Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Odd Men Out, part 2: The First Phony Newcleus

So after "Dynamic (Total Control)," you might be wondering what happened to those Total Control guys, since they seemed to be the artists to actually watch on that record? Well, Frankie Dee broke off, leaving Dynamike and DJ Johnny Juice to... join Newcleus! Yeah, this is now after the foursome all left Newcleus, leaving only the label-owner with the rights to the group name, and the two little kids. It would be like if Disney lost all the rights to their Marvel superhero characters and just made Avengers 2 with Stellan Skarsgård's character, telling the press, "we're still in continuity!"

These guys didn't stay long, and most people think of Newcleus's second iteration of The Next Generation, featuring later members like Money Mike in the early 90s. But there was this brief period in between. As Cozmo put it in our interview, "there were two incarnations of the phony Newcleus." The first was definitely the better of the pair, and this is one of their records, "We're So Hyped!" on Super Power Records in 1988.

This was actually their third 12". Their first was "Huxtable Houseparty" in 1987, which I've already written about. I think that was Dynamike taking the primary microphone duties there, along supporting vocals by the famous Newcleus kids, who also turn up on the second 12", "She's Bad." But apart from a little talking by those computerized kids, "She's Bad" is mostly a Michael Jackson-y style R&B record. You'd never guess it was even meant to be a Newcleus record if it didn't have those kids on the intro. I mean, granted, with records like "Why," Newcleus - the real Newcleus - had already dabbled in non rappity rap stuff. But this is really totally removed. I also have no idea who that is doing the actual singing on the bulk of this record.

So by this third 12" - also their last on Super Power Records and the last of this iteration of Newcleus - Dynamike may've already been out of the picture. "We're So Hyped!" swings back to hip-hop, though. In fact, it's kind of their most traditionally, non-spacey/electro hip-hop record in their catalog. It's some funky old school samples over a beat with only some drawn out synth lines coming up towards the end that really signal "Newcleus" to the listener.

There's also no kids. I mean, I think the actual kids probably are on this. But 1) being older, they no longer sound like the youngsters on "I Wanna Be a B-Boy," and 2) they don't use the computer effects on their voices that make them sound distinctly like "Newcleus kids." So there's just some generic male voices doing back-ups and fill-ins. In fact, there's practically no rapping, which is why I think Dynamike might've taken off even before "She's Bad." There are little tiny rap bits early on in the record, almost more hooks and pieces than rap verses, and certainly nothing that would require a particularly adept MC. It's all just basically two or three guys saying things like, "come on, give it all you got" strung together.

But I'll tell you who's definitely still around: DJ Johnny Juice. He gets big credit for the writing and arranging of this song in the notes, and he even has a big scratching breakdown mid-song, while the guys make barking dog(!) sounds. I think you can basically consider this basically his record. And it's not bad. It's a fun, if silly, hook over a collection of solid samples. The only drawback is, without much proper rapping, the song can feel a bit sparse. It comes alive when during the scratching and the spacey keyboard parts, and the basic instrumental is certainly catchy enough. But it can feel like a long wait between the funky horn stabs during a lot of the song. It just feel s a little incomplete.

My copy I've got pictured here is actually a German pressing. The US release doesn't come in a picture cover, but otherwise they're pretty much the same. Both just have the vocal version on the A side and the instrumental on the flip, though this foreign press does play at 45 rather than 33. "We;re So Hyped!" was the end of Stage 2 Newcleus; I don't think Johnny Juice stuck around after this. It wouldn't be until the 90s that Newcleus would make more records with new members, and then jumble things up even further by including songs from all 3 Newcleus Stages onto the Next Generation album. Anyway, Stage 2 Newcleus certainly didn't hold a candle to the original line-up. But if you're a big fan of upbeat 80s hip-hop and can put aside the comparison, these aren't so bad. Heck, I bet if these same songs came out under the name of Total Control they'd have some fans after 'em.

No comments:

Post a Comment