Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ruthless Rod & MC Dollar

Not a lot of heads are familiar with MC Ruthless Rod & MC Dollar, a Chicago duo (or trio if you count their DJ, Fellow-Rock) who put out a killer 4-song EP in 1989 called Loud As a Banshee. It's a pretty rare record, and most surviving copies suffer from water damage. So as you can imagine, this is one of those records that goes for beaucoup bucks, and just screams for a repress, which is where Dope Folks Records comes in.

Yes, Dope Folks, the label that brought us the recent Mixmasta "D" EP, have repressed Loud As a Banshee, including reproducing the great picture cover. But they've also brought something better to the table than a mere repress...

Loud as a Banshee featured three amazing hip-hop songs. It's not so much that the MCs are mind-blowing, though they've got strong voices and deliveries. It's just one of those instances where the flows, the beats, the sample selection, and some fantastic scratching all come together and gel in that way that even the very best hip-hop artists usually don't quite manage to pull off.

It starts off with "In the Groove," with some banging percussion. It really sounds like it's all being created by a DJ constantly running back two copies of the record, too. And then on top of that they bring in a ton of records to sample and scratch, ever-changing as the song progresses. Just when you're like, "oh man, this song is great," another record gets thrown into the mix and the sound is even hyper! At one point, they bring in the break from they used on Eazy E's "We Want Eazy"... it's just great. Nothing else I can say about this song.

Then you've got "Blowout Time," which is totally different and a pretty unique cut in hip-hop in general. Where "In the Groove" used all the classic, raw elements of hip-hop, this one features a new school (for 1989) sound. The drums are just as rugged and hard, but it uses these slow, deep bass notes and high keys that sound like they're taken from some epic sci-fi film. It's the kind of thing that runs the risk of being horrendously corny, but it all works. The fact that the MC is kicking unrelenting earnest rhymes over seriously hardcore beats certainly gets a lot of the credit for that... and when the drums break down in the middle? It's sick!

Finally "As I Get Funky" is an even stronger showcase for Fellow-Rock. It features some classic horn samples and amped beats, and the rhymes are non-stop, too... But it's really all about the scratches, which are front and center on this one, from the hook to ill, extended breakdowns.

...And then there was also a fourth song, "Just 4 U." That was their slow jam, their love song. As far as rap love songs go, it's pretty good... the production has a deep, rich sound to it with these harp/bell notes which sound like they might be playing live. But, you know... it's one of "those" rap love songs, with the slow, half-spoken delivery and, you know. It's corny and definitely not highly regarded like the rest of the EP.

So here's what Dope Folks did. They took off "Just 4 U" (so collectors, hang on to your originals!), and replaced it with a vintage, never before heard cut from that era. It's called "As I Break 'Em Down" and it fits in much better with the rest of the EP. If you didn't know which song was the new addition, you'd never be able to tell from listening to it. It features some classic old school samples, a lot of hand claps and more great drums and rhymes. There isn't so much scratching on this one and the energy isn't quite as high as the other songs, but again, you can tell the main sample for the hook is just being scratched into the track live throughout the song. If the other songs are perfect 5 out of 5 star songs, this is a 4.5. It absolutely trumps the weak link track from the original EP.

So like Dope Folks' other releases, this is another limited release. There's only 300 copies, and they sell for $20 (which, for a limited, is definitely on the nice and reasonable end of the spectrum - especially considering the nice picture cover). You can order them directly from their site,; and for an extra $5 you can order an extra picture cover. I'm not sure if there's much of a market for that, but the option's there if you want it I guess. Anyway, at least get the EP, 'cause I can't recommend this enough. Just listen to the samples they've got up and you'll see, it's an instant must-have.

1 comment:

  1. Thanx for the heads up on this awesome repress.....immediatly bought 2 copies after reading this.

    Chriz the wiz