Saturday, August 27, 2005

Kid Rock : Wax The Booty (from Yodelin In The Valley 12")

Kid Rock : Wax The Booty (Jive, 1990)

Wax The Booty appeared on the B Side of Kid Rock's micro-hit single Yo Da Lin In The Valley, but also on his first album. But then again, who bought his first album ? I highlight this song mainly because I was in Switzerland last week-end and this is the only 12" I could find whose artwork reminds me of my week end ! (Well, and I really didn't feel like posting some Silent Majority crap).

This raunchy yet metaphorical artwork is much more subtle that the song it illustrates. At least the FCC thought so when WSUC, a college radio station in New York, was fined $ 23 000 for playing the song. The single contains a censored version of the song where instead of bleeping or using clever sound effect to hide the obscenities, they replaced the sexual references with an annoying voice saying "This is a radio edit".

On Wax The Booty he teamed up with his biggest inspiration at that time, Too $hort. I don't say that because he produced the song, but damn, even on the rest of the record he blatantly bite his style. The similarities are so obvious it's almost embarassing for Kid Rock. From his subject matter, to his delivery, to his use of background voices and so on. Short Dog does not rhyme on this song, he only produced it (with a little help from Al Eaton and Keenan Foster) but he's credited on a sticker on the front cover, even if he didn't produce the main song ! Of course there is also a lot of beastie-boyism thrown in the middle, starting with the Todd James artwork, the same artist who designed the Brooklyn Dust logo, among MANY other things.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Too Short : What Rap ? (from The Ghetto 12")

Too Short : What Rap ? (Jive, 1990)
Too Short : In The Trunk (Jive, 1992)

First : no, the song What Rap is not on the 12" pictured above. The cover is the european pressing. What Rap was only on the domestic pressing of The Ghetto, which I have but in an ugly Jive promo jacket. I don’t know why but us europeans didn’t have the remix, nor the exclusive B side, as if they wanted to make us focus on one song only.

Anyway, The Ghetto is the track that got me hooked up to Too Short music. I bought the album, his back catalogue and all his next albums, at leats all those before his retirement. I know, it's weird, isn't it ? It's like buying "Bigger And Deffer" because you liked I Need Love and end up loving I Need A Beat. I first heard The Ghetto on the radio, which was highly unusual at the time. No radio played rap in 1990. And it was not on an underground radio station, it was not even on a music station, but on a late night talk show on mainstream radio. I guess they had more freedom in that show to play what they loved, and Too Short was on rotation in this show for a while.

I remember back then I used listen to the radio a lot and to cross my finger, whishing that one day they would play some hip hop. Now that hip hop is all over the airwaves my dream is to stop them from playing rap.

Just like The Ghetto, What Rap is one of the few moments when Too Short doesn’t rap only about women. Actually What Rap was the first of a series of songs where Too Short talks about hip hop. But in this song he’s like “I’m proud to be a rapper”, while he later adopted a different attitude. On songs like In The Trunk ou Paystyle his attitude is more like “I don’t care what the rest of the rap world thinks about me”.

There is a rare remix of In The Trunk by DJ Premier, that everybody jocks (you can hear it on this dope tape) but quite honestly I love the OG better. Can't nobody in New-York top that Oakland beat.

Too Short : What Rap ? (Jive, 1990)
Too Short : In The Trunk (Jive, 1992)

Tout d'abord : non, le morceau What Rap ne figure pas sur le maxi dont vous voyez la pochette ci dessus. Ce visuel est celui du pressage européen de The Ghetto. What Rap n'était que sur le pressage original, que j'ai mais dans sa version promo, dans une hideuse pochette Jive bleue. Je ne sais pas pourquoi mais nous autres européens n'avons pas eu droit à la face B, ni aux versions longues du morceau.

The Ghetto est le premier morceau que j'ai entendu de Too Short et c'est grace à lui que je suis devenu fan. A l'époque certains de ses fans de longue date lui ont reproché (à raison) d'avoir une démarche commerciale en sortant The Ghetto. Too Short racontait des histoires de bitches depuis 5 ans et il a du faire du rap conscient pour rencontrer le succès. Incroyable comme les temps changent, non ?

What Rap, comme The Ghetto est un de ces rares titres où Todd Shaw ne parle pas seulement de filles. En fait What Rap est le premier d'une série de morceaux où il parle du hip hop. Dans What Rap il semble être fier d'être un rappeur, tandis que plus tard dans des titres tels que In The Trunk ou Paystyle son attitude est plutôt une attitude de défiance par rapport aux autres rappeurs.

Il existe une version remix de In The Trunk par DJ Premier, qui est recherché par beaucoup (présent sur cette tape fortement recommandée ) mais la version originale garde ma préférence.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Low Profile : Playing For Keeps (from Funky Song 12")

Low Profile : Playing For Keeps (Priority, 1989)

Back in the days, before there was such a thing as G Funk, Los Angeles was producing some of the best hip hop music ever made, but no one cared. The revolution that happened in New-York in 1988 reflects clearly in california's hip hop from 1989 to 1992. Before that, west coast hip hop was strongly influenced by electro funk but after 1988 everybody bought samplers and started to loop as many funky breakbeats as possible in every song.

In the late eighties hip-hop crates was filled with cheesy dance influenced singles coming from new-yorkers trying to jump on the Rob Base bandwagon. Actually I really feel sorry for those young people who are fooled by that random rap fade, 'cause when you think of it, the average 1989 rap 12" from the east coast sound closer to Twin Hype than Big Daddy Kane. I'm not saying that every LA record at that time was dope, but there are a lot of underestimated records from that time and place.

Since the most visible angelinos were Ice T and NWA, everybody dismissed LA rap as gangsta rap, which not only is not not true but is also dumb. Why do people judge a work of art only for its topic ? You don't see movie critics disrespecting Al Pacino for doing mafia related movies ? OK, gangsta rappers have limited subjects such as dope dealing and drive-by shooting, while New Yorkers were so versatile, talking about partying, crushing other MCs and... well nothing else really.

The most embarassing is that a lot of so-called gangsta rappers were not doing gangsta rap. People were quick to classified gangsta rappers by the clothes that they were wearing or other superficial reasons. If you listen to the debut albums by DOC, King T or Low Profile you would be surprised by how many reference to gangs banging they made : not more that one on each album. Actually the Uzi Bros were way more conscious that Tribe Called Quest.

WC was quite upset to see his record labelled as a gangsta rapper album back then, that's why they made this answer record :"Some idiot tried to claim I was doing some dirt 'cause I wore corduroy's and a sweatshirt / but if you took time to listen to the album / you'd see the W was representing peace". Of course after he went on to do a super group with Ice Cube and Mack 10, where they didn't exactly represent peace, but that's another story.

Low Profile : Playing For Keeps (Priority, 1989)

Il y a longtemps avant l'invention du G Funk, Los Angeles produisait le meilleur hip hop jamais enregistré, mais tout le monde s'en foutait. La révolution qui a secoué New York en 1988 a mis un an pour transformer le son californien. Jusque là le rap west coast était profondément marqué par l'electro funk. C'ets après 1988 que tout le monde a acheté des sampleurs et a commencé à échantillonner les breaks les plus funky possible.

A la fin des années 80 les bacs hip-hop étaient envahis de disques à moitié dance fait par des new-yorkais traumatisés par les disques de Rob Base. Si on achète au hasard n'importe quels maxis east coast de 1989, on tombe plus souvent sur des Twin Hype que sur des Big Daddy Kane. Pour autant tous les disques de LA de l'époque ne sont pas exceptionnels, mais il reste beaucoup de disques mésestimés de cette période .

Les angelinos les plus connus à l'époque étant Ice T et NWA, beaucoup ont voulu croire que tout le rap de Los Angeles était gangsta. Beaucoup de groupes qu'on qualifiait de gangsta rap à l'époque ne parlait que très peu de gangs dans leurs paroles. Les premiers albums de DOC, King T ou Low Profile évoque à peine les gangs. DOC ne parle pas du tout de gang, seul Eazy E évoque un drivez by à pied (un "walk-by") dans The Grand Finale, King T parle vite fait de porter des couleurs neutres pour aller en soirée, et WC dénonce les ravages du crack dans How Ya Livin et condamne l'argent facile dans That's Y They Do It. En fait même un groupe comme Uzi Bros avait plus de lyrics conscients que Tribe Called Quest.

WC était vénère que son disque soit considéré comme un album de gangsta rap, c'est pour celà qu'ils ont rectifié le tir avec cette face B, Playing For Keeps : "Some idiot tried to claim I was doing some dirt 'cause I wore corduroy's and a sweatshirt / but if you took time to listen to the album / you'd see the W was representing peace". Par la suite WC a fait équipe avec Ice Cube et Mack 10, et la bien sur les paroles sont devenues de moins en moins pacifistes, mais c'est une autre histoire.