Monday, January 31, 2005

Kurious, Sadat X & Mike G : Mansion And A Yacht (from I'm Kurious 12")

Kurious featuring Mike G & Sadat X : A Mansion And A Yacht (Hoppoh, 1994)
Kurious & Leaders Of The New School :
Freestyle in the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show
Brand Nubian :
Freestyle in the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show

Having guest on your previously unreleased B side is always a plus, especially if he’s not your hype man (or you're not his hype man !) or part of your crew.

For his third single (but the only one released after the Constipated Monkey LP), Kurious had to offer something fresh. The puerto-rican MC got his start by co-hosting the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show in it's early days, hence his fan base consisted of some the most underground heads, but with it's Blackbyrd played out sample I'm Kurious was his most commercial song (OK, I admit I didn't know where the sample came from back in 1994, but I knew it had been used one too many time).

A Mansion And A Yacht was an unlikely posse cut produced by VIC, where Kurious teamed up with Sadat X and Mike G. You could have imagined him trading rhymes with his CM fam friend Zev Love X, or his Hit-U-Off management mates Artifacts or Hard To Obtain, but instead he decided to randomly pushed to the studio a couple of rappers at the lowest in their carreer. I don't know the story behind the song, but they probably just met while working in the same recording studios (part of All Or Nothing was actually recorded in the same studio as this song) or freestyling on the radio. And quite honestly the result sounds more sincere than a lot of posse cuts where each verse is written diplomatically, everybody kicks one verse, and no one has more bars than the other. Also you can bet that most times the host has his verse in the middle of the song, or if it's a group the guest verses will be intertwined with the host verses. Here we have a feel-good song where they all pass the mic back and forth, kick two different chorus, and don't even bother to repeat the title twice.

The album seems to be in high demand nowadays, despite the fact that Hoppoh vinyles were manufactured by Sony, which means very bad pressing. This LP and Big L's Lifestyle Ov Da Poor And Dangerous can be qualified as some of the lowest hip hop vinyl ever, along the line of the whole Relativity catalogue. Anyway, the 12" sound was correct and had two mixes (the Baja Panties an the Merchantz mixes), this is the horn-less Baja Panties one.

Kurious featuring Mike G & Sadat X : A Mansion And A Yacht (Hoppoh, 1994)
Kurious & Leaders Of The New School :
Freestyle in the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show
Brand Nubian :
Freestyle in the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show

Le fait d'avoir un invité sur sa face B est toujours un plus, en particulier quand il ne s'agit pas d'un membre du crew.

Pour son troisième single (le seul sorti après l'album A Constipated Monkey), Kurious se devait de proposer quelque chose de nouveau. Etant donné qu'il a débuté comme co-présentateur du Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show au début des années 90, la plupart des fans de Kurious étaient des fans de rap underground, mais avec son sample grillé des Blackbyrds I'm Kurious était son morceau le plus commercial.

A Mansion And A Yacht était un posse cut improbable produit par VIC, sur lequel Kurious rencontrait Sadat X et Mike G. On l'aurait plutôt imaginer rapper aux cotés de son pote du CM Crew Zev Love X ou bien ses camarades d'Artifacts ou Hard to Obtain (deux groupes managés alors par Bobbito), mais au lieu de ça il semblait avoir coincé dans le studio deux rappers choisis au hasard parmi les MCs les moins cotés du moment. Il y a surement une histoire derrière ce morceau, mais on peut imaginer que Kurious les a tout bêtement rencontrés dans le studio d'enregistrement (Alladat de Brand Nubian a d'ailleurs été enregistré dans le même studio) ou lors d'une émission de radio. Honnetement, peu importe le contexte, le résultat semble plus sincère que beaucoup de posse cuts où chacun à exactement seize mesures pour son poser couplet. Et dans la plupart des cas on peut parier que le MC principal pose au milieu. Ici l'ambiance est décontractée, le micro semble passer de main en main, les deux refrains sont totalement différents, et le titre n'est mentionné qu'une seule fois dans tout le morceau.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

KRS One : Hip Hop Vs Rap (from Sound Of The Police 12")

Hip-Hop Vs Rap
has to be my favourite KRS One track ever (expect to read that again). This joint is a killer from beginning to end. From the fake crowd participation intro you know this won't be a normal song, then KRS makes it an interactive record by talking directly to the MCs and DJs listening, in a way no one ever did ! He then goes on by kicking one of his most memorable verse (sampled many times) that ends up with the famous part made of various lines borrowed from classic rap joints.

A few years later used the same trick on Bring It Back but the song just did not have the same magic.

The fact that the song does not have a chorus is characteristic of the general superiority of a B side (I don't know why, but usually I think that I'm wasting my time when I listen to a chorus). He gets a bonus point from including the accapella of Hip-Hop Vs Rap on the 12". This track was the B side of "Sound Of The Police" and was never made available officially anywhere else (not that I know of at least). Since the record was one of his most popular under his own name it should not be very difficult to find a copy.

KRS One : Hip-Hop Vs Rap

Hip-Hop Vs Rap est probablement un de mes morceaux préférés de KRS One (ce n'est pas la dernière fois que je vais écrire ça !). Ce titre est incroyable de bout en bout. Dès l'intro on comprend que ce morceaux sort de l'ordinaire, KRS démarre avec une fausse crowd participation, puis s'adresse directement aux DJ et aux MC en train d'écouter le disque en leur laissant quelques mesures pour rapper et pour scratcher : c'est un peu le premier disque interactif au monde ! Puis enfin un couplet mémorable qui se termine avec ces rimes empruntées à de nombreux classiques.

Deux ou trois ans plus tard il utilisera la même technique sur Bring It Back mais ce second morceau est loin d'être aussi remarquable.

Comme pour beaucoup de bonne faces B, ce morceau n'a pas de refrain (je ne sais pas pourquoi mais j'ai souvent l'impression de perdre mon temps quand on me répète huit fois un refrain). En plus on a droit à l'accapella de Hip-Hop Vs Rap sur le maxi. Ce morceau est trouvable sur la face B de "Sound Of The Police" sorti début 1994.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Public Enemy : B-Side Wins Again (from Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos 12")

Public Enemy : B-Side Wins Again (Def Jam, 1989)

With this blog I intend to share some of my favourite non-album dope hip-hop tracks, obscure or not.

Of course I have to start with Public Enemy. B-Side Wins Again was first release in 1989 as a B side, before they included it to Fear Of A Black Planet. There are only a few differences between the two versions, they added a couple voices and pitched up the song. According to the back of the cover the song was recorded on January 15th, 1987.

The weird thing is that the Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos 12" is a melting pot of tracks from their first, second and third albums. While the single was release after It Takes A Nation Of Million To Hold Us Back, they included Too Much Posse from the first album.

Of course the B side is now widely known, the 12" is valuable for its nice artwork, with press clippings claiming the group belongs to a genre known as "Gangster Rap" !

Enjoy, and expect more (and rarer !) soon...

Public Enemy : B-Side Wins Again (Def Jam, 1989)

Je ne pouvais pas commencer ce blog sans ce morceau de Public Enemy. B-Side Wins Again est d'abord sorti sur la face B de Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos avant d'être inclus sur Fear Of A Black Planet. Il n'y a pas beaucoup de différences entre les deux versions, ils ont juste ajouté quelques cris et acceléré légèrement le morceau pour la version album. Si on en croit la pochette du maxi ce titre aurait été enregistré le 15 janvier 1987.

Ce qui est surprenant sur ce maxi fourre-tout est qu'on y retrouve des titres des trois premiers albums de Public Enemy. Bien que le single soit sorti après It Takes A Nation Of Million To Hold Us Back ils ont remis Too Much Posse, tiré du premier album.

Même si le morceau n'est plus vraiment une rareté, ce maxi est notable pour sa pochette, avec ces vieilles coupures de presse où PE est présenté comme un groupe de "Gangster Rap" !