Saturday, July 31, 2010

It Ain't His!

This is a really fun, slept-on record. Cli-N-Tel is the first member of The World Class Wreckin' Cru to step out and start making a name for himself outside of the Cru. Long before Dre and Yella became megastars, it looked for a minute like Cli-N-Tel was gonna be their break-out star. His first release was the better-known "2030" with DJ Unknown on TechnoHop, but later in 1988 he moved to Sutra Records (a label perhaps best known for being the home of The Fat Boys for many years) to release a couple of 12"s, including this one.

The label for "It Ain't Mine" specifies that this is by Cli-N-Tel featuring Marquette Hawkins, Joe Cooley and The Amazing Artis. That's an odd way to put it, since Marquette Hawkins is Cli-N-Tel's real name. Anyway, along with writing and performing the song, apparently he also produced this with a guy named Cliff Zellman, who for some reason doesn't get to share above-title credit - I guess because he isn't a "name." Joe Cooley is of course the great world champion DJ and long-term partner of Rodney O. And I really don't know who the heck The Amazing Artis is, nor can I figure out what he contributed to the record.

Anyway, this is can be considered at least halfway as a response record to T-La Rock's classic, "It's Yours." It's a fun song about denying paternity to a girl's baby. Joe Cooley cuts up Rock's hook ("It's Yours!") to which Cli-N-Tel protests, "it's not mine!" Joe Cooley provides a lot of nice scratching here, and is definitely one of the key selling points for the song. The fact that this is a "topic" song (as opposed to a freestyle rap) doesn't seem to stop Cooley from displaying his top-notch abilities throughout the song. He cuts up the hook, behind the verses, he scratches in a few fun key words into the raps in the style of "Say It Loud," and gets extra busy on the breakdown.

Besides all the scratching, the track is upbeat and engaging, with a very catchy bassline and some funky percussion (a la Grandmaster Flash's and Kool Moe Dee's "Do U Know What Time It Is" records). The rhymes are fun and clever, too... he sounds influenced by The Fresh Prince, but remains himself enough not to come off as a cheap imitation. He starts by telling off his girl ("you ain't pregnant, and even if you was, I'd still deny it!") but things get pretty zany as he starts daydreaming about getting plastic surgery to change his identity or talking about how it infiltrates his dreams:

"Later on that night,
When I went to bed,
Boxes of pampers
danced in my head.
I said to myself,
'Aw, this is wack!'
Then I started being chased
By cans of Similac!
All at once,
I knew I was doomed!
I looked up and saw her mother
Flyin' on a broom!
You know I tried to get away
But I couldn't do that,
'Cause at the corner was her father
With a baseball bat!"

If you like fun 80's rap, this is really an overlooked gem that shines in all departments: smart & humorous song-writing, a quality, enjoyable instrumental and for the more serious-minded heads, scratching that shows some serious skills. You've got the vocal version on the A-side, then the instrumental and a shorter dub/bonus beats-type mix on the B-side. So I'd definitely go out of my way to pick this 12"; it's a rewarding little single.

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