Saturday, January 10, 2009

2009: Year Of the Juice Crew EP

It's here! The Juice Crew E.P. is the sixth vinyl release from DWG (and the third release from Hot Chillin' Records). It's limited to 350 copies, in four different vinyl colors (mine's blue). It features five incredible, vintage unreleased songs by Juice Crew All-Stars straight from Marley Marl's vaults, and all produced by Marley himself.

The first song is "I Declare War" by Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, recorded during the Road To the Riches sessions. The press sheet points out that Marley declared this "iller than 'It's a Demo'" during their listening sessions, and it definitely gives that song a run for it's money. The instrumental sounds a little cluttered with noise, but hits no less hard for it, and DJ Polo is really given a chance to shine on the tables during the hook. And G Rap just spits one vicious line after another:

"Old school is cool,
But I'm better than veterans.
My rhymes are vitamins,
The baddest they ever been.
MCs will freeze;
I make G's go overseas;
Records and movies,
Polo is Cool Breeze.
Ready for war
With a rap knapsack
On my back;
White or black,
G Rap will attack.
To destroy anything
Seen or an unseen,
Like Idi Amin,
You know what I mean.
Helter skelter
With no bomb shelter,
Rhymes will explode;
This beat is a Morse code.
Quiverin', shiverin',
Rappers ran again;
I make 'em panic and
Stand like a mannequin.
It is a fact
My mic'll be an artifact;
You get a heart attack
Any time I start a rap.
You want more
From a man with a high score?
That's what I'm here for;
Yo, I declare war!"

The next track is "Stunt Of the Block" by the Super Kids (as in Tragedy, the Intelligent Hoodlum), recorded the same week as "Eric B. Is President" and "The Bridge." There's a reason he was billed as a super kid, though; if you've never heard his super early recordings, you're familiar with the "Teen Voice Tragedy." But don't get it twisted, his voice works, sounding really raw against the big, old school Marley beat and constant cutting, while he preaches at a young girl, "gettin' in bed while you're punchin' a clock? Don't even try to front 'cause you're the stunt of the block."

Track three is one that Stretch Armstrong revealed to the world last year on his blog: Big Daddy Kane's long lost, "For Your Own Concern." Of course, this - like all the other tracks on this EP - is a clean, top quality pressing taken from Marley's original masters, a nice improvement over the old (but much appreciated!) radio rip. "For Your Own Concern" was intended for Long Live the Kane, "but somehow never made it" according to the press sheet. It's a little slow and features a few rhymes Kane later recycled (though there's a lot of nice unheard material on-hand, too!); so to me this is the weakest song on here, but it's still a great example of early Kane that would easily merit a place on his best albums.

Fourth is another Kool G Rap & Polo cut called "Enter the Dragon." An alternate version of "Enter the Dragon" was released to the public in 1996, when Cold Chillin' put out the Rated XXX/ Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous compilation to finish out their contract with the label. That version was cool. but it sounds like a corny, in-house producer remix that sloppily meshes an old vocal track to a new instrumental, compared to the original included here. This is a totally different instrumental using Joe Tex's "I Gotcha" and some more nice scratching by Polo on the hook. He may even have managed to steal the show from Kool G Rap on this one, which is certainly saying something! You can go ahead and dismiss the Rated XXX version now as a novel curiosity piece for completist fats only; this version is clearly the definitive version of this rap masterpiece.

Last, we have probably the least anticipated - and as such, the sweetest surprise - Craig G's "Drop a Bomb On 'Em." This is really nice. His flow over this beat is Craig at his best; standing right alongside "Droppin' Science." From the line, "a lot of feelings were hurt when I dropped 'Duck Alert," though, we can assume this was made shortly after In Control vol. 1. I'd guess it was recorded for The Kingpin, and then left off because Atlantic needed to make room for the house and love jams, so they excised one of the nicest tracks. But whatever fool was responsible for keeping this gem from the public, DWG has finally corrected that.

Let me end with this drool-worthy quote from the press sheet, "when we were at a loss for a final song to include on this project, Marley came up with five or six different options - each as dope as the next. Which, of course, begs the question, 'when is Juice Crew EP Vol. 2 gonna drop?'" ::shudder::


  1. i dont think i've ever wished i had $80 to "waste" on a record the way i do right now

  2. oooooohhhhhh.....That just gives me shivers up my spine. I have rules against spending obscene amounts of money for a piece of vinyl, but damn!