Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father MC's Day

Well, it's Father's Day weekend, so what better MC to blog about on this fine day? If you guessed Mama Mystique... you're probably over-thinking the question. No, if you don't recognize the picture cover photographed above, alongside our site's exclusive model (sorry, TMZEmma, that's Father MC's "Lisa Baby," the third big single off his debut album, appropriately titled Father's Day.

Like his previous singles, "Lisa Baby" is produced by ex-Fat Boy Prince Markie Dee and the Soul Convention, and like "Treat Them Like They Want To Be Treated," features an up-coming Jodeci singing the chorus. It's a pure, unadulterated example of new jack swing rap, and how much you like or detest that sub-genre will dictate what you think of this song. His previous singles, "Treat Them..." and "I'll Do for You" were elevated by the lyrics and the surprisingly strong R&B elements (Mary J. Blige, of course, standing out on the latter). Here, while Jodeci still sound solid, those elements don't really shine. Lines like "well, the joke's on you, so nibble on my Almond Joy" definitely reveal that we're operating in a lower strata this time around, and this whole narrative about Father getting pissy about the eponymous Lisa's questionable behavior lacks the universal appeal of his previous hits. So while the previous tracks rose above it, this one's really standing on the swing production, which is quite good as Mark & Mark proved themselves to be surprisingly masterful at it. So, like I said, your appreciation will depend entirely on just how keen you are on hearing some vintage new jack swing.

But even heads who aren't so big on that stuff tend to have some interest in this 12", because it features a robust collection of remixes, with one in particular standing out. I'll save that one for last.

The first version you'll come across on here is the Daddy Radio mix, produced by Jodeci's own Devante Swing. It's a pretty cool, tougher mix, that gets rid of some of the smooth keyboard tones in favor of playing up the banging percussion. Unsurprisingly, it also emphasizes Jodeci's role, including some new sung vocals, making their performance a little less repetitive than it was on the album version.

Devante also produced the Swing House mix, which is a weird little twist on the Daddy Radio mix. It's not really house... well, it sort of is. But it's more about just taking out a lot of Father's vocals... it almost sounds like an instrumental version that only leaves in Jodeci's parts, but then Father's stuff comes in at the end. I think they were just padding record with this one.

So, okay, you've got those two mixes, plus the LP version and an Instrumental. Now let's get to the ones collectors like. You've got two mixes here by Pete Rock. Now, there's nothing unusual about that; they're both major players in the Uptown fam (in fact, Father's Day is tastefully dedicated to Trouble T-Roy), and Pete would return to provide a beat for Father's third LP, Sex Is Law.

Well, first up, you've got the Smoothed Out mix. This one really doesn't sound like Pete's work at all, and I wonder if the credits aren't a little off here. I mean, maybe he was there in the studio and had some input on this; but it actually doesn't sound very removed from Devante's earlier mixes. It adds some hip-hop samples makes it a little more of a hardcore hip-hop track, most notably by completely removing Jodeci, replacing them with just a vocal sample saying "here we go!" The stand out moment is the breakdown where a DJ gets busy on the turntable. It's a dope little remix; and really not smoothed out at all (why did they call it that?); but I really wouldn't be surprised if Clark Kent or somebody else came out and said he really did that.

The final mix, however - the Hip-Hop Fat Mix? Now that is pure Pete Rock. While all the other remixes felt like variations of a single instrumental; this one is completely different. It's really sample based, and has a super funky bassline, plus some sweet horns. It does have the "here we go" vocal sample instead of Jodeci, which is probably why Pete gets credit for the Smoothed Out mix. He probably made this one (well, he surely did), and then somebody else just used pieces of it to construct that one. The turntable breakdown is here, too. It's really a rich, bumping track. Indeed, the only disappointing aspect is that it deserves better than this Father MC acappella. His poppy story doesn't really have the same vibe as Pete's creation, and it just raises the bar too high for this level of MCing. If this had Guru or somebody rhyming on it instead, I guarantee this would've been a hit, especially critically, that would last through the ages.

So yeah, this is a good single for Father MC fans, with some variations of one of his better, if not great, songs. And it's even a good single for non-Father MC fans, because it contains one of Pete Rock's greatest creations. Unfortunately, no, there is no instrumental for the Hip Hop Fat Mix; but the beat rides for almost two minutes after Father's final verse, with all the change-ups and everything. So that's almost the same end result. Throw in the fact that it comes in a colorful picture cover and can usually be found in record stores' cheap bins for ninety-nine cents or less; and this makes for a perfect little Father's Day gift for yourself.

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