Monday, March 17, 2014

The Other B.U.M.s

Like a lot of heads, I was a big fan of The B.U.M.s sole album in 1995. They had a few other nice 12" tracks, demos and Wake Up Show appearances, but they basically disappeared despite having a vocal and critical following. So many of us are often on the hunt to discover lost material of theirs. For some of us, it's gotten to the point that we uncovered a whole other group who called themselves The B.U.M.S., even though they don't seem to have ever released anything. On first look, you would think finding something by these other bums would be a big disappointment. But here's the best part: they're just as good as the original B.U.M.s, if not even better!

The famous B.U.M.s are Evocalist and D. Wyze, two west coast MCs would managed to bring all of the pros with few of the cons associated with backpacker rap to the west (specifically Oakland), helped a lot by some great smooth, jazzy production that was just developing in the mid 90s. Their acronym stands for Brothas Unda Madness.

These B.U.M.S. are from Bushwick, Brooklyn, and their acronym stands for Black Urban Music of Soul. Both of those acronyms are pretty tortured, but these guys made up for it by creating an alternate group name: The Bummy Godfathas. The Oakland B.U.M.s signed to a major record label may also have played a major role in the Godfathas changing their name.

And they share a lot musically, too. Again, utterly 90s jazzy production with smart yet tough lyricism, or "mellow hard," as they put it themselves. Their ideologies have as much in common as their name. And it's another duo of MCs, this time going by the names of ML Penn and Vincent Cold. Check out this tight demo track of theirs that's been floating around the 'net for a few months now; love that production!

Well... while thinking I was buying some lost Oakland B.U.M.s music, I recently picked up what turned out to be some more lost Bummy Godfatha music. This is an acetate, meaning it's a test record made by a record manufacturing plant for the artist to hear and approve before the actual record is pressed. They're usually not nearly as tough as actual records - you could scrub all the music clear off this one with a sponge. So they tend to deteriorate unless handled very carefully, very decidedly not built to last and leaking sound quality along its path. They're also often single-sided. But occasionally an acetate is made, and for whatever reason (though presumably that reason is almost always money) the final record is never made, and suddenly your cheap, junk record is a priceless artifact. What we have hear is a phat, double-sided acetate 12" single of unreleased B.U.M.S. material. Uh, the east coast ones.

Fortunately, the black vinyl is only peeling off the very outer edge of side 2... it doesn't actually touch any of the music. So it's a bit crackly, but generally pretty good. And the music? Does not disappoint!

If you can make out the handwriting, we have on the A-side an LP version [what LP?] of "All In the Norm," followed by a remix.  The LP version sounds just like something the Oakland B.U.M.s would make, to the point where it genuinely had me questioning who I was listening to. Smooth tones, fat drums, not only would it fit in perfectly on Lyfe 'N' Tyme, they would've made it a single for sure. But it's definitely not them.  Their playful writing style is another match, but their voices definitely aren't. Plus they keep referring to being from the east coast. Honestly, it's like The B.U.M.s are really a four man group, who've just been cruelly separated by geography.

The remix uses most of the same elements as the LP version, and in some ways sounds the same, but this time has ultra-deep bass notes. Like Miami-deep, except with a west coast gangsta feel instead of a down south booty jam. New York style with west coast elements? They're so fucking Unda Madness!

We get another song on the B-side, "Dialogue," complete with an Inst. version. They come harder on this one, and the music's even jazzier; but it's not as catchy as "All In the Norm." It's kind of the perfect A-side/ B-side relationship, actually. It makes perfect use of Keith Murray's pitched down voice for the hook: "my dialogue comin' straight from the slums!" Objectively speaking, they do come off as better MCs on the A-side - the extra aggressive style doesn't feel quite as naturally in their wheelhouse; but I don't see how anyone who appreciates 90s hip-hop couldn't love both joints.

I guess these guys never got a deal and thus never made it out the gate, but I hope they at least scored some Unsigned Hype columns, because they more than merit it. If ML or Vincent ever actually see this, contact a limited label immediately - your stuff will sell for sure on a 2014 vinyl EP.

P.s. - A lot of credit goes to Oxygen of Sputnik Brown for uncovering and sharing biographical details about the Brooklyn B.U.M.S. while also searching for more from the Oakland ones.


  1. nice, you are the one who was lucky with the acetate. the bummy godfathas also produced the n.i.k organization / freez 12" in '97.

  2. There was a 12'' single of those guys some days ago at ebay!!!

    1. Oh, damn! There was too! Adding that one to my want list for sure.