Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Big Daddy Kane's Two Additional Gunmen

Alright, so we just looked at the best single from the Gunmen single, now let's look at the second best: Big Daddy Kane's "Gunman." Now, Rakim's single was a wide, general release; but Kane's is promo only. This single definitely came out single, because Rakim's 12" and the full soundtrack are both from 1993, and this is dated 1994. It's interesting to note that Kane's last single for Cold Chillin' was in '93, and he started coming out on MCA in 1994, so this single may've played a part in that transition - maybe it's even what got him signed.

"Gunman" is produced by Kane himself and co-producer Michael Stokes. Stokes is an old funk/soul producer who got his start working with Kane on "Groove With It," so uh, not a good sign. He also produced that Patti LaBelle record Kane, which was also on MCA, back in 1991; so yeah, I'm sure we're seeing the hints of how Kane switched labels in here. Anyway, fortunately, "Gunman" is not a poppy dance record like "Groove" was; it's a pretty hardcore track. It's got a shout chorus: "gun 'em down, gun 'em down, gun 'em down!" and some old west-style samples over a slow drum track. That old west sound kinda reminds me of "Road To the Riches" or "The Symphony" vibe, though I wouldn't hold this record to those standards. But it's a pretty cool record with Kane in hardcore more; his voice sounds great here.
By the way, all this Gunmen talk got me curious to actually watch the movie tonight. It's not a western, which makes Kane's sample selection a little odd. It's also not a good movie, which I anticipated. But a fun surprise for hip-hop heads, all three guys from the soundtrack have cameos. Frost has a quick scene with Christopher Lambert improving some corny joke to him. Rakim is sitting next to Kadeem Hardison like, "yo man, we gonna do this business?" And Kane? Man, he's performing almost the entire "Gunman" song. See, Kadeem's character hangs out in some inexplicable American hip-hop club in the middle of South America or where ever this movie's supposed to be taking place. Ed Lover and Doctor Dre even cameo here ("yo, man, why does everybody here have guns?"). So yeah, Kane's up there performing, and not just in the background. The movie pretty much stops dead so he can do the first half of his song.

Later on, the characters return to this club and Rakim is performing "I Know You Got Soul" with Eric B! What? How did they manage that? Did they break up mid-film, so they shot those scenes and then Rakim was like, nah, I'm doing this song myself?

Well, anyway, back to "Gunman." The song's not quite Greatest Hits material, but it's a solid Kane track. But like the Rakim 12"s, the single doesn't have the album version on it (you have to get the full soundtrack for that). Instead, it's got an exclusive Remix Master Version. This version Kane did by himself, and it's an improvement. The original version was fine, and this one is still no masterpiece, but it's a little doper. It's still got some of those wild west instrumental elements in it - even new ones - but it's faster and tougher. It compliments Kane's flow a little better, too. There's some really cheesy voice saying something indistinguishable during the chorus which I could live without, but despite that, this one's better.

If you've only heard the album version, I recommend checking out the remix; it's dope. And if you've never heard either mix, while the album version isn't much worse; I'd say you can skip right to the remix and just cop the 12". It's got the Instrumental on here as well. So this and the Rakim promo 12" are the two to own, and then there's really no need to bother with the full soundtrack album.

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