Thursday, January 19, 2017

Flippin' PHD's "I'm Flippin'"

This is one of those posts I'm writing as much for my own benefit as for any of yours.  See, "I'm Flippin'" is a dope song from PHD's underrated 1991 album Without Warning on Tuff City Records.  And it was a single.  I mean, they practically released singles for half the album, but this one had a video and everything.  Raw, Queens street rap about dealing long before the rise of Queensbridge criminology and Cuban Links, Illmatic, AZ, Tragedy's reinvention, etc.  I mean, this was after Kool G Rap's "Road To the Riches" and "Streets of New York," so I don't want to oversell this as completely inventing a subgenre or anything; and I know Rick Ross and everybody has turned pushing weight into kiddie pop music nowadays; but I remember it was fairly eyebrow raising to have a music video be that detailed about hustling drugs at that time.

So anyway, besides being on the album, "I'm Flippin'" was released as one half of a cassingle I already covered on this blog, "Do It Any Way You Wanna Do It."  That single featured a couple remixes of "I'm Flippin'," or at least one.  It was a little confusing because I think at least one of the tracks on there is mislabeled.  And then there's the 12" single, which features six versions, the names of which definitely don't coincide with the previous single.  And it also calls two versions the Vocal Remix version.  So, it's just one of those 12"s that features the same tracks on both sides?  Nope.  Despite having two tracks called the exact same thing, they're different!

And that's why I'm at least partially writing this post for myself.  This is old music I don't exactly spin daily these days, and having three different releases (including the album), with alternate versions of the same song, several seemingly mislabeled, I can never remember what's what.  I can remember several years ago playing all the versions and working it all out for myself, and today I've forgotten.  So this time I'm making a record of what's what, so from now on I can just look it up on my blog.  And, you know, you guys can read along with me.  😎

So let's start with the album version.  That came out first, and it's a tight track with with hard drums, a cool bassline, a tight piano loop and another, crackly piano sample over the hook.  Like the rest of the album, it's produced by the HD of PHD, DJ Hot Day.  It's great, and it's actually a wonder they remixed this one at all because the original one works so well; I really have that extra hook sample.

So then we come to the 1991 "Do It" B-side.  It's interesting to point out, by the way, that this tape is mislabeled, and the music on the A-side actually plays on the B-side and vice versa.  Anyway, first up is the Vocal Remix, and it's largely the same as the album version with the same drums and piano loop.  But it doesn't have that older, jazzy piano sample on the hook, and instead makes a bit more of a meal of a new, poppier bassline.  Also, and I imagine this is why it's called a "Vocal" Remix, it features all new clean lyrics.  "Nigga with an attitude" becomes "trooper with an attitude," and a lot of "fucks" are replaced.  It's a decent alternative, and I guess it has a little bit more of a "cleaner" sound that would work better for a single and video, but I prefer the album version, lyrically and instrumentally.

Next up is the Instrumental Remix, and you'd expect it to be the instrumental of that Vocal Remix we just heard, right?  But nope, it's an all new instrumental remix, and it's really tight.  Bit horns and and shit.  We actually here this version with the vocals on the third and final version of "I'm Flippin'" on "Do It," the Original Mix.  So yeah, it's definitely not the album version, but a killer remix that easily tops the last one, even though, disappointingly, it also uses the clean lyrics (which makes it all the more confusing that they label it "Original").  Also, according to the notes here, it's also produced by Hot Day.  That's gonna come up again.

So finally we come to the 1992 12" single of "I'm Flippin'," which again, only features six versions of "I'm Flippin'."  First up is the Vocal Remix.  This is definitely not the Vocal Remix from the "Do It" 12", but a whole new remix, with a funky, more 90's sounding remix and a bit of a Pete Rock influence.  A very familiar, rolling bassline (it's the same one from Master Ace's "The Music Man," but shown in a very different light here) and soft echoing horns.  As the song starts, it's my least favorite version, but the extra horns and samples they bring in on the hook sound great, though; and there's a hot change-up that kicks in for a few moments where the sample set completely changes. Lyrically, it's still the clean version.

Next is the Instrumental Remix, which isn't the same as the Instrumental Remix we had on the other single, but the instrumental for the latest remix we just heard.  Then there's Acappella Mix, which is exactly what it sounds like.  And yes, it's the clean version.

Flip the record over, and we come to the Video Remix.  This is what was labeled as the Vocal Remix on "Do It," with the poppier bassline and yes, the clean lyrics again.  After that is another track labeled Instrumental Remix, but it's not the one from side A, but rather the one from the "Do It" single with the blaring horns.  And finally another track labeled Vocal Remix, which this time is that full blaring horns version of the song.  And yes, once again, clean lyrics.

Oh, and didn't I say PHD's production credit would come up again?  Yeah, yeah.  Well HD naturally gets production credit on the 12", too.  But on side A it also says it's Remixed by Rashand "Algee" Smith.  He doesn't have a lot of credits, but has done some dope stuff like Organized Konfusion's "Fudge Pudge" and "Latifah's Had It Up To Here."  So my guess is that Algee just did the 12" exclusive remix, the one I said had a Pete Rock influence; but the label doesn't exactly make the distinction clear.  He could've done all the remixes for how it's written out.  But I think he just did the one.

So, for those keeping score, the B-side to the 12" is exactly the same as the "I'm Flippin'" side of "Do It."  The same three tracks appear in the same order, just with different, conflicting labels.  That does leave the 12" with an extra, exclusive remix, plus its instrumental and the acappella.  Unfortunately, neither of the singles include the original lyrics anywhere at all.  The original, curse-laden lyrics, as well as the original instrumental, are only available on the album.  But the exclusive remixes are dope, clean or not, so you should definitely still check for those.  And at least he re-rapped the clean version as opposed to them using awkward edits or bleeps that always ruin the flow of a song.  It's a hot track, so I recommend all of it.  All told, there are four very distinct versions of the song, and every single one is worth your time.  And even though the "Do It" single has nothing exclusive on it by way of "I'm Flippin'," it still has the remix of "Do It," so you'll want that, too.  Tuff City has all these obscure 12"s, and I'm always like, "do I really need this one, too?"  And the answers almost always, "yup.  It's Tuff City; just get it."

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