Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hey-Ya, Hey-Ya, Can I Get Some?

On its twentieth anniversary, collectors are finally able to cross one of random rap's most elusive, sough-after records off their wants list. ...That is, if they're willing to settle for a repress. The legendary Warpath EP by Courageous Chief has just been repressed - and remastered - by Dope Folks Records.

Originally released on Tirade Records in 1991, Warpath is a bit of a "grower." Initially, certainly, you'll dig and respect it, but you'll probably think, "Eh, unless I stumble upon it for cheap; I can probably live without it." It's only until you've had a chance to sleep on it a while and reflect that you'll realize, "damn, I've got to add this to my wants list, too!" That's because the moments that immediately jump out at you - the pre-Wu-Tang use of some old, dubbed kung-fu movie for the hook of "Russian Roulette" or the sheer audacity of turning the "hey-ya, hey-ya"s from Slick Rick's crabs with spears and Indian drums ("An Adult Story") into a chorus - tend to overshadow the EP's actual best moments. Songs like "No Feedback" with Chief just spitting hard over a tough mix of "Nautilus" and "UFO," or the hyper percussion underlying his non-stop flow on "Verbal Surgery."

But unless you were prepared to spend, oh, $500-800 bucks for it on that rare occasion it popped up on the 'Bay, Warpath was going to be a permanent resident on your list. Until now. Dope Folks has issued a limited (300 copies) run of this, which, as always, is available through their website, They upgraded it to a nice sticker cover (the original just came in a generic sleeve), and they've remastered it. Now, I can't compare this to the original, because like most everybody else, I've only ever had a rip of this; but I can say this pressing sounds excellent.

My only disappointment is that, after discovering that Chief has tons of vintage, unreleased tracks and that those DATs are well-preserved and freely available, this EP contains no exclusive bonus songs. This is the first time Dope Folks has issued a record without at least one previously unreleased song on it. So when this was first announced, I was really hoping we'd get a couple bonus treats tacked onto the end, but no; this release only represses the original EP tracks. Dope Folks has said, though, that they're aware of Chief's unreleased vaulted music, and that it's a possibility for a future release.

So yeah, this is a traditional "holy grail" of random rap, a real standard. But actually, Chief isn't quite so "random" as you may think. Most know him as a NJ (hold it down!) one-hit wonder with this rare but highly praised, sole release... but he's actually stayed in the game pretty consistently. And besides recording albums worth of unreleased DATs, Chief has also worked steadily as a Wu-affiliate under the name Popa Chief. Down with Brooklyn Zu (he's on multiple tracks off their Chamber #9 album), the Zu Ninjaz and producing for guys like Popa Wu and ODB. He's also out out a couple indie CDs in the 2000s, and he's got a bunch of recent mp3s and youtube videos on his website, So check it. He's even talked of recording a Warpath II.


  1. 1 of my fav records,i am so looking forward to hearing this on the dope folks records, i know i am lucky to havy the original wax but i am over the moon because dope folks are doing great work for the mass!!, now you dont have to have deep pockets to have this gem, just need to be quick to get 1 thats all, pucka write up buddy

    peace out from Skim over in little old Uk

  2. I bought my cassette version of this classic album for, I kid you not, 25 cents back in the day. Always a favorite of mine. Glad to see it's coming back out and others will finally get a chance to check out the genius of "Russian Roulette" and "Warpath."

    I have a whole slew of Chief freestyles from WPRB back in t'91/'92. I collected them all together... I should post them up soon.