Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This Is By the Convicts

There's a couple reasons you might know of The Convicts. You might've read Unkut's king-making post some years back, dubbing the Rap-A-Lot duo "a testament to the genius of ignorant rap." Or you might know Convicts member Big Money Mike for going on to become an official Geto Boy when Willie Dee dropped out. But if you don't actually know them for their music, you're missing out.

The Convicts, who have an odd habit of contradictorily referring to themselves as The Ex-Convicts in their songs, consists of just Big Mike and 3-2 (later of The Blac Monks). They only dropped one album on Rap-A-Lot Records in 1991 before going their separate ways. And this is the one single off of that album.

Depending on your attitude, you might be pleasantly surprised or heartily disappointed that there's nothing particularly ignorant about "This Is For the Convicts" at all. Big Mike and 3-2 are both really just flexing their spitting skills, kicking your basic, "we're the toughest on the block" rhymes. Mike impresses more, coming off as a seasoned vet even though he wasn't yet one at that stage, but 3-2 comes nice as well. It certainly helps that they're blowing over the dark bassline Paris used for "The Devil Made Me Do It," but laid over a cracking, classic break that really ups the energy of the groove, but keeps it nice and hard. None of that later-year keyboard sound of later Rap-A-Lot releases, this is pure hip-hop.

The one drawback to the song is the minute long intro, where they sign a humorous song about life in prison. What you might find amusing the first time is a torturous minute to get through after you've heard it a few times. Fortunately, the music changes drastically enough that you can see on the vinyl where the song changes and you can needle drop right to the good stuff.

The B-side is another dope beat, slower and chunkier. It runs a bit dangerously close to the intro of the last song, however, in that, while it's not badly sung, it's still a jokey song that can wear out its novelty value with regular rotations. It's called "Wash Your Ass" and it's a collection of amusing anecdotes and complaints about people with poor hygiene.

Both songs are straight off the album, but the 12" does also include both instrumentals. That's nice for "This Is for the Convicts" just because it's a dope track, but even better for "Wash Your Ass," because at this point, it's the preferable way for me to listen to this song. If any of the less original producers out there would like to jack this beat and repurpose it for a more straight-forward acappella, I wouldn't be adverse. Either way, though, this is a nice, underrated 12" that deserves a little appreciation.

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