Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sanford & Son, Part 2: Watchitsucka!

So my first instinct is to breeze over this first one because they never made a single of it, but it's too fun not to talk about. Nice 'N' Smooth were the next to loop up the Sanford & Son theme in 1991. The song's called "Step By Step" (for no discernible reason), the last song on their second LP, Ain't a Damn Thing Changed. And gosh, where to begin? How about the fact that Greg Nice takes his non-sequitur lyrical style to a whole new level of absurdity with this one:

"It's so ridiculous, like Cheech and Chong.
Here to make things right that was wrong.
He was wack, so he got gonged.
Samson, Delilah and King Kong.
...Drink your drink with a crazy straw.
I can go pop or I can get raw.
Remember the man with the manicure?
My sister had a baby; it was premature."

Just... what? Not a single one of those thoughts follows into the next, and none of them have a logical place in this song. It's almost like jazz scatting, except with real words rather than sounds. There's no other reason to bring up Samson and Delilah, let along follow them up with King Kong. The fact that you recognize the words just makes them sound better than meaningless syllables. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's how all teenagers hear pop music.

Then Smooth Bee of course, does his own, completely different thing, basically kicking a narrative rap about being cool at a club:

"Look around the atmosphere: over there,
A face like Venus, body like Cher.
Oh yeah, so I stepped to her.
Later on that night, I slept with her.
She forgot she had a man, so I wept with her."

Ha ha! And everything's made all that much crazier because they're rapping to sitcom harmonicas. It's Sanford & Son, but this self-produced track by the pair fades it out to bring in a smooth, totally unrelated bassline, only to bring the harmonicas back for the hook. Then they get The Black Flames to harmonize back-up vocals at the end. None of it fits together! It's like three different songs forced together. That's what keeps it from being one of their greatest hits and why it wasn't a single, but it also makes it crazier and all the more novel.

But there's one other 90's record that used Sanford & Son, and it did become a single. Da Fat Cat Clique were a nice little indie group from Philly, who made records with everybody from EST to DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Lux. And "Watchitsucka! (Rock Wit da Cat Clique)" comes right off their second album, Ode To the Cool Cat. Produced by Rugged'Ness, this one uses the loop for 100% of the song and doesn't mess it up with other elements or interpolate it with cheesy keyboards. It's just the funky, original soulful harmonicas sounding great. They do cut the loop shorter than you'd expect, so it takes some getting used to, but it sounds great.

The hook's just okay, with this girl mono-tonally asking, "you wanna rock with the Fat Cat crew?" And none of the verses are particularly interesting either. Over another beat, it would be pretty generic. But just them flowing over this track sounds so good, nothing else matters. Totally average lines sound dope just by the way they spit them as the beat cuts out. It's a short song, but it's so high energy, you can just listen to it on loop and never stop rocking with it.

The 12" has the Instrumental and A Cappella on the flip, which is cool. There's no date or other info on the label, but I can tell ya it's from 1998. Da Fat Cat Clique broke up after their next album, but A.B. Lover recently came back as one half of The Saints, a new Christian rap group, who released their debut album, Passion and Purpose, in 2014. They've even got Ital the Ruffian on there; but there's nothing half as funky as this Sanford & Son joint.

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