Thursday, November 30, 2017

Who Were The 2 Smooth M.C.'s?

Sleeping Bag Records had a great pedigree.  I don't know how well it treated or paid their artists, since almost everybody on the label seemed to jump ship to another label as soon as they blew up, but when it came to discovering Hip-Hop acts, these guys had it down.  Almost everyone they touched were hot, from Mantronix to EPMD and Stezo to Nice N Smooth to Cash Money & Marvelous to Just-Ice to Tricky Tee to T-La Rock to Mikey D and the LA Posse.  They might not have all crossed over to the mainstream, but they all made great, must-have records.  MC EZ and Troup turned into Craig Mack and 12:41 turned into Boogie Down Productions.  Even Bonzo Goes To Washington turned out to be a secret Bootsy Collins project.  And one of the label's last remaining hold-outs, King Doe V, finally got some of the attention he deserved this year with some lost 90s bangers being recovered by Chopped Herring Records.  Everybody they touched seem to have a lasting legacy.  Except for one group, with one 12" you just look at and say, "wait, who the heck are these guys?"  2 Smooth M.C.'s.

Well, the answer's not going to amaze you.  I'm not about to reveal that this single comprises the shockingly slept-on debut appearances of Lauryn Hill and Drake.  I'm pretty sure these two songs are the only ones 2 Smooth M.C.'s ever put out in any capacity.  But have you heard this record?  It's dope and right up to par with the rest of Sleeping Bag's roster.

Conceptually, 1990's "The Inventor" is a lot like Pete Rock's "The Creator," a rapping producer just flexing his multi-talent skills over a thumping beat, even going to the extent of starting a duo's discography with a solo song.  It's a confusing listening to 2 Smooth M.C.'s for the first time and realizing, "I'm pretty sure this is just one dude."  The other guy does turn up for the B-side, though.

So yes, 2 Smooth M.C.'s produce their own material, too.  And "The Inventor"'s strongest point is its production, no doubt.  There's an obvious Marley Marl influence here.  It opens up with a sample from "The Symphony," including Marley's voice, but then immediately shifts into an ultra-funky James Brown sample, chopped and looped exactly the same way Marley used it on "Duck Alert."  I suppose you could say the track's weak point is a lack of originality; but then they mix in some extra, deep horns into the track, and it's so perfect.

But just who are "they?"  Well, the liner notes tell us the writing, production and mixing credits go to two brothers: Calvin and Dennis Moss.  Calvin, who goes by Big Cal on the record, is the one who goes solo for "The Inventor."  And his older brother (I only know he's the older one because he mentions it in his lyrics) shares the mic with him as The D on the B-side, "Give It All You Got."  And at one point they say the line, "XL, Herb and Mike makes up the crew," which isn't the most illuminating but I guess tells us something.

"Give It All You Got" isn't as strong as the A-side, but it's still good.  Like Run DMC's "Together Forever" they loop crowd sounds to make a studio recording sound like a live track.  Although this loop sounds seriously inauthentic, it might've been a strictly musical decision (rather than an attempt to convince us it's really live), but I'd call it a slightly annoying mistake either way.  Still, the rest of the track is some tight, sample-based production that grows on you over repeated listens; and forgoing the traditional verse/ hook/ verse format to just have the two MCs passing the mic back and forth is a very cool choice.  They might not be the most adept lyricists, but they know how to sound good over their own beats.  You can see why they didn't wind up on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, but it's definitely a shame they didn't put out at least a couple more records.

There's just the two full songs on here, no dubs or anything, and as you can see above, it comes in a sticker cover.  It's not a historically important record; it's one of Sleeping Bag's few Hip-Hop records that aren't.  But it's better than a lot of records that are.


  1. Didnt king doe v reinvent himself as truck turner? He was also on dj hondas second album on the song team players credited as just “doe v” with krs one

    1. Is this true? I mean, that totally adds up; but I've never heard that they were the same guy before! Interesting... yeah, I've got a couple of TT records (gotta have that "Symphony" 12", after all!), but never put that together.

  2. Def the same guy. The voice is spot on. Plus he rolled w krs for a minute or two. That would explain the co feature on hondas album. Wish that truck album on jive dropped. The 3 preemo joints were bangers as well as the symphony cut but i guess the major labels werent trying to push these kinda records in 99-2000

  3. Its def him. The voice is spot on. He was running with KRS and BDP for a minute or two so that explains the co feature on the honda II album. That was ‘97 and truck starting dropping Jive singles for his album in ‘99-2000. Wish that album would see the light of day. 3 preemo bangers and the symphony joint