Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Get Raw, Get Raw

Raw '91 is an interesting little release. If you want to watch 3 years of your life drift away, get into an online argument over whether it's an EP or a maxi-single, and don't stop until somebody wins. Whichever way you classify it, it dropped in the middle of a prolific period of Big Daddy Kane, released in conjunction with his fourth album, Prince of Darkness. It's been suggested, and it makes sense to me, that it was made as a response to critical fans who thought he was going to pop/ r&b. It's generally held in pretty high regard amongst Kane fans, and not for good reason, but as we'll see, there's really not much original material on this.

We start off with "Ooh, Aah, Nah-Nah-Nah (Master Mix)." "Ooh, Aah" is a Prince of Darkness album track, and despite it's title, it is one of the harder, more straight-up hip-hop jawns on the album. It starts with Kane rapping acappella, and then the hard beats kick in and it's on from there. I mean, it's not the greatest Kane song ever - the hook isn't great, and the last verse, where he just shouts out a bunch of the major rappers of the time, is a gimmick he's used several times too many - but considering he produced it himself, it's surprisingly strong.

Oh, and if you're wondering how this Master Mix differs from the album version... it doesn't. Same mix exactly. So that's one that looks like an exclusive but actually isn't. You do get the Instrumental a little further down the track-listing, though, so that's something.

Then you've got the title track "Raw '91." Of course, that's a Prince of Darkness album track, too. But it pretty killer. Of course, it's a sequel to his classic "Raw" and has him spitting over roughly the same beat and similar scratches. But, then, as the song goes on, new samples are swapped in for others and the tune keeps changing as Kane (who also produced) flexes how he's grown lyrically since the 80's. I'm not saying it tops a classic, but it's a damn great song.

Next we've got "It's Hard Being the Kane Remix Radio Edit)." This is a Marley Marl remix of the the lead single from Taste of Chocolate. This is a darker and moodier remix, which is in keeping with the tone of the EP. I'm not sure it replaces the Prince Paul original in my eyes, but it's a dope alternative. Unfortunately, this was already released on the "It's Hard Being the Kane" single from 1990, so it's nothing new. What's more, this is the Radio Edit, as opposed to the preferable Extended mix on that 12".

The album version of "It's Hard Being the Kane" is also on here.

But finally we come to the EP (or maxi-single)'s one real exclusive: "Taste of Chocolate (Remix)." This stood out to be as odd the first time I saw this on the track-listing, because "Taste of Chocolate" was never really a song on the Taste of Chocolate album. There was "Taste of Chocolate Intro" and "Taste of Chocolate Exit," but those weren't full songs... The first was an intro with a single verse, and the latter was just shout-outs over the same beat (another BDK self-production, by the way). So what's this? Well, it's the Intro expanded into a full song. The track is the same and the first verse is the same. But where the Intro ends, this Remix comes back with an all new verse:

This one stands out, because it's not hard like the rest. It's still fresh, freestyle rhymes, but the beat is soft and smooth. Or as Kane says, "this is that particular beat for all the fellas feelin' mellow to pump in their jeep." All in all, it's no masterpiece, but it's a good, worthwhile Kane song. And Raw '91 is the only way to hear more than a snippet of it, making it a must for completists. And it comes in a cool picture cover [shown is my CD single, but the 12" has the same cover and track-listing], so it's not a bad little pick up.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Damu and Buff1

Okay, so maybe you don't relish the challenge of obtaining a commercially unreleased single. Or maybe instrumental releases just don't hold your interest. That's okay, I've still got a Damu the Fudgemunk limited 7" single for you.

"When Winter Comes" is brought to us by our friends, Diggers With Gratitude. If the title sounds familiar, that's because an unfinished version's been public via mp3 since 2009. It's another killer production by Damu with brilliant, crunchy drums, killer piano samples and a vintage Wu-Tangy female vocal cue for a loop. And there's cuts as well. It's definitely more classically boom-bap than a lot of Damu's stuff. And on the vocals is Buff1, a Detroit MC from The Athletic Mic League, who should seek out more beats like this, because he sounds better than he usually does here.

But Damu just threw the song out there, because unfortunately the engineer accidentally wiped the vocal track, so it could never be properly mastered and released. But because everybody was feeling the mp3 so much, DWG got Damu and Buff back into the studio to rerecord it, as well as an all-new B-side, "Truly Get Yours."

"Truly Get Yours" is smoother and slower, but just as tight. The scratching sounds even more on point. There's another vocal sample looped on this one, and I feel like I've heard it used before, at a different pitch, but I can't place it. Then there's an amazing horn sample on the hook, it's like peak-era Pete Rock. At the end of the day, I think this is even stronger than "Winter," it's got such an addictive vibe.

So, this one's limited, but not too limited... There are 200 pressed on blue vinyl, and another 650 on standard black. And DWG releases are showing up in more and more hip-hop shops (like ughh), so this one isn't hard to find at all, and it's got a pretty close to regular price at $10. Just check out the soundclips here, especially the second half, and I'm sure you'll be sold. And check out the funky, stamped sleeves!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Private Damu

My mind is full of things I would do if I were super rich. You know: army of robot servants, invisible airplanes, decent health care... those sort of silly, impossible flights of fancy. But there's one idea that always sticks out as being slightly less impossible. You know how lots of dope MCs like Craig G, Young Zee, etc, will post on their myspaces or twitter accounts about how they're available for collabos for a fee? So how awesome would it be, just as a fan, to hire your favorite artist and commission your own new favorite song? Like, whatever your tastes are... if you're a frat kid, you could go to the next kegger and say, "I'm tried of 'Jump Around.' Let's put on my exclusive 'Jump Around part 2' that House of Pain created just for me!"

Well, I don't know if Spice is rich or if he just decided life is too short, but he's gone and done it.

Now, do you guys know who Damu the Fudgemunk is? If not, you should, and it'll be my honor to introduce him to you. He's a producer who's been putting out a ton of instrumental records on his own label, Redefinition, to heaps of acclaim. And unlike all these other dudes who keep getting attention and "buzz" online, dude actually deserves it. I actually held off checking out Damu's first couple releases, because it just raised all my "contemporary, overhyped mediocrity" red flags. But no, for once, believe the hype:

“Very refreshing to hear a young cat with that much soul. Exactly what’s been missing from the game … soul.” - Marley Marl

It's 100% sample-based production. It's really rich and layered... which means, essentially, a bunch of combined samples, as opposed to a basic loop with frills. Like if DJ Shadow kept progressing after Entroducing, instead of drifting off into dubstep or whatever the heck he does now (he still wins at random rap mixCDs, though), and had substantially more R&B in his collection.

So what we've got here is a 7" single by Damu, commissioned by Spice to celebrate the birth of his daughter. Spice had the concept ("a reworking of the Ramsey Lewis and Minnie Ripperton versions of the Charles Stepney classic, Les Fleurs") and even some of the samples picked out. He gave it to Damu, who handed him back the excellent "Brooklyn Flower" (plus a hot B-side called "Yes We Can"). And Spice printed up this up in a limited run, never to be released commercially.

...Which means, no, you can't really buy it anywhere. The songs have been (officially) leaked online, so you can listen to the music for free... they're on Youtube and have been posted on the best blogs already. But vinyl heads, yes, there is an actual record. It's a private run of 500 copies, number-stamped (mine's #133), in a cool picture cover on white[white] vinyl. So, happy digging, guys!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Outsidaz Go To Germany

Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of a rare, indie documentary called Underground Rapstarr from 2004. And be even less surprised if you haven't heard of the accompanying soundtrack album, the excessively titled Underground Rapstarr Soundtrack A.D. vol. 1: Exclusive European Version. But if you're an Outsidaz fan, you'll be glad to learn of it now.

Underground Rapstarr was directed by a guy named Anthony Douglas, about "american[sic.] rap artists and their struggle for fame, money, street credibility and international success." And the soundtrack was put together by A. Dizzle (the "A.D." part of the title). It's no coincidence that Anthony Douglas's initials are A.D.; it's the same guy, and he also maybe produced most of the music on here.

It's hard to say.

See, the production credits just say, "produced by A. Dizzle" and then "co-produced by Divine, Josh, Bamba Nazaar, Garoo Rodney Hunter." But then the front cover says, "includes the street burner 'World War 2000'[titled "World War 2003" in the track-listing] produced by DJ Desue." ...So what we can take away from all that is the production credits are incomplete and there's really no telling who made which beats.

Anyway, despite the movie being about American rap artists, it's on a German label - Crown - and most of the guys on this soundtrack seem to be from Germany, many of whom don't rap in English (though A.D. does). Oh, also actress Michelle Rodriguez (that girl from Girlfight and Avatar) had something to do with this, because her picture appears several times in the CD booklet. So it's a bit of an oddball, motley crew. But this whole project's noteworthy because they roped in American rap stars Kurupt and The Outsidaz, who appear on three songs apiece.

So, first a couple words on Kurupt's contribution - pretty forgettable. For one thing, he's often saddled with some weaker MCs on his tracks (some of whom, again, don't rap in English), and the production mostly sounds like the kind of stuff a major label A&R would force on a rapper who'd rather work with Premier. And on his solo song, "What You Thought It Was," someone made the ridiculously awful decision to fill the song with background vocals and ad-libs by a silly-ass cartoon voice.

Fortunately, the Outsidaz fare much better. First of all, they aren't paired up with anybody. All three Outsidaz songs only feature the Outsidaz. The beats fit them better, too. This could possibly be because DJ Muhammed (Outsidaz DJ and all-around nice guy) is credited on the album as an executive producer. And the line-up of Outsidaz members is excellent... it isn't just the big names (Young Zee and Pace) like you might expect, but it isn't just the lesser known MCs either. It's a great mix, with Young Zee being nasty as ever:

"Fuck a diamond. When I'm rhymin', I got you;
I'm the type to fuck a model with a Heineken bottle.
I fucks with ghetto girls who keep a clean coochie;
I squeeze machine Uzis like Steve McQueen movies.
At a interview, I can blast about ten of you,
And drench a few in chemicals that pin you to the living room."

...Pace Won coming tighter than he has in a long time:

"Semiautomatic 9m by the buckle,
Scarrin' tissue,
Makin' God an issue since you artificial,
Bust my gun and y'all run like it's a starter pistol;
And if ya game that tight, I send my broad to get you."

...and the under-appreciated members like Axe proving how they earned their spot in the clique:

"Drug pick-ups,
Doin' stick-ups on my dirtbike.
I spark heads, still hussle;
Fuck what the narc said,
Axe'll turn a sunny sky dark red.
I be chillin' all day,
Exit 143 off the Parkway.
Yo doe do-doe!
I been places that you hopin' to go;
You mope with the dough;
Used to cook dope on the stove;
My nigga Fiend sold crack and coke in the Grove.
Axe's hype enough to wanna punch the pope in the nose!
My ultimate goal?
Swimmin' in an ocean of gold,
Smokin' the 'dro, dick stays poked in the holes,
Drillin' the mic;
Even if I made a million a night,
I'd still be real and polite, willing to fight.
Villain for life,
Devil nigga, you killin' for stripes;
Bust the Dillinger twice, spillin' ya pipes!"

It's sick, the production is harder, and they just kill it consistently. It's exactly what you'd want from Outsidaz songs, even better than some of the songs on The Bricks. Straight up classic material, which was almost lost entirely, as apparently this album was pulled from the shelves quickly.

Crown's website explains, "April 2004 Crownn releases the controversial 'Underground Rapstarr' album which was later taken off the retail availability !! ?? due to!? The album was a soundtrack album from the self titled indie film 'Underground Rapstarr'. It was highlighted with the opening track 'What you though it was!' (Krupt ,Anthony Douglas, Michelle Rodriguz) but was plagued by unforeseen legal issues that had very little to nothing to do with the label or the distributor. Endorsed in the media by Kickz Clothing and set on A list priority by Crownn/Cargo the album to this day remains to be classic. (Its no longer available via Crownn)."*

That's not exactly clear... but "legal issues" seems to be the key phrase there.

By the way, while there was no vol. 2, there is an alternate version of this album with some different songs. Remember, this is the "Exclusive European Version." There's a CD released on Unity, which I think only came out in Japan, simply called Underground Rapstarr. This one's marketed just as an AD album (or "A. Dizzleelini" as he writes it here), as opposed to a soundtrack. But even though it's presented as an AD album, it still features a bunch of songs he doesn't appear on (maybe he did produce those tracks), including two of the three Outsidaz songs. There's a bunch of exclusive songs on that version, too; and the new songs include appearances by Master Ace and RA, plus Michelle Rodriguez herself performs on two songs.

Personally, I wasn't curious enough about the Master Ace verse to seek out that version, though. This is the version you want for all the Outsidaz songs. and some of the other songs are decent, too... "Donner Rap Kings" has a good sound, for example, I just wish the MCs were speaking English on it. Then again, Sabreeze's "The One and Only" is so corny, I wish she was speaking a different language. It's kind of a rare album, since it was only released in Europe and it was swiftly pulled from the shelves. But it was worth it for me. Yo doe doe!

*Despite all the spelling errors and "!! ??"s, this isn't from Google translator or anything. That's how they wrote it on their English-language website.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Neva Stop Diggin' (Especially Not Today)!

Just in time for Record Store Day: a brand new vinyl release of an ode to digging by one of the realest hip-hoppers who ever did it! This here's a 7" single by Phill Most Chill on Diggers With Gratitude. What's interesting is that Phill is known at least as much - probably more - for being a killer producer, not just an MC; and he's always produced all his own stuff. But this 7" has Phill over beats by two other producers.

"Neva Stop Diggin'" first appeared online in 2006, when producer Paul Nice uploaded this track he'd just completed. The beat kicks in (after a funny Simpsons sample), and it's an instant bumper. It's got kind of modern soul production sound... where on the one hand it's got that sort of boop, boop, boop sound, but the sampled instruments have a richer, more organic vibe than your average contemporary hip-hop track that does the same kind of thing but lacks the soul. This being Paul Nice, there's also a bevy of fresh scratched-in vocal samples on the hook. And Phill rhymes what could be the definitive anthem for the current digging scene:

"You know I never stop diggin';
It's like my religion.
Ever since the days of Wild Style,
Flash in the kitchen
Cuttin' Bob James.
Biz says he got a version with no bells;
But I ain't never seen that for sale,
Definition of a Holy Grail!"

People were amped for this to come out. It was set to be on Paul Nice's album, but that project wound up getting derailed. So for years later, people kept asking, "what about that 'Neva Stop Diggin' track - is it ever gonna come out on vinyl?" ((crickets))

But that's not even the whole story. While all that was going on, there was a similar situation where Phill Most threw an obscure song up on his blog in a post about another hot producer. This time it's "Smash!" with producer Jorun Bombay. Yes, that Jorun, who did all those sought after Haltown tapes in the 90's and worked with Buck 65 before anybody knew who the heck he was. It turns out they originally recorded "Smash" with Jorun's crew First Words (though only Phill raps on this) as a bonus cut on their 2008 Deadbeats album, Cheaters. I believe that was CD only, if not mp3-only, and definitely not about to see a vinyl pressing.

So, bam! DWG stepped in and made them both happen. A hot 7" single with "Neva Stop Diggin'" on the A-side, and "Smash!" on the flip. This is barely limited - 1000 copies, which is essentially a full run, these days. The first 75 people to order copies, however, were treated to a version pressed on bright yellow wax. Either way, it's a top quality release as always. It's also not priced like a limited... roughly $10, depending where you get it from, and almost everyplace has got it available. So there's something for you to keep an eye out for when you go out digging this Record Store Day.

P.s. - Jorun has said to me that he's up for repressing the old Haltown tapes if there's demand for it. So everybody get up him about it!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Illegitimate Ultramagnetic

This is one of those songs you keep hoping will get pressed on vinyl, but it always gets neglected in favor of far less worthy material. Radio rips have been floating around for ages, and there's also a very rare acetate out there, but no legit release. At least there's this bootleg, though.

UltraMagnetic MCs' "Chilling w/ Chuck Chillout" is a one-sided, 10" single with a label designed styled after the original acetate. It's limited to 250 copies (mine's #58), though like I mentioned in my "Black History" review, I'm not sure how big a deal a numbered copy of a bootleg really is. ...I guess it still adds a little fun.

"Chilling" is a promo song recorded for Chuck Chillout's radio show on Kiss FM in the late 80's. It's not a short segment like a lot of them, though, but a full-length, properly produced song, with a hook, multiple verses, etc. The beat's pretty simple - killer drums and a "Watermelon Man" sample, with Keith and Ced killing it. It even ends with Chuck's signature, "this is Chuck Chillout, and I'm liiiiive."

The sound quality's alright. This was clearly ripped from the acetate, as the there are cracks and pops to be heard even on brand new, sealed copies of this 10". The sound breaks up a bit, like it was recorded with the levels too high, but I've never heard a version of this (old radio dubs or this acetate rip) that doesn't sound that way... so it's possible the original song was mastered that way, or the mics were cheap or something. Anyway, it just winds up adding to the old school, low-fi vibe, and I don't think the world is likely to discover a better sounding version. You can crank this loud and it'll sound good... just raw.

By the way, there's a song called "Chuck Chillout" on Ultra's New York What Is Funky album, their second of four Tuff City compilations, but this one here is a completely different song, and a much better one. "Chuck Chillout" sounds like Ultra's newer, weaker styles; but "Chilling w/ Chuck Chillout" is pure, vintage Ultra at their best.

It's overpriced for a boot (and not even a 12" one at that), but unless you've got a line on the OG acetate, what can ya do? Not have "Chilling w/ Chuck Chillout" in your crates? Yeah, right.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Somewhere in season 2 of her show, Sarah Silverman praises the mysterious man who invented the phrase, "boo-yaa" because it's such a great expression. Of course, to hip-hop heads, there's no mystery. A group of wild, ex-gang members then known as the Blue City Crew coined the phrase based on the sound of a shotgun firing. And thus the Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. (Too Rough International Boo-Yaa Empire) was born, a crew with as much kinetic force as the sound they immortalized.

Unfortunately, over the course of, like... six, seven albums, they've never really had the production that matched the crew. There were a few highlights... "RAID" had a great hook and "Walk the Line" had a fun disco-y vibe. Actually, I always thought an overlooked song they contributed to the White Man Can't Jump soundtrack, "Area Code 213," best showcased the kind of music they were truly capable of, but they never really made another song quite like it.

So, when you've got a dope crew whose production is a little dull, who would be your first choice to call? Prince Paul? Yeah! And they did. Yay!

"Psyko Funk" was already one of the better album cuts - a light-hearted story about how they went to prison for taking the mic from a wack DJ at a party, with a funky bassline, some lively horns and a catchy Little Richard sample being cut up on the hook. But the Remix by Prince Paul immediately trumps it. It's not one of Paul's most ambitious remixes... it uses a tried and true bassline for the body of the song (the one from "Albee Square Mall," etc) with some hyper percussion, and he leaves in the horns and cutting from the original hook on his mix. But there's no denying it works; the new rhythm entwines and flows with Boo-Yaa's surprisingly smooth flow on this one. He may not've re-invented the wheel, but it's pure Prince Paul good times.

So, this 12" comes with the original LP Version, the Remix, the Instrumental Remix and the... Nomad Re-Touch Version?

Yeah, there's one more remix on here, the token international remix, in this case produced by the Scottish group Nomad Soul. Now, most people probably dismiss this as some corny club junk, but I actually like this one, too. It's super heavy on synths... from constant, smooth vibe tones played throughout the whole song to fake, low-fi keyboard horns - think "The Ruler's Back." But just like "The Ruler's Back," the cheesiness actually adds to the appeal in a strange way... I mean, it's already goofy song with lines like, "I'm not a Doobie Brother, but I do be hittin'," so it's not like they're making some serious transgression here.

But regardless of what side of the fence you fall on regarding the Nomad Re-Touch, the Prince Paul version is a guaranteed sure shot. Plus, come on, you've gotta have at least one Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. record in your collection. After all, to quote Ms. Silverman, "without boo-yaa, I'd be saying hurray or yippee or something."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dead Prez Red Tape

Unlike Raekwon's famous purple tape, Dead Prez's red tape isn't literally red. It's black. But it comes in a red cassingle-style slip cover. But our personal disappointment about the plastic's color aside, this tape is famous because it's vintage, 90's Dead Prez music on LOUD Records that's practically unreleased, And it's some of their absolute best.

I think this is rare not because LOUD was stingy with giving these out at the time, but because it looks like a generic snippets tape. This was put out promotionally before Dead Prez's debut album on LOUD, and it's labeled as "These Are the Times" Sampler. So most people probably chucked their copies in the same fire we all chucked our boring snippet tapes of upcoming albums. Except the songs on this tape weren't snippets, and they didn't wind up being included on the album or anywhere else.

There's not a lot of info on this tape. There's no year (though I'd place it at roughly '98), no track-listing and no production credits (though they often produced all their own stuff, so their may be no other credits to share). There is, however, a prominently placed quote from Bruce Lee written on the back, which reads:

"Truth has no path. Truth is living and, therefore, changing. It has no resting place, no form, no organized institution, no philosophy. When you see that, you will understand that this living thing is also what you are."

And "Happiness" must've already been doing the mixtape and/or radio circuit when this tape was put out, because there's a final note on the back telling us that this tape, "includes 'Happiness'." In total, it includes three songs, with skits in between.

So first let's talk about "Happiness." Yes, "Happiness" did wind up on their album. But it had some odd, kinda wack drums on it (a problem I had with a few other Dead Prez songs as well). But here, it's got some more traditional, boom bap drums that sound a lot better. The rest of the song is the same as on the album, the only difference is the drums. And this is the only song on the tape that actually saw a proper release, as it was featured as a B-side to their single, "Mind Sex," where it was labeled, "Happiness (Red Tape Version)."

The second song is a little rarer, as it never really received a proper, official release... but it did reappear in a few forms. It's called "Food, Clothes and Shelter." Besides this tape, it was included on a more general LOUD Records promo tape called, The Set Up. And it was also bootlegged onto vinyl on Archive Inc's Loud Unreleased vol. 1 and a bootleg vinyl EP of The Set Up. But there's no option which isn't an obscure promo item or a bootleg, which is a shame, because it's killer. It's got a really moody, downright touching beat that fits right alongside the best of anything on LOUD Records, and some deep, moving lyrics, topped off with a few well-used samples of Denzel Washington as Malcolm X from X.

[They even made a sequel, "Food, Clothes + Shelter pt. 2," on their 2002 mix, Turn Off the Radio: The Mixtape, volume 1. It probably had a lot of confused fans scratching their heads, wondering, "how is there no part 1 of this song or part 2 of this mixtape?"]

Lastly, there's the title track, "These Are the Times," which I don't believe has been released in any other shape or form, not even bootlegs. And it's another killer. A hard, but seductive beat like classic Wu-Tang or Mobb Deep (who, not quite coincidentally, were all label-mates at he time) and immediately memorable lyrics: "The televisions have eyes. Your modern religion is lies, plotting a collision world-wide; watch the hour glass. The powers clash over currency for world supremacy; burroughs is burned down deliberately, son." And they never put this out? Damn.

Yeah, when they're not talking sociologically, their messages can be a bit simplistic... if you want uber-intellectual political rap, I'm not so sure the Dead Prez manage to live up to their own reputation. But if you find yourself wondering why their fans think so highly of them, track down the red tape for your answer. This is just plain great hip-hop music, no matter how you cut it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Mystery Of The Coarse Selectors

Here's a new experience. My boys Diggers With Gratitude release a limited EP of unreleased cuts by... somebody I've never heard of before. It's The Coarse Selectors EP, tracks recorded between 1988 and 1989 by Fresh Ski & Mo Rock. It's limited to 350 copies, and as you can see from the photo I took, it comes in a sticker cover with a press sheet and, if you ordered this direct from DWG, a glossy photo. And the first 75 copies, including mine, are signed. =) So the package and presentation is awesome, but... who are Fresh Ski and Mo Rock?

They're a London duo who dropped their first 12", "Talking Pays," on Tuff Groove Records in 1988... which explains why I don't know them. Growing up stateside, very little UK hip-hop made it over here besides "Good Groove" and The Wee Papa Girls (because Teddy Riley fuxed with 'em). And while that single was dope, with some nice, super hard beats... it's also a patchwork of familiar samples (at least the A-side is) we'd all heard before, so I'm not surprised it didn't reach our shores. Our loss.

Anyway, they didn't release anything else until 1991, when they dropped their final release, The Long Awaited Paroxysm EP on Conscious Music Records. And that was it from then until 2009, when DJ Dee Ville over at the bustthefacts blog posted an EP of their unreleased recordings. Yes, this was The Coarse Selections EP... songs they recorded after "Talking Pays" that never saw the light of day. Well, after that post, DWG got on the case to make sure this got a proper, vinyl release... and here we are.

Just the opening few seconds of the banging, hardcore intro was enough to convince me, "oh shit!" The production on this EP is amazing - it's even better than the stuff that did make it out. And Fresh Ski is nice on the mic, too, with an emphasis on contorting his flow to match the ill beats... something that seems a bit of a lost art nowadays. But it's the killer beats and samples that keep stealing your attention - it's hard to believe, for example, that had "Down To the AM" been released, it would've been in competition with "Steppin' To the AM."

In total, you've got the aforementioned intro and two other completely unheard tracks on side A. Then, on side B, you've got two Original Versions of songs that later wound up on their Paroxysm EP, "Incredible" and "Mind Positive." "Mind Positive" here is much harder and edgier than the Paroxysm version, which is totally smoothed out. It's hard not to miss the super nice horn sample used on the hook of the remake, but the high energy and killer cuts will definitely have you favoring the original. As for "Incredible," it's kind of a toss-up... in this case the Original is smoother, but both are nice. And they're also quite different from each other, so in the end, the best is to have both, which we now can.

Oh, and finally, we also get the instrumental versions for all four songs.

This is sold out from DWG direct, but it's still available at various vinyl shops online, like KingUnderground, JetSet and UGHH. You can listen to clips here. And if DWG wanna introduce me to anymore vintage 80's hip-hoppers I've never heard of, I'm all ears. 8)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mr. Wallenrod's Laff Attack

"I've heard of a heart attack... and a Big Mac Attack... but what's a Laff Attack?"

Laff Attack: Rappin' and Goofin' is the first (and still one of very few) hip-hop compilation albums to focus on funny rap songs. It came out on Priority Records in 1986, and features songs from various other labels.

Now. funny/novelty rap records have been around almost as early as rap records themselves. One of the handful of hip-hop records released before the 1980's was Steve Gordon & the Kosher Five's "Take My Rap... Please." Sugarhill put out records by Wayne & Charlie the Rapping Dummy, and even Sylvia Robinson's answer to Mel Brooks' novelty rap record "It's Good To Be the King," "It's Good To Be the Queen." So there was no shortage of potential material.

But this album makes some surprising selection choices. Rockmaster Scott's "The Roof Is On Fire?" That's a hip-hop classic, but there's really nothing funny about it. "Don't You Dog Me" must be on here because the album's producer's thought anything by The Fat Boys is funny... but why a fairly serious song about being treated poorly in relationships as opposed to something like "Double-O Fat Boys" or "Jailhouse Rap," where they rap about going to jail for robbing a Burger King?

Other songs are more obvious and appropriate choices, however. Yes, "Rappin' Duke" is on here, as is "Hambo - First Rap, Part 2" by Hambo, who even disses the Duke ("who's the rappin' duke who thinks he's so patriotic? 'Da-ha, da-ha' sounds pretty idiotic. Don't youse think that sounds stooopid?"). Also, funnier raps my more legit artists are included: "La Di Da Di" is a genuine rap classic, even more so than "The Roof Is On Fire," but I can't act so bewildered about what it's doing here.

Also included is Spyder-D's "Buckwheat's Beat" (though we all know the X-Rated Version that was included on the B-side of the original 12" was funnier) and one of the more unabashedly comic entries in the epic Roxanne saga, Ralph Rolle's "Roxanne's a Man." And a final curiosity, they (naturally) include the great "Honeymooner's Rap" by Joe Piscopo, Eddie Murphy and the great Grandmixer D.St... but they credit it to a group/artist named Lost Episodes, which is a little perplexing. And Priority did it again in 1989, on their Rapmasters compilation. The phrase "lost episodes" doesn't appear anywhere on the original 12"... It's just weird.

Anyway, there's nothing original or unique on this album (except the crazy illustration used for the cover). every song was previously released before. But it's still an undeniably enjoyable listen, and even the un-funny entries are still fun and fresh songs. I'd be hard-pressed to name a better album to listen to today... Happy April's Fools!