Monday, March 14, 2016

A More Teddy Riley "Pump It Hottie?"

So, ever since my "New Jack Swing" post, I've been on a bit of a new jack swing kick. And tonight I've been rocking some Redhead Kingpin 12"s, and I went right to one I usually skip right over: "Pump It Hottie." The Hip-Hop purist in me, the one that just capitalized "hip-hop" because Krs-One says to, is always like, that's his mainstream dance song. You know, usually "We Rock the Mic Right," "Superbad Superslick," or even "Do the Right Thing" are my go to's. But now I just want some good ol', thumpin' Teddy Riley instrumentation, so today is "Pump It Hottie"'s day. And there's every reason to blog about this 12" here, because it's got some exclusive 12" remixes not found on the album. It's almost more surprising I didn't write about this one in 2008 or so. But what can I say? There's a million great rap records, it's taking me a while to get through all of 'em.  8)

So anyway, 1989's "Pump It Hottie" is like pure Yo! MTV Raps. It's a dance song before dance music separated from hip-hop, and I can still picture the music video with the FBI Crew on a little stage performing for a room full of bicycle short-wearing models. At the end, each member walks off with a girl in arm, and Redhead taps his girl on the shoulder and it's a bearded guy in a dress, so he runs away. Times were simpler then...

In a lot of ways, the song's simple, too. Red's just rapping about girls dancing in a club, and the beat's a loop of Krafwerk's "Numbers," the same break used on "Planet Rock," "Traveling At the Speed of Thought" and 75% of early Miami bass records. What makes it compelling is the extra Teddy Riley music on top of that, the killer horn riffs and the funky bass... except, it's not quite as Teddy Riley as a lot of his classics of the time, like "My Prerogative" or "I Get the Job Done." The horns, as dope as they are, sound more like simple repeating loops; and actually if you look at the credits, Teddy isn't credited as producer. Redhead and Riley's brother Marky Mark are. Teddy is listed as mixer and arranger, though, so who can really say how that really adds up in terms of who played what notes and who decided where they should be placed in the song?

Those credits are also exactly the same for the 12" Mix, which is quite different, and maybe even more what I was after. Because this version keeps a lot of the core elements, like the bassline and famous horn riffs. But it drops "Numbers" from most of the beat (it does fade back in at times) with a new break, which sounds like live instrumentation. This one has a big horn solo in it. Over all, maybe it doesn't thump quite as hard, but it sounds much more like an original funk creation. If you're in a new jack swing mood, definitely seek this version out.

There's another remix on here, too. The Street Mix is by Joe the Butcher. His version is back to "Numbers," but replaces all of the other music with a some cool funk guitar samples and stuff. It's a little more minimal, too barren even. It's kinda interesting, but it comes up short compared to the other two versions. It's interesting to have, though.

And speaking of inferior but interesting to have, we also get Teddy's A Capella. Now, the acapella of "Pump It Hottie" has to be one of the least desired rap acapellas I can think of. Nobody was thinking, man, I need that verse where a girl tries to get Red to go home with her and he tells her no, just dance instead - I've gotta put that over something jazzy! But this isn't Redhead's A Capella, it's Teddy's. What does that mean? Well, first of all, it's not acapella; it's full of music. But you know the intro to the song, where they're going, "we got Philly hotties coming to the party tonight," etc? Well, it's basically that stuff an the hook laid over the a dub mix. In fact, it's largely the hook just repeated a billion more times, but there's more little improvised dialogue like, "we gotta get the girl with the afro outta here." There's also sound effects of cats meowing mixed into the track. Kind of a weird curiosity piece.

Finally, this 12" also includes "Kilimanjaro Style," which is an album track. It's a good 'un, though, and not at all a crossover dance track like "Pump it Hottie." This is his reggae-style track; but what I like about it is that it's got a sick reggae-inspired beat with the famous "Bam Bam" horns, but Redhead doesn't attempt a faux-Jamaican accent. He takes a bit of the style, mixes it with his own, and just kicks some freestyle rhymes in his own natural voice, and it sounds great. DJ Wildstyle has a nice and subtle scratch session at the end. When you've decided it's time to come down from your new jack swing high, this is a great track to get you off it.

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