Monday, August 25, 2008

Cancelled Delivery

^Video blog!!
(More all-original content! ZOMG!!)

Update 8/28/08: Turns out Carlos Bess produced this O.G. version of the track; he sent me this message: "Wow! I produced that song Deliver by Chino Xl. Quincy did not clear the sample because of what chino said about Woopie Goldberg. Thats crazy... good find." And that Whoopie Goldberg line in the song ("Did I do that? Not Whoopie Goldberg or Steve Urkel but I'll leave ya grill the color purple"), isn't even a diss to her, just a play on words with the title of her film.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Real Crazy Like a Foxxx

Ok, this post is about the recently released, long awaited Crazy Like a Foxxx album by Freddie Foxxx. And before I go any further, let me just ask: where is the vinyl LP of this? Seriously, Fat Beats, what the fuck?

Ok, that just had to be said. Now onto the real point of this post: the Crazy Like a Foxxx double CD that Fat Beats just released is not the same as the old Crazy Like a Foxxx album that's been in circulation since it was sent out to the press for review back in '94 (3 mics in The Source if you're interested)... not the Jailhouse version on disc 1 or the DITC demo on disc 2.

The differences start right at the intro. In fact, "Intro" on the original version is essentially two intros in a row, neither of which are on the CD set. The first is a brief welcome to the album by Foxxx, where he tells us every song has a hidden message. Then there's a second one where he and his partner Shorty Dog talk shit for a while over a beat. And midway through the original, there's another "Intro #2," where he talks about the concepts of the album and gives his message to all MCs, which was also left off this release. Now, none of these are great losses, but I can't help feeling like it would've been nice to be completist on a project like this.

Anyway, playing a little further into the album we find another skit that's not on the Fat Beats release, of a violent highway shoot-out. Then, just one song later comes another unused skit, where Shorty Dog brings two Chinese gangsters to meet Freddie, who demands to be cut into their operation. And leading up to "Step" is yet another skit absent from the Fat Beats set. Here a narrator asks us about dreams over the signature Twilight Zone theme, followed by a look into one of Freddie's gangster dreams, where Italian mobsters threaten to drop him out of a window. It's kinda odd. All in all, the original version of the album was definitely going for more of a "cinematic" skit-heavy vibe that I can't really say I'm so sad to see go.

But there's more absent here that I actually do miss, including "Raw Skill:" a pure, acapella rap. And it's no quick freestyle verse, but a full, political and angry track that just happens to not have a beat or hook. Dope stuff.

And the unreleased album also included the superior "Mellow Mix" of "So Tough" (in addition to, not instead of, the "Video Version" present on the CD). This isn't as big of a loss though, since it was already featured on the 12" single, which was properly released back in the day. And that single also features an exclusive, third mix of "So Tough," so you'll be wanting to pick that up if you haven't already got it, regardless.

Finally, the O.G. version concluded with a full-length shout-out track over a hot beat called, "Mr. Microphone," with his DJ getting busy cutting up some vocal samples at the end. That's been removed as well.

But the changes here aren't all subtractions. Besides, of course, the delightful inclusion of the DITC Demo version on the second disc, Fat Beats also sneaks a couple of extra tracks into the Jailhouse version. In fact, that was the first thing that occurred to me when I saw the track-listing for this release: "I don't remember a track with Tupac on it...!"

Track 8 on the Jailhouse disc, "Killa," sure wasn't on the album any of us heard before. And in addition to 2Pac, it also features an uncredited Ray Benzino. It's not hard to imagine why Fat Beats might've decided to leave his name off of their CD and press-kits. But of course it's only natural he's present, as The RSO was part of Latifah's reinvented/defiled Flavor Unit at the time. Now, this is really a reworking of an unreleased track that's been floating around the internet for a while called "Tryna Get Through This." The beat is different (it's better, and doesn't feature the sappy R&Bish hook), and Foxxx and Benzino kick different lyrics, but it's definitely the same 'Pac verse. ...I'd love to hear the full story behind this song.

Also new to the Jailhouse version is "Do What You Gotta Do," a song originally released on a rare 12" single I blogged about some time ago [Update 8/25/08 - the version on the CD is a bit different. The basic beat, hook and bassline are the same, but the piano and some of the change-ups you hear on the CD are new... it sounds like the 12" is the original, and they did some tinkering for the version on the CD.], and the "Crazy Like a Foxxx (Alternate Mix)." The Jailhouse version also adds a new "Interlude" skit of a guy picking up a prostitute... it would've really fit in perfectly with the ones from the old version, but it's actually being released here for the first time.

So, all in all, what would have been better? The real O.G. version with its crap-ton of skits and a few exclusive bits, or this remade version with all its odds and ends thrown in. Ideally, of course, it would have been nice to have it ALL included... but there's no denying that this is a must have 2-disc set of never-before released material no matter how you look at it. Even if it's not on vinyl.

Update 5/22/09 - The versions of "Step" and "Pressure On the Brain" (both the Demo and Jailhouse versions) in this set are also substantially different than the ones on the original (and the originals are better!). The original mixes were made available, however, on a limited 1996 white label 12" that I review here. This review gives detailed coverage of the differences in the versions.

Update 7/30/09 - Newly added pictures of the O.G. tape and sleeve, courtesy of Noz of Cocaine Blunt$.

Friday, August 22, 2008

InstaRapFlix 11: Beef

It's been a minute since I've done one of these (at least compared to how fast I expected to churn these out), but here I am with another one. Tonight I watched Beef (Netflix rating: 1 & 1/2 stars) a roughly 90 minute doc about... beef. As in contention, not the cow meat. :P

As the annoyingly long opening sequence rolled on (I recommend skipping ahead about five minutes), I had a bad feeling about this one... we were gonna lots of footage of rappers at their most embarrassingly ignorant and hammy coverage of pop rap star he said/she said-type junk. And the narration from Ving Rhames is pretty cheesy; but apart from that, this film came a lot deeper and smarter than I was expecting.

First of all, it takes it all the way back. They cover Kool Moe Dee versus Busy Bee, and both Dee and Bee are on hand to tell the story in their own words. And Krs, Kane, and all these other rappers are talk about it in a knowledgeable, historical perspective. They've got footage of the event... everything.

Then they cover Krs versus MC Shan, again all in their own words, with Marley and others there, too. It covers the basics for new school head s who have no idea who's who, but also gets detailed enough to keep the fans who already know all about it interested.

They go into Ice Cube splitting from NWA, and everything that lead to (Dre moving to Death Row, etc)... they've got archival interview footage from back when it was happening, everything. I was impressed.

And the film, which goes in chronological order, also successfully illustrates how beef transformed from the friendly competition of MC battles to stupid, violent fights like Tru Life's issues with Mobb Deep, and of course 'Pac and Biggie, etc. They even include the press's role in building the east vs west beef into the ridiculousness it became, interviewing Vibe editors, etc.

Towards the end, it does slip down some, becoming partially what I feared at the beginning... more stories of rappers glorifying fights (stay tuned after the credits to hear one photographer go on and on about some stupid fight for like fifteen minutes or some equally crazy length of time). And another problem is that the second half suddenly becomes the 50 Cent show. Now, don't get me wrong... he belongs in this film. Nothing against the guy, and he's certainly been involved in enough beef to warrant inclusion... but it's obvious the film dwells on every little thing he's ever been involved with and gives him heaps of interview time purely because he was the biggest star when the DVD came out. I mean, heck... just look at the cover. It starts out interesting; he has a fun anecdote about Jay-Z taking it to him after he released "How To Rob" (with footage from the event as well). But after a while it just got damn sick of hearing this dude, and his stories got pettier and pettier

So, yeah. Not an amazing film as a whole... but there's a lot of quality coverage, with a lot of interesting artists (I couldn't even count everybody they got on camera) from all time periods telling their stories in their own words. Definitely worth the view for any hip-hop fan.

Now, there's three sequels (or maybe there's even more, but Netflix just has the three)... My first instinct is that this is just going to be more of the worst of part 1. But hey, I was pleasantly surprised by this entry, so I'll definitely be giving those sequels a shot (each and every one of 'em), and report back. Watch this space.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Opening Your Records

^Video blog!!
(Just a little original content I think some people need to see.)


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Arrest the President, 14 Years Later

Now that we're under the administration of Bush #2, The Arrest the President All-Stars dropped a sequel to Intelligent Hoodlum's original "Arrest the President" in 2004 on Anticon, with a pic cover (enlarge the image and find Rev Rhyme!) riffing on the old We're All In the Same Gang album cover. The All Stars were made up of Pedestrian, Sole and Jel, who rhymes as well as produces on this one.

The whispered hook is the same; and the instrumental echoes the original... you hear hints of the signature sirens, but Jel fades them out quickly as he's actually crafted an all new instrumental for us, though roughly in the same energetically angry vein. It's a bit closer to the remix, I suppose, in that it has a proper bassline and is generally a bit more "musical," though it forgoes the scratching that Marley did in favor of a variety of vocal samples of everybody from Bobby Seale ("the long arm of fascist surveillance, reaching from the '60s into the present") to LL Cool J ("guilty, face down on the pavement!"). For the most time they alternate kicking four bars, but for the second "verse," they rhyme in unison, which kicks the energy up another notch. Then they split back up again for the final segment:

Blood against blood, he threatens neighbors with nukes
When he's reading his cue cards and punching the camera.
Don't look at the forest, he's burning it down for
The royal family and the prison landlords.

We ain't the band for no campaign tour;
We rap to distract in these times of war.
We're not righteous, but might just make you want to listen...
Yo, I'm Elvis with the words of wisdom.
[<--3rd Bass quote, kids]"

This single was actually one of those "double A-sides," and the flip is a Pedestrian solo cut called "The Toss and Turn"(both this and "Arrest the President" appear on his debut album, Unindian Songs vol. 1). Pedestrian describes the tune better than I surely could, "[f]ormally, 'The Toss & Turn' is all about appropriation: jel's music is essentially modeled after raw, early '60s novelty dance tunes (like 'The Funky Penguin') and the rapping is in the late-'80s, New York vein. Thematically, the lyrics modify and in some cases invert the associations of those two genres, so that it becomes a swingy, up-tempo song about loss, a conscientiously clubby song about solitude, and a clearly, coldly rapped song about anxiety." Maybe that'll strike you as a bit pretentious, but I gotta say it all works for me... Ped's staccato flow over Jel's funky beat is perfect; the theme is substantive enough to relate to, but simple and catchy enough to just enjoy as fun, too.

This record also comes with a formal, written apology [I can't be bothered to scan it; it's double-sided. Just buy the record.] for his past discography, which is pretty silly. I mean,. if he wants to apologize for something, he'd be better off apologizing for the vinyl exclusives that also appear on this 12".

There's three (not including the instrumental for "A.T.P."). There's "Resurrection Morning Sermon," a five minute literal sermon in his preacher character (continuing a series of skits from off the album). It's actually set to a dope beat by Jel, and there's occasionally some nice scratching during the breaks. But essentially the sermon is one long, self indulgent drag.

Then there's this weird thing where some guy named Adrian Bayless (I've no idea who he is, but apparently he owns a computer!) takes the "Toss and Turn" acappella and distorts it unto an indistinguishable series of noises for about a minute and a half. Then some sound effects fade in, and this continues on for a total of roughly four minutes. If you make it that long, god bless ya.

Finally, producer Odd Nosdam takes another stab at distorting "The Toss & Turn." He basically takes the chorus and one verse, turns the drums into some kind of awful, piercing mess, and lays it over an actually kinda funky organ loop. This one would be pretty catchy if it wasn't literally painful to listen to.

Anyway, you can't really complain since they're just "bonus tracks" on a 12" with two great songs on it. So cop that shit... right after you've copped the Tragedy, of course. Do it for yourself... Do it to support good music... Do it for your country. 8)

Unfortunately, I've no idea what Pedestrian is up to nowadays. I know he left the country for a while, and that he has a very uninformative myspace for his preacher character (Evangelist J.B. Best); but that's about it, and that's seriously old news. I think he did a little writing for one or a couple Anticon-affiliated projects recently ("cbf" as the kids say), so if you find him, remind him he owes us an Unindian Songs vol. 2 soon. He takes way too long between projects, and should be chastised at every opportunity.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Arrest the President

This was the third and final single off of Intelligent Hoodlum's debut album - after the understated "Black & Proud" and the commercial bid, "Back To Reality" with that whole Soul II Soul vibe - and undoubtedly the best. It seemed like the album had run its course, not unsuccessfully, when Trag and Marley snuck in this one final blow, which was easily the best track off the entire album (and his entire career, I'd say, despite my special soft spot for "Live and Direct from the House of Hits").

The production was like "Marley does The Bomb Squad." High pitched sirens, fast, banging drums and the occasional, gritty horn stab. And Trag just spits hard, fast and angry, only briefing stopping to repeat the line "arrest the president" a few times before kicking the next verse. It was the last song on the album, too; the perfect way to end was a little bit of a mixed bag... on one hand his most progressive track, on the other, a sort of a throwback to the sound of the raw, underground collaborations of Marley and the man then known as MC Percy.

There was a video, but it hardly got any play. The label and media had pretty much moved on already after "Back To Reality," which is a shame because it was a good video, too. The unapologetic message probably turned off some higher-ups, but with the proper promotion, I think this could have been a really big record in 1990. It's like this i the record they put out just in case they never got the chance to make another one. And it remains a classic to those Juice Crew fans in the know; but it definitely never became what it should have. In fact, the single never even got released.

The 12" was a promo only, with its hand-written label well-known to hip-hop collectors worldwide. Three tracks: "Assault Mix," "Predicate Felony Mix" & "Convicted Mix," and one crossed off: "Album Justice Mix." Despite throwing the word "Justice" in there, I'm going to assume that was just the album mix, so no big loss... we've all got it on the LP (and if you don't, get it now... I'll wait).

So we've got three mixes here. Two aren't anything to get excited about - despite the fancy monikers, they're just the instrumental and TV tracks ...although, this has to be on everybody's short list of must-have hip-hop instrumentals, so go ahead and get excited about that, too. Now, that leaves us withjust the one, basic (also Marley-produced) remix. You might ask yourself, why would you really want a remix to one of hip-hop's potentially greatest all-time beats?

Because they actually made it better. This isn't some crappy "New Jack Swing" remix, or just a slightly reworked "Blue Mix." It keeps the signature sirens, and even the same drum track. But now Marley is constantly cutting and scratching throughout the whole song (mostly a horn sample, but sometimes a vocal sample or two get cut in for a split second as well), and it's all laid down over a great, rolling bassline. Flat out, it doesn't get any better than this, folks.

As you might imagine, this record doesn't usually go for cheap... the combination of scarcity + greatness will do that. And, strangely, Traffic didn't see to fit this, or the other important 12" single tracks, on their reissue of the album... instead throwing on stuff like "Live Motivator?" So, anyway, definitely grab it when the opportunity presents itself.

I'm afraid I have no myspace links or anything for ya. After releasing his slightly presciently titled eighth album The Death of Tragedy last year, our man got locked up on a drug charge. According to sketchy online sources (hey, what do you want from me?), he's scheduled to be released in 2011. But that doesn't mean they still shouldn't arrest the president, too. :P

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Unreleased Slick Rick, Chapter Eight

My series that started in April 2007 and was last heard from that September is back! Though this time it's a little different. In all the previous entries we unearthed previously released Slick Rick releases that J-Love used for his barely mixed mix-CDs and called "Unreleased." But this time we're hit with a double LP that came out after the mix-discs (I think I prefer that term better) - it's brand new.

So, yeah, A.K.A Ricky D: The Further Adventures of Slick Rick is a just-released double Slick Rick LP featuring a boatload of rare/unreleased tracks. It comes in a picture cover (see image) and the track-listing is as follows:





So the first thing you should notice is that "Captain Caveman," "Trouble (J-Love Remix)" and "Practice Over At Chill Will's Crib (1984)" are first-time vinyl releases [edit: Whoops! Actually, the "Trouble" remix is from the earlier white label 12", so only the other two are first timers]. So, that already makes this a must-have. And, yes, these are all the full, unmixed songs... even the J-Love remix is free of J-Love's name tag being shouted all over it.

The sound quality, like the Ricky D EP, is a bit of a mixed bag. It sounds like a lot of post-production filtery-type work was put into making some of the poorer quality tracks sound clean, which makes the volume levels on stuff sound a little low or distorted. Some of the tracks sound perfectly fine (and they ALL sound better than on those mix CDs), but a couple tracks, like "Feels Like," do suffer.

Some of the titling is also borderline misleading... calling "Can't Shake Us" the "Kenny Dope Mix," while accurate (it was indeed produced by Kenny Dope), kind of suggests that this is a rare remix by Kenny Dope. But, actually, there's only one version of this song, which was always produced by Kenny Dope, and this is the exact same one that was on the original 2002 12". The same can be said for the "Pete Rock Mix" of "World Renown"... I defy you to find me a non-Pete Rock version. And just to clarify, both of the "Women Lose Weight" remixes on this album were on the original Morcheeba 12".

But the nicest surprise I found is that the "Star Trek" included here is actually the Large Professor remix that was featured on Legends 2.2; and not the original version as heard on the Ricky D EP. So rack up another exclusive for A.K.A Ricky D (and also a reason you'll need to hang onto your Ricky D EP).

Now there's still a few tracks I wish were on here, namely: "He Kills," the Marley Marl remix of "Kit, What's the Scoop?" and the unreleased version of "I Own America." And I'd've happily forgone the perfectly common stuff - like the "It's a Boy" remix, which has already been released and rereleased several times over, and the Morcheeba remixes - in their stead. But I can't pretend that I'm not very happy to finally have "Captain Caveman" and Extra P's "Star Trek" remix on wax... and that Chill Will practice session is a fun, vintage exclusive. Good times.

Monday, August 4, 2008

(Werner Necro'd) Shabazz the Disciple Interview Fragment

In a
previous post about Shaqueen a.k.a. Ma Barker, I quoted an interview I did with Shabazz the Disciple, most of which has been lost. Basically, I have the first four of nineteen pages. It's pretty dang disappointing (not to mention the other interviews I did and lost over the years), but what I do have here is still kinda interesting. So I'm posting this fraction of what was actually a really good interview to preserve what I can. By the way, this interview was done a full decade ago: 1998. Shaqueen was present, too; but she doesn't say anything in the first four pages.

Ok, the first thing I've gotta ask you about is your departure from the Sunz of Man...

Ok, well, the whole science behind that is: me and Killah Priest was partners. We had a little demo via Atlantic Records. We went in the studio, recorded five songs. Hell Razah was my little cousin, and Prodigal Sun... we always hung together. So we featured them two on two songs, and that was the birth of Sunz of Man right there. Now, it's not like artistic differences; it's political differences. When you got some people who are in control and they have diferent views. Instead of you sitting in limbo, you believe in yourself and you know what you wanna do. You already came with a vision. You just move on, do what you gotta do. I mean, it's always love regardless.

So you might still work with them in the future?

Yeah. Right now, me and Killah Priest and Population Clique - two members of that: Tahir and Jamal - we are a four man group. So that's gonna be something new to look for.

And you've also got Celestial Souljahz, right, with Freestyle?

Yeah, Freestyle of The Arsonists. And then you got Shabazz the Disciple. Altogether, you got the Macabees Family, which is Killah Priest, his whole little set-up of his peoples, and then you put the whole thing together...

Is there actually a collective joint in the works right now?

Yeah, right now the album gonna come out on MCA. The next Killah Priest project gonna have the whole family album. But at the same time, we're doing a side album. A four-man group; we're thinking about The Four Horsemen. We're on some next shit. And with Shaqueen and Omen, the illest unknown, upcoming.

(To Shaqueen) Are you gonna be on that next project?

Well, she's gonna be involved... I mean, we're all involved. I just started working with them... I met them through, like, Gravediggaz, 'cause I represent... I go on tour with them. And on the new album, Omen is featured on the same song I'm featured on. So, we're touring together, we got tight. We networked. And then, you know, my man Baby J's album is coming out. You know, I asked him to be on that and bring Shaqueen, 'cause I always loved her stuff. The family's just getting tighter. The links... It's just all links in a chain.

So, when is all this stuff coming out? The Shabazz album, Celestial Souljahz, Baby J...

I'm a tell you... I-ight. You know how the music business goes, right? I'm looking for November, but let's say January to be safe. The Shabazz album. 'Cause, you know December's a bad time. Labels are hiring and firing, and I don't wanna get caught; so you know, let's say January. And Celestial Souljahz - second quarter. Like, right after that. But I'm gonna introduce the Celestial Souljahz on my album. Matter of fact, the next single I might make the Celestial Souljahz. Smack 'em in the head, 'cause a lot of peoples is waitin' for it.

Ok, tell us about the new 12" you've got coming out, "Ghetto Apostles."

That right there is just basically four soldiers who fight alongside each other in the same war. We hold down the same common cause. We in hip-hop... We're breathing the breath of life back into the nostrils of hip-hop. Hip-hop has no spirituality, so it's dead. So we're just comin' to bring the spirit back to hip-hop and show other fresh ideas, and bring it back to the real natural essence that it evolved from. And, you know... you got me, you got Freestyle, you got Bless who is a new artist, and you got Poetic from Gravediggaz. We've been working together for years, so we were just like, "let's just do something together." Baby J came in from London and made the beats. We recorded it. We went with it. Good responses. Did a tour. Doin' my thing. Everybody's lovin' it, so we just gonna keep it movin'.

Having heard The Arsonists... and hearing Shabazz, it sounds like two really different kinds of styles...


It's not a combination you'd really expect to fit together.

Exactly! That's versatility. Real hip-hop, it doesn't matter. As long as it's real, good music. Put two of the most opposite artists together, but the track... if they're real on the track... it's ok. It's on.

So let's talk about what kind of production you've got on your album coming out...

The fuckin' illest beats in the world. It might be scary to some people, some of it, you know. But I've got a full, complete album. I try to touch everybody, basically. I don't make music for, like, just kids... or just older people. Our music is for everybody, bottom line. Period. We gonna deal with it. 'Cause there's the situation, which I'm sure you faced, or you know somebody who faced, who you've dealt with, who just won't feel my energy. As far as production, we got Carlos Bess who's one of the most incredible, uinderground... underrated producers in our time, right now.

He did the remix for the latest single, right?

Yeah. On some surprise. I just gave him the reel, told him to mix it down for me, 'cause we had to go on tour. He just threw that on there on some love like yo, you know? ...Just did it on his own. Nobody asked him. He produced "Crime Saga," which was on my old single on Penalty. And he produced a lot of songs on my album that people love right now. You know, we did it in like '96. We did some of the songs in '96, like "yo, that's still ahead of its time!" Then, you know, you've got Premiere. He's dedicated to do it. You got Beatminerz. You got Nasheem Rider... the Fourth Disciple. He did my first single. Freestyle: one of the illest upcoming producers. You got Baby J. I got a lot of talented producers. I like to work with everybody who's got that energy.

And I think you said you were putting a lot of the old singles on the album, too?

Maybe they'll be bonus tracks. 'Cause right now I got a seventeen song album. It'll be seventeen songs plus the six singles. So it's twenty-three songs.

And, as much as I hate to pull the plug, that's where the portion I've got ends. Some of the projects he talked about came out, some didn't. But he's stayed busy, putting a lot of stuff out, including his new collaborative album with Killah Priest, T.H.U.G. Angels; and he's still doing it. Check his myspace page for his latest.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I'm just posting to let you guys know that I sometimes go back and update old posts when I've got some new info/scoops, to keep them as definitively informative as I can. Here're a couple links to some of the most interesting ones, including one I've just revisited today:

* Once Again Back Is the Incredible...! - I just found out that Bust Down had an unreleased album (not sure if it was completed or not, though), and why it was shelved (hint: it involves a drug kingpin). Also added a new image of the cassette version's picture cover.

* The Lost King of New York - I found an old Rap Pages review that sheds some new light on Pudgee's unreleased album.

* Pass da Remix - Da Youngsta's, famous for being the only kid group to write their own rhymes, bite a rhyme from Mentally Gifted! I wonder if any of the rest of their material is lifted from other MC's?

* Before He Was Goldy... - A commentor brought me up to speed on a third, independent album by Mhisani/ Goldy, which I added a cover image and description for... and a reference to a fourth(!), unreleased album.

* Lazy Freak - Not actually an "update," but producer Doug Lazy dropped into the comments section to add some back story of his working with Stezo and Paul C under a psuedonym. Great read!

* What I Call Produce - Cadence of Raw Produce corrected me on a few details I wrote in this entry, including pointing out to me that Pitch never did any of the scratches on their stuff. Whoops. ...Well, what do I know anyway?

There are others, too, so dig around when you're feeling adventerous (or bored). ;)