Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What To Get the Madd Blunted Fan Who Has Everything

"Rock It-Don't Stop It" first appeared on a 1994 Vision Records compilation Bass In da Hood, before later turning up as an album track on Madd Blunted's full-length debut, A Day In the Life Of Madd Blunted in '95. Madd Blunted is essentially a two-man pair... like a lot of hip-hop groups, guys they're down with seem to drift in and out as semi-official members; but the heart of the crew is essentially Phat Daddy, formerly of Balli & the Fat Daddy, and ragga MC Don Ugly. There's no difference between those initial '94 and '95 versions of "Rock It" except that A Day In the Life adds a vocal sample of a countdown at the very beginning of the song. But then they released it again as their second single, this time as the Rasta Remix.

"Rock It-Don't Stop It" is actually a pretty good song, but not very memorable. It's comprised of Miami bass cliches, both lyrically and instrumentally, to the point that if you're hearing it for the first time, you'd think you'd heard it dozens of times already in the past. Plus, it sounds a lot like Madd Blunted's first single, "Shake It." Similar verses, similar choruses (I think at one point, a "shake it, shake it" chant in "Rock it" might even be a direct lift from "Shake It"). Both use heavy doses of "Planet Rock" (hence the title of "Rock It") and other standard Miami bass record sounds. The only real reason to tell them to apart, unless you're intimately familiar enough with the songs to know the lyrics to the individual verses, is that "Shake It" features Fresh Kid Ice, and "Rock It" doesn't.

It's definitely not a song I'd play for somebody who'd never heard Madd Blunted before; they've got way more interesting stuff than this and anybody who isn't a big Miami bass fan would probably dismiss it pretty quick.  But if you don't dismiss it, I think you'd have to admit it's a pretty well produced and solidly constructed song. It may be full of old samples, but they're proven to work and are used to their best effect here. There's also a scratch break-down by DJ Spin which is really impressive. I mean, just that little thirty-second clip alone would make the record worth buying. And while Phat Daddy really doesn't bring any noteworthy lyrics, both he and Don at least bring enough energy and enthusiasm to the track to keep up with the high bpm.

So you can see why they'd release it as a single. A well-crafted club song designed to fit like a square peg into a square hole of the Miami hip-hop market.  But you can also see why, especially since it's following up their very similar "Shake It," they'd have to smack it around and reconfigure before dropping it as their second single.

So the first change you'll notice right away, is that the original "yeah, Madd Blunted's in the house" intro, which segues into the first hook, has all been removed and replaced with a new intro by none other than Disco Rick. He doesn't kick a verse or anything, just the intro, but just having him on the record at all is a very noticeable distinction. After that, the most obvious change is that they use a lot more of Don Ugly ...which makes sense for a "Rasta Remix."  On the album version, he just as one kind of chorus/chant in the middle of the song. Here, that segment is used as the main, recurring hook (replacing some more generic "bounce that thang" and "work that thang" chants), and he now also has a reggae-style verse midway through the song.

Musically, it's not all that different, though it has been tweaked... the "go 'head, baby" chant during DJ Spin's scratch segment, for example, has been replaced with female porn samples, though his cutting itself is the same. The changes are primarily in the vocals, which have really been reworked. In fact, Phat Daddy's first verse on the album version has been replaced with an all new one. It's tempting to consider this more of a "Rock It Part II," except a lot of the vocals, including Phat Daddy's second verse, are unchanged. But it's certainly a very substantial remix that at least succeeds in making it sound more distinct from "Shake It." I can't really say this mix is inherently any better than the original, but it definitely has more of its own identity.

There's two mixes on the 12", but one is just a clean edit of the other. Flip it over, and you have another album track, "Gettin' High," which is a catchy and upbeat song that's not really impressive but will definitely have you bopping along anyway. It has two versions: Smokin' Blunts Mix and the Radio Mix, but the Smokin' Blunts Mix isn't a new remix; it's just what they call the main LP version.

So, overall, it's a decent 12", but nothing to go out of your way for. There's much more interesting material on their album, so I wouldn't recommend it for the casual listener (unless they're big turntablism fans willing to buy it just for a very brief DJ Spin moment). But it is interesting if you're a serious Madd Blunted fan, and an engaging companion piece to the album. That's why I'm calling this post: What To Get the Madd Blunted Fan Who Has Everything.

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