Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The OTHER Other "High Rollers"

I got another "High Rollers" 12" to talk about. This time it's by Proof (R.I.P.). I've got a bunch of these white label 12"s by Proof and have been looking for an excuse to write about one, so here we go. After Ice-T released his "High Rollers" in the 80s and Father MC released his in the 90s, came Proof's in the 2000s. There's no date on the label, but we know from promo CD singles (plus the general release of the corresponding album and music video) that this came out in 2005.There's also no credited record label, but this is a single off his Searching for Jerry Garcia (I assume a combination of an arbitrary Search for Bobby Fischer reference, with Garcia added due to his penchant for glorifying pot smoking) album on Iron Fist Records, which was Proof's own label. It's actually the B-side, though, so let me briefly cover the A-side first.

Hmmm... Impressions of "Gurls Wit da Boom." Let's see... Oh, I got it! It sucks!

Yeah, it's pretty crap. If this was anybody's introduction to Proof, they'd be completely baffled as to how he got his reputation as D12's most credible lyricist. It's from pretty much the weakest period in his career, when he was trying to crack mainstream success as sort of a 50 Cent Lite. He's doing that soft vocal fry thing with his voice, and lyrically he's just telling us that he likes sexy girls for five minutes ("I know you suck dick. Well, that's my accusation. I'm really wonderin' if you're acceptin' applications"). I do like that he's making a L'Trimm reference almost 20 years after the fact, but he never really plays that up in the hook or anything, which might actually be for the best. I mean, vocally, it's not so much terrible or anything, it's just mediocre and sounds like the most crossover stuff of that period. It's really the minimalistic bip-boop-a-beep-boop instrumental that really brings it down. Say what you want about EDM replacing hip-hop aesthetics, but I'm glad it killed this kind of club beat everybody was rapping over in the 2000s.

"High Rollers" doesn't have a lame club beat at all, though. It's based on a real cool, old school sample... the same one that Poor Righteous Teachers used for "Word Iz Life," but this one chops it differently, leaving part of the vocals in the loop as well. It's also got some high profile guest verses by Method Man and B-Real. This time "High Rollers" is just a cheesy pun - they're high and they roll blunts, get it? And even the vocal in the loop is saying "I'm high," nyuck nyuck. But while the subject matter is old news, especially for B-Real; they come up with some cool wordplay and harder deliveries that sound great on the track. Predictably, Meth steals the show at the end, but everyone comes off well on this, even B-Real, who I'm not often swayed by.

The 12" is full of versions of "Gurls:" Explicit, Clean, Squeaky Clean, Instrumental and Acapella. But there's just the one version of "High Rollers," here misspelled as "High Roller." "Gurls" is also the one they shot the video for, again they were clearly shooting for the kind of audience Fat Joe and G-Unit were pulling in. But I think if they'd pushed "High Rollers," instead, they would've gotten more attention. Trying to blend in and sound like everyone else is how NOT to draw attention to yourself; not the best strategy for selling records. But if you're collecting today, this is worth getting cheap for the B-side.

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