Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wall Street Rappin'

There's a lot of competition in today's hip-hop blogosphere, and in order to stay ahead, one of the things you've really got to be is "relevant." The internet moves fast, and you've got to really be on your game to stay alive out here. And Werner von Wallenrod's Humble, Little Hip-Hop Blog is all about being relevant. Like, what's the biggest, hippest, underground edgy news story going on in this country right now? The #OccupyWallStreet movement. Protestors, riot cops, the end of capitalism... Some news organizations aren't even up on the whole unfolding story yet, but I see it happening and I act fast. I bust out my copy of a rare 80's rap record about Wall Street that nobody's ever heard of before! Brace yourselves, Huffington Post, you're being scooped.

"Wall Street Rap" by Dr. T. and the Klinic dropped in 1988 (not long after Oliver Stone's movie, which I'm sure is no coincidence) on Prescription Record Inc. It's the label's only release, though not Dr. T's, who in fact dropped a couple other records on different labels. And considering the thematic ties between their names, I'd assume Prescription is the Dr.'s own label, and this is a self release. This wasn't done on the cheap, though. It comes in a cool picture cover where they're dressed in full medical regalia, they've got a full band providing the music (though I'm not sure if they're considered The Klinic - judging by the cover, I'd guess the Klinic are his dancers and back-up singers), and they even had an elaborate music video for this.

It's super corny, of course - this is bordering right on the edge of novelty rap. He rhymes like a cross between Hurt 'Em Bad and MC Hammer, and the music by the band - which consists of a keyboardist, horn player, guitarist, three people credited with drum programming/ percussion, and bass played by Dr. T himself - sounds very much like outsider musicians taking a stab at making some rap music without being familiar with classical styles of hip-hop production. But in a light-hearted, old school kinda way, it all sorta works. All the live instrumentation gives this record an old Sugar Hill Band feel, the hook gets stuck in your head, and the lyrics are actually pretty smart. It almost plays like an education record for kids - think Kurtis Blow's "Basketball" for the financial district.

Now, the track-listing on this single is a little odd... The cover suggests you've got the T.V. Mix on one side, and the Club Mix on the other. But the actual label on the record says you've got the the Radio and Instrumental versions on side A and the Dub Version on side B. Listening to it, I think the truth might be somewhere in the middle... I think it's the Radio and Instrumental versions on side A and the Club version on side B, and there are no T.V. or Dub mixes... but you get into the shady area of what specifically constitutes a dub versus a TV mix and all, for which there really aren't constant and concrete definitions. But somebody, somewhere involved with the making of this record definitely got confused.

If that isn't enough Wall Street rapping for you, luckily, there's one more record out there: "Wall Street Rapper" by Awesome D. Now, while Dr. T.'s single rode the fence, Awesome D's falls squarely on the side of novelty rap. Awesome D is David Lawrence, and on this record he plays the character of a big-shot CEO. When an investor calls, his secretary informs him, "I'm sorry, Mr. Lawrence now wants to be referred to as Awesome D." The CEO has decided to become a rapper and cut his first rap record - and this is it.

It's all about business on Wall Street, of course, and the similarities to "Wall Street Rap" don't stop there. This one's a bit newer, 1992, but still features a lot of live instrumentation - most notably a very prevalent saxophone. It's also got a simple hook sung by two girls and big guitar solos. Plus, it's another self-released, record label one-off (Awesome Records), and comes in another glossy black & white picture cover. This one's got wonky (but listenable) scratches, and a really stilted flow... Dr. T's flow, again, was pretty simple and old school; but Awesome D has a serious, "I honestly don't know how to rap" thing going on... think Barney and Fred Flintstone rapping in that old Fruity Pebbles commercial and you get the idea.

Again, though, the instrumentation isn't bad in a studio musician/outsider kind of way - the bassline's effective - and this one uses a lot of vocal samples of Michael Douglas from the film Wall Street. And while D could never pass as a legit rapper, even in market that gives kids with flows like Kreayshawn a pass, the concept and lyrics are genuinely amusing for a one-off gag single like this. It's not a dope rap record, but then I don't think their aspirations were ever that big, and it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

So, there you have it, hip-hop's two Wall Street rap records. You won't find these covered on many other blogs, I bet. And CNN, if you'd like to invite me to speak on the air as a leading Wall Street rap authority, just remember: hip, young bloggers with our fingers on the pulse of America's youth like us don't come cheap. So, uh, "serious offers only," dig? ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment