Monday, November 9, 2015

The Return Of Johnny the Fox

Last year, I wrote about the debut solo single of Tricky Tee, formerly of the disco-era Just Two, on Sleeping Bag Records. It was a more traditionally hip-hop effort on Tee's part, but also had the very distinct feel of its producer, Mantronik. That was 1985, and this is his 1986 follow-up. Still on Sleeping Bag Records, this time they've upgraded him to a full color picture (and sticker) cover.

And this time he's no longer partnered up with Mantronik. Instead, both the A- and B-side here are produced by Sam Sever. You probably know him best for doing some classic 3rd Bass songs, and later forming Downtown Science with Bosco Money. This is before all of that, and Sever brings more of a pure, New York sound to his production here. You probably wouldn't recognize it as Sever's work, but it's really strong stuff.

Ironically, the drums are the weakest part of "Leave It To the Drums." It's a fresh drum pattern, and it combines perfectly with the other elements to make a great rap song. But the drums themselves sound very piddling and soft. A more modern producer would've probably laid heavier hits on top of these drums, but as it is, it's interesting, but probably best to focus on all the other elements of the song. Especially since the other elements are all great. Tee's not doing anything particularly mind-bending lyrically, but he's got a great flow that perfectly matches the track; he actually reminds me of T-La Rock on here. And the instrumental is largely made up of a collection of traditional jazzy samples being dropped in one by one. I'm sure it was all laid down in the studio, but it feels like there's an old school DJ constantly swapping between records behind the MC.

The B-side isn't quite as good, but it comes in at a respectable second place. It's very big on hand claps and bells. The drums sound more natural here and Tee comes nice and hard again. There's a promising "Good To Go Mix" on here, but it turns out to just be the instrumental. Both songs have full/ Club, Radio and Instrumental versions.

It's just another strong single from Tee that felt like he was building up to a Sleeping Bag album... but for whatever reason that never happened. So you've gotta get these singles, because that's all there is, which is a shame, because I'm sure it would've been a highly regarded album to this day had it existed.

But while this is his second and last solo single, I wanted to bring something I found online to your attention.  This is why the internet is awesome. There's a great, unreleased comeback single by Tricky Tee that lives in full online. It's from 1991 according tot he uploader. It's kind of fuzzy, so I'm guessing this was taped off the radio. It's called "Who's In Town," and it's hot, produced by Shadow. If you told me you had an unreleased '91 comeback single by Tee, I'd have some fairly tempered expectations, but this is really as dope as you could want it. Check it out here. It's really a shame there's no wax of it, but it shows Tricky Tee still had more fire in him.

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