Monday, May 1, 2017

Dirty Jersey Week, Bonus Day 8: Razzle Dazzle, Old To the New

Okay, I had a whole other post lined up to round out Dirty Jersey Week, but I actually got put on to today's release as I was writing this series, and I had to include it.  I won't mention who got bumped because I don't want to break any hearts.  😄  But this is somebody I've been meaning to cover on this blog for a while, and he's just come out with a brand new reissue of his classic album with all new bonus tracks... of course I couldn't resist!  I'm talking about the limited edition CD release of Scott Lark's underground Jersey classic Razzle Dazzle.  If you missed it, check out this video interview I posted with Scott a couple years ago.

You're going to see some recurring themes here if you've been following Dirty Jersey Week: Tony D, Contract Recordings, and these cats like B-Fyne again.  Scott Lark is another one of those underground Hip-Hop acts Tony D was working with for Contract Recordings, just like Blaque Spurm, Wise Intelligent and his own breakbeat compilations.  But Scott Lark didn't fit in with those cats or any of the other typical, "random rap" NJ hardcore 90s groups.

Scott Lark has a very west coast influenced, laid back stoner vibe going on, with a smooth but very fried voice.  It's the kind of style that requires some very strong production to work, and so it's lucky for everyone that Tony D handled his entire catalog in this period.  So it doesn't sound like a west coast album, and Lark's lyrical enough that it doesn't sound like mainstream fare.  It's kinda unique.  It's got a great cool-out vibe, with Tony giving it a lush, robust sound-bed.  You'll recognize some samples here and there, but they've been given a very new context here.

And some of Scott's lyrics feel like they're written freestyles conceived while completely under the influence.  Songs like "I Killed a Hoe" and "The Movie," will definitely have you pausing like, wait, is he saying he smoked a bomb with Saddam Hussein on his plane and "he had a jacuzzi with five groupies holdin' uzies?"  Yup, and the story proceeds, "that chick Suzy, she said, hey ain't you that rapper? She slapped me in the face and called me a chick basher.  She stuck her gone in my nose; I froze.  Made me lick her toes and her asshole!  I couldn't do it.  I had to do it."  He always lives up to the backpacker standards of "lyrical" in his construction, but content-wise, he could get very stream of consciousness.

Now, Scott had two 12"s on Contract in '95 and '96, "Insight" and "Razzle Dazzle."  Both of those, including all the B-sides and everything, then wound up on his '96 full-length, Razzle Dazzle.  In fact, it's almost more of an EP than an LP.  The original cassette version, which is what I've always had, is eight tracks deep.  The two 12"s had seven songs between them, so it really only added one new song ("Stomped" featuring B-Fyne).  Apparently there was a CD version, too; but I'd never heard of it until it got listed on discogs many years later.  Anyway, the CD doesn't add anymore songs, but fills up the disc with the instrumentals and radio versions from the 12"s.

This new CD dumps the old CD's filler, returning to just the core eight songs... and adding three unreleased tracks!  One of them is a brand new remix of his debut single, "Insight."  It's produced by The Custodian of Records, and it's really good.  It almost rivals the original, although the vocals do feel like they're mixed a little low and get lost behind the instrumental.  But that's no reason to kick it out of bed; it's got fantastic horn samples and a killer bassline; you'll definitely be impressed.  Then the other two songs are vintage unreleased cuts from Lark's crew before Razzle Dazzle called Unfound with three other MCs named Drunk, Draz and Gee Cope.  And one of these two songs is a posse cut with The Funk Family.  So that tells us these were probably recorded around '92.  Lark does sound younger.  They're rawer, higher energy songs and yes, Tony D produced these, too.

This CD is limited to just 100 copies.  I know Scott Lark's not exactly MC Hammer famous, but I think they're underestimating heads' interest in this one.  It's being released through Cha-Ching Records; Tony D's old label, but now shipping out of Germany?  (shrug)  Anyway, it comes with some new liner notes and the bonus stickers you see in the photo above.  Not the cassette, though; that's just my old tape.  Here's their BigCartel.  I hope we'll see a lot more of Tony's unreleased catalog coming soon.

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