Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rough House Survivers' Long Lost Second Album

(Man, if you don't know, the Rough House Survivers [sic] were dope.  So how come they only made one album?  Or... didn't they?  Youtube version is here.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Schoolly D's Secret Girl Group

How many records did Schoolly D and Luke Skyywalker collaborate on?  Um, I'm pretty sure just this one: Peters Posse, the compilation album of Steve Peters' Peters Records label from 1990.  It features an entire roster of unknowns except for one: Captain Sky.  And yes, Schoolly and Luke worked on it.  This is a real head scratcher of a record, so let's just dive right in.

Let's start with Captain Sky.  Captain Sky was a funk/ disco guy most famous for "Super Sporm."  He wasn't a rapper, though he did rap once on a song called "Station Brake" in 1982, and maybe one other time.  But he was a singer, and known for wearing crazy disco outfits.  However, this right here is his last record after a hiatus of several years, and his return to rapping.  It's called "Thank You," and it's a rap remake of Sly and the Family Stone's classic "Thank You."  It really liberally uses the music from Sly's version and he kicks lyrics like, "I got the beat, to move your feet."  How or why they dragged him out of retirement to be a rapper for this project is anybody's guess.

But here's what we do know.  The liner notes brag about assembling their posse "from the four corners of the land, from NY, LA, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Jacksonville, FL."  Peters Records itself is straight out of Miami, and at least a portion of this album was recorded in Skyywalker Studios with Luther Campbell.

The album starts off with a pretty decent song by Queen D.  I'm pretty sure she's the Jacksonville one, and she's not bad.  I mean, her song "Queen D's World" is definitely on a poppy dance tip, closer to The Real Roxanne than MC Lyte.  It's got a DJ cutting up a bunch of records like "Don't Want To Lose Your Love," James Brown, UTFO's "Bite It" and a liberal dose of "Tell Me Something Good" on the hook.  It's one of the stand out tracks, and it even came out on 12" single with an extended mix and a disappointing B-side called "Rock It To Me Faster."

In fact, a bunch of these songs got 12" singles.  News 4 You's "Good Times," which is actually a crappy R&B song, b/w "She's a Lady," which is more of a catchy new jack swing song at least, but still pretty weak.  Then there was a corny rap duo named 2 La Jit.  Their 12" said it was from the album Having Fun, but that never happened.  Kenny B Devine is the only one to go on to a couple more records on other labels, as well as another Peters Records 12".  He was from Miami, but all his stuff was pretty weak. There's a song by Money D and Wayne, which is a big improvement, although I can't decide if it's actually good, or just feels good by comparison.  Finally a group called GQ Tab that combined R&B and rap had a corny anti-drug song on this album called "Stop the Pusher," and came out with a love song called "Teen Emotion" on a Peters Records 12".

So yeah, most of this album's pretty bad.  A group called Satin does a Hip-Hop version of "The Name Game," which hits a terrible low, with all of the lyrics literally from the children's song.  But there are some interesting moments.  A song by 2-Real is rather listenable, with a couple interesting samples and a harder edge.

And Schoolly D's contribution?  Yeah, he produced a song by a Philly girl group called Northside Alliance.  Actually, it's just one MC, but I guess she had a DJ or someone to justify the "Alliance" name.  Anyway, the song's called "Give My Regards To Broadstreet" and is unquestionably the jewel of the album.  The title's kind of a pun, because Give My Regards To Broadstreet was a famous Paul McCartney film, but Broad Street is also a major urban boulevard in Philly.  It's a hot track with a killer break, sick horn samples and a cut up Krs-One vocal sample for the hook.  It's too bad this never got a 12", because I would definitely recommend it and it's the only song to really deserve it (although I'm actually pretty happy with my Queen D single).

So this album is still kind of a weird mystery.  Someone (I guess Peters) sunk a lot of money into this lost cause.  Not just this album but the whole label.  They put out six 12" singles, five from this album plus another News 4 You single.  But I recommend the compilation just for the Northside Alliance song.  I've searched and have never been able to find out more about this group, which is a shame because an album of this would be fantastic.  But take what you can get; this is hot.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Thoughts On Kool G Rap's Latest Album... Is It Too Late To Return Return Of the Don?

Well, this is disappointing.  I mean, I know a lot of naysayers have been down on Kool G Rap since he left Cold Chillin', talking about how he's only spitting gangsta raps now.  Does it count for nothing that his gangsta raps are incredible?  But tonight, hearing Return Of the Don... Oh jeez.  And it's not that G Rap can't rap anymore or is spitting weak verses.  He still sounds great.  But I knew we were in trouble when they announced his track-listing, and nine out of eleven songs had guest rappers on them.  And one of those two remaining solo songs is an introduction where he just drops one quick verse.  So this is unfortunately one of those guest-on-his-own-album deals like Thy Kingdom Come, only even more so.  He only strings two verses together once on the entire album!

So if you don't know, the vinyl doesn't drop until August 25th, because these NY guys always release the vinyl months later for some reason, but that's another gripe.  The CD's out now, and they've officially put the album up for streaming.  And you guys know, I would blind-buy any G Rap album; but this stream might've just saved me some money.  ...But honestly, I'm still on the fence.  It's not terrible, and I'm not sure I can go through life missing a G Rap album.  Maybe I'll just wait for a sale.

Because this is definitely a wait for a sale record: weak, but still has its moments.  The whole album's produced by Moss, and you could do a lot worse; but man, he just plays it so safe.  Like, he's got that Premier Jr. formula down and he's not gonna stray from it.  Think of all the classic G Rap songs that got you hyped, from "Road To the Riches" to "Letters."  Well, nothing on this album comes close to giving you that feel.  For the most part, it's pretty low energy.  "Mack Lean" almost turns into a spoken word piece.

And yeah, there's far too many guest spots.  On the other hand, that doesn't mean somebody like Raekwon wasn't a worthy inclusion.  I was excited to hear their joint together (though ultimately, it was a little boring).  But yeah, guys like Crooked I sound good.  Or take "Wise Guys;" that's one of the album's highlights with an energetic beat and Kool G Rap and M.O.P. sounding strong together, but they should've just gone: G Rap verse, M.O.P. verse and hook, second G Rap verse.  But instead they also throw Freeway on at the end of the song, and he definitely doesn't live up to everyone that preceded him, with lines that would've been junk even in the 90s like, "you must be a dyke because you've been abroad."  Who let him take up space?  And the same with "Popped Off."  Having G Rap duet with Sean Price (R.I.P.)?  Great!  But why is there also some guy named Ransom on there?

Who decided we needed verses from virtual unknowns like Manolo Rose, Willie the Kid, Pearl Gates (who delivers what is possibly rap's very worst hook to date), Westside Gun, or Conway the Machine?  I mean, to be fair, having those last two dudes on "Rest In Peace" actually kind of worked.  It reminded me of G Rap bringing out Papoose and Jinx da Juvy on a trio track back in the day.  I mean, none of these guys kill it like Jinx used to kill it, but they tread water well enough, and it's one of the few moments where Moss takes a chance production wise.  But yeah, if they really want to put the next generation on, maybe cram them all into one posse cut; but don't give them more collective mic time than G Rap himself.

Not that most of the veterans impress much more.  Saigon attempts to revive the phrase "ba-dunka-dunk," Termanology gets overly dramatic rapping about sluts and Satan and Sheek Louch just adds some filler.  Only Cormega, N.O.R.E., Raekwon, M.O.P. and Sean Price really belong on here.  They're the only ones genuinely enhancing the album with their contributions.  And five artists?  That's enough guests for an album.  Especially when it's not one of those 23-song packed mix CDs.  Everyone else is dead weight.  Again, Kool G Rap only has one full solo song on here.  It's pretty good, though.  And yeah, he does have some nice verses on the other songs.  But there's so much filler, it's like a surprise whenever he gets on the mic again, like oh yeah, this is a G Rap album!

And here's a question.  In several songs (including "Wise Guys" and "Criminal Outfit") he references being part of The Five Family Click.  What?  Are these just fifteen year-old acappellas that Moss patched together to mock up an album?  Is this another Half a Klip situation??  I'll tell you this much, Half a Klip might actually be a more satisfying album.  He wasn't sidelined this much on the Click Of Respect, and he was supposed to be just one guy in a group there.  Again, it's not all bad.  Like listening to him start rapping on "Capitol Hill," I'm getting excited to have the new Kool G Rap album I've been waiting for.  But then this annoying hook comes on and the rest of the song belongs to a bunch of other guys.  Listening to Return Of the Don all the way through is a drag.