Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Previously Unreleased Lakim Shabazz?

In the last couple years, Tuff City has released "Rare and Unreleased" compilation albums from several of their signature hip-hop artists including Priority One, Grandmaster Caz, The Undefeated 3 and this one right here by Lakim Shabazz. As you might expect, the records lean pretty heavily on the "rare" half of that promise, but there are still some genuine, sweet unreleased tracks to be heard, so let's have a look.

The Ol' Skool Flavor Of... Lakim Shabazz dropped in 2006 as a single LP only (i.e. no CD counterpart, although it is on ITunes). According to the label's website, "Tuff City delves into its vaults to come up with some rare and unreleased recordings." It comes in a nice picture cover which handily labels exactly which of the tracks are "PU" (Previously Unreleased). Specifically, there are three. But before we get into those, let's look at what else is on here.

"Arms Too Short" - This is an abridged retitling of "Your Arms Too Short To Box With God," the then B-side exclusive to Lakim's greatest single, "Black Is Back" from 1989. This is a great song and saves somebody who owns both of Lakim's albums the trouble of needing the 12" single as well. Nice one.

"Smash Him" - This is an abridged retitling of "When You See a Devil Smash Him" from Lakim's second album. Nothing particularly rare about this one.

"Need Some Lovin (Lakim Remix)" - This is one out of a couple remixes featured on the "Need Some Lovin'" 12" single from 1990. Dope, though completists will still need the 12" for Anttex's remix.

"Notes Of Def" - Is another one from the second album.

"Style Wars" - Is... another one from the second album.

"No Justice No Peace" - Is another one from the second album, and worse yet, it was the other single from that album.

"Style Is Free" - Is actually not from the second album, but The 45 King & Louie Louie's 1990 album, Rhythmical Madness. A final welcome addition.

Seriously, what the hell is going on here? Why is half the album just a solid chunk of Lakim Shabazz's second LP, Lost Tribe Of Shabazz? Anyone familiar with Lakim Shabazz knows the dude has a huge list of genuinely rare songs that have been peppered on other peoples' albums (mainly the 45 King's) over the years. He's an artist just dying for a compilation of this nature; but they totally fuck it up by just repressing half of his second album. And what's more, the overwhelming majority of these rare, uncollected tracks are on Tuff City records!  It's not like anybody actually expects them to incur licensing fees making the perfect Lakim collection.  But if they'd just filled it with cuts like "Raw Dope Rhyme," "Master Of the Game," "Hands Of Fate," "Horns Are Horny" or so many others, it would've been a much more worthwhile collection. And even a better listening experience. How utterly stupid.

But, whatever. A better compilation may've been better, but we're all here for the PUs anyway, so let's get to the important stuff.

"Africa" - This is... so god damn good. How had this gone unreleased all these years? It's obviously vintage, has a dope bassline and classic 45 King horns, and a great sampled hook. Then add the fact that it's a serious song with something to say on top of all that.

"Swiftness (Instrumental)" - A short but dope instrumental. Not sure why it's on here as opposed to one of the King's infinite breakbeat albums. Lakim has never released a song called "Swiftness" before, but alright. Kind of disappointing that this eats into our count of 3 PU's, though.

"Love Spell" - What the fuck? This is just "Need Some Lovin'!" This was one of his biggest singles, and yes... from the second album. Pretty much the least "rare" song in his entire recording career, and certainly not "PU." What kind of bullshit is this? They got the title "Love Spell" from the Fatback vocal sample that plays during the hook, which at least suggests this happened due to complete incompetence... as opposed to outright, unadulterated dishonesty.

Fuck you, Tuff City. This isn't exactly the first time we've seen a cheap cash-in from them, but that "Love Spell" shit is the worst. I didn't cover this years ago because I didn't want to support this. But at the same time... "Africa" is pretty essential for any Lakim fan. Please, somebody comment and tell me that it's really just a mis-titling of something that is legitimately available somewhere else so I can just write this LP off entirely. But I'm pretty confident that it's not. I have all those scattered Lakim songs I was saying would've made far superior compilation fodder, and "Africa" ain't one of them. So you're basically just buying the whole LP to add one song to your vinyl collection.  But, damn it, it's worth it.


  1. Great post, this is a cheap cash-in from Aaron Fuchs. So disappointing, especially when there is probably unreleased Lakim Shabazz out there.

    Side note: who is "The 56 King?" :)