Thursday, February 29, 2024

For the No Face Fan Who Has Everything

I've been after this release for so long, I was beginning to doubt its existence.  Like, sometimes a record is at the top of your Want List because it strikes such a powerful chord in your soul: an amazing piece of music you can't do without.  And sometimes it's just because it's eluded you for so long that it starts to become an obsession.  This, for me, is the latter.  It's no masterpiece, but it's been my white whale.

And I don't think this started out super rare, like an independent white label that was only released in super limited quantities, possibly in a limited local market.  This is a mainstream Columbia Records release from the early '90s (1991 to be exact) by a group that received regular play on MTV and was presumably available at malls across America.  But I guess because it's cassette only, and an unremarkable single from a group that never really blew up or became a critical darling, that it just never really gets preserved.  Like, the reason it never shows up on EBay or the like is just because people who find themselves with a copy never bother to list it.  There's never been a big demand for it.  Except, I've been looking for decades, and I it took 'till 2024 to finally land one.

This is "Fake Hair Wearin'..." by No Face, yes Ed Lover's old group that were briefly signed to Rush Associated.  It's their second of two (or third if you count their white label 4-song sampler EP) singles of off their only album, 1990's Wake Your Daughter Up, featuring their only big guest The 2 Live Crew.  1990, remember, was pretty much their pinnacle year of controversy, when they were Banned In the USA, so they were a big get, if not the best rappers they could've found.  It's a pretty catchy song that leans heavily into their Gap Band ("Burn Rubber") sample and a sung hook twists the original words into something in the same way that DJ Quik would do a year later - as in his "just 'cause you didn't say that you wanted to fuck don't meant that you don't want to" chorus for 1992's "Mo Pussy."  Here it's the slightly more innocent "just because your hair ain't real, don't think that I don't know the deal."

But the other appeal of this song is the extreme anger they inject into the otherwise boppy, upbeat tune.  Like, besides the raps and singing, they're just constantly screaming "fuck you!  FUCK you!  Bitch!  Bitch!  Fuck you!"  2 Live Crew do more traditional verses (where they mix in some slowed down "Planet Rock," which grounds it in a tougher, more Hip-Hop feel), but No Face's often don't even rhyme, feeling more like vile rants.  It's such over-the-top hatred, you ideally wind up finding it funny.  If not, then it's in the lead for most offensively misogynist Hip-Hop in the genre's history, right up there with anything UGK or Akinyele have ever done.  I mean, sure it's some of both (the uncensored title on the LP is "Fake Hair Wearin' Bitch"), but in this case it's clearly meant to tongue in cheek is what I'm saying.  No Face were always partially a comedy act.  And the premise of dissing a girl for wearing a weave is right out of the Bobby Jimmy and the Critters' playbook, as they had released "Hair Or Weave" just the year before.  Willie D had "Bald Headed Hoes" around that time...  That was a popular topic for a hot minute, this is really taking me back.

Anyway, the reason I was after this cassingle was for the two exclusive B-sides.  First is the "Fake Hair Wearin'... (Remix)."  Since this has never been put up online ever to my knowledge, I couldn't hear it until I found a copy, and I was a little worried this was just going to be the clean version.  It's produced by Sexx and Shah just like the album version and all their stuff (No Face did start out as a funk band, after all, so it's natural they tended to do their own music production), so I was ready for this just to be the sanitized edit they made for the music video.  But no, happily both versions are uncensored and this is remix features an all new, never before heard instrumental with a completely different sample set.  It's more of a stripped down track, with much more emphasis on the bassline and replacing all the lush Gap Band instrumentation with a little funk guitar riff.  It's dope, and better during the rap portions, but the hook doesn't work nearly as well without the "Burn Rubber" groove it was made for.  They should've recorded a new hook in a different style for it, but oh well, it's not terrible.

Then the other exclusive B-side is an entirely all new song called "2 Minute Reply (U Know U Love It)," a response to "Two Minute Brother," the BWP song they appeared on, and which they actually performed on The Phil Donahue Show.  Of course that was a joke song about erectile dysfunction, very much in step with another Bobby Jimmy song from that period: 1991's "Minute Man Man."  These guys were really driving in the same lane for a minute there in '90-'91.  Anyway, this uses the same instrumental as BWP's, and the Bytches even drop in for a word or two.  But it's mostly just an excuse for Ed to improvise riffs defending the fellas' injured masculinity, "she gonna come around and spread that cavern-ass pussy.  Shit, what you think I am, Evil Knievel?  I ain't got no motorcycle!  How am I supposed to jump across your pussy?  Shit!  I slipped on your clit and fell down that motherfucker.  My man said 'watch out for that hole.'  I said, 'what hooooollllllle!!?!?!??'"  They come up with a new hook which is pretty infectious, and they freestyle a bit, but it's mostly just talking over the track instead of proper rapping, which is disappointing.

So both exclusives are fun to have, and it's a personal accomplishment to finally complete my No Face collection, but these aren't great songs anyone's missing out on.  You can see why they're just B-side bonuses.  These were designed to put a little smile on your face, and 33 years later, that's what they've done for me.  :)

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