Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Demo Week 2, Day 3: Hurby Luv Bug's Forgotten Clan

Today's demo is a full, unreleased album by the Mau Mau Clan. Now, this isn't to be confused with the Mau Maus, that brief "super group" consisting of Mos Def, MC Serch, Charli Baltimore, Canibus and whoever else. That was a one--off for a Spike Lee soundtrack. It's also no connection to the contemporary punk band, The Mau Maus, the German new wave band from he 80s called Mau Mau, the electronic artist Mau Mau who releases records on Mau Mau Records, DJ Mau Mau, the UK punk band from the 80s known as The Mau Maus, the Italian funk band Mau Mau, Mau Mau Productions, the reggae band Mau Mau from Jamaica, the African rapper Mau-Mau, or the Brazilian funk singer Mau Mau. It's also not any winners of the Most Original Band Name competition, obviously.* But it is connected to a preexisting "Mau Mau" group you might remember: The Mau-Mau Clan Overlords - it turns out they have a whole, unreleased album!

Who? Gentlemen, please cast your recollections back to the album on your left: The House That Rap Built, by Hurby's Machine. In other words, the producer album by Hurby Luv Bug back in 1987, when his groups like Salt-N-Pepa and Kid 'N' Play were just starting. Antoinette had some dope songs on there, and also, uh... a bunch of groups who never went on to do anything else. Including the Mau Mau Clan Overlords. Or so we all thought; but it turns out they came back, or tried to. Is that a good thing? I think so, yeah! Most of that album was fresh, and not as pop rap or corny as you might expect based on some of Hurby's later output. I mean, "Just Go" by Future Shock is, but not the rest of the LP. The Overlords had two solid songs on there, including the title cut and a stronger joint called "Contact Sport." And I think this lost album shows they were capable of substantially more.

For one thing, this album is widely diverse. I think it was meant more as a showcase of the variety of songs they could potentially deliver if a label signed them, rather than an album meant to be released as is. There's an upbeat love song, a track dissing girls, there's a Kid 'N' Play-style dance song that freaks "Got To Be Real," rougher freestyle tracks, even a song called "Uncle Tomic Bomb" that... lives up to its name. It all sounds rich and really well produced, thanks in small part to the fact that Hurby Luv Bug and The Invincibles clearly worked on this project. Steevee-O, the other guy on the Hurby's Machine cover, gets shouted out more than Hurby, but they both do. So while there's no liner notes with this tape unfortunately, I'm convinced they both produced for this.

There are also some guests... a reggae guy chats no a couple hooks, a pair of female MCs (not Salt-N-Pepa, but maybe None-Stop[sic]?) do a little back and forth with the Overlords, and Hallelujah, the Fifth is here! Yeah, "Mischievous" is a fun song greatly bolstered by a collaboration with The Fifth Platoon, who once again sound great. I have to admit, I would've rather found a lost Fifth Platoon album than Mau Mau Clan one, but this is good too, really. I'm really surprised these guys never came out, because clearly the Invincibles made spent some serious time and effort into making this project. I mean, if the album were to come out, I could imagine some of the edgier songs like "Da Niggaz Are Comin'" would've gotten cut off (which would've been a shame, 'cause that's a hot one). But some of these songs could've been singles and handed directly to MTV.

I mean, some songs are better than others, and a few are corny (the hook for one song is sung, "I can't front on my girl, 'cause she knows how to do me")\, just like you'd find on most Invincibles' albums from that period. And by that period, I'm guessing... 1991? That song with the Fifth Platoon has a real Leaders Of the New School vibe, in no small part to the fact that they sample Busta's line from "Case Of the PTA" for the hook. So it has to be at least that new.

I mean, look, this is an Invincibles crew album. if you don't like records by groups like Kid N Play, Joeski Love or Dana Dane, you're not gonna like this. This tape's a little more rugged than Joeski's, but this ain't no "Shook Ones." But if you enjoy any of those albums, especially from that 1990-1991 period, this is good shit. And again, it's really surprising this all stayed shelved and unheard.

It's also a bit odd that this is so many years after The House That Rap Built. Like, they never came out in all that time, but Hurby still kept working with 'em? I was searching around online, though, and I noticed that the Mau Mau Clan are credited with background vocals on Salt-N-Pepa's Very Necessary album. So I'm guessing after Hurby's Machine, they just stayed in the background, working with the Invincibles behind the scenes rather than as recording artists. And these guys are fine as commercial rappers, but they're not ill MCs, so maybe they got into the industry right where they fit in and it all shook out right. But it just goes to show... we have no idea what music is out there that we'll never hear.

*If you're wondering why so many groups would all choose to call themselves the same, unusual thing; it's all in the name's origins. The Mau Muas were a small, African militant group that formed to fight colonialism in the 1950s. Just read the wiki. So you can see why it'd make a pretty great name for a group... Except, dammit people, the name's been taken!


  1. Cool! Your Mau Mau demo has different tracks than mine:

    And you're right, it's more like a collection of random tracks than an album. All over the place, slow jams to posse cuts. Maybe that's why it never was released, too schizophrenic.

    1. Oh damn! That's awesome. These guys were real prolific, apparently. Interesting to see, too, that they helpfully included the "Overlords" part of their name on your copy. Maybe that means yours is a little older than mine.