Wednesday, November 23, 2022

People Dedicated To Original Hip-Hop

P*D2 stands for People Dedicated To Original Hip-Hop is helpfully repeated throughout this album's intro.  I learned about these guys when interviewing The Brothers Of the Same Mind for the release of their long-lost album on Dust & Dope Records.  I didn't have a hand in this one; I didn't even know it was coming until it had already been out for several months.  But these guys were another Seattle group who not only came up around the same time and occasionally worked with the Brothers, and were on the same label in 1990, Conspiracy Records.

The group consists of two men: MC 3-D and DJ 2Smooth.  They released a single or two of their own before recording a full album, but as their booklet explains, they "began negotiating with major labels. Then, in July of 1990, MC 3-D had to take care of some personal business that removed him from the rap game for a while. The talks with labels immediately broke up, and the album was never released."  But thanks to Ever Rap Records (the small Hip-Hop division of the Seattle rock label Ever Rat Records), that original lost album is now available on vinyl and CD.  Here it's titled DopeMuzik4TheHead, though it was originally announced back in the day as (Situation) Out Of Hand.

And it lives up to its title.  It may not be a "holy grail," but it's genuinely dope music.  MC 3-D has consistently clever rhymes and a delivery in the style of Ecstasy from Whodini, where he suddenly pops the words he's stressing very high (think of "Freaks," where he's like, "I started to jet, man, I don't have to take this").  The production is consistently tough but funky, with a lot of nice samples.  The one drawback is that you've heard most of those samples on other Hip-Hop classics already.  It turns out it's actually very difficult to listen to the instrumental to Rodney O & Joe Cooley's "Get Ready To Roll" without your inner mind screaming for the hook, "Yeaaahhhhhhhhh... get ready to roll!"  But you'll have that experience with "Crack In the Box" (though to be fair, this would've come out first in 1990). "Surprize" uses the same Grover Washington loop Grand Daddy IU used for "The U Is Smooth" and King Tee rocked on "Jay Fay Dray."  The single "Movement" is rocking over "Play That Funky Music White Boy."

But other tracks feature less recognizable loops, and are all the more exciting for it.  And it's all immeasurably enhanced by the fact that they've got a talented DJ (2Smooth who also did all the production) cutting up on nearly every song.  The subtle way they bring in the Disco Four's "We're At the Party" on "This Groove Is Movin" is a slick touch on an already really tight dance track, and his work at the end of "Movement" raises the level of the whole song by several notches.  Those two tracks were the singles and pure dance songs, but this album is varied.  "Trash Environment" has a serious message and a hard rock, electric guitar-lead track.  "Batteries Not Included" has a wacky set-up where they're toys in a mall, but when you pull their strings they're super rappers.  "Crack In the Box" is an anti-drug song, with various characters ordering drugs from a Jack In the Box drive-through for a hook.

One slight element of disappointment I feel is that the singles off of this album included a couple B-sides, which are not on here, specifically "On a Roll" and "No Bass."  Now, I can assume and appreciate those songs were always intended to be exclusive B-sides and never meant for the album, so they're not missing here, per se.  This is the album as it would have been released back in the day.  But given that the album is fairly short at only nine tracks, including the brief intro, I feel like they should've slipped 'em on as bonus tracks, at least on the CD (squeezing too much music on an LP starts to eat into the sound quality).  Those songs are already available on the original singles, so it's no great tragedy, but it would've been nice.

This album's been remastered and sounds like 100% full quality major studio recordings.  The LP comes in a full picture cover, and the CD comes on a pressed disc in a proper jewel case.  The CD booklet and vinyl insert includes a nicely written history of the crew.  Both are apparently limited to 500 copies each.  I love that lost music like this can still come out, and not just digitally, in 2022.

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