Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Box Cutter Buzzz Is Back

In 2017, I wrote a post about The Box Cutter Brothers making the move to release their latest (at the time; I think they've since done a vol. 5) album on vinyl.  Well this summer, one half of the Cutter duo, Drasar Monumental, is back with his solo debut; and I'm happy to report it's also on vinyl.  And this one's interesting, because Ayatollah is certainly the better known of the pair, with an unquestionable track record, having spent decades producing hot tracks for artists like Bee Why, Screwball, Inspectah Deck, Cormega, Tragedy, The Dwellas, Mos Def, Master Ace and the list goes on and on forever.  So it was a pretty safe bet the Box Cutter albums would be at least fairly solid.  But Drasar doesn't share much of that history; and outside of the Brothers' collaborative albums, he's really only done those (admittedly pretty sick) MF Grimm records before.  I mean, even I could make a good record with that man as a partner (the secret? Delegate, delegate, delegate).  So the big question is, without Ayatollah, how's Drasar going to stand on his own?

I won't keep you in suspense - I was really impressed.  Production-wise, he opens with his most impressive cut, "Bells."  At this stage, the label "90s throwback" may be as much of a repellent ward as it ever was an alluring siren's call - I love me some old school Hip-Hop, but I don't want the genre stuck in the past.  However, when something sounds this good, labels like that don't even matter.  This song obviously brings Lord Finesse to mind, as it uses a substantial, two-line vocal sample from his "You Know What I'm About" for the hook.  But it would bring Finesse to mind anyway, because this fits in perfectly with his early 90's production aesthetic; the track, which literally loops up some smooth bells, could easily have been the B-side to "Hip 2 da Game," if Finesse hadn't opted to go the hardcore posse cut route.  But then this song kind of winds up going that route, too, as two-thirds through the instrumental entirely flips and becomes a rough sonic attack with aggressive battle raps. And while I'd say Drasar's strongest suit is his production rather than his MCing, he's still capable on the mic.  You know, think of rapper producers like Diamond D, Showbiz, and Extra P.

But once that opening track switches from smooth to gritty, it pretty much stays in that lane... which I suppose is more in line with what you'd expect to hear looking at the album cover.  But the lyrics start to get more interesting on these harder core tracks, anyway.  "Fine Art of Survival Part 2" (the first part was an entirely instrumental song on Box Cutter Brothers III) gets into some serious sociopolitical subject matter that adds some welcome weight to the project:

"No bank deposits.  Now my girl's actin' awkward,
'Cause with no money in America, they treat you like you're damn near retarded;
So I went to college, with no money.
I was hungry; became difficult for me to study.

Now the situation's lookin' ugly; my own family don't fuck wit me."

The content resonates perfectly with the beat.  Again, sometimes his lyric writing can be a little awkward - he opens the above verse with the old line, "I was so poor I couldn't afford to pay attention."  But the fact that his bars aren't super polished actually in a way works in his favor.  Like this is just real talk from a regular man, not some clever rhyming jester who's packed every line with three bits of wordplay and a pop culture punchline.  "The Murder Game" is a rather cutting take down of your small time neighborhood criminal, a theme he follows up on and broadens out for "Snake Mode," which makes clever use of a Whodini vocal sample.  Then "Perpetrator Overkill" and "Unpredictable" kick us into pure battle rhyme territory, with two killer beats reminiscent of those classic early Rebel Alliance records, right down to the scratch hook (which Drasar also does himself).

Yeah, it's just those six tracks.  Hardcore Overdose Sessions is basically an EP with no absolutely no filler, but then all the instrumentals are included on the flip filling it up to a full LP length.  As you can see, it comes in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-themed picture cover, pressed on burgundy wax.  There's also a CD version with the exact same track-listing, including the instrumentals.  The label is pretty cool, making the CD look like a 45, with little three-dimensional ridges so you can feel the grooves.  You can cop both from vendettavinylvietnam.com.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Doin' It Well

It's been seven or eight months since we've heard from Whirlwind D, but he's back in 2019 with a new record, and like he tells us in his very first line, he's "still doin' it."  This is a single, released on 7" by his regular label, B-Line Recordings, and I think you could say it's a bit of a personal anthem.  The title is "Doin' It," but "Still Doin' It" might've been more fitting since it seems to specifically be about keeping thee enthusiasm and passion for the music over the years and challenges, "my knees getting battered, hairs out my nose and my hearing's all shattered, six pack's gone and complexion's all tattered, but the funk's still fresh and you have to admit Specifik, Djar One and D, we're still doin' it!"

If you're at all familiar with D, or my coverage of him, Specifik should be a very familiar name to you by now.  He's been a regular producer and DJ on D's projects who consistently does good work.  In fact, he runs B-Line Recordings.  But on this track, he's just doing the (essential) cuts.  The producer is that other guy, Djar One.  But you should recognize him, too.  He produced the lead track off of D's last EP, "Labels" (which Specifik also did the cuts on).   This is a much higher energy, hyper track, but it's just as much of a killer beat, and the cuts are a big part of its drive.  It's also got a sweet little breakdown; the perfect kind of instrumental for an anthem; you can definitely see why this song was picked to be a single.  Though you can see from just the few lyrics I cited, it runs a little deeper and more personal than just your average "I love Hip-Hop" theme.

And of course there's a B-side.  This one's also by Djar One and Specifik, but this time they switch roles, so Specifik's the producer and Djar One does the cuts.  And as you'd probably guess, this one's a bit slower.  It's called "Sometimes" and tackles online issues.  Now I have to say, usually I'm fairly put off by internet-themed rap songs, because it typically feels like a cheap novelty.  Like "hey, I made the first song about reddit!  The rhymes you wrote get a downvote while your mama gives me Karma."  Or worse, it'll be some kind of corny nerdcore flow over a Halo sample.  But this is a serious discussion:

"Centralized views peddlin' fake news
Shuttin' down all arguments by shoutin' abuse.
Confused by the profuse researchers who reduce
the internet searches to hunches and views.

The age of information, later greater integration,
Proliferation nation right back to segregation.
When will it stop?  When will we see the truth?
Am I just as bad, falling victim to abuse?

...
So what's the conclusion in all this confusion?
Intrusion of illusion leaves seclusion and delusion.
Excusin' the fact that I'm hit with so many views,
Where should I go for my daily fix of news?
I just want the truth, a healthy dose of debate.

Analysis paralysis some people who equate;
Freedom is a right to speak when not bullied.
Acceptin' the fact that I might never not fully
Understand other thoughts, whether bought or sold,

Despite middle-aged a fixed mindset folds.
Scold myself hard for not reading all the cards
As they fall to the table leaving other suits barred."


I like the way he eases in and out of dense, almost "New Rap Language" wordplay and more earnest, direct communication with the listener.  It syncs up perfectly with the funkier, but still rather bouncy track.  It's serious subject matter, but lightened up by the hook, which is an ever-changing collection of rubbed in vocal samples of classic rap lines containing the word "sometimes."  You could just as easily ignore the message and just play the game of trying to pick them all out.  Depending on your mood, you can engage with the song in completely different ways.

Anyway, as you can see above, this comes in a full color picture (and sticker) cover.  Again it's a 7".  I'm not sure if this single is leading up to another album per se (nothing's written on the back cover like "from the forthcoming..."), but knowing Whirlwind D, even if it is, at least one of the tracks here will remain an exclusive to this particular record.  So don't let this one pass you by.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Ladies HaveAComplicatedRelationshipWith Cool James

(Six female MCs issued four answer records to LL Cool J in 1987, and they each had a distinct point to make.  Youtube version is here.)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Dig On That

Look out!  Werner's just been spotted writing out in the wild again!

Have you guys ever heard of Dig Mag?  I don't mean the corny lifestyle website that first pops up when you google "Dig Mag," I'm talking about a dope little magazine about crate digging and hard to find music, i.e. just the kind of stuff anybody looking at our humble site here would be into.  It's relatively new - they've got five issues out so far - and they get a lot of cool DJs and music writers to contribute tales of finding rare vinyl.  And, well, I'm in it.

They publish out of the UK but they get writers from all over, and they cover all genres of music.  You can imagine I don't have a lot of stories to share about obscure Salsa 45s, but they've just come out with their first "Dig Deeper" special issue, focusing exclusively on Hip-Hop, and appropriately enough, that's the issue they reached out to me for.  You can see all the contributors in the picture, including some familiar names to regular readers here... I mean, there's Oxygen, an artist I was just writing about a couple posts back!

Now, when I called this magazine "little," I mean that literally.  It's the exact size and shape of a CD. It's 32 full color pages (I think the average issue is 24, but the special's 32) and the layout is really slick.  See how it's like a record in a crate?  The crate is a plastic cover, and the issue slips out of it.  You'll see.  Anyway, I have a 2-page spread in this issue.

And obviously I'm not a big mp3 guy, but the other thing about Dig is that each issue also includes an online mix of all the music talked about in the issue.  Not all of it's super rare or anything, but for example, DJ Format included an unreleased MC Shy-D I was excited to hear for the first time.  And for my part, I won't spoil the exact record I cover, but I'll just say I had to figure out a way to rip a full quality, white label-only DITC-related track.  And no, it's not Ground Floor, but if you put together that guess, I'm proud of ya.  😎

Anyway, I think it's pretty cool, and not just because I'm in it.  They're also putting out their first 7" record, too... although I'm pretty sure the guy behind Dig has released records before under a different label name.  Anyway, I'd recommend starting with the Hip-Hop special, and then check out the rest if it's up your alley.  It's definitely more of a thing, I'd say, for serious enthusiasts than just casual music fans.  It's just coming out this week, plus you can get back issues and reprints of the first couple issues that've already sold out at digmag.co.uk.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Newark Denominated Clik

A long time ago, I did a video about an important underground Jersey single by the Newark Anonymous Clik.  They're best known for Outsidaz affiliation, with AzIzz and the legendary Slang Ton as featured members.  Some of the other guys in their crew made names for themselves on the solo tip, i.e. Omega and Supreme C.  But here's a lesser known single by a lesser known NAC member, U'Seff Majjid, which definitely deserves a little more attention.  Released in 1999, this came out on Landlord Entertainment, the only other record they put out besides the Clik's.

For whatever reason, before I heard this record, I'd gotten the impression it was some sort of pop jazz infusion thing or something.  And that "featuring Incogneto" was some kind of sax player.  But nah, I don't even remember where I got that notion from, but it's way of base.  This actually a fairly rough and very dirty record.  Yeah, of course with "dance floor" in the title, it's on the club tip.  But Majjid is still coming with a skills-forward flow.  It's basically a shamelessly explicit sex record, produced by the one and only King Shameek.  Like, think of something The Terror Squad would put out; it fits in that sort of thin vein between the streets and radio.  And Incogneto is actually a female MC, there to throw every sex reference back in Majjid's face, only to double down on it.

"Down at the chateau, shakin' my ass like a rattle.
I love it in public spots; it gets me hot.

(You lickin' my cock?)  Only if you lickin' my twat!
And my clique robbin' while the crowd's heads bobbin'.
Gettin' ya nob slobbed? My nigga is out robbin',
Mad as fuck 'cause he couldn't get in the club,
Thinkin' of partyin' while I'm on the dance floor fuckin' the thugs."

But don't get me wrong; it probably sounds like I'm really impressed with this track, but not really.  Like I said, it feels like generic Terror Squad to me, not one of Big Pun's lyrical masterpieces, but just one of those records a couple of the junior members would do together.  It's passable, but the reason I felt this record is worth looking at today is definitely the B-side.

"Gunz and Ammo" is the 90's hardcore kinda joint fans of the NAC would be looking for.  The A-side was just an attempt at a little crossover buzz, and the B-side is the real.  Still produced by Shameek, this one just has Majjid going off.  He's definitely no Slang Ton in terms of clever wordplay, but he has his moments here, "somebody should speak to y'all before you be speakin' to God."  The beat's a little flat, and the hook is stiff, so this isn't like a hit-worthy underground track, but we're on the right track.

Because there's one more song to go.  The labeling makes it look like it's a remix of "Gunz and Ammo," but it's actually an entirely different song called "Newark Killa'z," which is definitely the best of the three.  It's spelled out as the "Raw Anthem Mix w/ Love," but it's not like there are other mixes that've been released anywhere else.  Love I guess is just the guy speaking on the intro, because the song is just Majjid going hard solo, and this time the track is (produced by Heavilee Armed, a low-key street alias of The Hollywood Impact).  Who knew he could make a rugged, ominous beat like this - it thumps - and Maj really impresses here, finally proving how worthy he is of standing alongside his better known Clik members.  This would've drawn attention on mixtapes back in the day, but I don't think many DJs ever heard it.  It's for sure the song to cop this 12" for, and it can usually be found super cheap.  NJ aficionados shouldn't sleep.  It comes in a sticker cover, and we get dirty, clean, instrumental and acapella versions of both "Sex" and "Guns," though just the one version of "Killa'z."  Googling around, there seems to be a CD version, too, with an identical track-listing; but why wouldn't you choose the vinyl?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Divine Beings are Winner!

On Three Times Dope's somewhat maligned second album, they flipped a killer sample from a Curtis Mayfield/ Impressions classic called "We're a Winner."  It's just one of those loops, with a perfectly subtle bassline playing underneath a completely catchy guitar, horn and... xylophone(??) riff.  You know, just one of those loops that blows your mind and makes you want to hear it over and over again.  But lyrically, though EST is of course a great MC, it's kind of a flat narrative rap about relationships.  Not exactly the kind of hyped up, skill flexing flow you want to accompany such a fresh, high energy break.  So I was excited two years later when Ali Dee, the white kid from The Next School who became one of The Bomb Squad, wound up using it for his lead solo single, "Who's da Flava."  He's on a higher energy tongue-flipping freestyle flow like you'd hope for, and it's got a pretty funky scratch breakdown.

Let's face it, though, Dee's a bit corny.  So I was excited to buy the cassingle, but once I really dug into it, it fell a little short.  I still played it a bunch (it helped that he had G Rap drop a guest verse on the B-side), but it could never really hit the spot.  Someone still needed to come around and really rock the track right.  And that's when the Divine Beings came out.

The Divine Beings are the two people you see on that picture cover up there: The Wizard (the dude on the right) a.k.a. Air Smooth and Da Gr81 (the girl on the left).  They were a duo out of Philly who dropped their first indie 12" in 1992.  I never discovered that record until many years later, though, thanks to the internet.  I, like most of us, first encountered them when they were briefly signed to a major and came out with this "Funky Ultimatum" single on Warner Bros' Reprise Records in 1993.

There's actually a step in between their first single and their Reprise single, but again, I didn't know about it at the time.  They first released this 12" on 4x4 Records.  Then Reprise picked it up to give it broader, nationwide distribution.  The 4x4 had an exclusive B-side called "Sounds of Hip-Hop," but this one had a cool picture cover and more mixes of the title track.  And the title track was the one I was amped for anyway, because that's the one over "We're a Winner," with the best MCing to date.

The Wizard, who co-produced this with Kwame, does the majority of the rhyming, and I believe, the cuts.  He's on a fun, tongue-twisting freestyle tip very much in the same vein as Ali Dee.  But apart from a few limp, dated punchlines ("we make more noise than Bugle Boys"), he's just a little nicer on the mic, and definitely less corny.  Then, to really sell this song, Gr81 comes in and kills it with a smooth if not downright sultry, jazzy vibe.  Think of Jean Grae on those Herbalizer records, when she was still known as What? What?.  Just a short verse but it's niiiice.

At least on the Extended Version.  The Single and Radio Edits, also on this 12", and even the one they had the video for, actually cuts out Gr8's verse.  It's just like when they cut Ice Cube out of "Express Yourself" - The song still works without it, but seriously why??  Anyway you cut it, though, this is one must-have single, and thankfully their easiest to find cheap, because of Reprise.

Unfortunately, though, it wasn't the break-out success it should've been, and Reprise dropped the Beings.  Gr81 wound up appearing on Kwame's last album.  In fact, I asked about her in my interview with him, and this is what he said: "Oh, the GR81. She was an artist outta Philly that I was trying to develop. She was dope. I was working with this AIDS awareness repertoire group that I did some appearances with and music for. And she was one of the kids in the group. Well, she wasn’t a kid, but she was one of the people in the group. I thought she was kinda hot, so I said come on this album and let’s do a duet. That’s how that one happened." And that's about all we got from the Divine Beings... until Dope Folks released a bunch of tracks from their shelved album on vinyl a couple years ago.  Kwame's on the intro and one of the tracks features an early appearance by Black Thought.  All the Divine Beings stuff was dope, and it's a real shame they're still barely recognized to this day.  They're certainly the best to ever rock this "Winner" loop.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Nice Little Rarity from Oxygen and Edan

Jamille Records is back, and if you haven't seen it yet, check out their amazing documentary on old school Milwaukee Hip-Hop.  This time, though, they've broadened their coverage to reissue some rare music from Staten Long Island artists Sputnik Brown.  Although, actually, their last record - MC Just Divine "Get Right," back in 2015 - was from them, too.  It's a little confusing if you're not a devoted fan, so I'll quickly clarify: the lead MC of the group Sputnik Brown is Oxygen a.k.a. MC Just Divine a.k.a. Jon Shaft.  So nowadays, you see those names getting tossed around interchangeably because they're all the same guy, except for the fact that Sputnik Brown is the group, so it also includes members E the 5th, plus Tres Best and Musa from the House of Reps.  You've probably seen their projects being brought to you by labels like Diggers With Gratitude and Slice of Spice.  I've covered 'em a couple times in the past.

Now, this right here is their latest, but if you're familiar with Jamille, you know they primarily specialize in reissuing rare and lost music, and this is no exception.  The title track "U Havin' Fun Yet?" is the opener from Sputnik's 2007 12" single on High Water Music.  The 12" was a group project, but this particular song was an Oxygen solo cut.  Anyway, it's not suuuuper rare, so I'm a little surprised to see it repressed on 7" already; but it's a super funky head nodder, with a powerfully addictive bassline and upbeat flow, so I'll allow it.  It's a short song (just over two minutes), so even on the 7" they include the instrumental on the same side.

But this certainly doesn't render that original 12" obsolete, as it leaves off the group's two B-sides, "Unadulterated" and "The Brownout" (plus their instrumentals).  So if you're a real fan, you'll still have to track that one down and cop it.  And they're all good songs.  But of the three, I'd say "U Havin' Fun Yet?" is easily the best.  So if you're just looking for a nice little 7" with a hot song, this'll do ya.

The draw for more serious collectors, though, is surely the B-side: "Idealism" featuring Edan on the turntables.  "Idealism" is a song Oxygen released as Jon Shaft on 12" in 1992, but that only featured alternate mixes.  This particular version is the only one with Edan, and was never pressed on wax until now.  It's actually a live recording, performed in-store at Academy Records.  Up 'till now, it's only been available on super rare cassette tapes that Oxygen self-released of the entire night's performance.  Here, the song's been isolated and mastered as a single.  It is a live recording though, so sound quality isn't crystal studio quality.  For the most part, it's pleasingly clean, but you'll definitely hear the sibilance crackle when the volume peaks.  But it's the absolute best we're ever going to get until the invention of time machines.

And hey, if that still isn't enough for you, this record also includes a tight radio freestyle Oxygen kicked in 2006.  So it's a pretty packed little 7".

Like basically everything nowadays, this is a limited release, but not too limited.  There are 500 copies available on traditional black vinyl, and an additional 100 pressed on colored goldish brown wax.  It comes in a nice sticker cover, replicating the original 12" artwork.  And it's not one of those $100-type limited releases; this is priced to move and getting a surprisingly wide release for Jamille Records, i.e. Fat Beats has it.  So hopefully this record introduces the crew to some new fans.  For a tiny 45, it's got something for everybody: newcomers just discovering these guys for the first time, and die-hards who already have all the old stuff.  Good deal.  👍

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Season Of the Sickness

(This one took a while!  One Sick man has released more dope music in a single season than many do in a decade.  Youtube version is here.)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

My Afro Should've Been On Fire In '93!

When I first heard of The Outlaw Posse's lost album finally getting released, my first thought was: I don't even know who these guys were!  But then I realized this is the original name of the duo Brothers Like Outlaw, who were out on Gee Street in the early 90s.  They were a UK group who never really broke into the US market, so even still I didn't know 'em too well.  But I at least remembered their video for "Trapped Into Darkness" and having one or two of their older songs, which I recall being fairly well produced, on a compilation album from back in the day.

So yeah, their story in short is that it's two guys: MC Bello B and producer K-Gee (not actual brothers).  They had a couple 12"s first, but their debut album was My Afro's On Fire!, which I don't think was ever released stateside.  Their second and last album, The Oneness Of II Minds In Unison, at least made it into US stores.  But it was one of those tapes you'd see on the shelf and just leave there because you didn't really know who they were.  So anyway, they broke up after that, K-Gee went on to produce for other artists (like Me Phi Me and K7, then later expanding out of Hip-Hop to guys like All Saints, George Michael and Rod Stewart) and Bello was that guy who rapped on The KLF's techno hit "What Time Is Love."

Well, they had one last, third album together, which they'd recorded back in 1993; but Gee Street never put it out.  So in 2018, they released My Afro's On Fire Vol. 2 digitally, and even pressed up a 7" single of two of the tracks.  And now in 2019, they're finally making the whole LP available on wax (including those two songs from last year's 7") via Hip Hop Be Bop, that label who's been putting out those Silver Fox and Sugar Bear singles.  It's available on black, white (white) or orange vinyl, all in a slick picture cover with stickers; or on a CD, which includes a bonus track called "Funk It Up."

So, if you're not already a fan, you might be looking at the above credits I listed and thinking, Me Phi Me, K7, The KLF... not the most alluring track record.  I mean, Me Phi Me actually wasn't so bad; he just needed to ditch that twangy acoustic guitar.  And K7 had some interesting production... But you know what I mean.  You don't want to hear an album by the "What Time Is Love" rapper, right?  But this is doesn't sound like all that.  It doesn't even sound like the Brothers Like Outlaw album; it's better.  It's almost hard to reconcile that these are the same dudes.

A couple songs, like "Ghetto Child," sound like the kind of stuff they were doing for Gee Street at the time.  And that's not a criticism; it's got some creative, smooth but jazzy production with samples you won't recognize right away.  But most of the album sounds like some Hip-Hop purist stuff that I never would've expected from these guys in '93.  Although, now with the power of hindsight and google, I realize it does match up more with their first UK album, that was more on that tighter tip.  So it makes perfect sense they've called this My Afro's On Fire Vol. 2.

The production does outshine the vocals a little bit.  The only criticism you could give the poor true school sounding material here is that you will recognize a ton of the samples.  The only "Yeah Ha Ha" uses the same funky bassline as Kid 'N Play's "Bounce," though had this album come out when it was supposed to, they would've beaten them to that punch.  "In Trouble" sounds fantastic, but no better than all the other Hip-Hop records that looped up "Nautilus" the same way, like DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's "Jazzy's Groove," Lord Shafiyq's "My Mic Is On Fire," PRT's "Word Is Bond" or even Soul II Soul's "Jazzie's Groove."  But usually, when you've heard the samples, you haven't heard them like this.  "Hey Mr Officer" uses CMW's classic "This Is Compton" piano roll and drums, but transforms it by adding very different musical elements.  "Ready 4 Action"uses the same Marvin Gaye loop from Scarface's classic "A Minute To Pray," and many others, but here he turns it into a high energy with some upbeat horns and really fresh cuts.  In fact, K-Gee's slick incorporation of the turntables may be this album's secret weapon.

The MCing on the other hand won't threaten anybody's Top 5.  But don't get it twisted; if you've only heard him on "What Time Is Love," he definitely sounds more nimble here than that.  He has a healthy versatility that's able to leave the clunkiness of that song behind and adapt to a variety of tracks, be it playful freestyles or substantive songs with a message.  At his worst, he's a little stiff, but still able to slip into some earnest feeling and nuance into his delivery.  On "Enforce the Positive," he slips into a style reminiscent of Master Ace's "I Got Ta," but then on "Freestyle Poetry" he's surprisingly able to step up to the plate and live up to skill flexing style of the time.

It helps that there are no skits or filler here.  And we're not being overrun with a pack of guests. "Freestyle Poetry" features MCM from Caveman, and that's it.  It's just ten solid, well produced songs that probably would've garnered them some new fans if this had managed to come out when it was supposed to.  So it's nice to get this now, but I'm kind of bummed to've miss the chance to catch this material naturally when it was supposed to have come out.  I'm sure it would've inspired me to go on the hunt for Vol. 1 ...which, remember, wouldn't've been easy in the US before the internet.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The War On Vanilla Ice!

(1991 was both a great and a terrible year for the ice man...  April Fool's Day!  Youtube version is here.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tragedy's LA Drive-By with Str8-G

Now here's a rapper I haven't thought about in a super long time: Str8-G.  I copped his album on cassette in '94, played it some back then, and then that's kinda been it.  But just this week Ben on Twitter suggested I talk about his stuff with Tragedy, and it all flashed back for me: oh yeah, Tragedy was on that album!

Str8-G, for those who missed out, was an LA/ Compton rapper very much in the vein of the early DJ Quik crew, which is what sold me on him back in the day.  He had a high pitched voice, laying in the cut between more traditional gangsta rap and light-hearted sex rap stuff with plenty of post-Chronic G-Funk influence.  His first record was a shameless knock-off of AMG's "Jiggable Pie," with a couple more serious B-sides.  And that's what got him signed to a major for his one album.  He even got Quik to do a remix of his single, "Bring the Funk," which turned out to be his career peak.  You could tell he was really patterning himself off these guys and aspired to roll with them, and honestly, he had a nice flow that would've sound really good on Quik's albums if that had ever blossomed.  But he was a little let down by slightly flatter production by Dazzie Dee and some generic studio house producers.

So with all this west coast talk, who's the last guy you'd expect to turn up in the album credits?  The man who dubbed Queensbridge the new Kuwait, Tragedy.  But yeah, he's got two songs on Str8's album, as a producer, writer and vocals, including the original version of "Bring the Funk" that Quik remixed for the single and video.  It's actually pretty interesting, with a dark, East coast sounding core vibe, including deep bass and "Skull Snap" drums.  They also make great use of a Humpty Hump vocal sample.  But then they lay this syrupy Troutman/ Dre G-funk electronic whistle thing over it, which really hasn't aged well.  But yeah, it's produced and written by Trag, and just in case you might be thinking this might be some other random dude calling himself Tragedy, he speaks on the intro of the song.  This is definitely our Juice Crew Allstar.

And their other collaboration is even more interesting.  Once again, it's written and produced by Tragedy, and vocally he contributes a bit more, though he never kicks a proper verse.  No, this one's called "Drama" and it's a pure East coast sounding-track with squealing horns, a screeching Prince vocal sample (the same one Esham used to use) and a dark street vibe.  Sonically, this would've sounded right at home on Black Rage.  But lyrically it's a narrative on some LA Boyz N da Hood shit, except instead of a proper gang it's Str8-G and his boys, and Trag.

"Three oh-motherfuckin' clock in the mornin';
I'm lookin' at my nigga Tragedy and he's yawnin'.

I'm puttin' on my dickies and yo Trag, it's on.
(Went into the drawer and got the motherfuckin' chrome!)"

...The parenthetical bits being performed by Trag himself.  In the song, they get in their Caddy, pick up their boys and do a drive-by.  "I said 'oh shit, what you doin'?"  And Trag says, "man, that's some nigga my bitch was screwin'!"  And it's all about this gun fight that's gotten out of control.  "And now I'm lookin' for Trag 'cause he's not on my ass, thinkin' about the niggas that's blast - in' on me.  No, it's not me, 'cause the niggas never can see Str8-G.  And no I'm not from they set, and now them niggas don't look at me in a 'vette, 'cause I'm creepin' like a motherfucker.  And I don't give a fuck because I'm not a fuckin' sucker."  This is definitely not the kind of song you expect to hear The Intelligent Hoodlum on, though I guess it ends with his kind of moral, since Str8's character gets shot, and I think we're supposed to conclude that they never should've gotten involved in that drama.  But even for Str8-G, this is pretty hardcore, as a guy who seemed much more comfortable doing songs like "Pussy Time" and "Everything's Fine (In the Summertime)."

And of course it's all the more ironic because the very next record Tragedy would release is "LA, LA," where he rallied his Queens based against the west.  But if you're wondering how these two got together, I think the answer's disappointingly simple.  Str8-G was signed to Tuff Break Records, which was a short-lived division of A&M Records, which was Tragedy's label.  In fact, this was the last thing he did before splitting with them and going indie.  And Str8's only other single was a remix (that leaned much further into the G-funk sound) of his title track with Barry White singing the chorus... Barry was also briefly signed to A&M at that time; so clearly they were just shoving all their artists into studios together.  In fact, that big sticker you see on the cassette case is advertising Barry's appearance, because A&M didn't know enough to be putting DJ Quik's name in big letters on the front instead, even though that's who we were really excited to hear in '94.

But yeah, that was about it for Trag and Str8-G's involvement with A&M, a label which never seemed comfortable with the Hip-Hop genre.  Str8-G pretty well disappeared after that one album.  There's a new guy calling himself Str8 G, but it's a totally different person.  Poking around discogs, I noticed that the real Str8-G did come back to do one song with B-Low O of The Mackadelics in 2007, and he actually came off really nice on there.  It's a shame he didn't get to do a little more with Quik and those guys, but oh well.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Wake Your Daughter Up, The R.A.S. Posse's Back!

Besides that Baby Chill reissue, P-Quest Revivals has an even more interesting new release.  When I first heard they were putting out unreleased music by R.A.S. Posse, a.k.a. Riddem and Soul, the name rang a bell, but I couldn't place it.  They're from the House Party 3 soundtrack!  And they performed in the movie itself.  Well, outside of that, these Brooklyn cats just had one indie 12", the self titled "R.A.S. Posse" on Kid Entertainment Records.  Yep, as in that Kid, because he was genuinely managing them, just like they said in the movie.  Unfortunately, Kid 'N Play were having their own problems transitioning into the 90s, so R.A.S.'s stuff got left on the shelf.  That is until now that P-Quest got a hold of their archives, a whole collection of material recorded between 1992 and 1993.

The Posse consists of rugged reggae MC Bigga Don, Soul G, a.k.a. Easy G or ZG of The Undefeated Three (Funkmaster Wizard Wiz's old group) who kicks a distinctly playful American style ("I'm quick with the giz-nift of gab, the vocab, I smoke ya like a spliz-niff") and also produces, plus a singer named Robbie Irie who's on so many songs, he should at least qualify as an ancillary member.

The tone here is really interesting.  The production is rich and varied.  Sometimes you'll recognize some loops, but they're either paired with some other unexpected samples or just used in a very different type of song.  My favorite example of this has got to be "Lazy Body," that uses the signature music from Special Ed's "I'm the Magnificent" for some funny raps dunking on their lazy girlfriends, like an even catchier version of UTFO's under-appreciated "Beef Pattie."  To put it in terms of rap blogs, this is Wake Your Daughter Up music, not Unkut music.  And that's not a bad thing; I wish more unreleased stuff that wasn't strictly purist would get rescued from the vaults.  A couple songs, like "We Are the Teachers" and Money, Weed, Hoes" are a little rougher and definitely incorporate more hardcore elements from their time, like screeching horns and shouted hooks.  But, you know.  Think The UMCs' second album, not 36 Chambers.

Their actual House Party 3 song itself is left off of here, but instead we get an unreleased demo version.  The only really noticeable difference is that the final version fades the bassline from Ed O. G's "Bug-A-Boo" in and out of the mix, though, which the demo version doesn't really bother with.  That bass sounded really good, so I'd say the House Party 3 version is easily the preferable one, but since that's already out and easily accessible, it's cool to get this version instead as a historical artifact if nothing else.

Their Kid Entertainment "R.A.S. Posse" song is on here, too; though dedicated fans will still want to track down that original 12", since they left off the B-side, a pure reggae (as opposed to Ragga Hip-Hop, with G's rapping and their usual Hip-Hop beats) love song called "Love Me."  But I can see why they left it off; that's really an outlier for the crew, who I'd definitely described as Hip-Hop with a Reggae Twist, as opposed to Reggae with a Hip-Hop twist.  The only "pure reggae" song on this collection is the Dancehall Remix of a song called "Well Run Dry," which is quite different from the main Hip-Hop version that's also on here.

Yeah, there's one or two remixes on here.  The whole album is 21 tracks, with the first being a quick intro (a snippet from House Party 3 where Kid talks about the Posse), and one specifically demarcated as a bonus track.  So basically 18 songs and two additional remixes, and those "Well Run Dry" mixes are practically two entirely different songs.  The other remixed track here is "The Posse" (not to be confused with "R.A.S. Posse"), which is a pretty tight track that uses a sample you'll recognize from Pete Rock's killer remix of Da Youngsta's "Pass the Mic."  The other mix is the Freestyle Version, which sounds just like you'd think, alternate off-the-head lyrics roughly recorded in one pass, as opposed the more polished professional mix.  So it's basically just a fun lyrical remix.

And that bonus track?  It's an unreleased Cool Supreme (also of the Undefeated Three, and the classic "B Boys Style") song that features Bigga Don.  It has a similar production style, and Cool's flow and humor is just like Soul's with just a slightly deeper voice.  So it's just like another R.A.S. song; you probably wouldn't even catch the difference if it wasn't labeled.

So this is another very limited CD, restricted to only 100 copies.  It's brand new for 2019, but P-Quest already put out an equally limited (yes, 100 copies) vinyl EP of highlights in 2017.  That's a sticker cover pressed on green vinyl, and as of this writing, copies of both are still available from the label.  All six songs from the vinyl are on this CD, plus of course, 16 more.  I don't know if these recordings were taken from DATs, cassettes or what, but the sound quality is very clear and strong.  None of these are "sorry, these were ripped from low quality tapes but that's all that exists" like we sometimes have to settle for on projects like these.  I hope this projects succeeds, because Hip-Hop's an awesomely broad scene, and I'd love to see more diverse artists from different periods get their unreleased brought back.  And when they do, I'd like to see bigger runs than just 100.  In fact, my next post is going to get a little deeper in that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Fatal Thoughts of Spurmacide

And speaking of Jersey Hip-Hop, here's a recent, slept on release.  It's an unreleased B-Fyne album called looked If Lookz Could Kill from P-Quest Revivals and Nustalgic Records.  B-Fyne is the guy from Blaque Spurm/ The Funk Family and other projects I've covered on this blog.  But this is his first solo project, an album recorded from 1996-1997 with Joe The Butcher when he was working at RuffNation Records.

It's entirely produced by Tony D, except for one song by YZ, and jumps in with an immediate head nodder that you'll want to put on repeat.  This sets up a tight, unified tone of somewhat smooth, modern-sounding beats across the whole album.  Some of the punchlines ("flows hard like silicone titties," "suffering from WackMCitis") could've been left behind in the 90s, but for the most part, the lyricism is still appealing.  There are some lines just for us New Jerseyians, like "find me in NJ, the Turnpike way, stay off Exit 8, one before Great Adventure, what you get into if you choose to enter my zone."  We'll make the immediate "Exit 7A = Great Adventure" association, but nobody else will.  "Real Kadeal" starts off sounding pretty flat, but once the hook stops and he starts flowing over the track, and then the cuts come in, it really takes off.

The album does start to run out of steam a little bit in the second half.  "Plot Thickens" is kind of a silly sex narrative rap, along the lines of Cella Dwellas' "Perfect Match" or an early Fresh Prince record without the wit.  "Pretty MF With the Dread" also suffers from a clunky hook, despite having a really fresh track which makes great use of "Who Got the Props" and a jazzy sax sample.  And it's not like the other half is bereft of highlights; "Buttascotch" is a tight duet with his little brother, Baby Chill.  And speaking of guest verses, the next track features YZ and Blaque Spurm fellow Papa Doc.

This is a CD-only release right now, though I can't help but notice that the slightly short track-listing (nine songs, and one's a short outro) feels ideal for a single LP.  Like all of P-Quest's Revivals, it's a properly pressed CD, though, not a CD-R.  It's limited to only 100 copies, the first 20 of which came with a promo card; but those are long gone, so if you're interested, don't wait too long.

Although that's not to say there are never any second chances.  You may remember I wrote about Baby Chill's unreleased album Wake Up Call coming from P-Quest and Nustalgic in 2016.  That was limited to 100 CDs, too, and sold out ages ago.  But now it's back, reissued in 2019 with new artwork and three additional bonus tracks.  Two of them are just radio freestyles, which aren't as exciting as complete songs, but still pretty cool.  He definitely impresses with his calm yet confident flow over "My Mind's Playing Tricks On Me" and Nas's "Halftime."

But the third bonus track is a complete, never heard before song, produced by Tony D in the early 90s.  It's called "Nut Junkie," and yes, it means what you think it does: a bit of a reference to his Secret Squirrels thing, but mostly it's about nuts of the busted variety.  It's a tight, busy track, with two sung hooks, one by a female R&B singer, and then a reggae guy chanting about being a "junkie, a junkie, a punanny junkie.  Me no thing for sensei, 'cause me a punanny junkie."  As you can guess, it's pretty all pretty irreverent and honestly one of the best songs on the album.

This one's also limited to a 100 CDs.  I don't know if the bonus tracks make it worth double-dipping if you already copped the 2016 edition.  But they definitely take the sting out of being stuck with a second pressing if you missed the first one; and the important thing is that more music is being restored and finally released to the fans.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Escaping Back Into Da Nuthouse

It's common knowledge that as a NJ Hip-Hop blogger, if you don't write about Da Nuthouse within your first ten years, you can get your license revoked.  And going over my records, I see that I've been living on borrowed time!  So, come one, let's hustle!

Da Nuthouse were three MCs from South Jersey: Az-Iz a.k.a. Dave Ghetto, DJ Nex Millen/ Retrospective (who also produced a lot of their stuff) and Fel "The Enigma" Sweetenburg.  And this is their 1998 debut single on a label that introduced a lot of hot indie acts to the world, Bobbito's Fondle 'Em Records.  Of course, Fondle 'Em wasn't really a long-term home for anyone (as opposed to signing acts, I believe it lived solely on one-time deals made per individual record), and they quickly moved on to Goodvibes (such an underrated label) for their album.  And then their third and final record, a 2005 single on Counterflow, claimed to be "taken from the forthcoming Nuthouse album 'Mentally Ill'," which obviously never surfaced, but all three guys have gone on to extensive solo careers.  They've consistently been clever, able MCs who I'd be down to hear on a project right up to today.

But in terms of songs where you hear it and say to yourself, "I need to have it on vinyl," they really, unfortunately, peaked here.  It's all decent material... I always at least liked everything they put out, and I remember hearing a really cool mp3-only song about Camden by Fel like five or six years ago.  Good luck finding that today.  But anyway, "A Luv Supream" is it.  That might say more about the work of producer Jahee than anything else, because the MCs sound great on it, but it's the instrumental that really grabs you.  Looking this Jahee guy up on discogs, I don't see that he's done anything else other than a few other songs for Da Nuthouse and a single by a group named Danger-I 5000; but maybe he worked under a different name/ alternate spelling?  I hope so, because someone who made a record this great shouldn't disappear so quickly; but hey, it happens.

It's a perfect chopping of John Coltrane's original "A Love Supreme," with the delicate cymbals sounding almost like aged dirt in the record grooves.  Sparse piano notes over drums, almost like a mellow "The Symphony," and a broken pitched horn riff on the hook.  And you could do worse than declaring your love for our genre as your opening salvo.  And each MC gets on the smooth, slow track to kick their distinctive voices and styles, so they immediately hit you as artists you should know.  There's punchlines, complex wordplay and yes, some slang that even sounded dated at the time (a lot of MCs tried, but "the buttas" was never gonna gain long term traction), but also genuine emotion comes through.  Paired with that perfect instrumental, you can see why this has a become a song that outlasts the rest of their catalog.  The bummer is that we only get Radio Vocal and Instrumental versions of this song, and they curse on it a bunch, even in the hook.  So it's full of annoying backwards edits, and this song was never reissued on any of their follow-up releases, so this clean version is all we get in perpetuity.

We do get two B-sides.  "Synapsis" is a weird blend of futuristic sci-fi sounds and another jazzy piano loop.  It's all about being multi-syllabic outer space rap geniuses, which maybe sounds like I'm making fun of it.  But while it does sound dated and maybe a little corny, with predictable lines referring to their "verbal ejaculation" and "mental alertness" spanning "multiple dimensions," it's still genuinely impressive listening to it today, and some energetic cuts by a turntablist named DJ Active go a long way towards bolstering the proceedings.  It's backpackery in a way that younger audiences would reject, but these guys were unquestionably good at it.  We also get the Instrumental for this one, and nothing on the B-side is censored like "Luv Supream."

The other B-side is "Very Vocabulary," and it's listed as a Bonus Cut.  They use the classic loop from Ultramagnetics' "Funky" and EPMD's "Knick Knack Paddy Wack."  Can never be mad at this beat popping up again anytime, anyplace.  And they just flex on it, but it's mastered like a proper song and the rhymes are carefully written, it's not simply a casual freestyle slapped on at the end or something.  In fact, it's really dope, and rewards careful listening, like a tight posse cut, except ironically, this is the single's solo cut, with Nex going for self over the whole song.  See, I'm not trying to say "A Luv Supream" was their only good song - they've done a lot of hot stuff like this over the years.  That's just their masterpiece, and it's maybe a little awkward that it came first.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Someone New To Bite

Today we have something new by someone new.  "Edible MC's" is the debut cassingle by an Ohio MC named Pseudonym on Vestibular Records.  If you've never heard of them, that's because this is apparently the label's first venture into the Hip-Hop genre, while generally specializing in... rock, I guess?  A lot of new music and a few vintage reissues from what I've gathered through a quick perusal.

But that fits, because Pseudo definitely seems like the kind of artist who could impress an outsider label to add them to their non-genre roster.  You know, like when Warner Bros mainstream reissued all of Buck 65's catalog, Madonna signed Dana Dane and had him do a west coast album, or whenever Luke Sick syncs up with those random little punk outfits.  Or, for a less glamorous example, when Load Records picked up The Hawd Gankstuh Rappuhs Emsees Wid Ghatz' second album long after the joke was played out for us heads.  You know, those certain, rare instances where an artist who comes with a spin far enough out of left field that they attract the "ordinarily, I hate rap, buttt..." types.  That can be promising, a huge red flag, or just about anywhere in between.

Vocally, he lists Del as an influence, and you can definitely hear the commonality in the way he thoughtfully executes his heavily-enunciated delivery to nail keywords.  Still, he's got a voice and a style that will surely prove divisive, split right along the point where he does/ doesn't remind you too much of MC Paul Barman.  His register playfully rises and falls from phrase to phrase, placing perhaps an overemphasis on his own cleverness.  But when he's flowing at his most aggressive, he rides the rhythm more like Edan or Breeze.  A little less nerdcore would go a long way, but even nay-sayers will have to begrudgingly give it up for his carefully crafted bars.

And anyway, he never really descends into that Catskills punchline schtick.  There are a couple on-the-nose similes on the A-side ("I'm comin' outta left field like YAGGFU Front," "punks get slapped like hockey pucks"), but it's mostly just fun wordplay.  Like here you see him handily illustrate his "Edible MC's" concept with a tight rhyme scheme:

"I'm irate!
You cut-rate fakes get sliced to pieces,
At least this kid will make a neat dish
Of your brain matter and shatter your name and fame.

You regain consciousness in the afterlife.
Pass me my carving knife, so I can cut 'em slower.
The body roaster makin' human skin loafers;

I got meats for weeks from these MCs left over."

And the possibly even tighter B-side, "Super Ego," drops the similes entirely.  Like its title suggests, it's pure braggadocio (there's a particularly effective line he flips in the style of Akinyele) over a killer, fast-paced beat, heavy on the snare and rolling piano samples.  Except they're not even samples.  His bio mentions the music is created from all live instruments, which you wouldn't even guess from listening to it; it certainly doesn't have that messier, live band feel.  I've been deliberating over the pros and cons of his vocals, but it's his production, done by himself and Nathan Peters, that's especially impressive and what straight-up grab you as soon as you hit play (and yes, the instrumental versions of both songs are also on the tape).  Also, they're used fairly subtly, but there's also some nice cuts on "Edible MC's" by a DJ named Fatty Lumpkin.


Of course there's a digital option, but if you've found yourself here, hopefully that suggests you still care about physical media.  The cassingle is a blue tape in a full color J-card.  The download card includes a bonus track where Pseudo freestyles over Ultramagnetics' "Chorus Line."  It seems to already be sold out on Vestibular's site, or they just never listed it in the first place(?  They do things a little strangely; I can't really figure 'em out), but they're still selling it direct on discogs for just five bucks.  So if reading some of the artists I referenced has you saying, "I know I'm gonna hate this," you're probably right and Pseudo won't be for you.  But if you're open at all, give the kid a chance.  I think you'll be impressed.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Slick Rick's "The Ruler's Back" ...The Forgotten Demo Version?

(You all remember Slick Rick's crazy cut "The Ruler's Back," but here's a rare, older version you probably don't remember.  Youtube version is here.)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Learn Along With Werner, part 10: The Last Thing Whistle Ever Recorded?

Guys, this is why I let the internet live.  Yeah, sure, corporations invade your privacy, hackers collapse governments, and people started DJing with mp3s instead of records.  It's been pretty awful, but then a thing like this happens.  I'm just poking around discogs and stumble upon a record I've never heard of by a group I've been a fan of since I was a kid.  And in this case, though it may be just a guest spot, it turns out to be a final chapter in their career.  I'm talking about Whistle, and this record from 1993 (their last album was in 1991, with one last single coming out in 1992) would appear to be the last thing they ever recorded, at least that actually got released.

The actual guy whose record this is, though, is M.C. Boo.  I'm fairly certain this is not the same M.C. Boo who was down with Magic Mike and the Royal Posse, or the junior member of BDP.  This is yet another MC Boo who just put out this one single record on Studio Records, a Maryland label best known for putting out novelty records like "Are the Redskins #1? Hail Yeah!!" and "Karate Man."  Not a good sign, but happily this is not a joke song but a sincere musical endeavor.

As you can probably guess by the title, it's a essentially a rap version of Stevie Wonder(who also gets a writing credit on the label)'s "I Can't Help It."  You could do a lot worse than chunky Stevie Wonder sample, and MC Boo's maybe not going to blow anybody's mind, but he's certainly a capable rapper, sort of in the category of Little Shawn.  He's kicking somewhat simplistic love raps, but with an ear towards more respectable lyricism and wordplay.  You know, by very early 90s standards, "I'm shakin' and breakin' and movin' and makin' the heart that you made me. I'm movin' and groovin' and soothin' the tempo you gave me.  The bass is kinda light and your eyes are kind, too; I guess that's why I can't help but to love you.  Yea, that's it.  I think I'm goin' crazy bein' round your sexy ways.  Your love is like a puzzle, but better yet a maze."

The only disappointing, but totally predictable, aspect is that Whistle are just here to sing the hook, not actually contribute to the MCing.  It's predictable, of course, because that's the direction they were always going in, away from rap and towards R&B, so of course they ended with a sung chorus instead of a verse.  And they sound good, although there's no moment where Terk comes in to really belt some more impressive notes or cuts by Silver Spinner.  It's a calm, laid back track with a mellow groove they just lay into.

There are a couple tracks on this 12", but they're all just variations on the one song.  There's the aptly titled Regular Version, the Instrumental, a mix with some extra (live) piano called the Piano Mix, and two shorter dub mixes called Doo Boo and Boo Beats.  By the way, it might be interesting to note that the label still says "Whistle appears courtesy of Select Records," so even though they didn't release anything further, Select was still hanging onto Whistle on their roster.  And not only is this Whistle's last record, it's seemingly M.C. Boo's first and last, which I'm... pretty ambivalent about.

He was decent enough, but not somebody I got excited about and would need to track down more of his discography.  I just bought this for Whistle, and honestly, unless you're a completist, it's not worth buying for them either.  They sound fine, the production's fine, Boo's rapping is fine, the concept is fine.  It's all just fine.  Not mad at it, but you're not gonna run out and slap it on a mixtape.  Once I put this away, I probably won't go back to it until I've completely forgotten what it sounds like and I see it on my crates and go, "what's this M.C. Boo record?"

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Father MC and the Broadway Star

It's a brand new year and it's well past time for another deep dive into the extensive career of Father MC.  So here's one I don't remember reading about in The Source: 1991's "Everyotherday" by Or-N-More on EMI Records, featuring, of course, Father MC.  1991's an interesting year for Father, because it's really his break out year, when his earliest hit singles broke and he came out with his first album.  The only guest appearances he had out by this time was the work he did on that one Ray Parker Jr. album.  So you could really describe him as a rising star at this point.

So who the heck are Or-N-More?  Well, as you can see in the picture above, it's that blonde lady and her boyfriend(?) standing behind her.  She's Or and he's More.  Or more specifically, she's Orfeh Or and he's Mike More.  She sings and he does the music, basically. They originally had a music video that used to get play on MTV under the name Genevha, because it had the gimmick of using old public domain movie footage.  Then in 1991, they became Or-N-More and put out one self-titled album, and this one single.  Father's the only guest rapper they seemed to've worked with, and Or-N-More kinda disappeared in a flash.  But what's more interesting is that Orfeh went on to become a pretty substantial contender on Broadway, getting nominated for a Tony in 2007.  You can check out her website here.  Meanwhile, More doesn't seem to have done as much, most notably producing Freedom Williams' C+Cless solo album in 1993.  But he also has music and writing credits on Orfeh's solo album almost twenty years later, so I guess they've held onto their connection, which is nice.

So let's get to the song already.  Well, "Everyotherday"'s a pretty straight-forward pop song.  The hook tells you directly what it's about, "every other day, you steal my kisses, boy, and then you just throw them away."  And the verses are basically all about how she's leaving this guy because he won't commit.  It's a very high energy, R&B/ dance hybrid.  Like a Madonna song that leans even a little further into the club vibe.  Or has a pretty deep and powerful voice, but this song doesn't exactly push her to challenge herself.  There's a few "dayyy-ee-ayy-ee-ayyy"s, but not exactly hitting any notes to make you say wow.  And the music's okay, with an upbeat hip-hop tone, but it never marries itself to the chorus in a catchy enough way to really resonate.  It sounds well made enough when you're listening to it, but it's immediately forgettable.

The fact that the song is structured so the vocalist is singing to a generic "you" boyfriend is the perfect set-up, though, to drop in a rapper to speak as the other half, "I never filled your head up, so now you wanna gas, and talk about Father like trash."  It definitely adds a more interesting battle of the sexes dynamic with conflict, where listeners can choose and relate to one side or the other.  In fact, it would be a much more interesting song if Father and Or traded verses back and forth, accusation followed by counter-accusation, like an authentic arguing couple.  Think of some really successful R&B/ rap hybrids like Grand Puba and Mary J's "What's the 411" or even Kwame and T Bone's "Ownless Eue."  But unfortunately they relegate him to the traditional, single quick in and out on an R&B song guest rap.

Oh, and there was even a music video for it with a bunch of dancers and Father doing his best Pete Nice impression in a spinning barber's chair.  Interestingly, Father has an extra vocal part, where he introduces himself mid-song, "yeah baby, this is the man women hate to love, Father MC.  I never told you I love you."  That extra bit isn't on the album version or any of the 12" remixes.

Remixes?  Oh yeah, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't get into the stuff on the 12".  The 12" has a slightly extended Power Mix, a tighter Radio Edit, a Dub and all of that.  But the most important mix here is the Hip Hop Mix by Dallas Austin, a major R&B producer in the 90s.  I mean, he still is, but the 90s is when he was making huge hits for groups like TLC and Boyz II Men.  Like, if you don't know, just look him up; he's a major player.  So, anyway, this version toughens up the instrumental a bit, making a lot of use of The Fat Boys' famous "Brr, Stick 'Em" vocal sample and some fun little horns.  Most significantly, this version features an all new, completely different and actually much better verse from Father, too.  "Ya see, girl you told me that you'd be there to support my needs, but now I look in the window.  I thought I'd found love, 'cause I didn't dream of me and you forever.  I never thought of the ups and downs, the excuses you gave me."  It's more thoughtful and less cliche, reminiscent of his best lines in "Treat Them Like They Want To Be Treated."  Unfortunately, this new verse is instead of, not in addition to, his original one, so it doesn't really fatten out Father's role like you'd hope for.  But it still adds up to an overall superior version of the song.

There's also a Club Mix and a House Mix that add extra piano riffs, sounds and a proper house beat.  They go a bit too far in my opinion, though I have to say the Club Mix is funkier and more dance-able than the original album version.  Orfeh sounded like she was going for that house diva kinda tone in her vocals anyway.  And finally there's an Underground Mix, which at first sounds like it's going to be more of a stripped-down Hip-Hop version, with Father's verse coming right at the start; but then it just basically turns into a slightly altered Club Mix with a few extra vocal samples and stuff dropped in.

I mean, it's still what discogs describes as electronic electro synth-pop with RnB/swing and house elements added to the remixes, so I'm not actually recommending this record to any of you Hip-Hop enthusiasts.  And it's not a catchy enough pop record that I'd recommend it to kids or anything either.  But it's definitely an interesting little nook in Father MC's career that's at least worth knowing about.  Any day I can find a hidden Father MC verse tucked away on an obscure 12" single is a good day in Wernerville.  😎