Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Alright, Now I've Had Anuf

To compliment my new artist's discography page on my "main" site, I'm reviewing a single straight off of it. This is a 1994 retread of Kurtis Blow's classic "The Breaks" featuring the man himself, guesting with Reprise Records' start-up group Nadanuf.

Nadanuf never took off - they put out their full-length (with contributions from Def Jef and Howie Tee) and one other single and then disappeared. The group consisted of two young girls from Cincinatti, Ohio: Skwert and Phor-One-One. See? The Cincinatti scene was being represented before Mr. Dibbs and Dose One. Anyway, these girls had a bit of a shtick where they always wore goggles, which they explained in an interview with Urban Network Magazine, "The goggles are kinda like a vibe. It's like our head gear or more like our armor to take on a crowd. Just like our bright clothes; if it's bright that's just Nadanuf. It has to be extra or it's just Nadanuf." Okay...

If they don't already, labels should have a position for the guy who comes up with their rappers' gimmicks' explanations. Not the designer or whoever who first comes up with the ideas like, "you girls shall always wear goggles," or "Y?N-Vee, you girls will always wear your pants below your thongs" (remember them? What marketing genius came up with that idea?). I'd just like to be the guy who comes up with the official explanations after the gimmick's been chosen. Like, "it's our vibe... headgear, armor..." that's weak sauce. See, if it was me, I'd give them something more along these lines: "See, there's all these forces in the world trying to control your perspective... our vision of the world. Corporations, government, the media, all trying to shape the way we perceive events, like, this 'you should want this product' or 'these people are guilty' even before the trial. So the goggles are our way of saying, 'hey. We're going to view the world the way we choose to see it. We're going to think and make decisions of how we choose to act based on our ideas and our unique perspectives.' No matter hwo much you try to change us, or control us, and make us see things the way you want us to see them, you can't ...'cause we got these goggles." That shit would've got the girls a full-page write-up in Rap Pages! But did they come to me? No. And now it's too late.

So, anyway, yeah. A remake of Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks" by up-and-coming major label unknowns sure doesn't qualify as a "must-have" in my book - not now and not in 1994 - but they went the extra distance by actually getting Blow on the track, so I picked up the cassingle for 99 cents when it came out. Now, in the same Urban Network Magazine interview, they talk about how that all came about, "Babyboy [producer Aaron "Babyboy" Griffin] just came up with the idea to re-do the song and at the time we were working with Def Jef because we had just finished recording 'Worldwide.' Def Jef said, 'I know Kurtis, he's just right around the corner. I can call him up.' Kurtis came by the next day. At first we were just going to ask him to do his original 'Clap ya hands everybody.' Then he asked could he do them all. So he re-did the whole song with us. Afterward we ran to 7-Eleven and got a disposable camera to get our pictures with Kurtis." It's not really bad, but the final verdict is obvious even before you hear it: there's no reason to play this song when you could just as easily play the superior original.

This is ok as an alternative, though - the music is essentially the same, but with more traditional verses by the girls. Then Kurtis Blow comes up with new "that's the breaks"-isms for the hook (it may possibly be your only chance to hear Kurtis Blow say "late night creep" as well, so think carefully before passing this one up). He actually has a lot of energy and sounds damn enthusiastic to be there, which makes this a pretty fun listening experience.

The B-side, "Many Emcees (Madd Drama)" is actually better than you'd think. The first MC (sorry, I've no idea which is Skwert and which is Phor) comes out with fast freestyle rhymes: "You musta thought we couldn't get down, you under estimate, you smell like shit now, we makin' hits now, we been down, we take you MCs to four thousand degrees, you others make me sneeze, like infect-u-ous disease. I tear you into pieces as I hit you with my thesis; I release the vocals that you smoke to," etc. She wasn't exactly going to be the Canibus-before-there-was-Canibus; but she holds her own on a posse cut. The secondMC, then, comes and steals the show with a surprisingly compelling, smoother verse. Finally, the third verse is shared by two guest MCs who aren't credited in the liner notes; but a little online searching tells me their names are Elmyzik and Manzini. They come out doing their best Onyx impression ...which is frankly a bit silly. Just try to remember: it's all in fun.

Today, Kurtis Blow is still performing (and preaching!). He's got a myspace, of course, and he's got a new mp3-only single with his new Christian rap crew, The Trinity, called "Just Do It." You can download it at b4entertainment.com. One of the other members of The Trinity has several mp3-only albums available there, too... a couple of which feature Kurtis, and one even features Bushwick Bill! Their next one, apparently come soon, is called "Crunk Wit It" b/w "Grace of God" with the Gospel Gangstaz. So look out for that. ...Unless you're like me and think it sounds terrible, in which case stay far away from it. You know which choice is for you, I'm sure.

(The Nadanuf girls don't seem to have any myspaces... goodness knows what happened to 'em.)

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