Saturday, October 15, 2016

Father MC's Been Watching Howie Tee's Girl

Not only am I not out of Father MC records to talk about, but I haven't even finished covering all the singles off his first and most famous album!  But that's about to change right now, as we look at the fourth and final Father's Day 12", "I've Been Watching You."  I'm actually kind of surprised this exists, actually, because most major labels weren't getting to four singles back in '91 when this came out, especially if you don't count promo and plain sleeve stuff.  But here's a big, glossy picture cover after Father had already racked up three hits.  And this one doesn't have the big, catchy feel of the other singles at all.  It's got a clunky, discordant piano loop instead of the smoothed out, new jack R&B music, and it's the only song off the album with another rapper on it, as opposed to a singer.  Well, actually, Lady Kazan was sometimes a singer; but she just raps here.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of this type of record, and it was one of my least favorite tracks on the album, so add that to my list of reasons I was surprised to see it come out as a single.  It's one of those battle of the sexes back-and-forth duets Positive K and MC Lyte used to make, or Young Zee and Rah Digga like to do with each other. The basic concept is fine, but the main reason I never get into them is because neither MC ever really gets to flow.  It's always just one or two lines, then pass the mic, then pass it back, each one finishing each other's rhymes and punchlines.  On paper it's neat, in practice neither of them rap long enough for you to get into it and it's more of an intellectual exercise/chore than a song to groove to.  You know, like spoken word.

If Uptown was determined to make a fourth single, why not the title cut.  I always liked that one a lot better, and since it's more hardcore and not R&Bish at all, it still showed off Father's versatility, if that's what they were after.  And no offense, but it's not like Kazan's name was a draw; she never had any records of her own out (although I would've copped 'em if she did!).  You know, if he'd done the same record with Pepa, you'd say okay, they're bringing in her fan following.  She was actually Howie Tee's wife, but all most audiences knew about Kazan was that Chubb Rock rapped " Lady Kazan, my home girl, peace!" on "Treat 'Em Right."

The concept of the sing is simple enough; it's just like those Positive K records he's copying.  Father hits on Kazan, and she shoots him down.  The title comes from the premise that he's been watching her at a bar or club for a while before coming over to talk to her.  But really, it feels like an opportunity to play R&B trivia, because they just keep making references to modern R&B singers to each other the whole time.

Father: "Even though you make me sweat, like Keith Sweat said, I won't gas your head."
Kazan: "Tryin' to get in these boots, but you gotta spread your wings and fly like Troop."
Father: "That girl's old news, and now like Tony Toni Tone she's giving me the blues."
Kazan: "Play like Soul 2 Soul and keep on moving."

So if you're in the mood for some light-hearted 90's nostalgia, this song has definitely got you.  My favorite line is one that could only have come from that decade, "I know you're single, so why you frontin' on the mingle?"

I guess the reason they chose to release this is because they actually came up with a nice remix, which is here on this 12".  In fact, there's a couple mixes.  Well, first of all, you've got the album version, which was produced by Fresh Gordon.  Then you've got two mixes, the Daddy Remix and the Redhead Kingpin Remix.  The first is so named because Puff Daddy's involved with the mixing, but actually both of those remixes were produced by Redhead Kingpin, and they're actually basically just minor variations, using the same instrumental.  But it's really good, and a little more in keeping with Father's previous singles, with a smoother piano sample laid over a cracking breakbeat.  It's a nice track, and I imagine more collectors would be interested in it if it wasn't stuck behind a flowless battle of the sexes rap.  This is the version they include the Instrumental of, so that's good.

The only other mix is the Fresh Gordon Remix, which is a different set of samples and a cool variation, but very much in keeping with the feel of the album version.  Again, this production would be better appreciated with a different vocal track, and it's cool to see how far Gordon had come from his old 80s sound.  And yeah, the difference between the two Redhead mixes are really minor.  The Daddy Remix is a censored radio version (though all there is to censor is Kazan saying "ass" once), and the Redhead Kingpin Mix trims some of the talking at the end, where Father talks to Fresh Gordon, telling him, "that girl's got it going on," and Gordon says, "yeah, but she doesn't have it going on with you; that's Howie's girl."  The Redhead version drops the "Howie's girl" part.  It's a little frustrating, because it means that there's no way to hear the song with that (the best) instrumental without it being slightly edited.  The other two versions are unedited; but these two are tinkered with in a slightly annoying way.

So, at the end of the day, it's a good single with some cool, exclusive remixes.  But for Father MC fans only.  Nobody else is going to have time for this corny duet rap stuff; at least not while there's so many thousands upon thousands of better 12"s out there.

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