Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Man They Call Lux

What do you get when you combine Freddie Foxxx and Steady B? You get Lux (that's a good thing). The Man They Call Lux is Lux's main release, although he had an earlier 12" single (featuring Steady B himself) and later did a few appearances. Lux came out of the overlooked indie Philly scene in the late 90's, and was produced by DJ Miz (as in Freshco & ______), here going by the name DJ Mizery.

Now, there's two versions of this EP - the cassette version and the vinyl version, with different track-listings. The vinyl version has:

1. Just Enuff (Vocal)
2. Just Enuff (Instrumental)
3. Why? (Vocal)
4. Why? (Instrumental)
5. Street Playa
6. Baby (Instrumental)
7. Don't Give a...

...while the cassette version track-listing is this:

1. Intro
2. Jailhouse
3. Winna
4. Don't Give a...
5. Why?
6. Street Playa
7. Just Enuff
8. Gangsta
9. Outro

...So, basically, the cassette version has some extra songs, and the vinyl version has the instrumentals. They both came out in 1996 on No Front Inc., a label co-owned by DJ Miz and Jonas Goldstein.

Lux had just gotten out of prison before putting out this EP (for racketeering and controlled substance distribution, according to the Philadelphia City Paper), hence the delay between the initial single and this release. But it sounds like that time was put to good use making this EP dope. "Jailhouse" is a live recording of a performance, where you can hear the crowd loving his hardcore flow. And that experience is how this whole EP feels.

The production is consistently solid - simple for the most part, just pure rough street tracks. One song, "Why?," add a terrific piano sample and a brilliant use of a line from Slick Rick's "Hey Young World" on the hook that will easily pull any hip-hop fan in, no matter what style they're into. Oh, and when DJ Miz comes in at the end to cut up the "but they're still telling lies to me" line from "The Bridge Is Over?" Forget about it!

Lyrically, though a lot of his songs are straight, hardcore freestyles ("I got the mad skills with a handful of niggas in my corner. Ya walk my path, yaass can be a fuckin' goner. So get the rubber ready for the syringe, hit the skin, and watch me closely as I come around the bend. It's a thin line between love and hate. We can make a date; it'll be your worst fate - you punks couldn't bust a grape. Tighten up the girdles and the garters. Ya smack a nigga in the face, he might work harder."), he still remains conscious, on a very street level. Like I said, very reminiscent of Freddie Foxxx. Check out his lyrics for "Why?" (the whole song, taken from an old Front Inc press-kit. Punctuation etc as originally written):

"Why? And you forgot Why?

Why are things the way that they are
Why when the night fall out comes the stars
Why is corruption in this government so evident
Why is the black man so damn diligent
Why did I do time for cocaine, when Dolorean doesn't do a day because of his name
Shame about O.J., but murders happen every damn day
If that was Hillary would they treat Bill the same way
Oh my god our world is so corrupt, Woody Allen gets accused of the same but
they got to go and see Mike's nuts
Oh Why do things go on this way,
Kennedy gets away, but see Tyson had to pay
Why is my music with the soul always control a naked soul and accept fuckin
Rock n Roll, unfold and listen closely when I'm schoolin
Somebody tell me WHY?

And you forgot Why?
Say Why?, Why, When You know WHY?

Why do things get captured on camera, cops get acquitted, admit it what the
fuck would happen if I would of did it
Why is there a war against drugs
When white collar see, that's are biggest fuckin thugs
Slugs on the ground, your put six feet down, Mothers constantly frown,
Wanna be gangsters runnin around our town
They blame AIDS on blacks in the ghetto , we heard you said it, but we all
know that that's a man made synthetic
Genetics tell me better , get your shit together because you won't be able
to hold my people down forever
Never will we let go of the collar of the crook, they say the best way to
hide from a nigger, put it in a book
They gave me a peep, I took a look
It wasn't right, know they got to feel some strife tonight
I'm fly'em high as a kite,as soon as they give it to me cut em with a knife

Somebody tell me WHY?
And you forget
Why when you know WHY?

Why do they think we all rob and fuckin steal
Why do they stop us from driving fly automobiles
Why is the subburbs we hear and don't know
and they separate us all from the ghetto
don't get me wrong though cause we still love the ghetto
but why is it only bad parts about the ghetto that you show
Why can a black singer only sing, when you name a theifen devil like Elvis King
These are things we need to pull off the shelf, and questions we really
need to ask ourselves
somebody tell me WHY?
and you forgot why?
Your still tellin lies to me!!"

The EP also features a hot duet with Tommy Hil from The Ram Squad - their styles are pure street lyrically, delivery-wise and right down to the track. "Gangsta" is the same song that was on the b-side to his first 12", co-written by Steady B, and "Just Enuff" pays homage to the old school... the notes don't specify, but I'd bet your house that the hook here is sung by East 27th Street, an R&B act that was also signed to No Front Inc at the time.

Basically, The Man They Call Lux is a little skit-heavy (at least the cassette version), but every song on here bumps, including the ones left off the vinyl version. This is one of those releases you're going to feel the first time you hear it; and then the more you listen to it, the more you'll dig it even further. Track it down. Classic slept-on Philly.


1 comment:

  1. Picked this gem up in the bargain bin today. Still sealed. I remember this guy was the next "thing", he was on the radioactive show and everything. Then poof, disappeared. Forgot about him until today. Crazy how music lives forever.