Monday, October 13, 2008

Darth Vader On the Mic

This neat, promo-only 12": Phoenix Orion "A Disturbance In the Force" was only made available as a freebie if you ordered over $50.00 from the Celestial Recordings online store. It came out in 1999, to tie in with the theatrical release of the fourth Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace, and this song was never included on any of his albums.

Now, there have been Star Wars-related songs in hip-hop before... artists like Ultramagnetic MCs and 7L & Esoteric have used vocal samples, The Walkmen practically used the entire soundtrack to turn "Fortruss" into a Star Wars soundscape, and plenty of artists have thrown Jedi references in their rhymes. But Phoenix Orion was taking it to a whole new, literal level.

It wasn't his first release, but Phoenix really made a name for himself with his 1998 album Zimulated Experiencez, where each song featured a first-person narrative from the perspective of a character in a different science fiction film (yes, including Star Wars). Gimmicky, maybe; but for sci-fi/hip-hop nerds who were looking for some serious science fiction content in their raps, and not just cute punchline references or far-reaching sci-fi metaphors of life in the ghetto (a la "Planet E"), this was as pure as it got. And that's what this is.

After an opening vocal sample of Alec Guiness (that's Obi-Wan Kenobi to you) giving us the titular line, a fat, fast-pace beat by Hive kicks in. Hard drums, bassed up horn samples, some hot scratching (also by Hive, I guess, since no one else is credited) and a "Road To the Riches" style piano loop sound like they're laying the groundwork for a posse cut of rugged Bronx MCs. But instead Phoenix adopts the persona of Anakin Skywalker (that's Darth Vader to you) to kick a slick, Jedi tale:

"The federation
Got an entire android nation
Tryin' to over throw my nation;
They're really tryin' my patience.
The senator's a snake;
He ain't tryin' to make no peace treaty.
He already sold the empire;
His heart's dark and greedy.
Don't listen to him, Queenie,
His intentions are evil;
He sold us out,
He's tryin' to wipe us out,
And rule all ya people.
This corrupt communication's
Beginnin' the invasion.
Deathtoll is catastrophic;
Even the Force couldn't stop it!"

As an added bonus, the flip side features instrumental and acapella versions. So this has been reasonably rare; at least since Celestial Recordings went out of business in 2002. But I see Atak seems to have inherited and is now selling the remaining copies, so if you missed this the first time, I'd grab one while they're still cheap.


  1. Thanks for the post. Like the new site - AOL couldn't handle the realness.

  2. This tune appeared in Zimulated Experiencez II (Welcome To Paradox) that was not an officially released album. Also I do believe that the scratching was made by DJ Rhettmatic like the first Zimulated Experienz album.