Saturday, December 16, 2006

Resident Alien : Oooh The Dew Doo Man (From Mr Boops 12")

Resident Alien : Oooh The Dew Doo Man (Dew Doo Man, 1991)

The Dew Doo Man was only 20 when Russel Simmons gave him the opportunity to run his own label under the Rush associated Labels umbrella.

Having produced the first De La Soul album, and a couple of hit singles for Third Bass, Nikki D, Queen Latifah, Big Daddy Kane and Groove B Chill Prince Paul was happy being just a producer. It was a better status than just being a DJ in Stetsasonic, that's why he turned down the offer at first. But After Lyor Cohen insisted he gave the idea a second thought and finally agreed to do it.

He took the $50 000 advance, called three friends who really didn't rhyme, and proceed to record his first concept album, called "It Takes A Nation Of Suckas To Let Us In". From day one there was a big gap between what Russel had in mind and what Paul was doing. He had to fight with him to let him called the label Dew Doo Man records. Russel wanted him to make pop hits, and he was making a concept album.

When this 12" came out in november 1991, The Choice Is Yours and Scenario where still on rotation everywhere, so you would think it would have been quite easy to push this record, but Def Jam's staff was busy pushing more traditional stuff like Nice & Smooth or LL Cool J. So Paul decide to come together with Downtown Science and Nikki D to go and talk to Lyor, but none of them show up at the meeting but Paul. The tall Israeli decided he didn't want to be bothered by a&r who cared about music and pull the plug on the Resident Alien project and Dew Doo Man records was no more after only one 12".

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Blueprint : No Half Smokin (from Print Is Goin Off 7")

Blueprint : No Half Smokin (RhymeSayers, 2005)
Visioneers : The world is yours (BBE,2005)
Nina Gordon : Straight Outta Compton

I think this rap cover trend has now jumped the shark. It was odd when Snoop first covered Ladi Dadi and then Vapors, but at least it was new. Nobody seemed to be interested in paying hommage to the elders for a long time except for a couple of indie artist, like Blackstar who covered Children Story, at the same time Mad SKillz did Lick The Balls and then Madlib had a parody of Pickin Boogers called "Hittin hookers". But the repertoire was limited to the Biz and Slick Rick then.

In the past few year we've heard covers of everybody in everystyle, from TI paying respect to UGK, to Wu-Tang Clan instrumentals, to ska version of some Outkast hit, to this folk singer doing "Straight Outta Compton" etc...

It was fun while it last, but who in his right mind thought it was cool to cover Kriss Kross' Jump ?!?!!

Do the new generation of rappers idolize Kriss Kross ? I guess that means hip-hop is dead, right ?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reflection Eternal : 2000 Seasons (from Fortified Live 12")

Reflection Eternal featuring Home Skillit : 2000 Seasons (Rawkus, 1997)
Mood : Info For The Streets (Blunt, 1997)

Reflection Eternal featuring Mos Def & Mr Man: Fortified Live (Rawkus, 1997) (Bonus)

If you ask me, this 12” contains everything I want to hear from Talib Kweli. When you come up with two powerful songs like Fortified Live and 2000 Seasons it’s quite hard to follow up with something of the same quality.

So of course later when their album came out (like what, 4 years after this single ?!) they had rave reviews, written by people who either didn’t even know about this single or were giving props to the idea of Reflection E, the idea of an independant scene. Thus missing the point : Train Of Thought was boring.

Regardless of Rawkus unlimited sticker budget, the Fortified Live 12” was a genuine indie record, with two unpolished demos pressed up on an umastered vinyl. The static that was Hi-Tek’s trademark was nowhere to be found on the LP. Most of his loops sounded like they were sampled off of CDs. Check Mood’s Info For The Streets for a good example of a scratchy sample à la Hi-Tek.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mic Geronimo : Hemmin Heads (from Shit's Real 12")

Mic Geronimo : Hemmin Heads (Blunt, 1994)

If Marty Mc Fly had come to me in 1994 telling me only one east coast rapper would be still relevant in 2006, I would have put my money on Mic Geronimo.

Or OC. Or Common Sense, or Buckshot, or may be Nas, but never on Jay Z. At that time he was at best considered a has been, and atworst a never-been. Even when he did that song with DMX and Ja Rule on Mic Geronimo’s second 12” I don’t think a lot of people realized he was the same JZ who rhymed with The Jaz a few years before.

Anyway, this is Geronimo’s first 12” on Blunt, produced by DJ Irv later known as Irv Gotti and it’s as good as anything off his Natural album.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bérurier Noir : Pavillon 36 (from L'Empereur Tomato Ketchup 7")

Bérurier Noir : Pavillon 36 (Bondage, 1986)
Bérurier Noir : Amputé (Shin/Folklore de la Zone Mondiale, 1983)

Rapide post inspiré par un épisode particulièrement glauque de cold case que j’ai vu ce week-end. L’atrocité des traitements infligés en hôpital psychiatrique et la lobotomie en particulier sont des thèmes chers à Bérurier Noir, probablement parce que Pierrot, membre fondateur de Bérurier, y a fait de fréquents séjours.

Pavillon 36 est en face B de L’Empereur Tomato Ketchup, 45t qui aurait du se classer au Top 50, si le groupe n’avait pas mit son véto pour éviter de se retrouvé à faire la course entre un Francis Cabrel et des Porte Mentaux.

Le second titre est tiré de Nada, premier disque du groupe, récemment réédité en vinyle sur Folklore de la Zone Mondiale. Pour info, le label fera paraître un nouvel album du groupe à nouveau dissout le 4 décembre prochain.

Et, oui, je vais remettre du rap bientôt.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bomb The Bass : 10 Seconds To Terminate (from Say A Little Prayer 12")

Bomb The Bass : 10 Seconds To Terminate (Rhythm King, 1988)

I remember back when Tim Simenon's first album dropped a lot of people here were refering to his music as house music, and he was always contesting that, saying that except for may be two tracks on the album, what he was doing was really not house. And he was right. His first album had more to do with hip-hop, but we all know that when it comes to music, image is everything to most people. So since it had a smiley on the cover, Beat Dis had to be house music... And since Say A Little Prayer used computer generated graphics, it couldn't be a soul record.

Regardless, the b-side is the closest he got to house in the early (and most interesting) part of his career. To this day, Bomb The Bass is still an influence on some musicians, just peep dDamage's new album cover and Enter The Dragon's cover. It's a dope album, Go buy it. Thanks.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Big Pun : Wishful Thinking (frrom I'm Not A Player 12")

Big Pun, Kool G Rap, Fat Joe & B-Real : Wishful Thinking (Loud, 1997)
Big Pun vs Hector Lavoe :
Never Was A Player

I never was a big fan of Big Pun.

Of course part of it is because he had a terrible taste in beats and that he always picked the most cheesy loop you can think of. It also probably has to do with the fact that I never heard one memorable line from him, not once I thought "hoo, did he just say that !".

But what really makes most of his music barely listenable was his breath. I'm not picking on him, but really, every other line when he had to breathe he made this terrible noise that not only was annoying back then, but which now stays as a dramatic hint of his bad health. And once I hear his "hrrrra" I can't focus on anything else.

But on his very first 12" he was lucky enough to work with engineers like Chris Conway who took the time to edit these noises from the final mix, because that would be really embarassing for him on a track with Kool G Rap.

Also, my man Benoit who runs just did a documentary on latin legend Hector Lavoe, that may or may not hit a tv screen near you soon. I haven't seen it yet, but that should be a good enough reason to play this mash-up of Pun & Lavoe, from the latino version of the Grey album (=an overrated mc a cappellas awkwardly blended over a pop icon samples).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

KRS One : Word Perfect (from The MC 12")

KRS One : Word Perfect (1996)
KRS One :
Neva Hadda Gun (1997)

This is the actual retail copy of KRS One's "The MC" 12" (technically it's the "Can't Stop Won't Stop" single, since that's the first song on the record). This one also had an exclusive track on it, unfortunately not as good as "Throwdown".

This 12" was released way before the "I Got Next" album, which at that time was supposed to be called "Just To Prove A Point", and the track "Word Perfect" didn't make the final cut. The beat was produced by longtime engineer Gordon Williams, also known as Commissioner Gordon, and it was the first beat he did for KRS One even though he had been making music for many year, since he's also the guy responsible for most of the tracks on Jesse West's album from 1989, and some for dancehall gal Shelly Thunder (who later did a 12" on KRS' own Front Page).

This is not exactly the version you would find on the 12". I made an edit, because Commissioner Gordon had the pretty bad idea to let an uncredited girl sing over the scratching which sounds terrible (both the girl and the cuts !).

So I don't know why KRS didn't keep the song on the album, either he didn't like it that much, or didn't feel like having two songs on the same album with cuts off Public Enemy's "Bring The Noise", which were used on "Neva Hadda Gun" as well.

Friday, October 06, 2006

KRS One & Coldcrush Brothers : The Throwdown (from The MC test press)

KRS One & Cold Crush Brother : The Throwdown (1997)
KRS One :
What I Know (1995)

I know this label may look like a joke to some, but it's not. I found this record in 1997, I was randomly listening to a pile of newly released twelve inches when I checked out this one. I was never a fan of the UMC's, but I grab that one because I liked what Essence did when she was with Natural Element, specifically her part on Shine. But instead I was treated with a KRS One track.

I don't know how that happened, but somebody messed up with the DATs at the pressing plant, and somehow, someway the Kool Kim labels end up on this KRS One test press.

Even to this day every time I see the Kool Kim 12" in a dollar bin, I check the etching on the run-out groove, if it reads KRS-001. Unfortunately I haven't found a second copy yet. So, no, I'm not a fan who scratched his name off his record after his recent column in (the best blog around these days).

Anyway, so this is the b-side of "The MC" 12", so I assume it was supposed to be on KRS One's last album*. From what i've heard KRS One had a fall out with the Cold Crush Brothers over some royalties he allegedly owed them off of the 12" they did on Front Page two years before. Honnestly, I have a hard time beleving that "Cold Crush Flava" could have generate any profit, so this rumour could be totally untrue.

This is probably the best in the catalog of songs that didn't make the final cut on a KRS album. A lot of tracks that were on the promo copy of his self titled album were not on the retail version. Like What I Know (produced by Diamond D), which was mentioned in the album review in The Source, but was never released officially.

* : yeah, I know about Sneak Attack, Spiritual Minded, Prophets & Profits, Kristyle(s), Keep Right and Life, But I'd rather act like a true fan would : buy them and then pretend none of them ever existed.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Beastie Boys : The Skills To Pay The Bills (from So Wat'cha Want 12")

Beastie Boys : The Skills To Pay The Bills (Capitol, 1992)

I already wrote, years ago about the Skills To Pay The Bills remix of Pass The Mic. But they like the catchphrase of 1992 so much that they had to make a song out of it. I remember they overused that expression in the interviews at the time, and in the ads for Check Your Head.

I'm probably wrong but I think this is the only one, or one of the very few raps that they did over live instrumentation.

Gotta love the distrorted microphone to appreciate this 12" because the other tracks here shared the same aesthetics.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Update on your Sister's Def

I met MCA yesterday and I asked him about Your Sister's Def.

Apparently the song is a demo made by a friend of Original Concept's Dr.Dre. So This guy Anthony Davis wrote a song for the Beastie Boys, he recorded these lyrics a cappella and he submitted the tape to them. As you can hear the words are supposed to be told from the point of view of a group member. But they think it was funnier to keep the demo as it was and to press it on was.

And here we are, 17 years later discussing this on the internet.

Beastie Boys : What You Give Is What You Get (from SHadrach 12")

Beastie Boys : And What You Give Is What You Get (Capitol, 1989)

Beastie Boys : Your Sister's Def (Capitol, 1989)

First I forget last time give repsect where respect is due, namely to the Rickster, also known as Ricky Powell, the creative genius behind the cover of the Love American Style single with the three naked girls. Not only this, but most pictures of the Beastie Boys that you remember were taken by this guy. Oh, and of course he's the one who dicked your mom in Car Thief.

The second 12" taken from Paul's Boutique, Shadrach with its deliciously awkward cover was another thick ep,with 4 non-LP remixes and exclusive tracks. The bonus on this one run from the incredibly good remix to the totally leftfield song. My favourite on the 12" is the instrumental/cut & paste rework of Shadrach, disguise under the name What You See Is What You Get. Using the same method that worked well on 33% God the Dust Brother and/or The Beastie Boys threw dozens of scratches, vocal samples and loop over the Shadrach beat to create a new and improved track.

The other track that I MP3'ed is an a cappella rap written by one time Beasties' DJ Dr Dre, member of the Original Concept, DJ on WBAU and who was at that time hosting Yo MTV Rap, and some other guy, named Anthony Davis (any idea who this is ??).

The other exclusive called Some Dumb Cop Gave Me Two Tickets Already deserve the award of the worst song with a dope name. On this one you just have a slowed down and drunken Mike D talking shit over a Young-Holt Unlimited track. I'm not gonna say it's boring, but, yeah it is.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Beastie Boys : 33 % God (from Hey Ladies 12")

Beastie Boys : 33% God (Capitol, 1989)
Beastie Boys : Dis Yourself In 89 (Capitol, 1989)

I don't know if I used the phrase "this is my favourite Beasties' B-side already, but if I did, I was obviously lying. This is my favourite Beastie Boys' record. And one of my favourite records ever.This sort of cut and paste remix is like a more coherent version of what Double D & Steinski were doing a few years before. The main difference is that D & Ski were using every record you can think of, while the Beastie Boys tried to break the record of the most different samples you can get from the Car Wash soundtrack in one single.

I don't know actually if this record is a pure Dust Brothers creation or if MCA, Adrock and Mike were involved in this track, but after this album they never really manage to do this type of track again. But then again, may be the fear of copyright infringement lawsuit came into play.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Beastie Boys : Dope Little Song (from Get It Together 12")

Beastie Boys : Dope Little Song (Capitol, 1994)
Al Tariq : Just A Lil Joint (Correct, 1996)

After Dr Dre's long track I updated earlier, there shouldn't be a lot of room left on the server, so I just kept two short songs this time.

First is my favorite Beastie Boys' b-side. That means a lot, because we all know how deep their b-side catalogue is. Also it doesn't hurt that it's on the same record as one my favorite song, Get It Together. Resolution Time which was on the same record is a rock song, which they probably included for those who bought the record for Sabotage. It's an OK song, that was also on the CD-version of the single, so you can probably find it easily on the net.

And while on the subject of dope short tracks, here is Just A Lil Joint. All that these two songs share is that they are both one minute and 52 seconds. Yeah, that's a good reason to feature them together.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dr Dre : Puffin On Blunts And Drankin Tanqueray (from Fuck With Dre Day 12")

Dr Dre, Rage, Kurupt, That Nigga Daz: PuffinOn Blunts And Drankin Tanqueray (Death Row, 1992)

Sorry for the lack of update, blame my ISP, not me !

I'll be short because I can't try to find smart things you don't know about Dre (and you come here for the mp3 anyway)

The 7 things I like the most about this track ?
1-It has Rage on it
2-Nate Dogg is not on it
3-It's produced by LA rap pioneer Chris The Glove Taylor.
4-It's credited to LA rap pioneer ChrisThe Glove Taylor.(Dre always give some credit to his ghostwriter and ghostproducers but people don't read the fine prints)
5-It's 12 minutes long
6-It has no chorus
7-It's the b-side of a 5 minutes hit that doesn't have a chorus.

Come back later this week for other million sellers b-side.

Dr Dre, Rage, Kurupt, That Nigga Daz: PuffinOn Blunts And Drankin Tanqueray (Death Row, 1992)

Désolé pour le peu de mises à jour ces temps ci. Tout ce que je peux vous conseille c'est d'éviter d'aller chez France Télécom/Orange/Wanadoo/PTT.

7 bonnes raisons d'aimer ce titre même si one ne fume pas et ne bois pas :
1-Il y a Rage
2-Il n'y a pas Nate Dogg
3-C'est produit par le légendaire DJ de LA Chris The Glove Taylor
4-Le légendaire DJ de LA Chris The Glove Taylor est créditépour ce morceau. (Dre crédite toujours d'une manière ou d'une autre les gens qui ossent à sa place, il suffit de lire les petits caractères)
5-Le morceau dure 12 minutes
6-Il n'y a pas de refrain
7-C'est la face B d'un tube de 5 minutes qui n'a pas de refrain.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Common Sense : Can I Bust (from Soul By the Pound 12")

Common Sense & Ynot : Can I Bust (Relativity, 1993)

SLurg : Amis de la poesie (Radio Pomme)

This is a very special record. Sure, that's the record that got me open to Common Sense but that's not the only reason. Ten years ago I had this radio show and I had made a little intro with many different samples. I had a competition where the listeners had to guess all the samples that made up the intro (I upload an old intro, but now that I think of it, it was from another season). The prize for thewinner was they could pick up any record from my collection.

I really didn't think anyone would win, but I really had a few devoted listeners ! So Mrs Aguerguan won and she pick up this 12". Years later I managed to find another copy, and now it's worth 50$ on Ebay !

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fresh Gordon : My Fila (from The Fresh Commandments 12")

Fresh Gordon : My Fila (Tommy Boy, 1986)

Fresh Force : She’s A Skeezer (Sutra, 1986) (fixed)

You could have been the worst prick in the world, there was something that people just didn’t do in 1986 : diss Run DMC. They were sitting on top of the world with their third album in 3 years, working with the best producer of that time, touring all around the world and yet they still had rspect from the street. Sure, they had a long running beef with Grandmaster Flash, but cared about him in 86 ? So the thing at that time to create a buzz was answer records. A record wasn’t really popular if it didn’t generate an answer record. Sometime answer records were on the same label, like No Show that was on Reality, the same label that put out The Show (but of course Salt & Pepa’s Show Stoppa was on Pop Art). So My Adidas was such a hit at that time that it spawned a few answers.

Fresh Gordon of The Choice MC’s also known as Gordon Pickett was a musician and engineer who had a minor hit with Feelin James in 87, and later hooked up with Salt & Pepa who he help recording Push It. Fresh Gordon was so afraid to be seen as a hater that he had to pout a disclaimer on the record sleeve to say it wasn’t made to disrespect Run DMC. On this B Side he was trading rhymes with The Jazz, later known as The Jaz, later unknown as Jaz O.

Another group who was trying hard to surf on the success of My Adidas was this duet of Chris Martin and Chris Reid who made a song where they had Charlie Casanova making same exact beat, had MaleyMarl cutting the same scratches and their were using the same flow line for line, but with totally different lyrics. I think it was less of an answer record than a simple rip off. Those two rappers really didn’t have much skills, and their later carreer under the moniker Kid & Play proved it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bérurier Noir : Sur les toits (from On a Faim 12")

Bérurier Noir : Sur les toits (Bondage, 1988)

Bon, j'avoue j'ai un peu déconné avec le dernier post sur Bérurier Noir. Balancer un sujet comme ça sans même évoquer Radio Pomme et Asile Rock en particulier, c'était pas correct. Ayant grandit dans les années 80 à 50 km du premier disquaire et de la moindre salle de concert le 101.1, puis 91.6, représentait un petit îlot de culture ET de contre-culture.

Je me souviens notamment avoir écouté pour la première fois Sur les toits dans une émission spéciale, peu de temps avant la sortie du dernier album de Bérurier Noir. A l’époque je m’étais fait la réflexion que bien des gens dans le rap auraient du prendre exemple sur eux, tant pour le réalisme de leurs textes que pour leur attitude intelligemment intransigeante.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bérurier Noir : Salut à toi (from Joyeux Merdier 12")

Bérurier Noir : Salut à toi (Bondage, 1985)

La Rumeur : Le hors-piste (Fuas, 1998)

J'ai quasiment terminé mon déménagement, j'ai un nouveau fournisseur d'accès à internet et la plupart de mes disques sont sortis des cartons. Par contre ils sont dans le désordre le plus complet et il va falloir un peu de temps pour que j'y mette de l'ordre. Vu qu'il m'est à peu près impossible de retrouver un disque précis, le post d'aujourd'hui est consacré à un des derniers disques que j'ai acheté.

Pour une raison que j'ignore les disques de noël font partie de la tradition punk/alternative (faudra que je vous ressorte la cassette de René Binamé avec "Jésus, tu es naze arrête" un jour). Même les Bérurier Noir se sont laissé aller à en sortir un pour le noël 1985, et bien leur en prit. Sorti après l'album Concerto pour détraqués ce maxi comporte quatre titres inédits où on retrouve François et Loran au summum de leur créativité. Avec une programmation de boite à rythmes des plus basiques et deux accords de guitare ils parviennent à faire des miracles.

Je ne sais pas pourquoi mais mon esprit torturé veut croire que Salut à toi a inspiré Hamé pour l'intro de son EP. Même structure de morceau sans refrain avec une énumération des démographies qui composent leurs publics et des caractères qui leur inspirent des textes. Même fin de morceau avec un solo de biniou chez les punks et de scratch pour le rappeur. Mais ce qui à mon humble avis fait la force de Salut à toi c'est qu'entre le début et la fin la voix s'énerve et s'intensifie, tandis que celle Hamé reste froide et posée. C'est peut-être aussi parce que Salut à toi est situé en fin du maxi et pas en intro.

Sinon Le hors-piste a aussi beaucoup de points communs avec L'exclu de Casey, mais la le disque est encore dans les bacs, vous croyez pas que je vais vous filer le mp3 gratos !

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Stetsasonic : Anytime, Anyplace (from Speaking Of A Girl Named Suzy 12")

Stetsasonic : Anytime, Anyplace (Tommy Boy, 1991)
Stetsasonic : I Ain't Making It (Warner, 1989)

I'm moving this week end so I packed up almost all my record collection, except for a couple of records that I kept for this blog.

Stetsasonic was one of my favourite groups in the late 80's / early 90's, I remember seeing this record when I was on vacation in Florida, summer 1991. Back then I was buying most albums on tape, because it was more convenient, but also for the numerous bonus cuts that were not on wax. I never had a CD player, records and tape were way cheaper. I know people claim that the sound quality of the CD was better but seriously : when you listen to rap why would you care about the sound quality ? If you're into classical I can understand, but who wants to hear a clean sounding rap record ?

Anyway, so at that time a few records on Tommy Boy had very different tracklistings between the tape, the vinyl and the CD. Not only the sequencing was totally different but sometimes the CD would have tracks that were not on the tape and vice versa. So I remember being in the record store comparing the tracklisting of the tape and the CD. I settled on the tape, and then the next day I saw the 12" with another track that was not on the cassette.

A week later I was watching TV and KRS One was performing in Living Color and the host held a copy of the Criminal Minded vinyl album. I thought to myself "hey I have this album, but the artwork sure looks better in this format". This is probably the biggest influence TV had on my behavior.

This is not really relevant, is it ? Anyway here are two tracks that were not on Stet's albums, Anytime, Anyplace from Speaking of A Girl Named Suzy 12" and another song they made in between In Full Gear and Blood Sweat No Tears, called I Ain't Making It .

Friday, April 14, 2006

Paris : Lights, Camera, Revolution (from The Hate That Hate Made 12")

Paris : Lights, Camera, Revolution (Tommy Boy, 1991)
Paris : The Hate That Hate Made (Power Of God Mix) (Tommy Boy, 1991)

I'll be honest : I totally forgot about that one until last week when Bashir asked me to do a bay area mix on our radio show. The Hate That Hate Made is such a strong cut that it's hard to pay attention to what's on the other side. Paris first album was one of those records directly inspired by Public Enemy at every level, visually, lyrically, musically, concept-wise etc... From the shadow his cap makes on his face to the sequencing of the album, everything is reminiscing of the best rap album ever. He even has a silly play on word in the title, which has been Chuck D's forte since 1991. Lights Camera Revolution is a short track with no chorus, like a lot of tracks from the Devil Made Me Do It album. Actually the A side of the single was also very short on the album. The album version of The Hate That Hate Made is just 64 secondes long but this sort of skit was so catchy that they had to make it the second 12" from the album, so they made an "extended" remix of the song, clocking at 2:54 minutes ! Since it has an extra verse I think people would want to hear it also.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Jazzy Jay & Russel Rush : Cold Chillin In The Spot (from Def Jam 12")

Jazzy Jay & Russel Rush : Cold Chillin In The Spot (Def Jam, 1985)

I said I wouldn't, but finally I bought Russel Simmons' biography. You know how it is, one day you'll have 9 hours to spend on a flight and you come across the book in a Half Price Books & Records shop. But guess what ? Life & Def is not as bad as I thought. It's actually way better than DMC's autobiography, much more info in it. Did you know Slick Rick was locked in a mental ward when he signed to Def Jam ?

I could have lived without the 20 pages about Russel goes to Hollywood. I mean, the guy made three movies but he really thinks it's essential to give his opinion on every single guy he ever met in the movie industry. But besides that it's interesting, especially the first part of the book, how he grew up, how he started managing Kurtis Blow etc...

It gives an insightful point of view on the business side of Def Jam, but not so much on the artistic side (Rick Rubin and then Lyor Cohen were more in charge of the artists it seems). For example he doesn't name any artist he signed himself. LL Cool J was discovered by Ad Rock, Rick Rubin "forced" Chuck D to sign with the label, Tracy Waples found Method Man, Lyor Cohen is responsible for Warren G being on the label etc

The only problem I have with the book is that he really doesn't give props to the man who created Def Jam with Rick Rubin : Jazzy Jay. I think he only mention his name once : "one night at a club Jazzy Jay asked me if I wanted to meet the guy who made It's Yours". He barely acknowledge the fact that the name and the logo of the company Def Jam existed even before he got into the picture. And there is no mention of Cold Chillin In The Spot, the only song Russel recorded himself ! This odd track is a filler to be found on the b side of Jazzy Jay's "Def Jam" where Russel Simmons talks about... nothing really. While he had writing and producing credits on numerous tracks I think it's the only track where Russel raps.

I guess if I want to know more about Def Jam I'll now have to read Stacy Gueraseva's book.

Def Jam Inc.
Update : I did, and it's really a good read. Lots of information on acts no one cared about like Resident Aliens !

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Eazy E : Fat Girl (from The Boyz N The Hood 12")

Eazy E: Fat Girl (Ruthless, 1986)
Eazy E :
Eazy Street (Capitol, 1990)

Probably the last of the beatbox series, and once again it's a nasty song. Boyz In The Hood was Eazy E's very first 12" and turned out to be a huge, huge, HUGE success. It has been said that the record sold half a million copies, keep in mind that it was the first record put out by Ruthless, an indie with no major distribution. The simple fact that the title was used to name a movie and a group, none of them having anything to do with Eazy E or Ruthless, is a good enough indication of the impact this song had on our generation. And do I need to insist on the career of the producer of this 12" ?

About two years later Eazy E put out his album, with the help of MC Ren, Ice Cube and DOC, and by that time the old b side that was Fat Girl would have sound dated on Eazy Duz It. Hip-Hop had changed a lot in two years. Even Boyz In The Hood had to be updated, no matter how classic the OG is. I gotta say that in the meantime both songs had been featured on an odd compilation put out by Macola titled NWA & The Posse (the same record where Mykah 9 got his first writing credit), which explains why they didn't feel the need to include them on the solo album.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Five Deez : Rock Rehab (from Blue Light Special 12")

Five Deez : Rock Rehab (B.U.K.A., 1999)

Blogger keep messing with me and I couldn't update the site for a few days, sorry about that. In the unfinished beat-box b side series comes the underappreciated b side to Five Deez first 12".

In the wake of the 96-97 indie craze Fat Jon, Pase, Sonic and Kool Kyle came with a 12" which barely could indicate the path that Five Deez would take. They have a new album coming out now on Rapster/K7, which is another installement of their now usual mix of deep house, broken beat and traditional hip-hop.

But this Rock Rehab is the foundation, lunch table cypher, human beatbox and rhymes. Who needs more than that ?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Black Sheep : Here's Another Asshole (from North South East West 12")

Black Sheep : Here's Another Asshole (Mercury, 1994)
Roxanne Shante :
Def Fresh Crew (Pop Art, 1985)

It's crazy how things have changed in hip-hop in a couple of years. In the 90's the worst thing you could say about a rapper was to call him a sell out. Now the ultimate insult is playa hater. Back then the price to pay for selling out was to have KRS One bumrushing you off stage or to have your lookalike getting his ass kicked in a 3rd bass video. If you're a sell out in 2006 you can expect to be on the cover of XXL every other month and to have Busta Rhymes in your remix.

Selling out is the norm now but in the late 80's, when rappers were artists, the sudden change operated by MC Hammer from mediocre rap to pop shocked the rap world. The idea that someone would dumb down his music only to sell ten million records was not very popular among hip hop purists. Well, actually there was no such thing as hip hop purist back then : if you were into hip hop, you had to be a purist.

In the early 90's everyone had a rhyme dissing Hammer from A Tribe Called Quest to Tim Dog and LL Cool J. Shit, even Vanilla Ice dissed him ! Right after the Adams Family soundtrack and before he filed for bankruptcy Hammer managed to release a record that was supposed to take him back to his nitty-gritty roots, with a little help from Suge Knight and the Dogg Pound. "The Funky Headhunter" was his way of responding to some of the people who dropped his name in their rhymes. Nobody bought the album, but rumor says that he was dissing Q-Tip, Warren G, Kriss Kross, Redman, Run DMC, MC Serch, Rodney O and Dres from Black Sheep.

One would wonder if it really makes sense to battle a guy like MC Hammer, especially in 1994, when no one cared about him anymore. But when you grew up on hip hop you know that you can't let a diss record unanswered. So Dres and Mista Lawnge went back to the studio to cut this really nasty dis record called Here's Another Asshole . It appeared on the North South East West, which is also the last Black Sheep record to this day. The beat box on H.A.A. is actually a sampled loop of Biz Markie's only decent beat-box performance on a record.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Boogie Down Production : The P Is Free (from South Bronx 12")

Boogie Down Productions : The P Is Free (B-Boy, 1986)

Like a lot of people I heard the remix of Pussy Is Free long before the original. The version on "Criminal Minded" had that reggae sample while the first recording of the song was straight hip-hop with noting but beat box and some 808 sounds.

The B side to Boogie Down Productions’ first single, South Bronx, was really on some low fi tip. Recorded in one take for the astronomical budget of $ 25 with D-Nice as the human beat-box, The Pussy Is Free suffers from a terrible mixdown, but regardless is historically important if only for the inclusion of KRS/BDP signature line “Fresh for 86, suckas !”