Sunday, September 26, 2010


Doctor Ice has had a couple of cool careers in hip-hop: dancer for Whodini, member of UTFO, and successful solo artist signed to Jive (and later Ichiban).  But I don't think many people realize that he invented himself another time in the 90's and had another successful little hip-hop career during the "lyrical," underground, grimy  backpacker-type era.  Well, okay, maybe not successful as in huge record industry bucks.  But successful as in quality records that real heads ought to appreciate.

"Yo, kid.  let me tell you something about this business.  It's a fucked up business, you know what I'm saying?  I gotta teach you a whole lotta shit before you see what this shit is like.  It ain't nothing but some dirt, kid.  'Cause if your shit ain't phenomenal, you ain't in there.  So your shit must be phat."

That's the intro to "Phenomenon," the 1996 single by One and One on Next Plateau Records.  And One and One is Doctor Ice and his cousin, recording under the aliases Sunny Bumz and Harry Balz.  lol  I know, but try to get past the names.  See, you'd never know Doc Ice or anybody old school was remotely affiliated with this project if you didn't know going in - this is a pure 90's release, along the lines of like Black Maddness or Ill Bizkits.  It's all about rugged but clever wordplay spit over a slow boom-bap beat with seriously hard drums and under-stated samples.  Seriously, the beat's really tight.  In fact, DJ Premier later lifted it for his single "Equality" with Afu Ra; but One and One, who co-produced the track themselves with some guy(s) called Swing of Things, had it first, by about four years.   In fact, I'll go one step further and say it sounds better here.

So, Harry takes the first two verses: 

"Study long, study wrong,
You know lessons get learned in minutes.
Keep my diction - full of non-fiction,
I hate gimmicks,
executives' views on the rules
Of the game,
I'm using sense to make dollars
Real scholars bring change."

...And at first it seems like Doc's just gonna spit the hook in support of his younger cousin's street flow, but then he comes in with a sick final verse.  He comes so hard, again, you'd never thing it was an old school UTFO cat unless you recognized the voice. At the end, he even breaks into a little Brooklyn-style ragamuffin (which is actually something he's done on a few past projects).  Don't even think of it as a Doc Ice-related project, just another cool, completely overlooked "random rap" release.  Then, the fact that there's an old school legend on here is just like a little bonus.

This single just features the one mix of the one song, but it comes in the four requisite versions: Album, Radio, Instrumental and Acapella.  The one drawback is that the Acapella is actually of the Radio version, not the album version, so the curses are censored.  What's the point of that?

This is a really nice release, and like I said, it's pretty slept-on, so something you should be able to score pretty cheap.  Pretty cool, right?  But maybe now you're wondering if this is their only release, or if there's more.  Well...

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