Saturday, May 21, 2016

No, The Other Shug & Dap

In 1994, Gangstarr was really getting their Gangstarr Foundation acts out there with features and record deals. Big Shug and Group Home, which consisted of Melachi and Dap, were just putting out their first records and building a big buzz. And right at that same time, probably out of oblivious ignorance, but possibly in a deliberate and shameless attempt to mislead the public and score some easy sales, Giant Records put out their brand new hip-hop group Shug & Dap. Either way, it was a bad decision, because everybody's initial excitement over seeing a Shug & Dap tape appearing in their local music store's Rap section immediately deflated seeing it was some unknown girl group with a borrowed name. At least they put their pictures on the cover so we found out on the spot rather than after we paid for it and brought it home.

But who actually were the other Shug & Dap? They only put out this one single, "Anotha Man," on Giant Records in 1994. The back cover promises this is from their forthcoming album, First High, but that never happened.  This single is it.

Well, Shug & Dap were an R&B/ hip-hop combo act. Shug, on the left, sang; and Dap rapped (you can tell just by their hairstyles). And on this song - which, again, was their only song - that left Dap with very little to do. Because they didn't go with the one-raps-while-the-other-sings-the-hook formula, but the burgeoning style of the day: a full-on R&B song with a little, token rap verse at the end. So this is practically a Shug solo project with a guest spot by Dap.

And it's not bad but it's pretty boring, to be honest. Shug's a good singer but she doesn't exactly blast us out of our seats with this low key number. The music isn't particularly sample based, there's a lot of bass and keyboards that don't manage any particular catchy riffs. There's also a "Creepin'" remix, which has some really dated G-funk/ Troutman slide whistle effects added to the mix. Organized Noize did the remix, which is interesting, but doesn't actually make it any better.

Conceptually, the song's about how they cheated on their man, but want him to take them back because the guy they slept with was "just anotha man." There's sort of a weird disconnect between the verses (both sung and rapped) and the chorus. The bulk of the lyrics are regretful and apologetic, full of lines like, "I didn't know what I was doin'," "I know I blame myself, but what can I do now?" "I was wrong and now you're gone, and without you in my life, I just can't go on," and even "my body lost control, and oh no! Got caught up in the ho stroll." But the hook is all, "just anotha man, a quick hit. Just anotha man, didn't mean..."

Now, first of all, we could look at the logic in making your big lead single a song where you have the cut out a key section of the chorus. It's one thing to quickly splice out a quick curse or two from a rapid-fire rap verse, but the last word in a short and repetitive R&B song? Who thought this should be the single. But moving past that, you know, there's like two songs here. Either a sappy, "I'm so sorry, take me back" love song or a sassy, "I'm gonna turn the tables on conventional sexism by treating men like the sex objects!" Either one works, but here it feels like they just couldn't decide. It actually might've been a fun, if trite, opportunity to give Shug & Dap more distinct identities by having Shug be sad and sorry and then Dap give it the female playa spin at the end. But nope, they're both sorry until except on the hook.

I doubt that hurt them too much, though, since I'm probably the first person, including the song's producers, to actually listen and think about the lyrics. And like I said, First High never came out and the group quietly dissolved. But Shug(the singing one)'s career actually kept on. She became known as The Truth Hurts (not to be confused with and signed with Dr. Dre. Remember that R&B song with Rakim that everybody - including Rakim - was going to lead up to a Dre produced Rakim album? Well, it didn't work out for him, but she actually got her Aftermath album, including a couple more singles with guest rappers.

You'd think she would've squeezed Dap into that line-up somewhere for a quick cameo. Or at least gotten her onto her 2004 independent sophomore album, but nope. I guess the book is closed tight on that partnership. So I don't know what happened to Dap. She's not down with Truth anymore and she's not a member of the Gangstarr Foundation; that's all I know.

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