Monday, October 6, 2008

Whose Turn Is It Now?

Ok, now this is a rare one. The Rhyme Poets, as mentioned in my last post, had a release in between their 1989 album (itself reasonably rare) and their J.G. appearance: this maxi-single/EP (it's sorta borderline between the two). It's titled It's Our Turn, though that's not the name of any of the four songs on here; and was put out on cassette only by Cristone Records in 1992 (CR1001 - I believe the label's only release).

This is ok - certainly not great. I picked it up off the strength of "Put Down the Guns," and it's certainly an interesting piece... probably worth picking up if you see it cheap, if only for the novelty of the one song (which I'll get to in a bit).

It's produced by Ezra L Buckner, who I've certainly never heard of; with co-production credit going to William Patterson (possibly William "Spaceman" Patterson?) and The Rhyme Poets themselves. The production is fairly limp as a whole, with additional keyboards and strings by Willie Beck (possibly of the Ohio Players?) adding very little. I mean, you could listen to it without being bothered by it; but they're sure not beats that'll grab you.

The main song on here is "Roadblock" (or "Road Block;" it's spelled both ways). The Poets don't do much back and forth here (or on any of the songs on this EP)... each MC just takes a verse, kicking a rap about how they won't let any roadblock (obstacle) stand in their way of success: "I'm comin' like a road warrior, knockin' down ya roadblocks. Stoppin' suckers who's afraid of me, cold gettin' docked. You see I'm comin' from the cold-blooded gangster city. Like Frank Nitty, I'm never showin' any pity." A singer named Darlene Morris provides the chorus ("roadblocks... straight through your ROADblocks!"). She has a nice voice; but with her taking long pauses between lines and not much instrumentation there to fill in the blanks, it feels rather sparse. There's also an instrumental for "Roadblock" here, which is the only instrumental on the tape.

Then there's the song, "Talkin' Dat Bull." The is where that novelty value I mentioned earlier comes in. It's exactly the same instrumental and chorus as "Roadblock," but the lyrics have been altered, making the song about The Chicago Bulls (who will run right through your roadblocks). Check how the lines I quoted in the paragraph above become: "We're coming like a raging bull, pushing the rest of the pack back; because the Bulls are comin' in the red and black, and representin' a cold-blooded gangster city. Because Scotty P. and Michael J. will never show pity." They've also added ad-libs by Disco Dave - who was a sidekick on The Rap Down program on WGCI radio* - and a brief intro, meant to sound like they're in a sports arena.

Then you've got their slow, positive song, "Prince of Peace," referring to Jesus. I wouldn't categorize The Rhyme Poets as Christian rap, but they do quote a biblical passage in their liner notes: "Yea though I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death I have not feared no evil for thou has always been with me. O lord I am grateful for your life giving promise." It only features two of the three Rhyme Poets, Deva-D and Triple S. And while most of the production on the EP sounds studio-made, this tune is based heavily on a well-worn sample. I wouldn't even call it "familiar;" I'd call it "tired." They give examples of hard times: greed, lonliness, poverty, corruption and babies being born addicted to crack... and how these wouldn't be a problem if we all followed the example of "the prince of peace."

Pancho is back with his fellows on the last song, "Mis-understandin'," which is sort of their manifesto on everything, from their music to their lifestyle. It's a livlier track, and their lyrics are defintiely the most interesting on this song:

"Misunderstandin' the gangster,
Comin' from the segregated city of America
Try to take my hit? Yo, I dare ya.
Because the Poets are organized rhymers:
Kinda violent, yo, but you'll never find a
Gangbanger rolling with us,
'Cause we're not gang bangers,
But the slangers of some real danger.
The gang-bangers bang about the wrong thing;
It's not ya turf, it's about the money you bring.
'Cause on the midcoast, it's all about that green
Piece of paper; so I might have to take yours.
We built and built, and now we're on the top,
Paying off the cops, we can't be stopped.
Because we don't need the police;

We've got our own police.
'Cause they've got a black piece
nd we've got a black piece.
So the only difference is who pulls the gun"

So, yeah, this is a neat, little rarity; but certainly nothing incredible, musically. Unless you're specifically collecting Chicago rap history, you shouldn't lose any sleep over this hole in your collection. But hopefully it made for an interesting read. 8)

*I hate to bring you guys down, but sadly Disco Dave died in his sleep the following year, 1993, at age 40. R.I.P.

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