Friday, October 10, 2008

Shorty'z Kaught In the System

Shorty Long is one of the lesser-known DITC-related Bronx MCs. He was discovered by Lord Finesse, who produced his first 12", "Shorty'z Doin' His Own Thang" in 1994. Shorty apparently had a falling out with Finesse, and stopped releasing music. But he did release one other 12" in 1996 before disappearing.

"You Know It's Good, Baby" b/w "Let's Get At It..." - like his first 12" - came out on his own label, Long Shorr Records. Both songs are produced by Finesse's DJ, Mike Smooth.

"You Know It's Good, Baby," for my money, is the better instrumental. Straight up hardcore, east New York style... sparse, banged piano keys loop over hard drums, and a low, rumbling bassline and an eery sound effect, with a brief, extra sample for the hook. As an MC, Shorty's not bad... he has a gruff voice but a lighter, more playful tone. His lyrics are his weak point, though. The song's about him kicking game to a girl (using the played out phrase, "pussy ain't nothing but skin on bone. I might suck it; or leave it alone" for the hook... was Luke having a close-out sale that week?). With a rugged beat like this, you wanna hear someone like Big Pun just rip it apart. Instead Shorty just kind of flounders around on it, leaving us with a final total of: "just ok."

The B-side (wins again) is the real compelling joint on this record. "Let's Get At It..." is his posse cut, featuring Timbalan, De La, Moet, C-Terror, Joe-Sex and Fanatic. I don't really recognize most of their names either; they're just his clique and/or loose DITC affiliates. No one kicks an exceptional, stand-out verse, but they're all nice over another ill, more subtle Mike Smooth beat.

There are clean, dirty and instrumental versions for both songs.

There's actually two versions of this record. Both seem to be original, US pressings that came out on Long Shorr in '96 with the same track-listing - both even have the same catalog number and run-out groove - but the labels are different. You can see the version I have, pictured above; but there's another with detailed production credits on it (check it out here on Why are there two versions, and which came out first (assuming one did come out earlier than the other)? I don't know.

So this record is the last we've heard from Shorty... until now. A collection of Shorty Long's vintage songs recorded with DJ Mike Smooth and others (including production from Showbiz, Timbalan and Buckwild, and guest verses by Harry-O, Moet and others) from that era are being released as a limited (200 copies) EP on One Leg Up Records. It's up for pre-order now, so if you're interested, get on it. And hopefully he'll tell us in his 1LU interview about the two "You Know It's Good, Baby" versions.

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