Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Apparently Lost West Coast All Star Posse Cut

Here's a fun 12" that's curiously still not on discogs: DJ Dirty Harry's "West Coast All Star Re-Mix" from 1999.  If this is your first time hearing of this record (and apparently for many people it will be... this is just something I picked up when it was new and had no idea it would become so obscure), your first question is likely, "Re-Mix of what?"

Well, to back up just a little bit, Dirty Harry is one of those ubiquitous mixtape DJs whose stuff you'd see on every bootleg mixtape rack on the east coast alongside DJ Juice, Craig G, Clue, Kay Slay, etc.  By the time they filtered down to me in central Jersey, they were usually just sold in plain, colored construction paper sleeves with the title on the spine and track-listing on the front so you could hunt for the particular exclusive songs you'd heard on the radio and were desperate to own.  If you were lucky, the DJ produced an original intro with some scratching and interspersed a few exclusive freestyles by the latest It MCs, but mostly this was just music piracy on the cheap.  Get all the latest songs, barely touched by the supposed turntablist, crammed onto one 90 minute tape.  That was the game, and like a lot of the major players in the scene, Harry parlayed that into getting into the music industry and producing some major label stuff, and I think he might've been on the radio for a hot minute.  But we probably still remember him best for those tapes.

So yeah, that's who DJ Dirty Harry was.  And as the mixtapes really started exploding across the country, you started to see vinyl pressings of freestyles and remix highlights from those tapes that warranted more careful preservation.  Think of those Tony Touch's 50 MCs or the Wake Up Show Anthems.  That's what this is.

So to go back to our opening question, "Re-Mix of what?"  The answer is his "East Coast All Star Mix," a posse cut more akin to the WUS Anthems in the sense that it's a fully produced song with all these guys on it than just quick freestyles spit a popular instrumental.  That one is on discogs, and it's got a pretty compelling line-up consisting of: N.O.R.E., Big Pun, Lord Tariq, Cam'Ron, Ike Dirty, DMX, Peter Gun, Fat Joe and Method Man.  If one of those names doesn't sound so recognizable as all the rest, don't worry, we'll get to him.

But for whatever reason, this one's at risk of being lost to the sands of times, so I'm covering it.  It's got an almost equally compelling line-up of artists, consisting of: Ice Cube, Ike Dirty, E-40, Ras Kass and DMX.  Okay, the line-up's a little shorter, and DMX is probably just here again because Harry had fewer west coast connections than east coasters.  But it's still pretty exciting, and surprising it's become so neglected.  Like I said, it's a fully produced posse cut featuring a hard, if slightly generic, track with these major names sharing a mic over it.  In fact, it's a very tough, thumping east coast-style beat; it catches you off guard to hear someone like E-40 flowing over it.  But everyone makes it work.  Or maybe Harry makes it work for them.

Like a lot of these mix-tape and radio show exclusives, a lot of these verses wound up on the artists' albums.  E-40's, for example, comes from "Hope I Don't Go Back" off The Element of Surprise album.  That came out in 1998, meaning Harry got it second.  It was also released on 12", with an Acapella version on the B-side.  Ice Cube's verse is from "Pushin' Weight," which was a 1998 12" with an acapella on the promo version.  Ras Kass's is from "H20 Proof," DMX's is from Ice Cube's "We Be Clubbin'" 12"... You get it; the jig is up.

So okay, this song is a mash-up of acapellas over a presumably original Dirty Harry beat.  But it's still pretty cool and worthy of its white label pressing.  I'm still enjoying it today in 2021.  I'd recommend it if you could find it inexpensively, though I guess that would actually be a challenge.

Oh, and who's that Ike Dirty dude who managed to be both an East and West Coast All Star?  Well, I'm sure it's no coincidence that the B-side to both the East and West Coast 12"s is a song called "One Mo' Time" by Ike Dirty.  Yes, both 12"s have the same B-side.  Ike Dirty is actually Isaac Hayes' son, who was doing the rap thing for a while in the late 90s and early 2000s [or maybe not - see the comments!].  Ike had an album on Select Records in 2002, and a number of 12" singles.  This song isn't on it, though, it's an exclusive, so that's nice if you care about Ike Dirty as an artist at all.

And, honestly, there's no reason why you shouldn't.  It's a pretty tight track, and Ike kinda kills it.  Okay, he may not be anyone's Top Five, but he has a solid, aggressive flow and a nice rhyme scheme.  It's an unexpectedly nice instrumental, too, co-produced by Lord Finesse.  Seriously, the big names on the A-side are selling this record, but after repeated listens, the B-side's even better.  It might smell like nepotism, but Ike Dirty was no joke.  He put out some other dope singles and later teamed up with the equally underrated Jinx da Juvy.  He's not to be slept on, and this is one of his better joints.

Yeah, this little record's full of surprises, and I'm really glad I've decided to pull it out of my crates and revisit it.  Maybe after this, some sellers will look in the back room and realize, "oh yeah, I've got a few copies of this," and it'll start spreading around again.  Because it's good stuff.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Werner, I'm pretty sure there are two Ike Dirtys: Isaac Hayes' son, mainly a producer, and a rapper from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn whose real name I assume is L. Webster according to the credits of the 12"es he put out. He also got some regular play by Marley Marl and Pete Rock on Future Flavas.

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    1. Ah yes, that makes more sense - I'm sure you're right!

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