Monday, March 31, 2008

Invincible Instant-Messenger Interview! (Part 2)

…continued from part 1.

Werner: hey
Invincible: wutup!
Werner: how's it going - how was the show?
Invincible: the show was INCREDIBLE
Invincible: have u heard much of Guilty's music?
Werner: not a lot... i heard him on percee's album and i think a couple of other guest spot's, but i haven't checked any of his own official material
Invincible: ok
Invincible: yea he's a legend here
Invincible: and it was PACKED
Invincible: and he killed it
Invincible: his energy on stage is ridiculous
Werner: nice; ill have to check out his album... hopefully what he has live translates to record
Invincible: and the way he is period he is very humble and laid back even tho his music is mad street and arrogant
Invincible: the perfect combo
Invincible: yea somewhat but def gotta see him live
Invincible: you heard the song me him and buff1 did on Buff1's album?
Invincible: its called "Supreme"
Werner: you should do a bootleg volume 2, because you've got so many guest spots out, and a lot are pretty obscure (not that the buff1 was obscure... but a lot were)
Invincible: that's one of my fav joints i've done recently
Invincible: yea part 2 is in the works lol
Invincible: it will have pieces from Last Warning too since i stopped making those
Invincible: it will be a mixtape with old new and exclusives DJ Graffiti is compiling
Invincible: will come out in time for the album (right before or right after depending on when we finish)
Werner: cool... make sure you include the really hard to find stuff. haha
Invincible: like what?
Invincible: lol...seems like you got EVERTHING
Invincible: i appreciate that tho forreal :)
Werner: ha ha thanks, i try
stuff like "won't be fooled again," "war," "Confused..."
Werner: "LAMP Post" would be another good one.... even the 3 tracks off the war album
Invincible: oh yea not alot of people heard that cuz the distro was kinda wack for it
Invincible: (War LP)
Invincible: and definitely LAMP post
Invincible: u got more qs?
Werner: yeah, we didn't even get into the basics yet, of like where you're from and how you got into hip-hop…
Invincible: no doubt. Basically born in champagne. Moved to israel palestine age 1 and moved to ann arbor Michigan 6 years later and pretty much learned english thru transcribing hiphop lyrics
Werner: where's champagne?
Invincible: (Champagne, illinois) Used to trade tapes with my homie that went back n forth to ny and also thru my best friends older sister who put me on to Paris (Sleeping with the Enemy). That's what was my
Invincible: Introduction to overtly political hiphop and combined with native tongues gang starr peterock cl smooth outkast and michigan cats like boss breed etc I developed my own style inspired by all of that...
Invincible: Started rhyming at age 9 but that was just for fun. Began takin it seriously and freestylin, doing open mics at age 15. Snuck into clubs around ann arbor/ypsi.
Invincible: I'd throw my own all ages events too in abandoned buildings. Then I connected with SUN and brown who had a group UBU who took me under their wing we did shows in the Mahogany, Phat House, etc.
Werner: back then were you looking to grow into doing records, or was it a purely live "in the scene" kind of thing?
Invincible: Around that time I spent a lot of time on hiphop radio shows on u of m radio and met some folks from ny who I traveled out their with at age 16. I fell in love
Invincible: With the scene out there and particularly ANOMOLIES as a supportive collective of female artists so I moved out at age 17.
Invincible: It was def scene first cuz I've never been in a rush to do records but of course I was open to that too. I just always wanted the crew to come out first
Werner: so, just how did ANOMOLIES form? were you a part from day 1, or did you join a bit later?
Invincible: I joined a year after they already started so you should have the founders tell it:-)
Werner: cool - yeah.
Werner: so how did you become a part of it?
Invincible: The first time I visited ny I met DSTROY from Arsonists and he told me abt this female hiphop army that repped all elements and I was in awe. lol...the next
Invincible: Visit he introd me and Helixx at the Nuyorican Cafe and we traded verses outside the club...then I met the rest of the crew and we all clicked right away...
Invincible: So I decided to move to build more in depth with them. I stayed with helixx and our manager at the time, Tina when I first got to ny...we recorded and didshows steadily
Invincible: Learned ALOT from each of them and still do. Its a family
Werner: so, how did you find yourself in the blaze battle, and do you think it affected your career?
Invincible: Lol the blaze battle was simply a battle. I was in that phase of my development as an mc and it helped me grow. I connected with a lot of dope cats that nite
Invincible: That was the last time I saw Bugz and Slang Ton RIP.
Werner: yeah, i met slang a couple of times... he was a really cool guy - not to mention talented
were you in the studio with Bugz for "clash of the titans," or were your parts recorded separate?
Invincible: Yes I love Slang too. Really good people. I was in the studio with Bugz for clash definitely. We also saw each other around before I left and he always had my back.
Invincible: Proof was also there that nite of the blaze battle he was in my corner the whole time trying to encourage me to keep going even tho I didn't really care
Invincible: For battling but felt it was a necessary step in my process to become a real mc. Both Proof and Bugz had my back a lot that nite. I think it was controversial at the time tho.
Invincible: How did u feel about that battle?lol
Werner: i didnt see it... i read about it in the mag, though (that was first issue)... i remember you were getting props for skill, but one verse (i think with young zee) got pretty racial
Invincible: Yea it was ignorant. The whole battle was ignorant and shock value based and I got caught up in that as well. That was the nature of battling at that time :-(
Invincible: The first issue of blaze was the one pri won against young zee btw. I was against a cat from nc I can't remember the name tho...
Werner: it's been a long time... but i think i remember it was the guy you were battling made a punchline about your appearance as a white female, and you kind of played off that ... but it was a little "high concept" with a sensitive subject for a battle rap lol
Invincible: Lol high concept?
Werner: well, yeah, because it wasn't like you came out making racist comments at the guy... you were playing with the concept the other guy introduced (from my bad memory lol)
[Screw my bad memory, guys; here's the actual excerpt. And she was right, it wasn't issue #1. - Again, I apologize for AOL's image size limits... hopefully you can make it out.]

Invincible: Yea honestly I'm more concerned with making albums and releasing classic material than battles lol. It was simply a phase.
Werner: so, tell me about that rawkus 12"... what was the A-side going ot be and what happened to it? and are there also more invincible joints locked in a rawkus vault or anything?
Invincible: a-side was a joint called "lemme find out" produced by supa dave west as well. He and I were developing a group at the time
Werner: who else was going to be in that group?
Invincible: It was he and I but it didn't go beyond those two songs.
Werner: oh ok. is there any chance that "lemme find out" will get released at any point?
Invincible: It might sneak onto a bootleg mixtape at some point but its definitely not where I'm at now. Lol
Invincible: ShapeShifters is my first official project after all these years. I'm excitedfor ppl to hear that first and then If enough ppl ask the old school might come out
Werner: so, what about the title "shapeshifters?" why's it called that/ what are you referring to with that name?
Invincible: The album title is about my versatility and innovation musically, but content wise its about self transformation, and changing our communities through
Invincible: Hip Hop, as well as through the process of taking action in our lives to develop new ways to relate to each other, our survival, and evolution. Its also...
Invincible: Inspired by my recent fascination with octavia butler and other sci fi that weaves in social and political commentary about current issues into futuristic worlds
Werner: well, ok... if we're doing an anomolies crew interview down the road... maybe a couple of questions i have would be better for the whole crew. so i guess i'll just wrap up with a couple short/fun questions and we're done =)
Invincible: Ok dope!
Werner: ok, so real quick...
Werner: since you're from detroit: awesome dre or mc breed?
Invincible: lol. That's a really hard one. I have to say Awesome Dre tho. He's so slept on
Werner: ok, and #2. since it's coming into election time... which presidential candidate (any party)?
Invincible: I vote for communities organizing themselves :-)
Invincible: And building real power
Werner: so, basically... no federal gov't at all? ;)
Invincible: Lol no that's not my point but I believe strongly in our communities determining our own fate. Whoever is in office should respond to those demands
Invincible: I favor obama as far as candidates in top running go but his middle east and other policies suck. I will continue to work for grassroots leadership when our so
Invincible: Called leaders fall short whether kwame [I believe she's referring to the current mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, not The Boy Genius hehe] or obama there is an abundance of people working to build the world they want to live in regardless.
Werner: ok, so finally, then: any parting words, or anything you want my readers to know that i didn't get to in my questions?
Invincible: Last words? Come visit Detroit. Its what the rest of the country has to look forward to. And if u want good music u gotta support it. Especially independently
Invincible: make sure to cop the presale album available on very soon! Big ups to my fam: Detroit Summer, Finale, Lab Techs, Waajeed and!

So, now that the interview's done, you can go drop by her myspace page. You can also find the pages for the Anomolies crew and the other members in her top friends... there's some dope music on each page. And to download Invincible's "Sledgehammer" single and see that promo video she mentioned, check out: Oh, and you can still order copies of her Last Warning mixCD from (the track-listing may seem short, but there's like five or six "bonus tracks" which all adds up to a pretty full disc).

Invincible Instant-Messenger Interview! (Part 1)

Any of you guys who were even passively into the NY indie hip-hop of the late 90's - the days of labels Fondle 'Em, Rawkus, and basically a million and one self-pressed 12"'s - which spawned artists like Natural Elements, Natural Resource, Thirstin Howl III, and countless others - should already know of The Anomolies crew. And all of you who've heard any of their dope, rare vinyl offerings (i.e. Helixx's killer duet with Jise One, their No More Prisons 12" exclusive B-side, Apani's massive posse cut, "Estragen") are surely as disappointed as I am that they never recorded an album. Well now Invincible is finally (FINALLY!) the first Anomolies member to be coming out the gate with a new album. And from what's been released so far, she's one of those rare rap artists whose new material is as dope as when she first came out ten years ago. I got her to come onto Instant Messenger with me to talk about it.

Werner: Invincible!
Invincible: wutup!! I'm at Guilty's release party in the D but I can text for now and we can follow up on aim tomorrow if that's cool with u
Werner: yeah, that's cool 8)
Werner: well, i guess i'll start with the most obvious question - why, in over 10 years, has there been no ANOMOLIES album or even 12"?
Invincible: great question. We ask ourselves daily. ANOMOLIES is a crew and more than that a family. We all build regularly and support each other dreams.
Invincible:.But I think for now we all have many focuses solo wise and life wise. Big Tara is one of the illest bgirls alive and co-founded Fox Force 5 crew.
Invincible: Pri is focused on production and recently launched a female producers based networking site. Kandi is directing a play for the GABRIELA network amongst other things, and Helixx is consistently writing dope songs for various projects.
Werner: now, am I right in thinking that you at one time had a 12" deal with Rawkus at one point, and "Perfectionists" was meant to be the b-side?
Invincible: Yea wow how did you know that?
Werner: I heard that somewhere way back and kept waiting on Rawkus to put it out
Werner: So, what was the A-side meant to be? And did Rawkus just not put it out because they were starting to hit financial troubles at that point, or what was the story there?
Invincible: The story is verrrry long but to make a long story short I prefer putting my own music out for many reasons. Rawkus is definitely 1 of the reasons lol.
Werner: lol ok
Werner: did you move out to ny at that time?
Invincible: yes I moved to ny at age 17 to work with ANOMOLIES and partly to connect with the ny fam I had built over visits: Words, Guy, Gaston, What What, etc...
Invincible: I lived there for 3 years and moved back to Michigan shortly after 9/11 but that's an even longer story lol.
Werner: did the move back have anything to do with 9/11, or just happened around that time?
Invincible: definitely related
Werner: ok, i saw the new single is up for download now... are there going to be hardcopies available?
Invincible: I'm releasing the whole album officially on my label- EMERGENCE june 17th but I'm gonna have release parties in May where copies will be available. The new single is on 12"
Werner: and when's the single coming out?
Invincible: Its the title track "ShapeShifters" coming out along with album June 17th officially, May for the release parties I'll have copies available tho!
Werner: oh ok... so Sledgehammer!/In the Mourning/Looongawaited isn't the actual single? i heard there was like a CD single if you preorder the album or something?
Invincible: Oh yea I spraypainted by hand each and every one of the 200! Lol. Only were at shows for a limited time. But I'll have bonuses for preorders of course ;-)
Werner: haha cool... i havent seen the video yet
Invincible: U can see me spraying in the promo video. Big tara was filming me doing that in the freezing cold...
Werner: are you still involved in the no more prisons project? obviously, ANOMOLIES had a song on one of their first 12"'s, but years later you put out a song on Raptivism that also seemed to be about NMP (the door)
Werner: hello?
Invincible: Sorry bout that guilty is KILLIN IT. Its packed in here everyone is here Denaun Black Milk Phat Kat Royce Marvwon Monica Blaire and Jay Electronica to name a few…
Invincible: Guilty is the future
Werner: nice; no worries
Invincible: Sorry but yea Helixx and Pri did "'Lunchbreak" on nmp I did "The Door" on "The We That Sets Us Free: building a world without prisons." It was a compilation put out by
Werner: so i take it that's something you believe in pretty strongly? what's the full idea behind NMP?
Invincible: I wasn't on nmp and not sure their vision but the main focus of jnows project isprison abolition. Building a world without prisons is much more work than just saying no more prisons.
Invincible: Its about building community institutions and ways ofliving that we need more of. Get to the root of the problem with sustainable solutions and action
Werner: so, really, you (ubiquitous you) wouldn't be focused on abolishing prisons until you've essentially built up better systems that hopefully eradicated the need for prisons, right?
Invincible: Yea but abolishing is still the goal, and at least stopping the building of more new prisons.
Werner: i remember seeing all the "no more prisons" stamps on the ny sidewalks... and being like, "well, jeffrey dahmer's not moving in with me!" and thinking: i hope the idea's a little more complicated then just "let's close all the prisons now"
Invincible: Lol yea its much deeper than that… Angela Davis has a book called "Are prisons Obsolete?" that breaks it down but basically "the ultimate critique is the solution" meaning if I know prisons
Invincible: Don't truly keep us safe (in the sense they criminalize and lock up millions and don't address the root issues) I need to work to create something better
Invincible: That quote (the ultimate critique is the solution) drives all my work and is ANOMOLIES' motto of sorts as well.
Werner: i'm surprised you guys didn't even just press up a 12" or two back in the late 90's when everybody was doing it. seemed like anomolies were in the right place at the right time for that
Invincible: yea it was really unfortunate
Invincible: We were and wanted to but u know the answer to that is so complicated I wouldnt know where to begin honestly.
Werner: did it have anything to do with being tied to exclusive label contracts (i.e. rawkus)?
Invincible: not at all
Invincible: We didn't have the loot ourselves. Labels didn't understand our sound our vision or how to market us. We are all perfectionists musically but also in business we wanted things a certain way...
Invincible: And ultimately almost all members had family responsibilities that had to be prioritized above the industry bullshit.
Invincible: We have all continued making music and grinding in the industry but we each found ways to balance that with those priorities. For me and kandi it was balance
Invincible: With our activism. With Tara it was with dance and with Helixx and Pri it was fam.(they both have sons) we are still working on solo and crew projects tho :-)
Werner: so are plans for a crew album still unlikely for a while?
Invincible: The working title was inspired by a trip the crew made to rock a show in detroit with me and we stopped by the motown museum we saw an old record called.....
Invincible: I'll keep that under wraps for now..but our working title is inspired by it its called MEET THE ANOMOLIES
Werner: lol ok so how far along is that? is it mostly recorded, or still a ways to go?
Invincible: still got a way to go. The crew appears on my album ShapeShifters on a song called RANSOM NOTES as well...thats an epic joint can't wait for the world to hear it
Invincible: the thing I love about guilty simpson is when I congratulated him about the album coming out he told me that he feels as if he's one of many talented artists in
Invincible: Detroit that have inspired him over the years and vice versa. And that his album just so happens to be ready 1st. That's the way I feel about ANOMOLIES & Detroit. So I hope my project is a launching pad for the rest of the crew and my people's in Detroit as well.
Invincible: Pri and I are performing at the trinity intl hiphop fest april 5th in hartford. The whole crew will rock at my nyc release may 8th at southpaw bklyn.
Invincible: They will also be at the allied media conference in detroit june 20-22 (hope u can make it out!)
Werner: =)
Invincible: Which is also related to my natl release june 17th :-)
Werner: those releases are pretty far apart... when's the album generally going to be available?
Invincible: The album is coming out completely self distributed at the may release parties (il get u exact dates and venues asap) and on my website
Invincible: Then fat beats and other store distros as well as itunes type digital distro will kick in june 17th...
Invincible: That way the true heads will have first access to it!
Invincible: Thru EMERGENCE and my album I'm testing out a whole model of cooperative economics and hiphop that will hopefully serve as a viable model for my crew & others.
Werner: what's the model?
Invincible: My model is that artists should have full understanding of their business and marketing and that those two should be as creative and full of integrity as the music itself.
Its also connected to a larger vision for community self reliance based in cooperatively run and small businesses like your bookstore :)
Invincible: I'm bout to pass out but let's build tomorrow!
Invincible: Thanks for reachin out once again! Much respect
Werner: definitely - thanks for doing the interview and answering my annoying questions :-D
Invincible: Not annoying! Best intvw qs ever...hands down!!

To be continued immediately...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The One That Didn't Make It

This is kind of a rarity. ...I see a bunch of online sellers hyping how "crazy rare" this record is, but that's the thing: a bunch of sellers. So it can't really be that rare - at any rate, if you decide you want it after reading this, you won't have a hard time finding a copy.

Now, if you haven't looked at the thumbnail to the left yet, I'm talking about Ras Kass's "Home Sweet Home" 12", which Priority Records released promotionally in 2001. It was meant to be the lead single off of his third album, Van Gogh, but that didn't wind up getting released either. It all got leaked on Napster and what-not, but this is the only legit release of the song, available just briefly as a promo-only before it was pulled.

A lot of you probably already know why it was pulled, but if not - here's the story: the track's produced by Alchemist. There were delays with his label (just a small part of a long and ugly history of Priority delaying Ras's material), and when he was just getting his 12" to mixtape DJs, he heard the same beat on another record, by Jadakiss. At the time, he said to MTV News, "I paid him for the track and picked the track. I don't know what the circumstances were, but he ends up trying to sell it to Ruff Ryders and Jadakiss specifically and tries to play like he didn't do it. ...Dude cashed the check and now he's playing stupid. After we try to resolve the situation, they take it to Hot 97 and try to blast off on the shit and give it to DJ Clue. That's some foul shit. Alchemist needs to step up and be a man. For him to sell them the same beat, that's his wrong. At the same time, I don't know what the conversation was for them to go and take it to Hot 97 when we've been trying to deal with this for the past two weeks with our lawyers."

Listening to Ras declare on this song, "Heard I was one hit from being a star, baby; like Boy George, one dress from bein' the First Lady," then, it's easy to imagine how frustrating it must have been when Jada's version BLEW THE FUCK UP and became the huge hit, "We Gone Make It" with fellow Lox member Styles P. on Interscope. Styles P, by the way, later released a 12" version of this song himself, remixed to add a verse from Eve, and there was a video produced for that mix as well. But you guys reading this don't need me to tell you what a big hit it was - you've surely heard it eighty million times already.

Still, I'm doubtful if Ras could've had nearly as much of the hit as Jada managed with this instrumental. His career just wasn't in the same place and his label obviously wasn't as behind him. And while his hook flows a little more naturally than Jada's, honestly neither version really outshines the other lyrically. In both cases, the MCs get a couple of clever lines in and flow nicely but unexceptionally over a hot track that overshadows them. ...But it probably would've sold enough copies to get Priority to at least release Van Gogh.

Anyway, a little while later, The Alchemist came out with his side of the story (also to MTV News), "Priority put me on hold and left me hanging. After I got the first half [of the payment], they left me on hold. ... For whatever reason, his A&Rs and whoever was related to his project was ignoring me... I tried to call everybody to let them know [other artists were interested], but nobody wanted to return my calls. So finally when I reach him to tell him that I'm using it, I start hearing it on mix tapes. I called Priority and was like, 'Hold up, we don't have any paperwork for this.' ...Now I see in the press that Ras is saying, 'I bought this beat off of Alchemist eight months ago, and he just sat around with the paperwork.' What he's talking about is eight months ago when he found out that it was coming out with somebody else, he had his lawyers send over paperwork for the production of one beat, 'Home Sweat Home,' $7,500 full payment. They just took it upon themselves to make that first half of the three beats the full payment for one beat, which we never discussed. Of course, I just put that paperwork to the side. I laughed at it. ...I tried to call Ras and extend my hand to him. I said, 'If you want that money back, I'll give it right back because I don't want it to feel like I got over on you or your record label. I'm not trying to get over on anybody. I got beats. I wish we could just continue to work. ... It's a shame that it had to happen like this."

And for his part, Jadakiss eventually commented on the issue to MTV, too, simply saying, "that controversy is with Alchemist and Ras Kass. He played the beat for me, I paid him his money and I laid my vocals on it. I ain't got nothing to do with that other shit. I ain't get a call from Ras Kass, no nothing, so I'm good. The album is my only concern for the next six to eight months."

So in the end, I favor this version for a slightly better hook, and this is the version I recommend. I also want to give it the edge simply for being Ras Kass instead of Jadakiss, just based on both artists' legacy of work... but honestly, comparing each MC on this one pair of songs only, the difference is academic.

There is one more thing that the Ras Kass 12" has in favor over the Jadakiss 12" (or the Styles P 12" for that matter) - a b-side. Flip this sucker over and you get "4 Much," a posse cut featuring Bad Azz, Lil J, Nate Dogg and Tash. ...Or basically Tash and a lot of filler. Battlecat's beat, like all of Battlecat's beats, is decent, even effective, but nothing anyone's going to get excited about. The bassline is catchy and overall it's an ok song... it actually would be a lot better if it was just stripped down to Ras Kass and Tash's verses (making a special point of removing the hook); but as it is you'll mainly just want this if you're a serious fan.

It's a nice collector's item for serious Ras Kass fans. And for the more casual listeners, it's still worth picking up if you can get it for a good price.

That loop sure gets in your head, huh?

Coming soon: the return of the Instant Messenger interview (my favorite kind)! It's a brand new one (not a Necro) with a dope MC. I'm excited - hopefully it will be ready tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

(Werner Necro'd) Big Pun Interview

This interview isn't the greatest... It was done over the phone, and Pun's connection really sucked - we could barely hear each other! Plus, a lot of the "scoops" I was getting - like "are you gonna be on the DITC album," won't really impress anybody now that it's almost 10-years old news.
But there's still some interesting bits in there I think; and none of us will get a chance to interview Pun again, so I'm posting it. This interview was done just as The Terror Squad's first single, "Whatcha Gon Do?" hit the radio in '99.

So what's up, man? What are you working on, now, these days?

I just finished working on The Terror Squad album, you know? And, I'm starting my album, right now, and I've also got my label goin' on, with my artists, like Tony Sunshine, a R&B singer.

And what are you doing on your album? Who's working on it?

My album has everybody from Premier to Puff Daddy. From The Beatnuts to new cats.

You got a title for it yet?

Endangered Species: Y2K.

So what's up with the Terror Squad album?

Terror Squad, we're gonna make history this year, more than one time. Listen to the album; we're gonna be the first clique to ever totally dominate every area of hip-hop, every angle. Where every one is just as good as the last, no weak links whatsoever, just one strong chain, pulling the whole game.

Is that gonna be on LOUD, too?

That's on Atlantic.

So, you've been doing a lot of guest spots on other peoples' albums, and...

That's what I had to do to get my name out, you know, because it's hard for me to be the underdog. Whenever you see Latino artists, you don't really hear to much success, so I had to make sure people understood where I was comin' from, just like anybody else. So, I just made sure that I was in your face, so you had to accept to the fact that the kid was dope, make sure every song is killer, you know?

So, working with all those people, who were you most impressed with? Who do you think was the illest?

The illest? Uhhmm? People I work with the most, like Nore. People I can relate to more. If we just did some business type thing I won't really enjoy myself. If we're cool, we see each other on the streets, in the clubs, we pop bottles together. Those are the cats I like to work with the most. Nore, G Rap, and the Beatnuts, people like that.

Are you gonna be on the DITC album?

I'm gonna be on the DITC album, on like two songs. As a matter of fact, I'm on the first single. Me and Milano: dope cat out of Harlem, I believe.

What was it like being the only East Coast artists on the NWA project with Fat Joe?

That was dope. We love NWA... what they did in hip-hop; that's something that we're trying to do right now. It was cool, because I love NWA, and it's something I never thought we was gonna do. I used to try to rhyme like them, goofin' around in the hallway, you know? And it paid off, because those cats called me and I was ready to work.

What did you think about their not putting "Something to Dance To" on the remake album?

I don't know. I mentioned that. I don't think too much about it, but I'm glad that you mentioned it. It was interesting.

What was it like working with Digital Underground? How'd you hook that project up?

Oh, you know. My manager called me. We rhymed with them because I'm a fan of theirs and we hooked up. And that's what the deal was there. I wanted to be Humpty.

Say what?

I wanted to be Humpty Hump.

What do you feel about people who are saying there's a renaissance in hip-hop, now... coming up in the underground, with people like Aceyalone, Living Legends, and sort of like we had with the indie NY scene but going in different directions on the west coast and even now other places?

Yeah, well, you know what it is? I think everything moves in a circle. Right now, we're in a period of time where people wanna hear lyrics. That's why, no matter what happens, I'm always gonna keep that kind of rhyme, 'cause I don't know when it's gonna be my turn. You don't know when it's gonna turn back to original. So, what I can do is keep it there for as long as it lasts, and if it ain't hittin' the time I'm doin' it, I'll just get it next time around, you know? But, when I do get my shine, it's gonna be worth it.

How do you thinkyour new album, that you're working on now, is gonna be different from your last? What can people look for?

Well, I'm not trying to be badder than anybody else, or harder. I just wanna make sure my own is as deep as it can be. And I want it to be an outlet. Like somebody who goes to the gym because he's angry, he has frustrations. So he hits the bag and bangs out his problems, instead of goin' out on the street and hurtin' somebody. Just put my album on to release, through my eyes and my lyrics, all your problems. My music is an outlet. When you close the book, it's like, "Wow." You feel just relaxation. I took you there, you know?

So, do you think, then, it's going to be more hardcore?

Hardcore always. It's always gonna be hardcore, but, right now it's just gonna be more so you can actually play it on the radio, you know? I'm always gonna have my hardcore joints, but I'm gonna have more joints like? You saw how Nore's album was hardcore, but it was also for the radio. I was just like street hardcore, but now I'm gonna hit you with something else.

So, do you think, then, you're going to have less cursing and such on your album? Because, there was a lot of complaints about that with your last album, especially the violence? [There was a recent flare-up in the press at the time... somebody apparently reminded the media that rappers curse a lot.]

Well, you know that's good. As long as I'm not lying, I don't care what they say. Publicity's good. People will have a problem with anything. People will say I'm too fat; if I get skinny, people will complain I'm too skinny... either way. You can't be wrong, you can't be right; so all I can do is tell the truth. When I write, I write about what I know about. I'm not gonna write about green grass and dandelions, because I don't know about that. I write about what I see everyday, bring it to you like that, and do it as mature as I can, you know? I just hope you can relate. It's weird. I don't see people sayin' that Wes Craven is a rapist because Freddy Kruegar is killing young girls in their dreams; they say he's a genius. Or Steven Spielberg's crazy because he's writing about dinosaurs stomping off and eating people; that's his vision. This is my vision. I'm the same as him, no different.

You wanna take it back a little, to how you got started out with "Firewater" and that type of shit?

Yeah, that type of shit that you love to hear. That "Firewater" shit. My symphonies are always good because I get competitive, you know? So, if you put me on a song with a bunch of cats, I'm gonna shine, because that's my thing right there. If you put me in a song by myself, I'm just battling myself, so you don't know what the hell is going on, you know what I mean? I'd just be thinking, "I just gotta kill everything," and people'd be like, "Yeah, what the fuck is he saying?" The whole thing with my album is that, why it sold for so long, at a steady pace, because the people, who heard my album, two months later, finally caught what I said. Right now, I'm gonna slow it down a little bit. My voice has matured a lot more; my pace has slowed down a little more. So, now I'm not so beefed as I was before, you know what I mean?

Are you down for battling somebody off a record? Do you still do that at all?

Uhh... Well, first of all, if you're battling me, you're trying to disrespect me, as far as I'm concerned. So, first of all, there's beef involved. So, there's gonna be physical beef, too. I'll battle you, but, after the battle's over, there's gonna be physical beef, too. You can't just come, try to take what I have from me, and then, when it's over, it's over. There's consequences.

What else does the Terror Squad have coming out, now, besides the group album, which you mentioned? Like what's Fat Joe up to?

Well, the Terror Squad's on Joe's label. I'm just backing up Joe like always. So, everything that I'm doing is what he's doing, 'cause it's the same thing. I believe the Terror Squad album's coming out in August, and I'm on the first single, as a matter of fact. It's called "Whatcha Gon Do?"

Who else is on that?

Well, actually, it's my solo. My artist, Tony Sunshine, you'll hear him in the chorus a little bit, he'll harmonize a little bit, if you listen really good. I think that's gonna come out before the album. As a matter of fact, we're gonna shoot a video called "Pass the Glock," a video for Terror Squad, and then we're gonna shoot a video for "Whatcha Gon Do?"

So, taking it back to your album title, Y2K - Is that something you're worried about? Or with the internet...

The Internet? I like all that computer shit. It's all good. I don't like the after-effects like the Y2K that also comes along with it. The computers fix everything up, and make things a lot easier, but then something shuts down, you gotta wait 'till they fix that before you can have clean water. It's like, what the hell is going on?

Do you get online much yourself?

Yeah, I get online. I got, like, my secret little thing I get online and chat, see what's going on in the world. It's cool; it's fun. But, like I said, it's dangerous.

Tragically, Pun passed on a few months after this interview was conducted (early February, 2000). His second album wound up being called Yeeeah Baby, but LOUD Records later used the title Endangered Species for a posthumous compilation album of guest spots and odds and ends, almost all of which had already been previously released.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

(Werner Necro'd) Casual Think He Raw - Interview

Now that Casual is starting to resurface with some new music again, I thought I'd take the time to Necro this is interview I did with Casual in 1999, when he was working on He Think He Raw for Stimulated Records. We took that picture up on the roof.

Well, to start out, you've got a new album coming out on Stimulated/ LOUD, so tell us what's up with that...

Well, I got the single out right now, and that's "V.I.P." And, basically, it's been time for me to come back for a while, but I've just been negotiatin', decidin' what to do or whatever. And they just offered me somethin' cool, so I decided to just roll with that. But, creatively, I've just been workin' all the time. I've been working since my first album, so I've got so much music it's like not really recordin' an album, it's like pickin' it.

Well, you had Meanwhile...

Yeah; that was just something I threw out from my room. Just songs I've been makin' on four-track. Just chillin'. Just happened to put it out 'cause I was goin' on tour.

So, how did you wind up on Stimulated/ LOUD?

Well, Dante Ross founded Stimulated; that's my man. We've been trying to get down for a while. He offered me something cool to do a single with him. Couple singles with an option to do an album if everything works out right. And we got our own label, anyway: Hieroglyphics Imperium, so it really couldn't hurt me no matter what I did, so I was just like, "We can do the deal, no problem."

Have you got a title for the album?

I haven't even titled it yet. I need to actually organize the concept or whatever it is... I've just been recording music for a while, but I haven't really latched down on what songs'll be on the album. But, yeah, the single's out. I've got another single comin' out in a month or two. Then we're gonna drop 'em with the album. I got material, like I said, but I haven't organized it.

So, what's the meaning behind "Turf Dirt," the b-side to your single?

"Turf Dirt." It's like an insult. Turf is just like wherever you hang at, the ghetto, you know. The turf. and turf dirt I the dirt. It's talkin' about worthless women; that's what the song was about, basically, butI didn't really wanna go there. I was just gonna try to beat around the bush...

What other Hieroglyphics projects have y'all got coming out besides you?

Well, Del's got a single out, "Phoney Phranchise." You gotta check that out, 'cause that's hot. And he's got his album comin', he's workin' on his second single. We've got the Souls of Mischief comin'. Pep' s coming with his debut album. He's in the studio right now. And we wanna have a 2000 Hieroglyphics album. So, we're working on that, too.

So, how do you feel now that you've been signed and, basically, successfully unsigned... How do the two experiences compare?

It's not like I'm signed. I'm not looking at it like that. I'm dealing with people who are like at an independent label. It's not like the same thing.

Well, you were signed with Jive...

Yeah, I was signed with Jive, and that was a whole, big, corporate shebang. That's what I'm saying. It's not like that now. It's like a couple cats up at the label workin' the record. It's not like a big company where my stuff can get lost. Material gets lost... But, I'm sayin', I enjoyed being unsigned, I enjoyed being signed. I'm doin' work, and I see the benefit of having a big machine behind my music, other than me and my crew. It's through LOUD, so that's a real good push. They have a lot of good artists. They know what to do with hip-hop; that impressed me.

So, now, what's up between you and Hobo Junction? Of course, you had the battle with Saafir a while ago, and then you were on the Cheapshots, Low Blows and Sucker Punches compilation on South Paw Records...

Low Blows? That had something to do with them?

Well, South Paw is essentially a Hobo Junction label...

Oh, is that right? Well, they bought that song off somebody that I sold it to. That's how that happened. So, I guess they're supportin ' my work. I mean, what can I say? I sold that song to my friend J-Cut; we did it together, and he sold it to them.

So, is that an old song?

That song is kinda old. That was about '86. Oh wait, I said "86." That was about '97.

Also, a lot of people have been wondering, what's up with Extra Pro?

I don't know. He released a few independent tapes in the Bay, but I guess he wasn't really pursuin' it like that.

So, is he still associated with Hiero? Does he ever still do shows with you or anything?

Nah. I mean, we might see him every once in a while, say "What's up," or whatever, but we don't get down like that.

You said you had a new single comin' out, right?

The one I've got comin' I'm actually about to record in twenty minutes. I've gotta finish my second and third verse. So, right now, y'all know when I wrote it, and y'all can be like, "Damn, he wrote it after the interview." But I don't have a title; I just started working on it. I came out here to touch down with probably Alchemist again... Might work with my man Vic.

That's coming out on Stimulated, too, right?


How would you say your style's changed since the days of Fear Itself?

I think that probably is a better question for somebody else to answer, actually, because I'm inside my head for all this time. I'm still me, regardless of how I bust. I really can't say how my style's changed. I can say I feel like I'm better than I used to be. I feel more seasoned or experienced. I say certain things for certain reasons instead of havin' to prove myself with just battle raps. I've got a different perspective, possibly, but still it's Cas.

Because, except for some dedicated fans who've really kept up with your stuff on the internet, this is kind of like a comeback for you...

A comeback? Man, I'm twenty-four years old, you feel me? I' ve released one album. And this is a comeback, I guess. Now, figure this out. If the first album flopped, I don't see how I could do a comeback. 'Cause that would mean I never had anything to come back from. I mean, it wasn't a flop, but, it's hard to explain. I could go deep on that, but, I don't know. It could be a comeback. If it is, it's a strong one. I know that. I got heat; I got bump. But, whatever. If it's a comeback, it's a comeback. It's one of the best ones yet.

So, you got any final messages?

Yeah. After you get this site, roll over to and buy that Meanwhile tape we've been talkin' about. Check out the single. Check out Casual.

Wasn't that originally a fan site?

The web-site - by the way, that's, where you can getany Hieroglyphics material. You can get underground tapes that havenever reached the stores. You can get merchandise, shirts, sweatshirts,clothing, whatever. But, like you said, it originally started out as afan site. And there was this guy named Stinke out of Boston, and he hadit hooked up. Tajai was on the web and he just typed and all of a sudden a big site popped up with us onthere. So, we were like, "Whoa, we gotta get in touch with this dude,at least, if not incorporate, you know, get down. Do it together; makeit official." So they hooked up and we got an award-winning site now.We won like all the awards or whatever. A couple things. It's a prettycool site, you should check it out.

So, today, is still the spot to check out anything hiero related. Cas also has a myspace, of course, here. He's working on a new album for '08 called The Return of the Backpack, some of the tracks have already been posted on his myspace. So check it out. Like the man says: check out Casual.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Foundation

This dude Jayquan runs one of the best hip-hop sites on the 'net, period. Sure, venture capitalists might not be sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into designing flash-heavy layouts and throwing champagne parties in the city's hot spots to get "buzz." But he's got real content, which the Billionaire Boys Club of today will never touch. It's just him (and fellow writer Troy) doing brilliant, in-depth interviews with old school legend after old school legend. But what a lot of people don't know is that he's an MC, too.

He started out in Virginia as a part of the Too Def Crew in the late 80's, which I'd never heard of and you probably wouldn't've either if you weren't living in VA at the time. But they came back in the 90's as The First Sons, a crew I had heard of... they opened for groups like The Supafriendz (back when they were blowing up), and I used to have one of their 12"'s.

Anyway, he came back in the 2000's not just with his awesome website, but with a mostly self-produced solo album called Urban Legend. And off of that album was this hot and very overlooked 12", "5 Mics" (the only track produced by someone else - a guy called Dr. No). Right away you know it's worth picking up because of the guest MCs - Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz (who recently did another nice collabo on the Top Shelf 8/8/88 album). They both come off nice (don't worry, this is no Die Hard); and the pleasant surprise is that Jayquan elegantly holds his own with the two giants.

The production's smooth... simple but it kicks. It's the perfect track to support three MC's flexing their skills, which is exactly what each verse is about... wordplay, clever one-liners (without getting to jokey) and representing. It fits right into the late 90's era of indie rap, and MCs like Canibus, Natural Elements and Common (before he went all experimental R&B on us) were getting everyone excited.

The b-side features a nice remix (also produced by Dr. No), which adds another MC to the mix: Devine Mekkah, also of The First Sons. Both mixes are nice, and personally I still prefer the A-side, but the remix has a jazzy DITC-ish kind of sound, with some jazzy samples and a little scratching; and the beat changes for each verse... bottom line, whichever you prefer, you'll want both.

Now, both those mixes were on the album, but then the 12" goes it one better, adding a bonus mix (again by Dr. No). It essentially takes one of the better beats from the remix and applies it to the original lyrical version. Good stuff. In fact, about the only negative thing I can say about this record is that "5 Mics" was a tired, played out Source reference even back in '03. The 12" also features instrumentals (and radio edits, if you care); so definitely track it down.

I say "track" it down, because Jayquan no longer seems to be selling it on his site (where I got mine)... I guess it's sold out. About time, I say, because a 12" like this should've sold out a long time ago.

But before I go, there's an interesting tidbit I have left ot share. Check out this promo comic that came with my order--->

First of all, it's fresh, ain't it? But second of all, it's got Kool Moe Dee in it! If you can't be bothered clicking to enlarge the scan, it's talking about bringing together THREE old school legends, Mel, Caz and Moe Dee. This interview with Jayquan at has the story: "See since the early 80s I felt that Mel, Moe Dee and Caz were 3 of the greats... I obtained contact info for Mel, Caz & Kool Moe Dee, who I really wanted to appear on the song, but he declined." He must've dropped out pretty late if he was in the promo artwork. Ah, well... what might have been. It's still a great record, so it's hard to complain. Your loss, Moe Dee!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Buy This CD At Your Earliest Convenience

You know what? It's nice to be able to shift focus from the old school once in a while and highlight a brand new album that's just really, really good. Mainstream hip-hop may be sinking into an increasingly annoying state, but if you think there're no new albums to pick up in 2008, you need to find yourself a copy of Apt. 227 and cheer yourself up.

Convenience Store is a collaberative effort between Tommy V., EVS and Neila, which they'd been working on since 2000. EVS adds on his myspace blog, "Please believe we put our blood sweat and well, evs' tears into this release......after various songs being lost, re-recorded and finally mixed and mastered, it finally sounds beautiful!" Calling your hip-hop album "beautiful" probably sounds a bit pretentious, but I daresay they've earned it.

It's ten songs, showcasing the three MC's very creative styles and songwriting. The production starts out a little sparse, simple but fresh beats with a few percussive samples, putting the focus on each MC. Then each song gets progressively more richly musical... DJs Drugs and Norm Rocwell provide sone scratches, and Tommy V even plays some instruments like keyboards and trumpets over the track, and they all work perfectly. Fellow LA2theBay MCs Joe Dub, Maleko, Ceshi of Anonymous Inc. and Raj turn up to add some guest verses on the later songs (Ceschi twice).

It all hits a high point at the end with the final song, "Smile," but I'm gonna go ahead and be predictable and declare my favorite song to be "Can't Wait" - a remake of Spyder-D's classic "I Can't Wait (To Rock the Mic)," using the same basic instrumental (right down to the little loop of bells), but with some new, smooth instrumentation by Tommy V laid over the top, which blends in perfectly; like a long lost element from Nu-Shooz's vault. Each MC replaces Spyder's super-fun braggadocio rhymes with more soulful, "next level" verses like "Trying to keep my balance/ Trying to take control/ With only scraps left/ To fill my soul/ Next time/I stand behind my window and wait/ I won't open the door/ I won't try to relate/ Only sit on my floor/ Contemplate/ How the roads of love/ Seal our fate." It just needs a little scratching at the end - which maybe I'm partially missing because I'm used to DJ Doc's cuts on the original - and it could be the song of the year. That's a hint for when you guys to drop a 12" single, which you really ought to do!

The only downside to this album was the misguided inclusion of unofficial fourth member Longmont Potion Castle, who does "artistic" prank phone calls - that is to say regular prank phone calls which are later edited out of sequence, chopped up, and have sound effects added. Check out his site at: to get an idea. Like any skit on an album, it's not even as entertaining as it was surely meant to be the first time, and after you've listened to this album through a couple more times, you'll really be wishing for a song-only version. There's a long album "intro" (ask Max at Hip Hop Isn't Dead... about the joy of those) and some more segments which randomly appear at the ends of certain songs. There's even a hidden bonus track of additional prank call segments at the end. ...But, still, don't let that discourage you from picking up an otherwise excellent album.

Now, there doesn't seem to be anything for Tommy V, but Neila and EVS have myspaces here and here, respectively. And, finally, Neila has a message she's trying to get out, so I'm gonna post it here to help get the word out:

Education Update from Neila - Please read!!! PLease act!!!
I hate bulletins so I am sorry but i am writing all of you for the sake of the students in California. This community has power and if we all come together we can potentially save our future. Right now our governator is going to cut public education. For those of you that don't know, I teach fourth grade in inner city Los Angeles. This cut he has proposed that has already passed threw the legislature is going to double class size, get rid of all afterschool programs, get rid of all new teachers, cut special education, along withdisplace thousands of employees in every school district. At my school, we have already let people go and they are saying that we have no money for supplies next year. We cannot even buy pencils....Our state ranks 2nd in the nation as the richest state, our state ranks 48th in the nation on student spending. That means we spend $700 less per student than every state except two. These cuts will devastate our children, devastate our futures. I know I am losing my job, but I am writing this to educate those who don't know to urge you to write your legislative representative, write the governer, the mayor, and come join us when it comes time to hit the streets and protest, if not for yourself for the future of our children who will be with little to no support, no where to go afterschool, and little hope. The effects of these cuts are devastating and we should not idly stand by and let these hummer owning officials hurt our children!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Vooodu, Runnin' From My Magic

A couple years after Western Hemisfear split apart and Patchwerk closed its doors, Vooodu - who'd been killing it with hot Wake Up Show freestyles, some ill, atmospheric production for Ras Kass and his crew, and putting out a hot EP called Dark Regions, Vooodu seemed to disappear. It was definitely a loss to the underground, west coast scene.

But, actually, Vooodu put out one more project a few years later, though if you live in the US you probably never heard of it (unless you did some internet searching for Vooodu like I did). "Confessions" dropped in 1999... it's got a couple labels credited (Lavish, Epic, Diverse), but they all seem to be subs or at least associated with Sony's German division. To add to the confusion, a label called Superb Records made a webpage (which is still up, all these years later), claiming "Confessions" came out on Superb and Epic in 2002, and that he's working on his 2004 album for Superb, titled Dog Day Afternoon (which never happened). Damn, confusing European releases. :P

I asked Danny Halloway (see my last, also Vooodu-related post, Werner's Back With the True Sound) what happened to Vooodu - maybe his Sony deal tied him up, and kept his album shelved? But no, he said, "vooodu was very unique when he first came out and he worked very hard. then he got 4 girlfriends that did not know about each other and started having kids. soon, he didn't have enough time to concentrate on his music career. it's a shame coz he was spittin' fire in '92/'93."

So, anyway, this "Confessions" single is his last effort; and it's pretty disappointing after his previous releases... gone is the slick, hardcore wordplay. "Southern California Nights" was apparently the direction he was heading in after Patchwerk, and this goes further in that direction. It's got big studio production handled by a guy named Shiro Gutzie (who also does some instrumentation), studio R&B vocalists Al Berry and Niki Carson on the hook, and live strings by Johnny Todd.

The 12" has three mixes and the CD single has six. West coast producer M Boogie handles the "Act:2 - I Confess... Remix" and Vooodu gets behind the boards himself for the "Act:3 - V3 Hypnosis Mix." Two of the other mixes are just radio and TV versions of the main mix, but then the CD single also offers one more remix, the "Revenge Mix," apparently also done by Shiro (I'm assuming, since no other credits are given).

The singing isn't bad, but it's pretty damn cheesy. And the live instrumentation is nice in a way, giving it a little richer... it all sounds like something Nas or any mainstream NY rapper would do while we all wished they'd go back to working with Primo or Buckwild. Wisely, M-Boogie and Vooodu opted to replace the happy dappy singing with a spoken chorus by Vooo, but unfortunately, his delivery is kinda lifeless and flat; which makes the whole venture boring and entirely forgettable. M-Boogie goes for a kind of Alchemist-like beat, with short horn stabs and sounds; but never reaches those heights. And Vooodu loops these short guitar samples, giving the whole thing the atmosphere of a film soundtrack, which works with the narrative style of the lyrics... but it just isn't hot enough to really pop; and again the hook just falls flat. The "Revenge Mix" is pretty close to the original... it's a bit longer, and elements come in and out at different times, but essentially it's the same music, hook and vocals as the original.

The song itself is definitely on some crime story "Good Dwellas" type ish. He doesn't come off as impressively ill as his freestyle HemisFear rhymes, but he's still nice with his wordplay and is clearly a skilled MC who's mastered this kind of criminology material as well:

"We arrive at the compound;
Start the countdown.
You have orders to swiss 'em
If they hostile.
Tag 'em like Wild Style;
You know how it's done.
It's a quarter after one,
Time to tick it.
Six minutes for this mission,
Let's get this shit movin'.
I'm headin' for the safe
And the place they hide the rubies,
Just like the movies,
Tied everybody up.
Any talk, slap 'em with the burner -
'Shut the fuck up!'
We started fillin' the duffel bags,
Cleanin' 'em out;
Stacks and stacks of green,
You should've seen the amount;
After we got
Everything valuable.
Now back to you,
You took my niggas out,
Now take these two
To your think-tank.
Our steps they won't retrace;
Left the scene with the spree,
If you know what I mean;
And scorch the place.
What an expensive price
To pay for treason,
But fuck 'em,
They made it open season."

So, it's a decent song. Vooodu fans should be happy to find at least one more song they can add to their collections. But for all the different versions, even on the CDS, it still just needs one strong remix to get it off the ground. Someone like Nick Wiz could've really given it what it needed to catch on and be a worthwhile addition to anyone's collection. As it is, I'd say it's just for Vooodu fans... although casual fans might dig one or two of the remixes enough to pick it up if they come across it cheap.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Werner's Back With the True Sound

^Video blog!!
(Did I just cheese a blog post my linking some vid I found on Youtube? No waii!! This is all new, original content!)

And here's Meen Green's myspace page I mention in the vid - watch out, it's one of those browser-crashing ones with a bajillion pics and stuff.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Back To the Lab

^Video blog!!
(The return of original content created for this blog rather than linked content by somebody else.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Smirphies Dance

Keeping it old school after that interview with Romeo JD (here), here we've got a record from 1982. It's "Smirfathon U.S.A." by Jalil... as in Jalil Hutchinson of Whodini, before they started putting out music on Jive. It came out on Charlie Rock Records, the only release on that label. It's produced by a guy named Y. Dah in association with Henry Batts. The only other record I know of them doing is "The Smirf" by Cory, which this is essentially the rap version of. That record came out the same year on a label called The Sound of Brooklyn, who you'll notice if you read the fine print in my scan, also distributed this Charlie Rock record.

Cory's record was a funky, fun disco dance record... but this follow-up is really for "Smirf" fans (and Whodini completists, of course) only. It feels slower - in fact, every time I put on this record, I think "whoops! this is a 45;" but it's not. It's just how Jalil raps in this kind of dull, spoken style, almost one word for each drum beat... And there's little else besides a very sparse keyboard, the signature "Smirf" bassline and handclaps to help it along. This simple track worked for Cory, whose lovely singing voice essentially added to the instrumentation, but replacing her with Jalil's vocals tips the scale towards boring. He's short on flow and the whole exercise is missing the energy he'd soon display with Whodini.

But, still, there's no denying the funky bass groove of "The Smirf" in any incarnation, and for all my criticism, you'll still find yourself disappointed when the record ends way too early, fading out during Jalil's rap after only the five minute mark (hey, this was '82... I expect at least ten more minutes of funk!). His voice is still appealing, and there's an underlying wit to his rhymes - without being jokey - that's the trademark of almost all the best MCs:

"Everybody, smirf down the streets;
Smirf on skates.
For those who can't smirf:
Huh - take that in your face!
Now, you all should know the smirf,
At least by now,
For the nerds out there who don't,
I guess I'll show you how.
Now let your body float,
Like you're on the surf;
Now put a beat to it,
And call it the smirf.
Now just let your arms flow
From your left to your right.
Now get down low,
Now come back to your height.
That's right - smirf outside,
Smirf in your car,
Hold it! Don't move an inch;
Smirf right where you are."

The b-side, "Your Smirf" is of course the instrumental (except for looping the opening line, "Ha ha ha! Who wanna smirf wit it?" a couple times), but they remix it, playing with the drums and adding extra keyboards and even some guitar. At one point they break it down to nothing but a synthesizer imitating the bassline... it's still a slow and mellow tune, but this mix is way more jazzed up - it's also a minute and a half longer. It's too bad this mix didn't feature Jalil's vocals, because then we'd have the best of both worlds, but as it is, it's still my preferred version.

So, yeah. If you don't have this, you're not missing an an essential like "Magic's Wand," but it's still a worthwhile piece for true fans of the golden era. And, really, it's impossible to not enjoy the smirf, at least a little bit. :)