Saturday, May 14, 2011

O.C. Demos and Vaulted Treasures

Remember when I reviewed No Sleep's killer EP release of O.C. demos last year? And it ended with the promise that, "This release is part one of two unreleased O.C. EP?" Well, guess what? Part 2 is here!

So, this time around, O-Zone Originals Part 2 isn't all demos like the first one. But they are all unreleased treasures from 1994-1996 that've been previously locked away unheard in O.C.'s vaults. It's also a little more limited than the first volume... there was 200 copies pressed of that, and only 175 of this one.

It starts out with two tracks recorded after Word... Life, but before Jewelz. "Flipside," produced by DJ Ogee, has a smooth, summer cool-out vibe to it. It's honestly a little forgettable, especially if it had come out when it was recorded back in '94, but O.C. rides the beat like a pro and raises it above the glut low budget major label stuff that was dropping in '94. "Master Ya High," produced by Buckwild, also has s slow, mellow groove... in fact, apparently Buckwild wound up giving this a slightly altered version of this beat to Faith Evans when this got shelved, so that tells you how un-hard the instrumental is. But the drums are raw and O.C. is on some serious spitting, so it winds up being a compelling counter-point and a generally better song than "Flipside."

Next up is "Gone," produced by DJ Ogee. You might remember the song from O.C.'s 2005 album, Smoke and Mirrors - the one he did with Hieroglyphics! - but it turns out this was originally recorded for Jewelz, and this is the original version with a different instrumental than the version on Smoke. This one's more stripped down, as opposed to all the R&B singing included on the later version by Mike Loe. I actually liked the singing on that version, so it's hard to pick a favorite, but this one has a whole different tone to it; it's practically an entirely different song.

And rounding out side A we have a radio promo produced by Buckwild for the Kevvy Kev show. It's just a super short, single verse freestyle as opposed to a proper song, but OC sounds great and the beat is really cool. If this was expanded into a full song, it would've sounded great on Word... Life. Unfortunately, he only raps for like 20 seconds here, but what little there is certainly cool.

Then, onto the flip, we finally have a demo joint... like everything on O-Zone Originals Part 1, it was recorded before Word... Life. It's called "Sharp As a Knife" and it's produced by Buckwild. This is the kind of O.C. stuff I'm really after on an EP like this. It's tight, though a little more relaxed than the title might lead you to believe.

Next we've got the original version of "Stronjay," a song from Jewelz. I think this version, produced by DJ Ogee, sounds better better than the released version, even though that one was done by Da Beatminerz. But, frankly, I never really cared for this song, and this hasn't changed my mind. It's cool to have it here as a historical artifact, but otherwise... meh.

Speaking of Da Beatminerz, there's a song by them on here called "Pain." it was recorded for Jewelz but left off. I can't imagine why, though, because this is better than a lot of stuff on Jewelz (like, say, "Stronjay"). The beat is dark and cool, and it has a fresh, uncredited reggae hook on it.

Finally, O-Zone Originals Part 2 winds out with another cool radio promo, this one featuring MC Serch, recorded for The Wake Up Show. Fortunately, unlike the one on Side A, this one isn't over before it starts... though I still wish it was longer. Serch and OC pass the mic back and forth, kicking a funky, staccato flow over a chunky, piano loop provided by Ogee.

Overall, I don't know if this is quite as impressive as the first volume, but it's definitely quality O.C. material that deserved to finally see the light of day, and any serious O.C. fan will want to get this; and they won't be disappointed when they do. Still, it would be nice if those last few, remaining truly vintage and great OC demos could come out on a similar EP one day...

1 comment:

  1. If you didn't like the first (released) version of Stronjay, you must have no soul. Nah, I'm just playin, but seriously, how could you not like that track? Maybe you weren't feelin the story, but the beat alone was timeless. I'm not really feelin the original version on this EP. It's not bad, but I don't think it can compare to the released one.

    Either way, nice review, and GREAT blog! Much respect.