Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hell Raising and Bush Killing

Hip-hop didn't get much more controversial than Paris's second album, Sleeping With the Enemy. I remember first searing him when the video for "The Devil Made Me Do It" hit. I wasn't in a terribly receptive frame of mind, but by the end of the song I was blown away. This guy was coming harder than NWA (and the line "attitude but I ain't from Compton!" showed he wasn't afraid to say it to their face), merging it with the social awareness and revolutionary talk of Public Enemy. I immediately bought the single, then soon after the album, which also featured his earlier, more underground singles that I'd missed, "Scarface Groove" and "Break the Grip of Shame." This guy was the hardest ever (exactly what I was after at that age) - I mean, sure, I guess you had guys like The Geto Boys; but Paris wasn't kicking shock value songs like "Mind of a Lunatic" or "Chucky;" this was serious, socially conscious "message" rap that managed to be so edgy. And, wow, this was coming out on Tommy Boy?

Apparently, Tommy Boy couldn't believe it either, because when it was time for his second album, he was too hot for them to handle. First of all, the guy wanted to make his first single, "Coffee, Doughnuts and Death" a first person narrative about revenge killing cops over some "Atomic Dog" drums. The rapping doesn't even start until a minute and a half, because it opens with the extended sounds of a cop raping a woman. Tommy Boy was a subsidiary of Time Warner, and this was the year of the heavy metal song "Cop Killer," so it's not surprising that the label nixed that idea. ...I mean, can you imagine the music video?

But hey, they just passed on that as a single; they only wanted to him to go back and pick another song. We haven't even gotten to the real deal breaker yet.

See, one of the reasons "Cop Killer" was such a controversy, besides the obvious, is that the president himself (who at the time was George Bush, the senior) spoke out against it, calling the song "sick," pressuring Time Warner to remove the song from the album, which they did. ...So take that fact, and combine it with the fact that Paris was surely no fan of Bush's politics in the first place, and we come to the concept Paris came up with for his second album cover... George Bush is waving at the press as he walks around the White House, and Paris is seen hiding in the foreground, dressed all in black and holding a machine gun, about to take him out. It would go with the new song he was recording, called "Bush Killa" where... no, see; Warner Bros wasn't having that. Paris also shopped it around to the other major hip-hop labels - no takers.

But Paris was generating enough controversy with this stuff that he could release the album on his own independent label, Scarface Records, with just as much distribution as Tommy Boy could. So he put out Sleeping With the Enemy himself with a safer, non-threatening cover. But, while I'm not so sure about the LP and CD; the cassette does feature that original cover photo on the inside [pictured above], as well as the track "Bush Killa." But that's not bad ass enough, dear reader, for this blog. I still haven't gotten to today's record.

On the album, "Bush Killa" came with a long introduction. The first minute was a skit (yeah, that's one of the problems with this second album), where Paris snipes George Bush at a parade. Then, that's followed by a one-minute freestyle; and finally the song starts. Remember that? Okay.

Well, today's record is the first single off Sleeping With the Enemy, "Days of Old," a slower, calmer song reminiscing on his youth. I guess even Paris saw the wisdom in releasing safer stuff when it came to putting out on his own dime. It's an okay song... it still has a message, but even in 1992, it was a tired "heard it before" sample. I mean, Paris's voice does sound pretty good over it, and he adds a few tiny new elements; but he's basically using a giant chunk of an old record that had already been used to great effect years earlier. I mean, not only did Shakespeare and the Last Empire flip it first years earlier, but The Almighty RSO had just used it earlier in the year; and it was still in everybody's decks. So, the video got some play; and the single comes in a dope picture cover and includes the instrumental, but it's all pretty shrug-worthy.

Until you flip it over, that is. On the back is the "Bush Killa" Hellraiser Mix - now this is the reason to buy this record. The first thing you'll notice on the label is the running time: eight and a half minutes! And, when you start playing it, you'll realize that he cut off the minute long skit AND the minute long freestyle introductions. Since the original was just under five minutes; that means he added 5 and a half minutes worth to this song, almost tripling its length!

It starts out just like the album version ...except, again, minus the first two minutes. But once the album version kicked in with the song proper, it was pretty much the exact same thing as how the Hellraiser song plays. Same vocals, same guitar (by Kenny M, who also played on Paris's first album), same ominous bassline and the same "Atomic Dog" drums. "Wait a minute, Werner, didn't you say he used the 'Atomic Dog' percussion on the cop killing song?" Yes, well, along with the skits, that's the other problem with this album: unoriginal sampling. Regardless, it sounds good - there's a reason it's used so often... it's a classic break. And combined with the scratches and other samples brought in on here; it sounds pretty incredible.

But where the album ended with gunshots (which, if I recall, lead into another skit); this 12" mix is just at the 3 minute mark. The gunshots are blended into some juggled percussion and instrumentation. Then Paris comes in with an all-new verse:

"Now you know...
That I ain't never been a slave to the bottle;
All I see on the tube is the punk black role models:
The passive girl-like she-men
That make and dictate the lives of black men.
And sometimes I wanna give up hope,
'Cause all they wanna do is grow up and work for white folks,
Or be a pimp, drug dealer or sports star;
It ain't no wonder the blacks don't go far.
Now the trick is stay quick to bust shit.
Got to be equipped so the devil can't flip;
And be aware of the government plan to keep
Young black folk walkin' in our sleep.
Fuck the games; I still feel the pain,
I still feel the shame, 'cause ain't nothin' changed.
I can't fade peace when the war is all around;
You better run 'cause the lost are bein' found.
Choose your team, square up and take sides,
But don't be punked or a skunk when the gat fire.
'Cause I'm the first one to let the caps go;
No more vetoes or negroes
Who run scared, full of fear when the devil squawk.
Funk is on to the dome; the glock'll talk,
And be sure that a devil is peeled.
Make way for the motherfuckin' Bush Killa!"

Then the song transforms into a crazy, hardcore megamix! A ton of records are brought in, sometimes for quick vocal samples, other times to flip the whole song and add in entirely new musical elements. Kenny M then goes for a huge, wild guitar solo, until they finally let the beat ride some more and eventually fade out. Paris effectively turned the song into an epic to match the song's infamy.

1 comment:

  1. This is good information about music,thanks for sharing.I also concern on hip hop instrumental music