Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mr. Complex Week, Day 4: Rawkus and Finally Pharoahe Monch!

We roll into 1999, and we reach an even higher point with Mr. Complex now coming out on Rawkus Records.  This is his only record with them (not counting guest appearances on other projects), which makes sense as Rawkus was making a lot of individual 12" deals with artists at the time.  But this was right at the label's peak with Soundbombing II, "B-Boy Document," the Mos Def solo album, "Simon Sez," etc.  And all those indie artists with 12"s on the label were a big deal, and now that included Mr. Complex.  This was gonna put him on a lot more peoples' radars.

And... it's alright. A lot of the punchlines are predictable ("I'm not jokin'; I'm not Chris Tucker, mother____"), and this is like the first Mr. Complex record not to have tight DJ scratches on the chorus.  Still, it's a fairly funky track, especially on the hook, when an extra, really fresh horn sample is brought in.

But the biggest news here is that finally, after all these years and 12"s that hinted at it, we've actually got a duet with Pharoahe Monch on the B-side!  Like, seriously, when I first bought this record, I didn't believe it.  Because I didn't buy it after hearing it on the radio or a mixtape or something.  Day one there was a new Mr. Complex record out, I had to have it. And when I saw that on the B-side, I said to myself, "he's not fucking on here."  At least not as anything more than more "ambiance" or whatever.  But no, he's actually on here.  Rapping with Mr. Complex, like a proper duet.  In fact, the first verse is a really intricate word-for-word interplay.  Then they each take a solo verse for the rest of the song.  I don't know if Rawkus said, "if we're gonna do this record, Mr. Complex, you've gotta stop the teasing," or if the stars just finally aligned.  I'm sure the fact that they were finally labelmates - remember, Monch launched his solo career through Rawkus - helped facilitate matters.

But in the end, who cares why it's here?  What's important is that it's terrific!  It's called "Gitcha Gitcha Gitcha" and lives up to the four years of anticipation for a Monch/ Complex duet.  Both tracks are produced by Lee Stone, but everything clicks on this one, with a smooth, fumping bassline underneath squealing horns as both MCs really bring their A-games with captivating flows; and their voices really compliment each other.  It just feels crazy that they waited this long to do a song together.

I have no idea with "Gitcha Gitcha Gitcha" was relegated to the B-side.  "Stabbin' You" sounds like something older or just quickly slapped together.  But hey, Hip-Hop has a long-standing tradition of "B-side wins again," so why not?  Both tracks are fully loaded with Clean, Dirty, Instrumental and Acapella versions, and it comes in a cool picture cover.  So definitely one for the crates, and at least half of which deserves to be in a greatest hits comp, though oddly only the A-side wound up on The Complex Catalog compilation album.

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