Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hurricane G : Wuteva (from Coast To Coast 12")

Hurricane G : Wuteva (Hola, 1997)
Hurricane G & Das Efx : Coast To Coast (Hola, 1997)

Hurricane G was a key member of the Hit Squad who unfortunately never blew up. Erick Sermon’s baby mama was Redman’s hype (wo)man during his first tour and expectations were high in 1993, but besides guest verses on We Run NY and Bom Bom Zee, she never released anything notable while she was rolling with the Hit Squad/Def Squad.

Her decision to stay under Parrish Smith management after the Hit Squad demised proved to be a bad one. She had the Funk Doctor Spot himself shopping her demo around in 1993, where she had a song called Milky with Erick Sermon and Redman, and The Bitch produced by Reggie. She was rumored to sign to Capitol in 1994, but nothing made it to retail. She disappeared for a moment, and was spotted kicking a verse every other year, with people from various crews (with Xzibit in 1996, with Organized Konfusion in 1997 or on Cocoa Brovaz’s LP in 1998...)

Her first and only album “All Woman” came out in 1997 on Jellybean’s label Hola, the Home Of Latino Arists. Older B Boys may remember Jellybean’s name from his cover of The Mexican that was a minor electro hit in 84, or for his production credits for Madonna. Anyway, he founded a label in 1995 which signed artists based on their ethnicity rather than their skills. Needless to say that Jellybean had absolutely no idea on how to promote a hip hop record. Unfortunately the album didn’t have any beat by Redman, nor Erick Sermon. The production was handled by another latino artist, Domingo. The album was not available on vinyl, it had very little promotion and bad distribution.

While a lot of people heard Hurricane G on Puff Daddy’s PE 2000 (if you don’t remember that was a Public Enemy cover that Sean Combs did thinking it would stop Chuck D from suing him for not clearing his sample in 10 Crack Commandements) the biggest accomplishment of her career is probably her short appearance in Redman’s Tonight’s Da Night. She will always be remember as the girl who said “Yo yo Redman, what the fuck ! Get with that ruff shit.”

Yeah, I know Wuteva was on "All Woman", but nobody bought that album anyway, so who cares ? Oh, and I also put Coast To Coast, so that I don’t have to waste a post talking about those gimmicky Das Efx...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Redman : How To Roll A Blunt (from Blow Your Mind 12")

Redman : How To Roll A Blunt (Rush Associated Label, 1991)
Redman :
Funkorama (Funk Doctor Mix) (Bandit Record, 1996)
Redman :
Tony Touch Freestyle
Redman : Bad Boy Freestyle

The version of How To Roll A Blunt I MP3 today is the original one, found on the B side of Redman's first 12", not to be confused with the album version, co produced by Pete Rock. It's easy to confuse them since there is absolutely no difference between them except for the short intro on the original where producer Reggie Noble directs Redman, the MC, about how he should shout.

This "very interesting" 15 seconds dialog was edited from the LP, which makes you wonder why did Pete Rock get credit on the LP, and not on the 12" ? Do you become a co-producer by suggesting a rapper that his intro is not funny ? Damn, sound like an easy job !

While on the subject of 12" with a slightly different version I also include the Funk Doctor mix of Funkorama, one of my all-time favourite Redman track. This mix is very similar to the one on the Insomnia compilation but Reggie Noble got rid of the useless crooning vocals on the hook. There is also a Double Green Mix of this track with a verse by Erick Sermon, but that's for later...

I know that by now you probably expect more than just alternative mixes of songs you already know, so about a couple of freestyles ? Here's one from the famous Tony Touch tape # 55, and a nice one from the long forgotten Bad Boy mixtape put together by Puff Daddy around 1996. Enjoy

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Knucklehedz : 5 Hoods In A 4 Door (from Savages 12")

Knucklehedz : 5 Hoods In A 4 Door (Eastwest, 1993)
Knucklehedz :
All She Wanted (Eastwest, 1993)

The Knucklehedz are the group which was the most affected by the split of EPMD. Tom J & Steve Austin were supposed to be the next offspring of the Hit Squad after K Solo, Das Efx and Redman.

You may not remember them, but the very first time I heard the name Hit Squad was on EPMD's "Hit Squad Heist", which had Tom J saying a couple of words on it. Tom J also had a short apperance on K Solo's first LP. Under Shuma Management (Parrish's company that handled the business of all the Hit Squad) they signed a deal with East West just when Erick & Parrish called it quit, they had two singles out in 1993, with production from Erick Sermon, Parrish Smith, Charlie Marotta and Solid Scheme (Das Efx producers) but the Strickly Savage album was never properly released.

It was the first in a long tradition of dope album not released by East West (Juggaknots, Supernatural, Omniscence...).

Knucklehedz : 5 Hoods In A 4 Door (Eastwest, 1993)
Knucklehedz : All She Wanted (Eastwest, 1993)

The Knucklehedz est le groupe qui a le plus perdu avec la séparation de EPMD. Tom J & Steve Austin devaient être les nouvelles stars de la galaxie Hit Squad à exploser après K Solo, Das Efx et Redman.

Peu de gens se souviennent d'eux, mais la première fois que j'ai entendu le nom Hit Squad c'était sur Hit Squad Heist, un titre d'EPMD sur lequel Tom J posait quelques mots. Un peu avant Tom J avait fait une brève particiaption à l'album de K-Solo. Via Shuma Management (la boite de Parrish qui managait les carrières des membres du Squad) ils ont signé un contrat avec East West juste au moment où Erick & Parrish se sont séparés. Ils ont sorti deux singles en 1993, production par Erick Sermon, Parrish Smith, Charlie Marotta et Solid Scheme (les producteurs de Das Efx) mais l'album Strickly Savage n'a jamais été officiellement distribué.

C'est d'ailleurs le premier d'une longue lignés d'albums mis au placard par East West (Juggaknots, Supernatural, Omniscence...).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Erick Sermon : Rock Da House (from Stay Real 12")

Erick Sermon : Rock Da House (Def Jam, 1993)

"Stay Real" was the second solo single Erick Sermon put out after EPMD's breakup, and that's when people start to realize how much imput the Green Eyed Bandit had on their final album. When they were doing music together Erick and Parrish simply gave credit to EPMD, so even though you could guess that their engineers DJ Doc and Charlie Marotta were involved in the creative process, people didn't really know who did what. Judging from their post-EPMD career you would bet that Erick was doing most of the production, but actually Parrish was the one bringing most of the samples, at least on the first album (by the way, go buy and read "Rakim Told Me").

I always thought that there was a major change in their sound on "Business Never Personnal". Erick Sermon got more and more into producing by 1992, he produced most of Redman's first album which sound funkier than K Solo's "Tell The World My Name" (an album almost entirely credited to Parrish). On "Rock Da House" you had the same loud crisp drums, almost saturated that EPMD had on "Scratch Bring It Back", "Cumin At Cha" or "Boon Dox". The only problem was that Erick wasn't really able to write three decent verses, the good thing is that "Rock Da House" only had two !

Erick Sermon : Rock Da House (Def Jam, 1993)

"Stay Real" est le second maxi de Erick Sermon en solo après "Hittin Switches", et c'est à partir de ce moment que les gens ont commencé à se rendre compte combien le role du Green Eyed Bandit était crucial sur leur ultime album. Tant qu'ils faisaient de la musique ensemble Erick et Parrish créditaient simplement EPMD, et bien qu'on se doute un peu que leurs ingénieurs Ivan "Doc" Rodriguez et Charlie Marotta devaient être très impliqués, on ne savait pas réellement qui faisait quoi. En écoutant leurs oeuvres post-EPMD respectives on s'imagine que Erick Sermon devait faire l'essentiel de la production, pourtant dans les faits c'est Parrish qui amenait la plupart des samples, au moins sur le premier album (pour en savoir plus allez acheter le livre de Brian Coleman "Rakim Told Me").

J'ai toujours trouvé qu'il y avait une grosse difference entre le son de "Business Never Personnal" et les trois premiers albums d'EPMD. En 1992 Erick Sermon s'était plongé de plus en plus dans la production, réalisant l'essentiel du premier album de Redman, un album carrément plus funky que celui de K Solo (celui là entièrement crédité à Parrish). Sur Rock Da House on retrouve le même type de batterie lourde à la limite de la saturation qu'on avait entendu sur certain titres du dernier EPMD comme "Scratch Bring It Back", "Cumin At Cha" ou "Boon Dox". La grosse différence entre EPMD et Erick Sermon tout seul est qu'Erick a du mal à écrire troiv couplets décents. Ca tombe bien il n'y en a que deux sur Rock Da House !

Sunday, June 19, 2005

EPMD : Brothers From Brentwood, L.I. (from Crossover 12")

EPMD : Brothers From Brentwood, LI (Def Jam, 1992)
Crossover (Trunk Remix) (Def Jam, 1992)

Despite what their recent first album may lead to believe, the Hit Squad was one of the strongest crew ever. Who could think of a harder posse cut than "Headbangers" ?

All week long I'll share some underappreciated Hit Squad members B sides. But let's start with a pretty well known gem. "Brothers From Brentwood, LI" is the epitome of hardcore hip hop, but the funny thing is that it was the B side to EPMD's well titled "Crossover". Being their first track with a sung chorus this single was supposed to attract a new audience (and it did), not familiar with underground hip hop who would buy the 12" for the soft slice of funk on side A, and still expose them to one of the hardest rap song you can think of. The beauty of this tactic is that it works both ways.

When you have songs titled "Underground" and "Hardcore" on your album you would expect that some of your die hard fans will have something to say when you come back with a cross over track titled, ahem... "Cross Over". But fans had to buy that single, or else they whould have miss EPMD best track ever. "Brothers From Brentwood, LI" had everything you love in an Erick Sermon production : an overused sample, loud drum, layers and layers of sounds, and dope vocal hook. The kind of vocal sample that would leave you out of breath if you try to sing along with it.

As I said this single was huge in 1992, it was EPMD's first gold single, and it was released as a CD single with a remix of "Crossover (Trunk Remix)" which was also available as a separate promo 12", very poor quality pressing but I include it for those who didn't buy the CD single.

EPMD : Brothers From Brentwood, LI (Def Jam, 1992)
Crossover (Trunk Remix) (Def Jam, 1992)

Malgré ce que leur récent premier album laisserait penser, le Hit Squad était un des crews les plus forts à son époque. A ce jour personne n'a fait de posse cut plus hard que "Headbangers".

Toutes la semaine je partagerais des faces B peu connues des membres du hit squad, mais pour commencer un morceau incontournable. "Brothers From Brentwood, LI" est le metre étalon du rap hardcore, mais ce qui est drole c'est que ce morceau se trouvait sur la face B du maxi de EPMD "Crossover". Ce titre, leur premier morceau avec un refrain chanté, était censé attirer un public pas vraiment incliner à écouter des groupes underground (et ça a marché), qui acheterai le maxi pour le coté funky innocent de la face A, et ainsi leur faire découvrir grace à la face B ce que le rap a de plus hardcore. La beauté de cette stratégie est quelle marche dans les deux sens.

Quand un groupe fait des morceaux intitulés "Underground" et "Hardcore" sur son album, on peut s'attendre à ce que les fans de longue date soient surpris quand le groupe revient avec un single cross over, justement nommé "Crossover". Pourtant les fans ont bien du acheter le single pour ne pas rater l'inédit en face B, probablement le meilleur morceau de toute la carrière d'EPMD. "Brothers From Brentwood, LI" a tout ce qu'on aime dans une production de Erick Sermon : un sample grillé, une batterie bien lourde, des couches et des couches de sons et une voix samplée. Le genre de voix en boucle qui vous laisse essouflé à la fin du refrain.

"Crossover" a été le premier et je crois le seul disque d'or décroché par EPMD pour un single. Il est également sorti en CD single avec en bonus un remix de "Crossover (Trunk Remix)", disponible en vinyle sur un autre maxi promo, très mal pressé mais le voici pour ceux qui n'ont pas acheté le CD à l'époque.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Boogie Down Production : Live Medley (from Ya Know The Rules 12")

Boogie Down Productions : Live Medley (Jive, 1990)

Busy B : Live At The Harlem World, 1981

The embodiement of hiphop played in Paris with Busy Bee as his hype man last thursday. Best damn rap show ever, period.