Sunday, May 24, 2015

Father MC Wants You Back

It's been a while since my last Father MC post, so it's time to fire up the turntable again and get into another one of his 12" singles. Today, I've chosen the second of only two singles off of his third album - the album where he followed in MC Hammer's footsteps and dropped the MC from his name, to be known as just Father - Sex Is Law. That also makes it his last release on Uptown/MCA Records. Everything after this would be his odyssey through a sea of indie labels, from Spoiled Brat to Luke. So how did he go out? With a bang or a whimper?

Well, one important thing to note is that while there were cassette and CD singles, there was no 12" single except for promos. But the promo 12" has a couple exclusive remixes, so that's what we're looking at today. His album and first single ("69") were released in 1993, but this one's from 1994: "I Beeped You."

Remember when beepers weren't just the in thing, but rappers kept making songs about them? Sir Mix-A-Lot had "Beepers," Candyman had "1-800-Sky-Talk," Tribe had "Skypager," Gucci Crew II had "Beepers," and so on? That trend blew by fast, but not before Father could jump on it. But apart from the lyrical gimmick of rapping about beepers, he actually plays it pretty safe, with an old school instrumental and an empathetic twist on the subject matter to make it about relationships. DJ Eddie F's instrumental loops up a classic and still very effective Jackson 5 "I Want You Back" sample, basically looping the entire core instrumental, but adding a nice little "Atomic Dog" panting in the percussion. It's definitely a hip-hop staple, made famous in Eric B & Rakim's "I Know You Got Soul" remix, Marley Marl's album, one of Derek B's first singles, and so many others. The Ultimate II even specifically made a "I Want You Back" rap record. Oh, and Eddie F even gave it to Heavy D for his first album, a couple years before he brought ti back for Father here.

So yeah, no one was interested in breaking new ground here. But it's still damn catchy, with a chorus of girls berating Father, "'ey yo, I beeped you; why you ain't call me back?" for a chorus. And going with his more pimp-themed persona he was adopting at this point in his career, his verses are all about how he's too busy playing other girls, but the general concept of, "when my Skypage beeps, I get the creeps, every day, all day, all you do is just beep," where you have people you just don't want to call back is very relatable.

The first remix is the Who Beeped Me? Mix by Mark Spark. It starts out with a little sketch where we hear the old, automated skypage operator's voice, which gives a little extra nostalgic kick. It keeps the "Atomic Dog" pantings, but throws out everything else. This one's got a super rugged bassline and kind of a funky sample that feels more like a Midnight Marauders groove. It would've worked a lot better for there, because it's a cool sound but really doesn't match up with the very upbeat dance song about beepers. I mean, it's okay; it's not total tissue rejection, but I think the instrumental by itself would've been preferable.

Next we have DJ Kay Love's Leave Me Alone Mix. Kay Love starts out with some scratching, which is cool; but then we slide into an even slower, smoother groove. It's another track like the Who Beeped Me? mix where it would sound great somewhere else, but really doesn't fit the tone or the tempo of this song. It keeps the pantings, though, and this time adds a lot of sleigh bell. It's interesting, and has a lot of good elements; but just doesn't come together. Oh, and both remixes add Father going "I got my mind on my money and my money's on my mind" as a key counterpoint to the chorus. That doesn't work so great either.

Finally, there's the Instrumental, which isn't labeled as any particular Mix or credited to any different producers. So you would think it's just the standard instrumental to the album version, and it does start out that way. But no, soon it starts mixing out the Jackson 5 sample and replacing it with another safe, old school staple, Maze and Frankie Beverly's "Before I Let Go." There's really never a bad time to revert to "Before I Let Go," but it sort of weird to have it randomly slide in and out of this instrumental.

Overall, I still think it's a good, enjoyable single. It certainly doesn't aim high, but at least that means it doesn't mix. But if you've got the album, that's enough, because the remixes are interesting for the particularly curious; but none of them can replace the original. Even if it's totally played out, it's version you'll replay if you replay any. So, Father certainly didn't go out with a bang; but at least he didn't go out with a loss. He just added one more decent song into his catalog, which his fans appreciate.

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