Sunday, September 2, 2012

Exactly WHICH Ghost Is Back, Exactly?

Sometimes I'll see an album and think: I probably won't like that very much. But I'm just so damn curious about it, I want it anyway. Well, I finally broke down and purchased one of those albums, so I figured I'd share my findings with all of you. This way you can make an informed decision, and not have to buy the album blindly to find out what it was like I did.

So, the album is The Ghost Is Back by Vicious Base featuring DJ Magic Mike. Streetbeat Records, 1997. Now, I quite liked the original Vicious Base album, so you might be wondering why I was so hesitant about this one. Well, I'll tell you.

See, Vicious Base was the duo of MC Madness and DJ Lace. They came out as Vicious Base (featuring DJ Magic Mike) before they started releasing some of their biggest hits as DJ Magic Mike and MC Madness. But, if you know the story, you know that Madness left Mike and the label (Cheetah/Magic Records) in the early 90s with a couple other members of the crew (most notably T. Isaam), and they spent the next several years writing vicious (pun sort of intended) diss records back and forth to each other, until Madness's career eventually completely evaporated. So, how then could there be a Vicious Base and DJ Magic Mike album in 1997? I was pretty certain they never made up and reuinted... and if it was just a Vicious Base album on StreetBeat, I would've thought, okay, Madness hooked back up with Lace as another venture after his solo albums didn't turn out to be such big successes. But featuring DJ Magic Mike again? Something had to be wrong with this project.

Actually, my first assumption was that it was just a compilation of past Vicious Base tracks.  But looking at the song titles, they're all new. Actually, two songs wound up getting released again, later, as bonus tracks on the Mo' Wax 3LP of The Journey in 1999.  So, just what the heck is going on here?

Well, I guess this is essentially Magic's ultimate "fuck you" to Madness. To answer the first question on everybody's mind, no, Madness isn't on here. Neither is DJ Lace. This is basically just a DJ Magic Mike solo project. I'm guessing he owned the rights to the name, and so ha ha, sorry, Madness. Vicious Base has a new record without its members.

It's also not a very good album by Magic Mike standards. I get the feeling he made this quick and cheap. It's a mostly instrumental album, and not many of them are very compelling or interesting at all. There is one vocal track, with Daddy Rae (another member of Mike's Royal Posse) and Mike rapping, but... while it's a highlight simply because it's a vocal oasis in a big instrumental desert; it's definitely one of their lesser efforts. Also, it's just a remix of a song off of 1994's Bass Bowl, and that version was much better. Mike also raps a bit on the intro and outro, which is fine but nothing to get excited over. And there's basically only one track where Mike really gets busy on the turntables: the redundantly titled, "Number #1." It's easliy the album's highlight. He also scratches a bit on "The Bass Will Go No Lower," which is the second best cut on this album.

So, yeah. This is a quick, mediocre cash grab, just like I knew it would be. But... I had to know. And now I do, and so do all of you. Not terrible, but definitely very low on the Magic Mike totem pole, for completists only.

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