Friday, July 10, 2015

Who Is the Queen of Ghetto Madness?

The Queen of Ghetto Madness has to be one of the best rapper names in Hip-Hop history. And fortunately, she lives up to it. Plus, she's from Jersey, so bonus. And If you're just causally searching, it may seem like she only had the one 12", but there's actually more to her story. But let's start with the obvious 12".

Released in 1990 on Scorpio Music with a great picture cover, The Queen's single (also released on cassette without the alternate mixes) is a two-song 12" produced by I.Q. You probably don't realize who that is, especially since there are a number of people who use some variant of "I.Q." as their rap name, but once I tell you... You know how Tony D produced the Poor Righteous Teachers' early albums? Well, he produced most of them. Actually a couple of their early tracks, right down to their debut "Time To Say Peace" 12", are produced and/or co-produced by I.Q. He was also a member of Northside Productions and did their tracks, and has stayed in the industry as a producer and artist over the years. So seeing his name on a record, especially a 1990 Jersey street rap record, is a good thing.

So the first song is "Run the Rhythm," which is pretty decent, our Queen certainly comes off nicely; but it's her prerequisite hip-house song, so probably not the song that's going to get anybody excited today. Her flow here reminds me of Queen Latifah's first album, though, and that's definitely not a bad thing, and I.Q. lays in some funky, danceable samples. There's a Dance Mix here, too; but that turns out to just be a fancy/ misleading name for the instrumental. She's got an acappella, too, which is always nice.

It's the B-side that will draw most heads, though. If "Run the Rhythm" was her "Come Into My House," this is her "Ladies First" (she's even got a higher pitched friend who jumps in on the hook), but with a darker, tougher beat. Hard drums, tortured horns and a funky bassline. It's classic hip-hop and the Queen kills it. There's also an Acappella and Instrumental for this one. But what isn't on here, is this mix. Where did this come from? It's hot! It's nowhere on the vinyl, and I can't find any alternate, promo or remix 12" out there. Of course, the 12" had an acapella on there, and all the mix I just linked to, dope as it is, does just use familiar elements we've heard on other hip-hop tracks. So maybe it's just something a DJ put together for a mixtape? But if it is, it's well done, because it sounds pretty legit. Maybe there is a remix single out there somewhere? I don't know, but like I said, there was more to this story. And that's just the tip.

The credits on this single aren't too detailed - they don't even say who that other girl on "Time For Me To Ruin" is - but there is one interesting detail: "Lyrics by Gladys Graham - A.K.A. MC DRASTIC." Well, hey, I bought a single by an MC Drastic once... I didn't know who it was, just saw they were from New Jersey so I picked it up on a whim for cheap. She turned out to be a female MC, could it be... Yup. 1990, also on Scorpio Music, so there's no question of it just being a coincidence. This is the same person.

It's another two-song 12", and checking the catalog numbers, this one came out after "Run the Rhythm." "Men Will Say Anything To Get Over" is the a-side, a fun relationship song; and "Grab a Hold Of Yourself" is the b-side, another hip-house song. Again, it's another better than average house joint. It starts out sounding super club-oriented, with a "Pump Up the Jam" sample. But once she starts rapping she comes off real hard over a darker, ominous sound. Both tracks are produced by Troy Wonder, and if that name sounds familiar, he was Tony D's DJ back when he was signed as a rapper to 4th & Broadway. It's another pretty nice single. And the Tony D connections don't end there, because the year before these two records, Tony produced one called by "Competition Is None" by A-O-K Productions featuring MC Drastic.

So there's more to the Queen of Ghetto Madness than meets the eye. And what met the eye was already an ill, slept on female MC who's tighter than a lot of those who got deals in her era. I'm definitely a fan.


  1. Awesome review...crazy slept on...I think its time to do a HUGE piece on Tony D?!

    1. You're on my wavelength, I actually have had a couple Tony D-related ideas for upcoming posts in mind...