulled out all the stops, so it's a shame this record didn't get wider recognition. Anyway, Chuck kicks his verse acapella and then the beat kicks in with funky, deep bass notes and the Crush with a tougher flow. This time they're determined to fit in with Krs's changing beat, and they pull it off like pros. They still do a little harmonizing, but this time it's more about delivering hardcore chants in unison than the sing-song stuff they're known for. Though they stay true to that at the same time. "Cold Crush Flava" was like giving the original Cold Crush sound a 90s sound-bed; but "Resurrected" is the Cold Crush updating themselves for the 90s. And unlike a lot of old school comebacks that tried it, this one works.

Finally, the last song is "Hut - Girl." This one branches off in the other direction from "Resurrected." Where that one opted to modernize, "Hut" takes it back with a fun, old school jam. They kick light-hearted verses about the types of girls they like in between upbeat shout and call hooks. This time their harmonizing is to tried and true tunes, and the beat is basically a really phat 45 King or Red Alert-style horn sample over a super dope bassline and some big beats. It's kind of like those old school track Doug E Fresh usually puts on his albums, except they're still kicking full verses and it sounds more like a complete, polished song. But it's definitely in that tradition.

I guess the guys were hoping this would lead to a deal, or at least bigger publicity, because they didn't follow it up with anymore Front Page releases. And that's a shame, because this is definitely gold star moment on both The Cold Crush and Krs's resumes. It was surely hampered by all the inferior, half-assed comebacks other artists were making around that time. But this is the real shit, so if you missed it the first time around, track it down. It can be had pretty cheap.

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