Friday, March 20, 2015

Cold Chillin' Terminators, part 1 - Dissing Run DMC

"We're walking tall and we're called The Terminators" is a memorable line from Kool G Rap & DJ Polo's classic "It's a Demo" in part because of G Rap's ill delivery, but also partially because, as far as anybody knew, they weren't called The Terminators. I mean, you could probably take it as simply a general reference to being so bad ass that people consider them to be like Schwarzenegger's robotic hitman character from the 1984 film. And the fact that the line could be taken that way is probably by G Rap left the line in there, sort of like a subliminal diss, but not a diss. Because the line is actually a reference to something more. It's about DJ Polo's first group, The Terminators.

The Terminators had one record, "Forever Dis" in 1986 on Snowflake Records. My copy here is a 2004 repress. You can tell 'em apart 'cause on the original label the big "Snowflake" is written in blue, not white. Anyway, Snowflake Records was a division of Prism, which of course carried all the early Juice Crew records and changed its name to Cold Chillin' Records a couple years later.

The group was really just a duo, like Kool G Rap and DJ Polo, except the MC was Polo's old partner, Frost. I got to ask G Rap how Polo made the switch and why he cited their name on "It's a Demo" in my 2011 interview, "Polo and Frost started together first. They were the team first, before I even got in the picture with Polo. Once I got in the picture, to my understanding, Frost was having differences with Polo. Because Polo wanted to do promotional stuff that Frost didn’t necessarily want to do… things they weren’t getting paid for. So when me and Polo linked up, I was for anything to accomplish my dream. Whether it was something we gotta do for promotion, get ourselves out there or get paid, it didn’t matter to me. I was gonna do it because I was hungry and I wanted it that bad, because I knew what I was capable of doing poetically. When I mention Terminators, it was out of respect for the name Polo had before I even got into the picture. If you notice, I didn’t really use that name anymore other than just using it as a punch line or a metaphor. But I did not affiliate myself and Polo as the Terminators after that. The first time I did it was just out of respect, like, this is your thing you got going before I even got into the picture, I’ma wave that flag."

So how is the actual record? I mean, you could probably predict that Frost isn't the amazing innovator that G Rap turned out to me - almost nobody could be expected to play on that level. But how does it compare to most other '86 rap records, and who are they dissing on "Forever Dis?"

Well, you already know from the title of this blog that they went after Run DMC. Nothing subliminal here, it's a very straight forward attack. It's not clear what their beef with them comes from - quite possibly they just went at them to make a name for themselves - but it's perfectly evident Frost doesn't like 'em:

"You may think I'm cruel, but that's okay;
I've got a job to do, so let me earn my pay.
Run DMC, somebody really don't like
The way you MCs be yellin' on the mic.
Both of you are crazy, you've flown the coup.
Wearin' all this sayin' that you're souped.
Now that I say it, it wasn't real groovy

When I saw your face when I went to the movies!
You think you've got something to prove?

The name of the movie was Krush Groove."

The entire song from first to last is very specifically going at Run DMC.  But you might've gotten the feeling, reading the above sample, that the rhymes are a little stilted. They are, and Frost's deliberate, plodding delivery doesn't help. The beat is okay, it's pretty hard and stripped down, but it's a bad match for Frost's style, and Polo doesn't really do much. There isn't really any actual scratching, they've just got "Pee Wee's Dance" vocal sample, "get busy" on a sampler and play it at different pitches. You know, like "(Nothing Serious) Just Buggin'" and all those 80s songs.

Overall, the song's okay. The beat's too simple, but at least it's hard. It's really just the fact that they're dissing Run DMC that anybody would go back and revisit it.

There is a B-side, though, which is a little more lively. Simply titled "Polo," this one actually features some scratching. It's a little rudimentary, but of course it's from '86. They also stutter a sample like on the last song, this time just Frost saying "Polo." It's a similar, hardcore big drum machine beat with horn stabs, and Frost raps about how great his DJ is. Well, except for the last verse, where he digresses to tell us how stylish his girlfriend is, "she'll put you in a trance, make you do a stupid dance. Make you act like a fool, make you wanna go to school seven days a week, ooh the girl is so sweet." The song concludes with somebody doing a cheesy Mexican accent playing the part of Jose, a promoter looking for the great DJ Polo.

Neither song is that great, but they're listenable enough. Both instrumentals are also included on the vinyl, though I doubt many heads would be picking up the wax for those. Their historic value is certainly the most compelling aspect of these songs, and in that regard, they certainly satisfy a lot of curiosity.  Come back tomorrow for another nearly forgotten Cold Chillin' Terminator.

1 comment:

  1. Just listened to a Shan interview, and he said he ghost-wrote this.