Wednesday, June 28, 2023

It's Yah Yah, the Outsidah Who Moved To Floridah

(Plus a bonus look at current, under the radar Hip-Hop publications. Youtube version is here.)

Sunday, June 18, 2023

It's Father's Day!

Today is Father's Day, so let's talk about "Father's Day" by Father MC from his 1990 debut album, Father's Day, because it's Father's Day!  No, "Father's Day" wasn't one of the many singles he released off of that album, but it was the title cut, and it stands out because it's the only hardcore track on the album... and kind of the only hardcore track he'd release until many years later.  And though it's still not on par with his early First Fleet Crew material, I'd say it's one of the best songs in his career... like Top Ten-ish?  Top Twenty for sure.

So Mark Morales and Mark Rooney, b.k.a. Prince Markie Dee and the Soul Convention, produced most of the album (and yes, executive produced by Puff Daddy and Dr. Jeckyll), but this is one of the two tracks actually produced by the Hitman Howie Tee.  And while we're having fun reading the liner notes, it's definitely also worth noting that this is one of three songs where the lyrics are actually written by Little Shawn, here credited as Lil' Shawn.

Honestly, I don't know if Shawn did Father any favors; the lyrics aren't amazing or better than what Father had already proven himself able to pen in his indie days.  But Howie Tee definitely did.  He's cooked up one of the hottest tracks on the album.  And it's the song that really showcases Father's DJ, DJ G. Double E.  Did you even know he had a DJ?  Yeah, he's credited in the notes and name-dropped on this cut.

"Everybody think Father MC is on that R&B tip.  'Ey yo, Father, just cold get it," are the introductory lines to this song.  I have to admit, I can see where people got the impression that Father is on the R&B tip, since this album is packed with love songs in collaboration with R&B singers like Jodeci and Mary J Blige.  But Father is out to tell "everyone who think I went on that R&B tip, take that!"  I feel like maybe they should be saying "everyone who thought I was ONLY on that R&B tip, seeing as how I clearly am definitively on that R&B tip at this stage, and indeed most, of my career."  But hey, why get hung up on semantics?

Howie Tee starts out with a solid, but a little bit old school and not terribly groundbreaking breakbeat loop.  I'm not sure exactly what record they're looping, but I know The Jaz had rocked it the same year on his second album, and I feel like it's just one of those late 60s or early 70s funk records a million rappers have used.  So a stalwart classic, but a little stale.  Except then he starts blending in the theme song to Police Woman, sirens and all, which is a banger.  And remember, this is like a full decade before "All Time Einstein" kicked off that craze of rappers looping up the themes to shows like Knight Rider and Magnum PI.  Of course, Bambaataa had already sown the seeds with "Bambaataa's Theme," but still, this was rare and incredibly dope.

Father kicks off with an interesting, sometimes playful (especially given the hardcore nature of the instrumental) style that he seems to struggle with a little bit.  "Yes, yes, y'all, so forth and so on, I grab the microphone and give ya one to grow on.  Don't sleep on me, 'cause I keep, keep it on, see.  Don't call me uncle or daddy, it's Father MC.  When I make 'em up I'm makin' sure that you can hear me, 'cause I speak very clearly.  There's not another like me, so more than likely, you'll watch then but in the end you'll try to bite me.  But you'll get bit back 'cause it's an eye for an eye.  Oh yeah, and one more thing, I'm fly.  The M-I-C means a lot to me 'cause when I'm on, the rappers that shouldn't be there flee.  I'm new, I know that, and now ya know to stay back.  So save that, yo, I ain't even tryin' to hear that.  Go on the bench, back off with that play, allow me to let ya know that today is Father's Day." I feel like Little Shawn may've delivered it real smooth and it sounded great, but then Father had a hard time recapturing that magic, so it sounds a little clunky.  But it's still fairly fresh, and the closer you pay attention, the more you'll appreciate it.

Still, his later verses work a little better when he's kicking simpler but tougher rhymes like, "come find out what Father's made of!  I'm not bulletproof but grab a mic and I'll light this whole place up tonight.  Like a match hittin' another, I'll burn a brother like a condominium, 'cause I'll crush anyone schemin' to take what's mine and that's wild.  And anyone bitin' that same old style."  Father just feels more confident, and it fits the instrumental better with the more aggressive energy they're clearly trying to lay down.  This isn't the time to get all Original Flavor on us.  Father may not be blowing our minds, but he's holding it down.

And that's all you need to keep the record working until Police Woman and G Double E drop in again.  When was the last time you heard scratching on a Father MC record?  I could almost believe this was the only one, except strictly speaking, there's one or two other harder-edged track on this album with cuts, too (see also: "Ain't It Funky").  But it sounds great here, slicing up the line "give me that title, boy" from "Raw."  It goes a long way to selling this as a strong record not to be dismissed.

I always thought this was would've made a way better final single than "I've Been Watching You," but I guess Puff didn't think they could really sell the image of Father as a hard rock.  Maybe they were right.  But this is still a fun song, especially one to play today of all days.