Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Young Zee and Lady Luck, Representing... Brooklyn?

This is kind of a random, little 12". It's a duet between Young Zee and Lady Luck that came out in 2003 featuring a Smack Entertainment. The song may've been intended for an unreleased Lady Luck album, since it wasn't her first 12" for Smack (she had a not even on discogs little rarity called "No Matter What"), and, well, Lady Luck has a legendary history with unreleased albums. It's produced by someone I've never heard of before or since named Jae 1; and it kind of came and went rather quickly with no fanfare. It only showed up on my radar at all, because of course I never let any Outsidaz material get by me.

Anyway, this Jae guy didn't do a whole lot besides lay a little piano/ xylophone loop over the top of the instrumental. Because, except for that, they're just rhyming over "Top Billin'." You might say, well Werner, that just means they've used the "Impeach the President" break; it's not like Audio Two invented those drums. Everybody's sampled that break. But no, they're using the whole "Top Billin'" beat, even the repeating Stetsasonic vocal sample. So two quintessential Jersey artists are rhyming over a track that's repeating "go Brooklyn, go Brooklyn!" the whole time, which is a little odd.

But I guess they just wanted to make another in the genre's long line of "Top Billin'" updates, because in addition to using the same track, the song is full of lyrical references to Milk Dee's old bars. Luck starts things off with the lines, "MC delight, people call me Luck," which is of course a variation of "MC am I, people call me Milk." And Zee starts out his verse, "I get money, money I got," which is an exact quote of Milk's famous line. There's also, "clap your hands, your hands ya clap. If your girl's out of line, it's your girl I'll smack," which is another "Top Billin'" line. Curiously, they also make references to multiple Special Ed lines, including "in the hood, I'm a super-duper star; every other month I get a brand new car," which is just a small variation of Ed's line from "I Got It Made," "My name is Special Ed, and I'm a super-duper star; every other month I get a brand new car." And later, they share another Ed line with Luck saying, "we got the cash 'cause money ain't nothin'," and Zee following up with "make a million dollars all the haters we be pumpin'," which is of course a play on Ed's "I got the cash, but money ain't nothin'. Make a million dollars every record that I cut."

I mean, the "I Got It Made" connections make thematic sense considering the concept of the song is simply fun boasts about the cash they've got. There's an uncredited lady singing the hook, "y'all have whips, but you'll never have whips like this. Furs and shit, but you'll never have jewels like this. Had some dough before, but you never had chips like this. Haddd sommme money, but y'all never had chips like this." Now I'm not one for the perfunctory R&B choruses, but whoever she is, she sounds really good on this track; and it's a good contrast to Zee's grating style. And when they're not quoting old school hip-hop, both MCs are coming with some nice, much more modern, back-and-forth wordplay, like, "I spit it out like Listerine, get y'all hooked like nicotine, then I come blow niggas to smithereens. Shrimp cocktails, this pimp's got mail. You get locked up, we gone come and pay y'all bail."

I could hear this getting play on New York radio; but I'm not sure it quite made it. It definitely has that sound, like part of a classic Hot 97 mix. You know, those moments where Flex would let a little Mobb Deep slip in between the R&B divas. Zee and Luck really pair well together, especially the third verse, where they go back and forth, trading off lines. This is much more of a collaboration than the modern "you record your verse and I'll record mine; and we'll both email them to this producer I talked to online" style we tend to get today. They must've recorded together and written together, and that pays off. The little loop Jae added doesn't sound as hot as the one added for Mary J's "Real Love" or anything, but it sounds alright. Anyway, you can't go wrong with the root "Top Billin'" instrumental.

There's just the one song on here, presented in four versions: the main dirty version, a clean version which would've suited the radio stations who missed their opportunity with this one, plus an accapella which is cool to have. But then they include a TV track instead of the clean instrumental, which is an odd choice but whatever.

All in all, it's just a nice, little underground 12" that can usually be found pretty cheap and is worth a pick up.  Especially for 2003, when you usually think of that well as having run pretty dry. It's never gonna make anybody's greatest hits or top ten lists, especially since rehashing classics just makes you look weaker by comparison. They probably would've done better leaving Ed and Milk's records alone and just doing 100% their own thing (and maybe representing their actual home state). But everybody comes off nice here, so it's worth a spot in your collection.


  1. I wasn't into the Outsidaz until I started reading your blog. I'm now a considerable fan, but I still feel that the Artifacts were way tighter. I'm not sure why the Outz are championed as the "pinnacle" of New Jersey rap, because most of their catalog is kinda hit and miss. Maybe because I haven't seen them live. I dunno.

    1. The Artifacts are definitely pretty great for sure; got nothing negative to say about them. But I don't think they ever went as far, lyrically as The Outsidaz. Plus, the Outz being a bigger crew, encompassed more styles. But no doubt both groups put out some great NJ records.