Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Most Obscure Kool Moe Dee Song?

Like the title says, today I'm going to talk about what I believe to be the most obscure Kool Moe Dee song. Now, this isn't his rarest song; it's actually very easy to find nice and cheap, since it was very widely distributed by a major label. But it's still probably the least known or talked about by hip-hop heads. And it's surprising because it's from 1988, exactly when he was in his prime as a solo artist and each record he was releasing was bigger than the last. The song's called "Get Up 'N' Dance" from the Scrooged soundtrack on A&M Records.

Scrooged was a late 80s Christmas Carol update with Bill Murray and Bobcat Goldthwait. So, no, it's not a particularly Hip-Hop soundtrack, and in fact Kool Moe Dee is the only rapper on here. The rest of the record is "Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire" by Natalie Cole, a Buster Poindexter song (of course, it was the 80s), a duet between Annie Lennox and Al Green, and a "We Three Kings" song putting Miles Davis together with Late Night With David Letterman's Paul Shaffer. So, after that run down, I trust your expectations are appropriately tapered. Still, though, this is Kool Moe Dee in his prime, and once you've gotten all of his albums, where else are you going to replenish your supply?

So naturally, the question is: is it any good. And the answer is, um, yeah. No, it isn't produced by Teddy Riley, but it is produced by LaVaba, who did pretty much all the songs on Moe Dee's albums from that period that Teddy didn't. And that includes some big ones like "Let's Go," "Get the Picture"... actually, it could very well include all his biggest hits, since his first couple albums just say they're co-produced by Riley and LaVaba, without breaking down who did what on which songs. He has at least co-production credit on singles like "How Ya Like Me Now," "Wild Wild West," "Go See the Doctor," etc. So, seeing that a Kool Moe Dee song you've never heard has been produced by LaVaba is not a bad sign.

But the song's title is a bit of a giveaway that this might not be more of a throw away than a masterpiece, not to mention a betrayal of the sentiments he expressed on "Don't Dance" the year before. But the basics of what you want from Moe Dee are here: he raps fast and forcefully over a tough beat. These aren't his greatest bars, but they're strong enough. Really, the only weak spot is that they keep laying a 50s beach rock guitar sample over the track. You know, the kind of thing Mr. Mixx was famous for bringing into hip-hop. And Mixx made it work, it sounded fresh. But one thing you don't want your hardcore New York rap legend's records to be is "inspired by the 2 Live Crew."

Honestly, the rest of the track is pretty dope. There's a little bit of the "How Ya Like Me Now" horn stabs, nice scratches, and big drums that double as their own bassline. There's some Egyptian Lover-style heavy breathing looped into the music, but it's low enough in the mix that you hardly hear it. It could use a better hook, which is basically a couple lame vocal samples, which I guess are Scrooged specific references? Like, the main one is some bored sounding white guy saying, "what a lame party, let's get outta here." That could definitely be improved upon, but they don't ruin the record. Moe Dee and whoever's doing the cuts (Easy Lee?) save it. But I'd really like to hear this record without that guitar sample. They wouldn't even have to replace it with anything else; the track is enough without it. Just delete that stupid beach guitar and it'd be good. But, stuck with it as we are... it's still okay. But just okay. Even the guitar doesn't sound terrible; it just makes the whole thing sound like a cornier attempt at crossing over to a less hip-hop audience, which is probably exactly what it was.

Oh, and this song has nothing to do with Christmas. I don't know if that's a pro or a con, but it's not. He's just rapping about how you should dance to the music and the feelings people experience while dancing. His flow's on point, but the lyrics are light on actual content.

So it's no lost masterpiece, but if you're wondering next Christmas what to get the Kool Moe Dee fan who has everything?  This could do the trick. It'll still make a big Kool Moe Dee fan happy, so long as he knows not to expect an unheard classic. And you won't need to say anything because the big, goofy album cover will tell him that. Or I don't know, maybe as the 80s get further and further away I just get more desperate. haha

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