Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cold Chillin' Terminators, part 2 - Toasting With MC Shan

So yesterday we looked at a couple Terminators from the very beginning of Cold Chillin'. Now today let's look at a Terminata from the last days, 1994. Not counting represses and those Traffic reissues, Cold Chillin' stopped putting out music in 1996, ending with singles by their last few hanger-onners, Big Scoob and Shanté. But 1994 was kind of the last year they had a broad roster, signed new artists and still generally seemed interesting in putting out a variety of artists like a legit label. All their big Juice Crew artists had moved on, but '94 was still the year of The Genius, King Sun and Madame Starr. Essentially, it was the last year they were trying new things. And that included the first and last single by Terminata, "Get Bizi."

So most people probably have no idea who he is by this point, however Terminata wasn't a complete nobody, and in fact had worked with Cold Chillin' before. You might remember a short lived subsidiary Cold Chillin' started in 1992 (and ended in 1993) called Livin' Large Records. And one of the artists they signed to that imprint was YZ, making his post-Tuff City comeback. He'd changed his style drastically, but it was actually a really hot album. Instead of the smooth, calm flow over the more melodic Tony D production, he came back rough and ragga over some really phat, hardcore instrumentals. And the first big single off that comeback album was the song about his comeback, 1992's "The Return Of the Holy One." And if you look at the credits on that 12", the Fonta Leaf Splif Mix says it's featuring Terminator. In fact, he can be heard on the Original Flavor/ album version, too. And yep, that Terminator is the "Get Bizi" Terminata.

So, if you remember "The Return Of the Holy One," you might be saying to yourself: I thought YZ was the only guy rapping on that track. And you'd be right, and he's also the guy saying, "it's the return of the holy one, return of the holy one" over and over on the hook. But the guy doing the rugged ragga chatting in the background? That's Terminata.

And so yes, "Get Bizi" is more of a reggae record than a rappity-rap one. But it's definitely meant to fit into that mid-90s hip-hop/reggae blend that was going on. He even got an American rapper, and Juice Crew All Star, to produce and write the music for him: MC Shan. Shan had also put a couple singles out on that Livin' Large imprint - good ones, too - and was surely feeling confident making a reggae record after he turned "Informer" into one of the highest charting reggae hits since Bob Marley in 1992.

But "Get Bizi" was never going to be a big hit, and not just because Terminata wasn't as white as Snow. It's basically just really simple and repetitive. It's got a funky, old school reggae bassline and Terminata's voice sounds great once the the NY hip-hop drums kick in. But musically it's very understated and when you try to get into it, there's actually very little to the song. He has some short verses, but the hook is like 75% of the songs, where he just keeps saying "_____ get bizi 'pon the flex." It doesn't help that his verses are mixed pretty low, but I really think this was meant more as to be just a quick something for DJs rather than a song to blow up. Like a modern day "Shake It To the 61st," where they expect a DJ to just sample the line that applies to them, so like a New York DJ would cut up "New York posse get busy," and a west coast DJ could cut up "LA posse get busy," or just let the rest of the unassuming song play as filler. That probably explains why the only other version on this 12" is the Acappella.

The B-side, "Sex" is a little more of a full, lush song. It's got very New York hip-hop drums with another old school reggae-style bassline, though this time it's less prominent, played under some screechy horn samples and stuff more reminiscent of the YZ stuff. But it's still bouncier and more reggaeish than that album. If you're a fan of hip-hop styled reggae from this era, I'd say "Sex" holds up pretty well alongside the stuff that was actually getting the airplay in 1994. Again, it would never be another "Informer," but if it hadn't been buried as the B-side to a completely obscure, un-promoted 12", I think it would've gotten some spins.

I mean, personally, I would've liked it a lot better if it had a verse or two from YZ or Shan, but I'm admittedly a total hip-hop guy who listens to rap pretty exclusively. Still, though, I think this record would've lasted, at least in knowledgeable hip-hop circles, if it had a credible rapper or several alongside Terminata. I mean, lyrically, he's not saying anything anyway, just "champgagne-ah, that's what I sip." So there's definitely room to cut some of his stuff and get some names on there. But oh well.

Like The Terminators' record, Terminata's "Get Bizi" is more of an interesting detail in Cold Chillin's history than a great, must have record. But his story doesn't end here. Terminata still performs under then name of Terminator Six, and before I end this post, I think it would be interesting to take a quick look at his press bio (which can be found here, here and here), since it has a few interesting claims, including:

"Terminator Six is the first Reggae entertainer to sing a duet with a Rapper." and "the first to connect Reggae Artists and Rappers together." Well, that doesn't seem right; but let's see... Shabba Ranks' duet with Krs-One was 1992, the same year YZ and Terminator came out. So maybe Terminata was first. Super Cat with Heavy D was '92, Likkle Wicked and 2 Live Crew was '93. He did seem to be at the forefront of the trend. I mean, certainly hip-hop and reggae had blended earlier, if you think of guys like Daddy Freddy, or Shinehead being produced by Jam Master Jay. Or guys like Special Ed doing little reggae songs on their albums. But a reggae artist with a rapper? Well, Sly & Robbie's BDP album dropped in 1989, but I guess you could say they only did the music... Oh, Third World did "Forbidden Love" with Daddy-O in 1989. That's one, and it was a big single even. So yeah, no. I knew that couldn't stand up to scrutiny. Oh and wait, that Shabba Ranks/ Krs single came out in 1992, but it was already on the album which dropped in 1991.

"Terminator became the newest member of the Juice Crew which consisted of Big Daddy Kane, Biz Marke, Kool G Rap, Mc Shan." Well, he did sign to Cold Chillin', but so did plenty of non-Juice Crew artists, like Kid Capri and Too Bad To Be True. Who decides who isn't an official Juice Crew member? Marley Marl? I could see Shan telling him "you're official Juice Crew now," though.

"The Return of the Holy One by Terminator & YZ was released & Terminator was only 9 years old." Wow. So that guy in the video was only nine years old? Or somebody else was lip-syncing to his voice? He sure doesn't sound like a kid on that song...

"Terminator wrote Shabba Ranks first Grammy album for Epic records" and "Terminator Six is the Ghostwriter for Shabba Ranks first Grammy Album (Epic), Terminator Six is also responsible for connecting Shabba Ranks and KRS1 Boogie Down Productions." When he was eight?! Shabba's first Grammy was for as Raw As Ever, which dropped in 1991, a year before "The Return Of the Holy One," which we just read dropped when he was nine. So, yeah. I don't think so.

"Terminator Six is the creator of the Hip Hop Reggae Fusion," and "Terminator Six is responsible for connecting Notorious B.I.G.(Biggie Smalls) with Super Cat and enforcing the launch of P.Diddy (Puff Daddy) Bad Boy Entertainment." Oh man, I'm done. I don't even know what "enforcing the launch" means, but I think we can safely say some embellishing has been done here. I'd be interested to find out the exact 100% truth of all that. You know, I bet he meant 19 instead of 9; so it may not be a total pack of insane lies. haha

Anyway, I bet most of you guys didn't even know the Terminator from YZ's song had his own record. And he was on Cold Chillin'! Pretty interesting, huh?

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