Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rap Artifact On Wax

A self described "archival record label" by the name of Numero Group has released the latest (ninth) 12" in their disco series, "Practitioner Of Rhymes" by Doc Rhymin'. Their first release was in 2006, so apparently they don't rush these things. Anyway, only a handful of these releases (four, I believe) are actually hip-hop records. And of those, only this one has (probably) never been released before on wax. The label speculates on their site, "we're comfortable assuming this came out on maxi-cassette in 1987."

This single comes from the vaults of a tiny Cleveland label, essentially a one-man recording store set up in the back yard, of Boddie Recording Company. After years of trying, Numero was able to persuade the widow of BRC's founder, Thomas Boddie, to let them release music he'd recorded from the 60's to the 80's - there's a terrific article on the whole story of the BRC here - including this one rap single.

So, here we have three practically unreleased songs by one virtually unknown MC. How is it? It's pretty good. It sounds super dated, but so much so that it might almost add to its appeal. The Doc rhymes like a simpler version of T-La Rock, and the beats are all super sparse, drum machine creations with no samples and lots of snare, echoey handclaps and reverb. They're so similar and his flow is so unchanging, that the three songs might as well be one long song, really, with the drum patterns just slightly changing around the 33% mark.

But they've got a great non-stop rappin' quality. dude doesn't even have hooks on his songs. He just kicks brag/battle raps with a respectable, hardcore delivery. Lyrically, by 1987 standards, he's actually pretty good - "Dictionary Rap" is an effective exercise in alliteration. Two of the songs, "No Title Can Describe" and "Dictionary Rap," also feature an uncredited female MC, who adds some welcome diversity to the proceedings. This isn't a great record - even if a lot more heads heard it in '87, they probably would've just ignored it in favor of more dynamic and exciting mainstream records. But if you want some no frills, no gimmicks, pure old school rap, this is it in spades.

Unfortunately, the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. It's very flat and hissy. Fortunately, the music is simple and hard enough that it all comes through pretty okay, but it does rob the songs of a lot of their potential energy. I don't know if this problem roots back to how this material was originally recorded, if Numero Uno just did a poor job mastering this, or even if they just ripped this from a cassette. In any case, the music of Doc Rhymin' isn't likely to pop up a second time,s o get it while you can if you're interested.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see this reviewed!!