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.  👍

2 comments:

  1. nice write-up. Ox is actually from Long Island.

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    1. Ah, you fell for that old gag where New Yorkers pretend those are two different places, too, didja?

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