Thursday, December 3, 2015

Is It Time To Break Out the Obscure Star Wars Rap Yet?

So you probably haven't heard yet, because they're playing it pretty close to the vest, but Disney is planning to release a new Star Wars movie this month. And yeah, I'm already planning to see it with some friends. I mean, not on opening night, because what're you, crazy? But, so yeah. I thought I'd indulge in a little Star Wars fever with this obscure indie release from 2000: "War Of the Stars" by Shamroc the Abstract Jedi.

So yeah, this is some nerdy backpacker stuff. Of course, who else would go whole hog into Star Wars rap? There have been others (I already blogged about Phoenix Orion's entry into the topic), and they've all been indie, backpacker, "super lyrical" guys. Nothing wrong with that, though; I dig that stuff!

So, this is essentially an EP. You could call it a single, but it's loaded with B-sides. There was a 12" version as well, but that has more accapellas not found here, while this cassette has exclusive remixes instead. It does purport to me from an upcoming full-length album called Return Of the Abstract Jedi. I'm not sure if that ever came out, but Oh Sham Recordings did get at least one other project out there, so it might've.

And by the way, this Shamroc isn't a complete nobody out of obscurity. He and his crew - The Abstract Jedis are also a group, who were set to release an album called The Alliance - seem to be from San Diego, and he's got Drez (as in "The Cool Fantastic") producing and cutting on a couple tracks here.

Anyway, "War Of the Stars" is the title track, and it's a hip-hop beat making heavy use of the classic Star Wars theme... You know, that "bom, bom, bom, bom ba-bom, bom ba-bom" that booms when Darth Vader marches into frame. And Shamroc's rhymes are all Star Wars references, though he's not actually rapping about the film. He's using it as more of a metaphor for him being a hip-hop savior, come to turn hip-hop from gangsta and bling rap to old school hip-hop lyrical integrity. But believe me, you won't feel shorted of Lucas' space adventures in your listening experience. They even play a clip from the original film (when Obi Wan is training Luke to use the force) before the song starts. And there are more vocal samples from your favorite characters throughout the song. And once he starts rapping, it's all:

"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,
Hip-hop was fresh and real B-boys had somethin' to say.
Today it's pimps, playas and hustlas, who hip-hoppers don't play,
And the humanoid Shamroc the Abstract Jedi saves the day.
I'm A New Hope..."

And it's non-stop Star Wars punchlines from there on, like "I open mics like tauntauns," "fake MCs fall to the dark side," or "others' main concern is wearing gold like C3PO." Although it doesn't stop him from squeezing in politics and points like "I know Hilfiger was a racist." It's interesting, and it's great that it's got this extra layer of substance to it; but you've to be prepared to take your hip-hop extra nerdy to rock this. I mean, really, if he came out just a few years later and posted this song on Youtube, he would've been in the Nerdcore documentary.

The whole tape's not Star Wars rap, though. The next song, "Make It Mo' Betta" is a Drez instrumental with a healthy dose of live piano over the top. and there's another instrumental called "Still Unknown." Then "Uranite Stance" is an old school throwback, full of 80s samples and Shamroc rapping a medley of classic rap lyrics with his name in them, i.e. "MC am I, people call me Sham." It's fun and Drez provides a lot of cuts, but it's too derivative to really get excited about. So it makes perfect sense he's made it an little B-side. It ends with a nice scratch DJ showcase, though, which is practically a whole other song, except it's not listed that way in the notes.

Flip the tape over and you get instrumentals for "War Of the Stars" and "Uranite Stance," and the exclusive remixes for both. The "War Of the Stars" track by DJ Mane One is pretty cool, with a lot of funk guitar samples and some nice 70s-style horns. But anyone listening to this song is surely going to want to hear the version with the Star Wars music - they should've saved that instrumental for another song. And the "Uranite Stance" remix is cool; it's more classic samples, largely blending Eric B & Rakim's "Check the Technique" with Sugarhill's "Tonto."

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the shout out to Shamroc the Abstract Jedi... Check his New video release for his 1999 underground classic "War of the Stars": https://youtu.be/r6oxVzW9zJw
    Hope you like it, Peace!

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  2. Pretty cool review man. Im looking for this cassette tape. Any chance you have a spare copy?

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  3. id trade this cassette and dahflow tape for the 12" version i own

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