Monday, October 12, 2015
Rakim's Three Gunmen
Now, the cassingle version pictured here features two mixes: the main version and The Wiz Mix, produced by Gary G-Wiz. G-Wiz is one of those guys who wound up joining The Bomb Squad later on, but wasn't part of the original line-up, and was a member of one of Chuck D's pet projects, Hyenas In the Desert. He has co-writing and production credits on some heavy jams, though, like "Know the Ledge" and "Nuff Respect." Who's hard to call who's really responsible for what in situations with group credits (Hell, he can't even trust solo credits all the time), but I think he earned his right to be producing for Rakim's solo debut, and seemed a more fitting selection than Madness 4 Real.
G-Wiz certainly came with a funky bassline, nice cuts, a dusty horn look for a hook, cracking drums and a nice little piano loop. A solid mix. But surprisingly, those Madness guys handily top it. They've got a lot of the same elements, which I guess makes sense since they made the track and G-Wiz was just remixing it. But their bassline is so much deeper and jazzier on this version. It just sounds more raw, tough, and exactly what you'd expect Rakim to come with in 1993. In fact, it fits in perfectly with "Know the Ledge" and the musical style Eric B & Rakim were coming with on their fourth album. And the G-Wiz mix is upbeat and bouncier by comparison, feeling like he tinkered around with it way too much. I mean, he doesn't ruin it, it's a cool variation; but it's clearly inferior.
Big Daddy Kane. And there's actually a 12" of that with a superior remix, too. So it's kind of a waste buying the whole soundtrack just to get the one Rakim song on wax.
I think some heads only caught the G-Wiz mix (because, again, that was the only version included on the commercial 12"s), so they weren't quite as impressed with this single as they should've and would've been had they heard the original mix. Again, it really maintains the sound Rakim had on his previous work, which is more than you can say for pretty much any of his solo work after this. It would be several years before he'd actually get signed and come with some albums, and he had a couple strong singles in that mix. But "Heat It Up" really should've been the lead in to a killer album showing he hadn't missed a step after the split. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and he did wind up missing some steps. But do yourself a favor and at least get this 12", which despite outward signs is actually quite good.