Sunday, October 7, 2007

Lazy Freak

With all his rare, sought-after indie 12"'s, there's one Stezo 12" with exclusive material that always gets overlooked: the UK-only "Freak the Funk" remix 12". And since I'm all about looking at the over-looked on this blog, let's have that look, shall we?

On this one, hip-hop house recording artist Doug Lazy tries his hand at remixing Stezo's hit single, "Freak the Funk" (one of the few album tracks not produced by Stezo himself*; this was done by Vicious V, and like all the tracks on this album, mixed by the great, late Paul C.). This was just as Doug Lazy was coming out with hit singles on Atlantic, so though this collaboration wasn't exactly huge, it was kind of a big deal. But, when you actually listen to it, it's kinda not.

Wisely, Mr. Lazy plays pretty close to the original with his version, keeping the wonderful sample during the hook that really makes the song. He just changes the basic beat a little bit and slightly speeds things up, I guess to make it more danceable… (though, notably, he doesn't turn it into a house song). He drops in some additional samples and layers that add a little spice to the proceedings… if you've listened to the album version so much over the years - like me - to the point that it's played out and you need an alternative mix to keep enjoying the song, then this is what you're after. Oh, and be sure to check the "Dub Mix" for another variation on the instrumental, that's a little less "noisy" and features a new, smooth bassline

Perhaps an even more compelling reason to pick up this 12" is actually the less heralded b-side, Stezo's own remix (or, as it's written here, "remax" - whatever the heck that means) of his "It's My Turn"... that song with memorable lines like, "ugly girls, please take the mask off," and where he turns "anthem" into a three-syllable word. Like the A-side remix, "It's My Turn" is fundamentally unchanged here: it's the same vocals played at the same speed over the same "Atomic Dog" samples and drum loop (The Skull Snaps' oft-used "It's a New Day" break). Except, this time the original beat semi-regularly stops and switches to another familiar bassline, then switches back; and more samples (including more elements of "Atomic Dog") are sprinkled throughout. It's not amazing, but it effectively breathes new life into an album cut that's otherwise a little dull and monotonous. The changes aren't radical, just definitive; as if he's finally finishing a song that shouldn't have made it onto his LP as-is.

*At least, that's what the album credits tell us. Producer Chris Lowe has since taken credit for most or all of these tracks, saying on his myspace, "Chris maybe[sic.] best known for his early, ground-breaking work with Stezo (the group's debut LP Crazy Life[sic.] spawned classics such as 'Its Your Turn[sic.],' 'To The Max' & 'Freak The Funk') and for working closely with EPMD in the late 80's on Sleeping Bag/Fresh Records, Chris and Dooley-O were also the first to discover the famed 'Skull Snaps' break beat, using it for Stezo's now fabled 'It's Your Turn'[sic.] (re-popularized by Gang Starr's 'Take It Personal') which was duly noted on Chris' debut LP, Black Life, on the skit 'Do Your History.'" Stezo's cousin Dooley O (who has a myspace here) has also claimed a crucial, uncredited hand in the production… I've heard the story told a couple different ways, but I guess essentially Chris and Dooley found the one break, however they had mixed it with some other samples for an unreleased demo. And then Stezo wound up using that break and turning it into his song; but do some googling and decide for yourselves. I'm not gonna get too deep into it; because this post is about the UK remixes. Speaking of which, while you're checking out myspaces, go ahead and check out Doug Lazy's as well - it's here. Unfortunately, Stezo doesn't appear to have one.


  1. Hello. Just so you know. Vicious V and Doug lazy are the same person. Vicious V was a DJ from the Baltimore/DC area that produced 2 cuts on Stezos Album. "Freak The Funk and Bring The Horns. Not long after the release of Stezos album Vicious V recorded the Hip house song "Let It Roll". He recorded it under the name Doug Lazy. The name change on Stezos Freak The Funk (Going from Vicious V to Doug Lazy) was purely because Let It Roll was tearing the club up the same time Stezo was doing his thing. Sleeping Bag Records owner Will Sokolov knew that Vicious had become Doug Lazy and felt it was a smart move to put "remixed by Doug Lazy" (which is indeed smart) The Extra production you hear on Freak The Funk was PAUL C.

    The Above is 100 percent accurate. I should know... I was there.

    Paul... Rest in Peace

  2. Hey, thanks for posting!  I wondered who Vicious V was...  And an uncredited Paul C. remix?  That will make this record's price skyrocket on EBay.  ;)