Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Craig G's Infinite Playlist, Part 1: Craig G & Barkim?

Guys, seriously.  Check out the Guest Spots section on my Craig G page; I've just been updating it.  And without exaggeration, I ask: could this be the most guest verses a rapper has contributed to other artists' tracks in the history of Hip-Hop?  Is this the honest to God record?  Should we have an intervention?  I mean, some rappers have had a year or two where they were netting some crazy numbers.  Like Grand Puba or Canibus.  But then they kinda flamed out after a couple years.  But Craig's numbers keep rising.  And that list only counts physical releases that've actually been made available on CD, cassette and vinyl.  Think of all the random stuff on obscure rappers' Youtubes, Bandcamps and Myspaces that must be out there that we've never even heard of!

And if your question is, Werner, do you actually own all of those?  Nope.  I'd like to meet the man who does, if such a person exists.  But I do have some of them.  So I thought I'd make a little mini-series of posts looking at some of the random, curious entries.  I mean, okay, a guest spot on a Sadat X solo album kinda goes without saying, but there's a lot of big question marks on that list.  In fact, a post I made a couple years ago already fits, so check out this 2010 post about Craig G's record with Strippoker.  What, you've never heard of Strippoker?

But today I'm starting with a different record, Craig G's record with Domination Statuz.  You've probably never heard of them either, but as far as I can gather, they're two guys from the Bronx.  This is their only record, released in 1999 on the slightly infamous label, Echo International.  Apparently they went on to release an mp3-only EP in 2001 called Operation Domination... you can read it getting a pretty negative review in German here.  But happily, the criticisms, at least about the production - Google translated: "monotonous beatbox production, cold computer stunts and simple synth effects" - don't apply here.  This record has strong drums and nice, crispy samples.

Now, the sticker cover says both songs feature somebody named Barkim, and Barkim also gets sole writing credit for the song.  But there's only two voices (not counting Craig), so even though it doesn't help that he doesn't say his own name on any of the tracks to identify himself, I think Barkim is actually one half of Domination Status.  And the other guy seems to be named Shine (guessing on spelling).  Is it possible this Barkim is the guy down with Nas?  Listen to "Represent" and he says, "Barkim, my brother Jungle, Big Bo cooks up the blow," and the 2001 song "Gangsta Tears" (from the Exit Wounds soundtrack) is all about how his man Barkim got shot.  And he also ran with another guy named Barkim who got locked up (yeah, they're two different people).  Now, Craig is from Queens and has made records with just about everybody from there, but these guys do refer to themselves as being from the Bronx, so maybe it's a different Barkim.  After all, it is an actual first name a number of guys have.  Or maybe he moved, who knows?  Maybe somebody who actually knows these guys can comment and shed some light on this mystery.

Whoever these guys are, they're not bad.  But they're not exceptional or anything either.  This is a pretty solid NY street record.  Domination Status are a little basic, but a strong track with some a tiny piano loop and a number of layers, plus the cameo by Craig on a harder record then you usually find him on add up to a nice, little single.  It's a typical, this-is-the-dirt-we-did-to-become-iced-out kind of record, with some bland punchlines like "kicking the real shit like Bruce Lee."  But Craig comes in with a slick message in his verse that's sincerely heartfelt enough to not come off as preachy.  Craig is also on the hook, so it doesn't feel like a phoned in cameo where he just emailed them a verse; and in 1999, I guess cats weren't doing that yet anyway.

There's a B-side called "Murda He Wrote," which has some more solid production, though it hurts for another Craig G appearance.  They shout out Biggie and 2Pac just like they do on their 2001 EP, so lyrically these guys are on the same tip.  The other credited artist, China Mist, is a girl they have singing the hook.  She's pretty good, and matches well with the instrumental.  It's not gonna classics like "One Love" or "Sugar Hill" out the box, but it's actually pretty good.  I actually recommend this record.  It's got Clean, Dirty and Instrumental versions for both tracks.  And I would say it's a shame Domination Statuz never put out anymore records, but after hearing what's supposed to be the best track off of Operation Domination (it's on youtube), maybe it's just as well.  But this 12" is kinda nice, especially since you can pick it up cheap.  Craig G fans will be happy to add it to their crates.

3 comments:

  1. Hey Werner, I love the blog.

    You've mentioned Grand Puba and Canibus several times in regards to their huge catalogues of guest appearances. I get what you mean by Canibus, he was everywhere in the late 90's. But at what era of Puba's career did he rack up a huge amount of collaborations? In his prime he only had a handful of guest appearances (Are You Ready, Actual Facts, Watch the Sound, All Men are Dogs, and maybe a few others I can't remember). Am I missing something here?

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    1. Good question! I never compiled a discography page for him like I did with Canibus (badly in need of an update though it is) and Craig G, so maybe I'm over-estimating the kind of numbers he racked up. But I'm definitely thinking of the 90s era. There was a time it seemed like he was on everybody's project. Because besides the more hip-hop stuff like you're naming (Beg No Friends, Don't Curse, Skinz, etc) he was doing soundtracks and lots of R&B artists' singles. Besides the obvious ones like Blige and Al B Sure, there were groups like Ladae, Eternal, Shaggy... Yeah, maybe if I tried to list it all it wouldn't come up to infinite Craig G levels, but for a while there, he had a lot.

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  2. How could I forget about Skinz? Trying to find an unedited version of that song drove me mad. And Don't Curse, of course! Then there's the appearances he made with Sadat that I've always considered Brand Nubian stuff, which is much different from Puba by himself. But yeah, I guess he did have a pretty healthy number of guest spots.

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