Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanking MC Sundance

Yo, here's a nice underrated little record that nobody seems to talk about.  "America's Gonna Fall" by MC Sundance, released by Incognito Records in 1991.  Now, as far as I've been able to find, this is the only release by that label, and it's also MC Sundance's only record, but this is not some random rap nobody.  First clue?  The label's in The Bronx.  Second clue, it's produced by Jazzy Jay.  Yes, this is the MC Sundance from The Jazzy Five (and no connection to the MC Sundance from the Poison Clan skit).  He actually left the group to go solo before their hit record, "Jazzy Sensation," though, so you've only heard him on vintage, live recordings if you've heard him at all.  But recordings of him are out there if you follow those old school tapes.  I'm sure if you ask Troy Smith nicely, he'll point you in the right direction.  😎

But no that wasn't a typo; this record is from 1991, not 1981.  You might be worried, then, that this is going to be some dance music disaster or something, but it is produced by Jay, so have a little faith.   So, what's it like?  Surprising!

The title "America's Gonna Fall" gives you a hint, but this is a seriously heavy, revolutionary record.   Youth today look at old school rap like kiddie stuff, but who's making songs like this currently?  Not many.  I mean, part of this record is on some basic, anti-racism stuff, which is great but pretty obvious, and he starts out with some simple rhymes about "I stomp sucker MCs who riff, they'll get dissed and dismissed.  I don't smoke; I don't sniff."  But then it goes... further.  He starts rhyming about standing up against white supremacy, and he shouts, "when the revolution starts, the devils will get fucked up!"  Yeah man, now we're talking!  But then he starts getting controversial, advocating for segregation: "to avoid a war, I'm raw, hardcore.  We must separate; it's the law.  Couples get divorced of course when they don't get along.  Separate but equal?  Huh, I don't think it's wrong."  I mean, they had to know this was never going to get on Yo! MTV Raps by the time he started getting into the "AIDS was man-made" stuff.  Maybe that's what the name Incognito Records was all about.

He concludes with, "the strongest race of the human race, face to face with the snakes, we have to leave this place.  Stand up tall, the final call, rock rock y'all, America's gonna fall!"  But thankfully he didn't leave, because he turned out to be a real American hero.  And that's not me being glib.  Check out this 2009 NY Times article about him, "Leon Heyward[Sundance] emerged from the subway just as the second plane struck, piercing the south tower. As others fled, he helped evacuate disabled employees from 42 Broadway, where he worked for the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs, and when the first tower fell, he was caught in the churning plume of contaminated dust and smoke."  He eventually died of lymphoma caught while rescuing people during the 9/11 terrorist attack.  This man seriously deserves more recognition than he's been getting.

But getting back to the record, it sounds great.  The production is perfectly simple, with Jazzy Jay juggling some killer James Brown/ JBs samples: "Funky Drummer" drums and a super funky bassline.  Then he cuts up a subtle but fresh vocal sample for the chorus, it sounds like it was literally just recorded with two turntables and a microphone.

There's also a B-side called "Dance To the Groove," which is exactly the kind of song you'd expect from the title.  It's produced by Jazzy Jay again, though, so expect some more raw, funky samples.  Naturally, it's more upbeat with Sundance getting a little freer and lively, though still slipping in some positive messages under the radar as Jazzy Jay blends back and forth between a couple fresh sample sets.  Sometimes it's the same groove as Biz Markie's "Albee Square Mall," then it shifts into a classic disco sound, or a harder hip-hop riff, or a chunky piano loop, all over "Apache" drums with some nice, subtle scratches by Jay.

No picture cover, nothing fancy, just two hot and very different tracks, with both instrumentals included as well.  This record wasn't made for the radio, but it definitely shouldn't be as slept-on as it is.  So if you're looking to add something to your crates this holiday weekend, this one's not that rare or pricey.  And Thanksgiving seems like an appropriate time to give Sundance some props.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Invincible's Dandelions

(Some more new music, and this time it's pretty left of center.  Actually, Portals was awfully left of center, too; but this one's on a much more serious tip.  Youtube version is here.)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hip-Hop's Dr. Strange

(More new music, this time from one of the original Cella Dwellas, who's basic on the bizarre, mystic tip.  Censored Youtube version is here.)