RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Wednesday, February 28

EWA100 - #83. Bone Thugs -N- Harmony - First of Tha Month



#83. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony - 1st Of Da Month (Ruthless. 1995. From the LP E. 1999 Eternal)

Raven Mack: I think Chris Rock called this shit a welfare carol, and that about sums it up. With R&B and hip hop so morphed together now, and with I think one in every 2.5 album done in the last seven years featuring Nate Dogg somewhere on it, it's easy to lose sight of how fuckin' hilariously awesome it was to have a group where some dude was all gangsta'd out but actually singing. This song, for as sad a subject matter as it is, is undeniably catchy. Which must have been empowering for welfare recipients, to see nice car riding by bumping "IT'S DA FIRST OF DA MONTH....get up get up get up" while you're pushing the baby's stroller down a shitty street. To this day, if you forget to pay attention to calendars like me, you can always tell if it's the first of the month if you accidentally go to the grocery store the Friday right at the first or fifteenth, and there's like nineteen young families strolling through the aisles, talking loud and shit, snot-nosed kids running around lost in the cereal aisle, babies wearing Nikes, and you know welfare checks are in effect. This is not to disparage in any way... my grandma got welfare for a while, and she was first in line at the Wal-Mart Supercenter when that joint got cashed, and I'm a proud WIC-baby myself, though I'd stab a motherfuckin' dude dressed like King Vitamin if I ever met one. That's all my mom would get with her WIC checks when I had sisters, and King Vitamin sucked. What kind of shit is that, being a King Vitamin? Kids want a King of Sugar Rush or Frosted Something Or Other, or at least be a King Cartoon-Based Scummy Cereal Meant To Make You Waste Your Parents Money By Throwing Fits. But a vitamin?
Bone Thugs were from Cleveland, which always struck me as odd because they had what was previously known as more of a west coast or even southern type of flow, but they were from up on the Great Lakes? And the welfare carol is the perfect example of repossessing your crap heritage, like being proud of being from the south or Ireland or calling yourself "nigga", because you take something everybody else would make fun of, flip it and make it seem like it's something that's misunderstood and super-straight-up killer to be. Still, it's welfare, no one should be happy about that shit, but that starts to get into politics and socio-economics and all that nonsense - a completely separate form of EWA that's mad prominent in print and online, and I'd prefer the hip hop be free from that type of crap 99 times out of 100.

Mike Dikk: If you were going for street cred, you would say your favorite Bone Thugs song is “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”. If you wanted to agree with most regular people out there, you’d say your favorite Bone song is “Crossroads”. "1st of Da Month" is the song between the two. Not as overly gangsta and menacing as "Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and not as sweet and sappy as “Crossroads”. I must say, on my own personal list, I’d probably have "Crossroads" on there over "1st of Da Month". It’s still my second favorite Bone song, but if you get over the nonsense parts of "Crossroads", it’s truly Bone’s real moment in the sun.

Like Raven, whenever I see a welfare family in the grocery store, I sing this song in my head. The sad thing is, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that a lot of people who listened and enjoyed this song had no idea what they were talking about. If you ask any typical well-off suburbanite what the fuck the first and fifteenth of each month means, they’d have no real answer. That’s what makes this song amazing. They get a bunch of clueless people singing along to a song about how awesome it is when that WIC check comes. For those that are in the know (and not on welfare), it’s just a real weird topic to have a catchy rap song about. I’d expect something like this as an album cut for one of those third rate No Limit rip-off acts that sprouted up in the late '90s, but to have a hit single off of a ridiculous topic is incredible. Also like Raven, my family was on the WIC for a while, but luckily not when this song came out, so I could appreciate the humor. I don’t think I ever knew anyone that was that joyous about getting the WIC check though.
Outside of this song, Bone were all about coming up with ridiculous shit to rap about and ridiculous gimmicks to go along with them. I like Bone for the most part, but no matter how much I convince myself otherwise, most of the appeal is the novelty behind them, and not the actual songwriting. Like that "Ghetto Cowboy" song with the white rapper Powder B, (“The name’s Powder B son, can I get a 12 gauge. Outlaw, everyday, I’m on the front page”) who came out when every crew was scrambling for a whiteboy to rival Eminem. By all means, that song is fucking awful, but I love it. The same goes for that song they did with Phil Collins….oh, and the weed song….and all the Ouija board nonsense….and “Mr. Bill Collector”….
Oh, and about their crazy fast flow. I never put two and two together that they were biting that from southerners. I know a bunch of people came out of the woodwork to accuse Bone of ripping them off, but I don’t know about that. Those dudes were fucking weird. It seemed to me they just did the weirdest thing they could think of, which was rap incredibly fast for the time. When “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” first came out, I remember me and my friend Jay were so impressed that Jay’s little brother could rap the entire first verse to that song just as fast as they did it. It’s not as impressive anymore, since now there’s quite a few rappers that do that biggetyboppitybooogedyboo shit.

Download: Bone Thugs 'N Harmony - First of Tha Month

Watch the video:


Sunday, February 25

EWA100 - #84. Beatnuts - No Escapin' This



84. Beatnuts - No Escapin' This (Loud. 2001. From the LP Take It Or Squeeze It)

Mike Dikk: The typical type of annoying Expert Whiteboy would probably pick “Reign of the Tec” or “World Famous” to represent The Beatnuts in an attempt to prove that they are Tha Rillest of Tha Rill. I’m pretty surprised this song made it over those myself. I like this song, and I really thought this was finally a Beatnuts song that sounded commercially appealing enough to make them a household name, but it didn’t really happen. There were still allusions to rape in the song, so maybe that’s what did it. Some people are so uptight!
I never really think of The Beatnuts as rappers. To me, they’re the crazy Latino dudes who were in The Source wearing Nirvana T-Shirts that have amazing record collections and crate diggin’ skills. No matter how much they tried to clean up, they were still dirty filthy dusty gritty and grimy. That’s a good thing to people like me, but not usually a good thing when it comes to making that G-Unit kind of money. I’m sure they’re not starving, but I really thought this song was going to hit big. I thought the same thing about “Watch Out Now” before it, too, though.
Unfortunately, I think “No Escapin’ This” was their last real chance at mainstream success. I could see them making a huge comeback production-wise the way things are going in the rap world right now, with people once again warming up to sampling, but I don’t see them crafting any 21st century club bangers since people in the club want to shake their ass to noises from Pong and cell phone ringtones these days.

Raven Mack: Damn, I was gonna wax self-importantly about how the Intoxicated Demons EP, with them other songs, was like the soundtrack to tallboys of St. Ides and Hurricane and Red Bull back in the day (the for-real Red Bull that would get you drunk, not the pussy energy drink that fratboys need with their vodka so they can stay awake long enough to date rape some chick in their brah's bed), but Mike sort of took the starch out of that.
This is a great song though, but The Beatnuts have been so consistently good over the years - me being a big fan of their style of tweaked out horn sampled production over the boombap beats that make the whole thing sort of sound like a warehouse party on PCP - that I'd be hard-pressed to pick any one song, other than of course "Reign of the Tec" ("I WANNA FUCK, DRINK BEER, AND SMOKE SOME SHIT!" - probably greatest rap song hook in the history of forever), but if I had to, I guess this would do, if you wanted to make it a Beatnuts-exclusive joint, because I think "Off the Books" was a pretty great song, too, but that was when Puerto Rico rappers were just being able to stop pretending they were just yellowboned black dudes, and half of Puerto Rico was on that track. (For all the boriquas on the set, just so you know in advance, Nore's "Mas Maiz" is not on this list anywhere, sadly enough, which won't allow for Whiteboy exploration of full steezies.)
And really, the grimy is the best shit. I usually feel out of place like a fuckin' feral dude raised by eunuch goats, and sometimes I try to trick myself into thinking I can assimilate into this world and carve a nice healthy fat piece of money pie for me and my offspring, but then I look around at the pop culture landscape and see The Beatnuts on the fringe in the obscure corners of old hip hop, and The Neptunes are nothing but glossy 8x10s all over everything and everybody acts like that's the greatest shit to ever make a beat and music critics fight each other to piss on themselves first over a Neptunes project (see The Clipse circa 2006), and I realize I ain't ever gonna fit in. You can wipe a little grime on a shiny surface to make it seem more rebellious and daring for marketing value, but it wipes back off if necessary. A grimy-ass surface never holds gloss though. Fuckin' stupid world.


Download: Beatnuts - No Escapin' This

Watch the video:

Friday, February 23

EWA100 - #85. Ghostface Killah - All That I Got is You



85. Ghostface Killah feat. Mary J. Blige - All That I Got Is You (Razor Sharp/Epic. 1996. From the LP Ironman)

Raven Mack: If people had actual heart strings, I don't think you could find a better song to pluck that shit. This is the penultimate "how bad I had it as a broke ass ghetto kid" song, and goes beyond the "waaah, you could never understand" stereotype, because Ghostface has the wherewithal to "stare up at the stars and analyze the skies" and wonder why, and to look beyond the sheltered ghetto crutch that so many rappers wear like a shield against anybody questioning the crap they do. Ghost shows his shit was fucked, but there was something pure about it, without rubbing your nose in that conclusion obviously, but also acknowledges that there's a whole lot more to the world than just that. If I was his old earth, I would be very pride-filled.
You know, as I get older and the Wu-Tang itself has broken up from the conglomeration I originally knew it as, and you can see the individual team members as their own entity, I would easily put Ghostface as one of the top five MCs ever. Easily. I would even tag him as the Rakim of his generation of rappers, and he'll be somebody that has lines sampled for far more years than the more media-hyped Jay-Z or Nas.

Mike Dikk: This song is way too low! “All That I Got…” is the most essential song Ghost ever wrote. It's the first rap song to use a 100% real Soul style approach. I dare any rap historian to prove me wrong. No one, NO ONE gets as real as Ghost on this song. I know he’s had a lot bigger and more successful singles that have defined him over the years, but this one is so fucking powerful and beautiful. Seriously, if you are not a fan of this song or if you can’t at least appreciate the beauty of it, then I’m not a fan of you. Straight up.
A lot of the newer Ghostface fans who jumped on his dick after Supreme Clientele or beyond, write this song off because he’s not spitting crazy verbalz. I’ll tell you what. I stopped liking Ghostface for a little while, because he never successfully made something as powerful as this again. He tried on that “I Can’t Go To Sleep” song and came close, but that’s on the all time worst Wu Tang record ever. I started liking him again because I’m not a complete mental retard, but compared to the rest of his discography, “All That I Got Is You” is in a separate and higher class all by itself
I guess if you’re from a non-poor background, maybe it wouldn’t speak to you the same way. Don’t get me wrong, even at my families absolute poorest, I wasn’t sleeping two at the front, two at the head, and I didn’t have a cousin named John-John who liked to pee the bed, but it did get rough for me at some points. Enough where I can relate deeply to this song and appreciate what little gifts I have in life right now (which really isn’t much, but you know, I have a working computer and other material objects, which is better than a lot of people are doing.). A lot of other rappers have touched on the same subjects, but never in such a descriptive way. Ghost doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder and he’s not bragging about how he’s left this life behind, he’s just laying it all on the line, right there, and dedicating it to his Mom like a good man should.

Download: Ghostface Killah - All That I Got is You

Watch the video:

Thursday, February 22

EWA100 - #86. Jurassic 5 - Concrete Schoolyard



86. Jurassic 5 - Concrete Schoolyard (Rumble. 1997. From the EP Jurassic 5)

Mike Dikk: I’ve intentionally avoided Jurassic 5 for a long time, and now I’m forced to confront them because of this dumb list. Ever since I heard the pre-release hype about them bringing back the “Rappity rap rap we’re rappin’ to the beat!” old school, I made a note to never listen to them on purpose. Unfortunately, I know I’ve caught some of their songs here and there, just because I recognize Charlie 2na’s weird voice, but I couldn’t tell you the names of the songs I’ve heard. I know their most recent failure featured Dave Matthews. They really couldn’t have picked anyone else to make me dislike them more. Perhaps Meatloaf or the dude from Creed?
Now that I’ve listened to this song a bunch of times in a row, I can form an honest opinion on why I don’t like these guys. They take the same type of old school posturing that Black Star had then wrung it through a west coast hippie rap filter, which is one of my most despised subgenres of rap. I’m not from the west coast, and I’ve never been, so I don’t understand why everyone from there sounds so god damn cheerful, even when they’re not trying to. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a pretty gigantic, obsessive fan of Madlib, but I really don’t place him in that hippie rap category. He’s just some dude who unfortunately happens to be from the west coast.
This song really didn’t win me over either. It’s long for no reason, and sounds like something that would be too bohemian for even Dave Chappelle to listen to. These guys outgay Common. I really hope Raven has some kind of personal introspective piece to make up for all this irrational hatred I have toward Jurassic 5.

Raven Mack: Jurassic 5 is like a really hot college hippie chick - hardcore hippie with dreadlocks, not halfway trustafarian rocking the sorority DMB sticker on leased SUV with out-of-state plates style - and you finally get together to smoke some weed and you know she doesn't wear panties. The first time or two, it's very exciting and quite enjoyable, because of the freshness of the experience. But then, on like the third time sitting there listening to her aka Jurassic 5, it's that same ol' shit you kinda figured they were gonna say already.
Now to be fair, I don't mind Jurassic 5 in small doses, as it's the perfect type of rap that a man can play and his wife and two daughters won't mind at all, nor will they learn stupid euphemisms for oral sex or anything far too early in their life. It's like ez listening rap music, and eventually the man's wife and two daughters will play it more often and more often, and the man will just tune it out, blocking it internally with really bad southern rap chant hooks by guys with stupid names like Richboy or Jewman or Lil Boosie. But separating different Jurassic 5 songs from each other or even putting one on this list is like arguing with somebody over what Elton John song is the greatest and how it should be right next to "Freebird" or "Crazy Train" as a rock-n-roll anthem. I'm not down with that.
But hey, it's hippie rap, and white girls are down with the hippie rap, and if there's one thing in this whole hip hop world that both the expert whiteboy analysts and the thugged out ghetto fabricated dark-skin homeboys can agree on, it's that white girls sure are fun to have sex with.


Download: Jurassic 5 - Concrete Schoolyard

I guess there's no real music video for this song, but there's around 1,000 live videos. Those are boring, so instead, I'm going to go with this video of unattractive English people doing some kind of country line/ballroom dancing hybrid to this song. I've seen some dumb shit on Youtube, but after watching this clip for the full nine and a half minutes. I had to go and take a shower to wash away the shame. If you didn't hate Jurassic 5 before reading this, you probably will now:

Wednesday, February 21

EWA100 - #87. MF Doom - Doomsday



87. MF Doom - Doomsday (Fondle 'Em. 1999. From the LP Operation: Doomsday)

Raven Mack: I remember first buying the "Dead Bent/Gas Drawls" single just because I'd buy anything that looked interesting at that point, because hip hop had yet to let me down so many times. The Scooby-Doo beat for "Hey" bugged me out and I played that shit forever. So when Operation Doomsday came out, I was all up on that joint. But I have to admit, there's a part of me that hates it in retrospect, not because MF Doom is not awesome or "Doomsday" is not a great song or anything, but just... I don't know... I think comic book nerd influence on anything has had a negative effect, except for, of course, with comic books. And the whole metal mask thing, it's very cool at first, but as time has gone on and it's been filtered through the obsessive compulsive disorder-oriented internet, it fills me with hatred for the whole genre it has created. Motherfuckers doing beats for cartoons and shit. I am filled with hate for this whole phenomenom, and since this will appear in simul-print format in zine form and on the intarwebs, I'm sure there'll be mad hate for this, or the standard complaint that I'm a washed-up old curmudgeon faggot for not jumping on the NEW hotness.
I guess what I get at is, I have a hard time disattaching talking about MF Doom on the robot machines from the robot souls (which are not evil-souled, but just lacking soul, or hopefully just misguided soul) that have attached this uber-hip-hop-hipster identity to the comic book term-paper rap.
That being said, I've got two of those special herbs and spices joints on vinyl, and I'm not attuned to the hipster aspects of things no more, I just happened to see it in a record store and saw all the songs were named after shit like mugwort, mullein, and rosemary, and my wife does mad herbal voodoo around the house and on my ills and aches.
It's the curse of hip hop though, when you come with the fresh shit, a thousand other motherfuckers with far less creativity or passion come along, take that freshness and make it stale to the point of painful.

Mike Dikk: I look at this spot as a place to commemorate Doom on his entire body of work, not just this one song. He has waaaaay too much shit out there to narrow it down to one great song. I mainly picked this one because it’s the first track on Operation: Doomsday and the lyrics: “"Ever since the womb' till I'm back where my brother went/That's what my tomb will say/Right above my government, Dumile (Doom will lay)/Either unmarked or engraved - hey, who's to say?". That’s still some of the cleverest shit he’s ever said.
Those lines kind of set the mood for the entire song. It’s optimistic and fun, yet still depressing, which a lot of rappers can’t pull off, but Doom does it so well that most people don’t even notice. He has the type of flow I could listen to for days without getting sick of it.
Lately, it seems a lot of people who found out about Doom early on kind of turned on him. Their reasoning is kind of ridiculous if you ask me. Not Raven’s, his reasoning is somewhat unique. Everyone else says he puts out too much shit, but the average lame mainstream rapper is doing 85 mixtapes a year now, and those usually have the same recycled beats over and over again. There’s only so many times you can hear “CANNON!” before you realize it’s just a dumb sounding vocal sample that gets more and more annoying every time another rapper uses it on his mixtape. Doom with his own beats (or Madlib’s) is 99% of the time golden. I will agree that his stuff with other producers isn’t as great, and stuff like that second Viktor Vaughn disc is downright awful.
That’s another thing about Doom. His production style is amazing, and yeah, some people are trying to do the same tricks these days, but no one else is going to flip some AM Gold sample like Doom and make it into a masterpiece. Dude has 10 volumes of his instrumental series and there’s hardly a weak beat to be found.
To sum up, stop hating on Doom just because he isn’t a well-kept internet secret anymore. He’s one of the few people that deserve any type of success he receives. His resume dates back to the late 80’s and holds up against anyone around right now. There’s plenty of douchebags on 106 and Park you can direct your ill will toward.

Download: MF Doom - Doomsday

No real video for this song, and the live clip isn't loading properly, so here's a 5 minute feature on Madvillain record shopping. I just wanted to work Madlib in somewhere on this list:


Sunday, February 18

EWA100 - #88. Ice-T - 6 'N The Mornin'



88. Ice-T - 6 'N The Mornin' (Sire/Warner Brothers. 1987. From the LP Rhyme Pays)

Mike Dikk: This song sounds so OLD. It was originally released in 1986 as a B-Side to Ice-T’s first single, and even by 1986 standards, it sounds old. I would have guessed 1983 or something. Plus, the reverb on the vocals not only makes this sound more dated, but it also gives off the feeling that this was originally recorded in a local TV studio for a Public Access channel. I can just imagine a young Ice-T now in washed out colors on some glittery stage 6 inches off the ground rapping about smacking bitches in his high pitched old school nasally while a toll free number scrolls across the bottom of the screen.
Actually, I already directed an imaginary music video for this song in my head. Do you remember that scene in the movie Pump Up The Volume where there’s some white kids with a boombox rocking out to Ice-T’s “Let’s Get Butt Naked And Fuck”? Well, in my imaginary music video that song is replaced with “6 ‘N Tha Mornin’” and that scene is cut down to a three second loop that plays throughout the duration of the song. Then I add another white kid into the foreground doing the jive walk that Rog from What’s Happenin’ does when he gets a job with the newspaper. The kid is wearing oversized sunglasses and a backwards neon hat too.
To this day, I still imagine that this is what rap music sounds like to all parents: Shitty, barbaric, badly recorded, simplistic and all about Guns and Woman Violence.

Raven Mack: Used to play this tape constantly, so much so that the letters on the side of the cassette wore off from it being handled. And it's funny, because when my dad was home, I'd play it sort of low because this IS what he imagined rap music to be like. I'm sure it's a common theme amongst lower class members of the Expert Whiteboy Analysis sub-culture, but pops wouldn't have been too down with me listening to shit like Ice-T, even though you gotta think it's a step in a better direction from shit like Slayer and Kreator.
For as dated and corny as this song sounded, this was the first real song that painted detailed pictures of west coast thug life. That's why, in 1986, when the west coast was barely heard of, Ice-T was doing tours on the east coast.
I still love this song though. Simplistic is sometimes looked down upon, so that you get corny showtune beats and over-analyzed lyrics like that Lupe Fiasco CD, and people think it's great because it's got string section samples and shit. I am down with a song sometimes sounding like a dude beat the beat out on a flipped over five-gallon bucket while his buddy rapped in the corner of the bathroom.

Download: Ice-T - 6 'N The Mornin'

Watch the commercial for Ice-T's 900 number:

EWA100 - #89. Biz Markie - Make The Music With Your Mouth, Biz



89. Biz Markie - Make The Music With Your Mouth, Biz (Cold Chillin'. 1988. From the LP Goin' Off)

Raven Mack: Biz Markie may be the ugliest non-African continent-based dark-skinned man on the Earth, but hip hop is that beautiful land where, even if you are this ugly, if you can make wonderfully entertaining sound simulations with your mouth and repeat linquistical sounds in a rhythmic pattern, all the while interjecting your own trademark self-deprecating sense of humor, and while wearing a fat dooky chain, it will love you. "Make The Music..." is one of those old school song that will fill you with joy for a simpler time, before every rapper had a shitty liqueur and energy drink and every album had 13 tracks that totalled up features 29 other rappers and 6 producers. It's the type of song that makes me wish all these wack-ass Clear Channel "THE HOME OF HIP HOP AND R & B!" stations would abandon the quiet storm Sunday afternoon throwback show and just do an old school mix. I'd much rather wash and wax my car at the lake to an old school mix than hear another fuckin' played-out quiet storm show, especially when you have to wait forever to hear an Al Green song.

Mike Dikk: Biz Markie is what Hip Hop is all about. I hate saying shit like that because it makes me sound like a crunchy college student, but it’s true. Name someone more Hip Hop than The Biz. You can’t because there isn’t anybody! The dude has been around for a few decades now and I think anyone involved in rap would still be pumped about doing a collabo with him. As a matter of fact, if any rapper has any other answer outside of “Yeah, definitely” when asked if he’d want to work with Biz, I don’t want to listen to that guy's music anymore, because he obviously takes his “art” way too seriously, and I don’t need shit like that in my life. Save the seriousness for Goth Night, pal.
This was Biz Markie’s first single from his first LP, and it shows off his beat boxing skills more than his rapping skills. Biz has never been the greatest rapper, but he can get a few laughs out of you, and I hear his record collection is the stuff of legend. I wouldn’t mind sitting around listening to him talk about all that crazy shit he has, even though I’m not that smart and wouldn’t know what half of it was to begin with.
The day Biz dies will surely be a sad one. It’s something we’re all going to have to cope with someday, and we’ll be better off coping with it together. Stay strong Biz. Keep Hip Hop alive and don’t die until like 2342.

Download: Biz Markie - Make The Music With Your Mouth, Biz

There was an old clip on youtube of a very young and skinny Biz Markie beatboxing and dancing on stage followed by a freestyle with Big Daddy Kane with The Biz beatboxing, but of course that clip was way too great to stay on YouTube. Instead here's a clip from a very old episode of YO! MTV Raps with The Biz.

EWA100 - #90. Outkast - Elevators



90. Outkast - Elevators (Me And You) (LaFace/Arista. 1996. From the LP: ATLiens)

Mike Dikk: This was my favorite incarnation of Outkast. That would be the slightly-getting-weird-but-not-enough-to-scare-off-normal-people-who-aren’t-into-looking-at-dudes-in-booty-shorts-and-le g-warmers incarnation. Don’t get me wrong. I’m white enough to like all of Outkast’s singles up until that double CD disaster, but "Elevators" is the ultimate for me. It’s just so subtly fucking weird. The record was released around the same time Dr. Octagon spearheaded the Weird Rap movement (also known as trip-hop), and as much as I like the Dr. Octagon record, you can’t deny it’s weird for the sake of being weird, whereas Outkast were just naturally weird dudes who just happened to be friends with a naturally weird production team and they came together to make magic on this track.
To this day, I don’t know what the fuck the chorus is supposed to mean, but it’s one of my favorite choruses to sing for no god damn reason. Come to think of it, I don’t know what Outkast is rapping about 90% of the time, but it’s not what Outkast is rapping about on this track. (From what I gather, this song is about Outkasts’s experiences with their rising fame. That sort of explains the chorus, but not really.) It’s all about the beat. It’s like old Timbaland except not as stupid. There’s a dude giving out one of those half-laugh “Oh I’ll pretend to laugh as to not make you feel like an asshole for telling a really crappy joke” laughs sampled for chrissake. For no apparent reason except to trip you out while you’re high. The whole track sounds like that momentary euphoric feeling you get before you blackout after purposely taking too much cold medicine with the extra added bonus of two dudes with smooth southern drawls rhythmically talking over the whole thing. If I could, I’d have a chip impanted in my head that played this song anytime I drank Nyquil or Robitussin. You don’t even need to Chop and/or Screw this man. Just chill out and let Outkast’s Funkariffic Space Coaster glide you to sleep.

Raven Mack: Outkast is tricky territory, because it's the type of hip hop that those on the periphery of full-scale music dorkdom will proclaim the greatest hip hop group to ever breath on a mic. Dudes who used to be seminal members of some local group that inspired a couple much bigger bands who now are relegated to spinning obscure soul gospel songs on their community radio show, or grad college dudes who love Putamayo compilations and have already buffed a spot on their bumper for their Barack in '08 sticker, classic blue. And my initial response is to think about how much I loathe Outkast, but I don't really loathe Outkast, because they were awesome. But they are also the perfect example of how shitty Hip Hop the Business can ruin a great Hip Hop the Some Kids Who Love It. I mean, the changes in Andre 3000 are obvious, perhaps polluted by Badu-gasms like so many others, or perhaps he's just a weird bi-sexual kid with schizophrenic tendencies who happened to be born in the ghetto where those types don't automatically get coddled into adulthood. His half of the GROUND-BREAKING crap double CD is pure masturbatory shit, and the Weird Rap mention is right on, because I imagine of everybody who thinks The Love Below album is great, they'd probably say Kool Keith is their favorite MC ever. DUDE, IT'S AWESOME BECAUSE HE'S A NEGRO BUT HE'S ACTING CRAZY! Ironic hipster white people love the idea of an MC Wesley Willis, and Andre 3000 is the closest they've gotten on a mainstream level thus far.
But Big Boi has been turned out by this industry as well. He sort of mails in sub-par southern verses pretty regularly, and there's no reason on fuckin' earth that either the ATL movie or the Idlewild one should not be next to ones for the new E-40 movie and Big Black Butt Orgy Vol. 3 in the back pages of Murder Dog, other than it's Outkast - a proven brand name - so it gets put in major release.
But I digress. For me, the Outkast relativity to awesome scale is relates directly to how early the release was. First album - awesome. Second one, which this comes from - pretty awesome as well, and starting to dabble in oddball shit, but not so over-the-top it makes you afraid Mohammad might throw you off the mountain for listening to it too much. And the further away you get, the worse it gets. I have Stankonia on vinyl, and always forget to sell it because it's gradually worked it's way from the center of the stack to the far edges (the habit being to push things over from the middle and put shit back in at the center, so the further towards the edge you get, the less likely it is it's seen rotation on my turntable in years), but every once in a while, I get tricked by somebody talking about it into thinking, "Hey, maybe I just never gave that album the right listen." So I'll pull it out, dust it off, and play it... and it'll suck like always.
So yeah, this song, and this album, is probably that Polaroid perfect glimpse into the madness, and it would've been nice if they could've just been into weird fake alien shit forever, but then Andre turned into a college student who really loves thrift stores and Big Boi turned into his roommate and cousin who will always hang tight with him because Andre ain't all there and Big Boi promised Andre's aunt that he'd look after him. In fact, that's often how I imagine Outkast's success being, that Andre has family that's almost certain he's gay, but Big Boi hangs out to keep an eye on him and push women on him, and this keeps Andre from being openly gay because he knows it'll break his family's heart for their famous boy to be a punk, so they just tool along, until I guess one day Big Boi might die and then Andre will be kicking it in fashion mags in France and shit.
Also, you know how on that one skit on the first Wu-Tang tape, Method Man and Raekwon are trying to outdo fucked-up torture scenarios to each other? I often imagine that back during the "Elevators" days, Dre and Ceelo and probably Big Gipp too would all be sitting around trying to out-flamboyant each other, but all in jest.

Download: Outkast - Elevators

It's too much to ask YouTube to have the proper video, so instead you get the song set to someones helicopter ride over Guatemala. Yeah.

Tuesday, February 13

EWA100 - #91. House of Pain - Jump Around



91. House Of Pain - Jump Around (Tommy Boy. 1992. From The LP House of Pain)

Raven Mack: It was 1992. The self-loathing white people into hip hop caused because of the Vanilla Ice debacle had finally subsided. Mickey's malt liquor started marketing both the widemouth stubby bottles in six-packs as well as the Molotov-cocktail perfect 22 ounce bottles. Cypress Hill's mind-twangy beats by whiteboy extraordinaire DJ Muggs had already captivated the white people crowd, because it was hip hop about drugs and it had what looked to be a Mexican dude, a black dude, and a white dude in the group, so hip hop was putting it forward that,"Hey, you white people are okay again, come on in, but be cool or we'll kick you out of the party like we did last time. So you take this perfect storm of conditions, take the Muggs sound and throw it behind some chump-ass white rapper who used to be down with Ice-T but had repackaged himself as an Irish dude with two other sort of Irish dudes, and then you spice it all with a Pete Rock remix, who was the hottest of the hotness at that moment, and BAMMM! You have a song that will be played at frat parties, minor league hockey games, and on mix CDs made by metrosexual homos for eternity. I, myself, must have drank a thousand double deuces in those days (including a personal high of 7 in one night), and may have never gotten along better with the ultra-violent skinheads of Richmond, Virginia, that I did during that "Jump Around" storm. Good times and good memories, and I'm glad I didn't get as many tattoos as I would've wanted back then.

Mike Dikk: I have this silent rule that I can’t like songs I previously liked if they somehow become cheapened by a kitsch or irony factor. I understand it’s because I’m white and into hip hop, so I always have to prove I’m Da Rillest, especially over the internet, and you can’t accidentally say you like a song if there is even an ounce of a chance that someone may think you heard that song for the first time in a commercial for frozen pizza and not on the streets while you were hustlin’.
I did love this song though, and I was nerdy enough even back then to know all about Everlast’s failed pretty boy rapper career he tried to start up before House Of Pain. So I knew the whole thing was a gimmick to begin with, which is rather obvious now. I dare anyone, even the most backwoods, out of touch white trash asshole that’s still wearing wrap-around Oakleys and has a Pantera tapestry hanging up in their living room to listen to this entire LP and not laugh at least 5 times at how ridiculous the whole thing is.
I’m assuming Muggs hooked up the beat and the dude was on fire back then. There could have been any type of nationality gimmick going on above this song and it would have turned out great. I did get a bit too over obsessed with this song and House of Pain as a whole though. When the single came out, The Source had House of Pain stickers inserted into their magazine, and I would go to the store and steal all of the stickers out of them just to have them. It was a pretty sweet logo though. I had all the maxi singles and the full lengths, and numerous T-shirts, because I was that into these guys, and I feel real ashamed in saying that now.
I’m sure a lot of white dudes were into them as much as I was, and there’s a good chance they were into them that much because they WERE white dudes and the song was really dope, but that was never a big factor for me, since I’ve always disliked the Irish, mostly because they smell like spermicidal lubricant and band aids when they sweat, and I'm pale and all, but people with transparent skin scare the fuck out of me. Plus House of Pain was like Cypress Hill Lite (Making Funkdoobiest, Cypress Hill Ultra Lite 100's and The Lordz of Brooklyn the generic brand of Cypress Hill Ultra Lite 100's), and I liked Cypress about ten times more. Well, until “Insane in the Membrane” came out. Then I hated them a whole bunch.
The real crappy thing about "Jump Around" is the fact that there was no actual pause between this song going from something respectable to play and get buckwild to, to something you ‘ironically’ listen to and make fun of. There was just a random day where every geek out there decided to make a mockery of this song and ruin it for everyone who loved it and had good intentions from the start. I’m sure it would take years of research to come close to an estimated number of how many shitty bar rock bands made attempts at covering this song, and I don’t even want to think about how many illegitimate children currently living in a trailer park were conceived while this was playing in the background on a Soundesign rack system with one speaker blown out.

Download: House of Pain - Jump Around, See Also: Jump Around (Pete Rock Remix)

Watch the video:

Sunday, February 11

EWA100 - #92. David Banner - Cadillac on 22's



92. David Banner - Cadillac On 22s (Universal/SRC. 2003. From the LP Mississippi: The Album)

Mike Dikk: This was one of Raven’s Executive Decision picks, so I’m sure this song has some kind of emotional relevance to him, and his section of the write up will be way more entertaining, eloquent and soulful. I wish he was starting this one off so I could make some sense of it and pretend like I know what I’m talking about.
What you get here is David Banner emoting over some acoustic folk sample with a nice little hook and scattered beat. I will say that David Banner is kind of underrated in the way that he’s a southern rapper, but actually has things to say in his lyrics instead of the same old bullshit that’s going on in every single song on the radio. Of course, it’s hard for me to prove that point when the name of the god damn song is “Cadillac on 22’s”, but maybe it’s a metaphor or something, or maybe southern people really just love Cadillacs and need to talk about them every other minute of the day.
This is a good song though, and chances are if you are one of my more suburban friends, you’ve never heard it before, so you should take a listen to it and maybe you’ll get super into it and this list will have actually made a positive effect on your life and you will thank me in real life and possibly give me some money later on in life when you are successful and I’m still sitting in my room making lists about songs half the earth forgot about or never heard in the first place.

Raven Mack: Yeah, I guess this would be the best place to give a half-assed explanation of how this project worked. Basically, all six fucks involved came up with a stupendously ridiculous list of every single we could think of, and the only criteria really was that in order for it to be a bonafide HOT JAM it had to have been a single of some sort (though I think there's a couple of things that slipped through that criteria). And we also wanted to temper it with a little bit of thought to hip hop at large, meaning the list shouldn't just be like 12 old school jams and 88 undiscovered gems, or else it would be like every other bullshit list like this where you just try to show how smart and obscure you are. We preferred to shoot for a more mainstream bullshit list.
Then we argued and lobbied and ranked shit from the entire list, coming up with sets of ten at a time, starting with the top ten of course, and working our way down. The last ten was where we each listed a couple of songs we thought had to be included and then we sort of forced ourselves to put those in order. This was one song I was all for being on the list, as it's one of my favorite songs ever, though I never even tried to start hyping it up to others on the Rapologist EWA panel until well after the top fifty or sixty, because I know, even though it was a single and the first time I saw it was on MTV, it's not like it's "Juicy" or "C.R.E.A.M." or something that everybody who ever listened to hip hop ever would recognize right away. But for me, this is one of those rare songs that makes you wish there was like a whole sub-genre of music along these lines... strangely mellow beat but punctuated by that Memphis club drum track with the old school bells that I love so much for some odd reason. Maybe it's because I never could skate that well at the roller skating shit, only pushing off with my left foot, so when slow dances with the romantic bells and shit from old jams of yesteryear came on, chicks wouldn't want to skate with my left-pushing dumbass. Actually, that's not it, but it sounds funny, but I only went roller skating one time and it was at this chick's birthday party and she and me were in kindergarten together and then she grew up and ended up like one of those top-shelf white sluts (she even fucked NBA players, well, at least one that I know of - Jerome Kersey - allegedly), and I was probably mostly playing pinball at her party and getting hit on by this girl who got mad disrespect in middle school because somebody said she ate her lipstick one time or something. This of course meant that she was "hongry" and I think this accusation probably haunted her well into high school, where she probably settled down with some FFA redneck afterwards and I've probably been checked out by her at the Rite-Aid back home four times and never even knew it was her. But as usual, I digress...
Another thing about this song that I love is that it's about spirituality, but not bullshit positive Christian rap. I mean, the song is about God and shit, but Banner says nobody will listen unless he mentions "22s on the 'Lac", which is why the hook is what it is, even though he never actually raps about a Cadillac and it's rims more than like half a line in the song outside of the hook (chorus, refrain, whatever... hook is such a stupid-ass term). I mean, we all have spirituality, whether it's the normal stupid-assed spiritualities like religion, or it's new-fangled "we're not spirituality" types of spiritualities like science or internet-era-lollerizm. But nobody really likes to talk about their spirituality because we all know that what we believe, no matter how true and well it works for us, is gonna be bullshit to 99% of anybody else who hears about it. This is because it's the nature of spiritual motherfuckers to get all hung up on the specifics of the shit and mock others, beat down others, or blow others up for not believing the same dumb shit we may believe. I feel that having spirituality and idiotic beliefs is a great way to occupy your stupid mind most days, even if all you believe is "I'm gonna get up and make at least $150 today," which has been my latest belief system to go by, seven days a week. It's simple, it's stupid, it makes no sense to most people, but it fulfills my life right now. That's spirituality/religion/pseudo-science/whatever.
Seriously, this is like not only one of my favorite hip hop jams, but maybe one of my favorite songs ever. In a perfect world where all my retarded tendencies were fully massaged and brought out, I would at my funeral just have the instrumental to this played on loop while people stood around, passing a mic, and telling stories about the stupidest shit they ever saw me do, and then everybody could be sad because nobody was ever gonna be stupid in the special ways I was stupid to them. David Banner is an underrated dude from the South, but most of his shit is that normal pimpin' and grindin' shit that everybody does. I have searched very half-assedly, and the closest thing I've come by him to this song is the instrumental version of Trick Daddy's "Thug Holiday", which Banner produced, that I play fairly often as well since I found that shit in the dollar bin at the indie record store where dorks who look like Eastern European hipsters stand around looking like stereotypes, talking about how awesome one of their dumb shit friend's dumb shit's band new 7-inch on some dumb shit named record label is.

Download - David Banner - Cadillac on 22's

Watch the video:

Wednesday, February 7

EWA100 - #93. High & Mighty - B-Boy Document '99



93. The High & Mighty feat. Mos Def & Mad Skillz - B-Boy Document '99 (Rawkus. 1999. From the LP Home Field Advantage)

(Also appeared on Soundbombing II. I'm guessing that came out earlier.)

Raven Mack: I used to buy everything Rawkus I could get, and this was no exception. This single also has two notable things making it relevant to me... It's one of the few songs on this list featuring a white rapper (Mr. Eon), and it's the only song on here featuring a dude from Richmond (Mad Skillz). At this point, Mos Def's standard reworking of old school themes had not yet become played out, and this was a feel good shit-talking song. I think with the fake gangsta posturing that became so popular (which is now tweaked into fake cocaine-selling posturing) that the backlash was pseudo-intellectual clever rap on the indie side of things, that the old-fashioned, shit-talking, feel-good jam sort of got lost. Just use crazy and ridiculous metaphors to show explain how fuckin' kick ass you are on a mic, and have a solid beat behind it, and throw in some bonafide DJ's cuts (with like maybe actual vinyl and not some dude just playing little snippets off his ipod onstage), and that's the definition of a jam.
Mos Def has become such a Disney-crowd-friendly character actor to me that I forget he was an MC that I loved at one point. I should stop being such a judgemental dick all the time. But if I did that, I couldn't have Expert Whiteboy Analysis going on inside my mind. Self-importance is the first tenet of the Expert Whiteboy.
Also, Madd Skillz makes me laugh. He's the only semi-famous Richmond rapper and he's made a "career" of three things - #1: being friends with Timbaland, #2: dissing more famous rappers, #3: claiming he's ghostwritten all these songs. The friends thing is fine, I can dig positioning yourself for success, as I'd do the same shit in his position. The dissing more famous rappers thing gets tired because I doubt most of these guys even give a fuck Madd Skillz disses them. Wu played in Richmond one time years ago and Method Man came out and took the mic from Skillz, and he had a line in some song because of this saying something like "if you're John Blaze then I must be James Flame," and I don't think Method Man ever even gave a fuck. And the ghostwriting thing? There aren't enough platinum hits on a thousand earths for all these semi-obscure rappers who claim they've written all these well-known hits to have written all these well-known hits. But there's no way to prove otherwise, so motherfuckers claim that they've written everything ever. Stupid rappers.

Mike Dikk: 1999 was the year I gave up on Hip-Hop, so I didn’t hear this when it came out. I don’t really have any attachment to the song and what it represents. It’s the type of song that would not fly well at all in this day and age, but it actually got somewhat popular because 1999 was such a bad year and people were really fed the fuck up with the stuff that was going on in mainstream rap, so all this Rawkus shit got over big in this time frame. Now, people are once again compliant to whatever dumbshit song is released about paint on cars or T-shirts or some new Pee Wee Herman type dance. I can’t dis the songs about dances, because there was one of those on every single record in the 80’s, but most of them didn’t become videos or cell phone ringtones.
I’m not even sure if most people know who High & Mighty is anymore. They’ve been kind of phased out by more exciting "underground" rap artists. Skillz still does those annoying year end songs, and Mos Def is... Mos Def. I’ve read some recent internet propaganda that the reason he might be so sucky at making music these days is because he’s unhappy with his record contract and he’s just mailing it in until he gets released. I’m not so sure if that’s true, but I do know that I liked his character in The Italian Job more than I liked his last few records.

Download - High & Mighty - B-Boy Document '99

Watch the video:

Friday, February 2

$20 Record Challenge

Well, I did that $20 at the record store deal, digging through the 7-inch crates in the stupid basement of Plan 9 this week one early evening, and I came up with what I thought was some good stuff that turned out to be shit, and some shit I wasn't sure about that turned out awesome. That's the nature of digging though, and when you leave yourself the cheap limitations, you tend to find better shit nobody's heard of, because the eastern european hipsters overprice all the crap everybody already knows about.

Being this is a $20 limit, it's a lot like playing salary cap on stupid Madden football, so I'll start with the most expensive this time, since those are my big free agent acquisitions that conceivably should be awesomer than fuck for me to have gone over my dollar-per-single rule.

SLIM HARPO - Baby Scratch My Back / I'm Gonna Miss You (Like The Devil) - $3

Thought this might be one of those damn "itchin'" songs Cut Chemist and Shadow cut up on their Brain Freeze sets, and I don't think this is one of the actual ones, but it ought to be. "Baby Scratch My Back" is ridiculously awesome, and you know if someone mentions scratching on a late '60/early '70s soul single, there's gonna be some funky chicken pickin' going down. I could listen to shit like that continuously, but oddly enough, it does sound better on vinyl. If this shit was all ipodinated and shit, it would lack the grimy beauty of it. Plus, if it was ipodinated, it'd be part of some stupid ass Best of Soul Train Dance Line Tracks Vol. 7 instead of just some random ass single I found in a box with some weird bubble letter record company name on it. Technology is for punk asses, which is why I'm on a computer right now. B-side song is pretty damn loungin' as well.

Likelihood of making jukebox rotation: 100%

THE RIMSHOTS - Soultrain Part 1 / Soultrain Part 2 - $2

Even though I remember reading somewhere recently about who wrote the Soul Train theme - might've even been Don Cornelius himself, but I can't remember - but I was kinda hoping against hope this was that song, even if only in cover version. I mean, it's a fucked-up looking label called A-1, and the credited producer's name is "The Gator". This is not the infamous Soul Train theme song, though it is a nifty little pre-P-funk funk jam along the lines of King Curtis' "Memphis Soul Stew". If I can ever get one of my bootleg bullshit computerized sampling programs to crack correctly, I'm totally gonna sample a chunk of this, slow it down, and tell stories about squirrel hunting while on acid. Still, I'm slightly bummed I paid two bucks for this.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 97%

NINA SIMONE - I Like The Sunrise / You Better Know It - $1

Nina Simone is supposed to be awesome singstress or some shit, so I bought this piece of crap, and felt a disgust similar to what happened after somebody drunkenly over-explained to me how awesome Sarah Vaughn was one time, and I got like three of her records at a Goodwill. This is some crappy gay dude movie soundtrack type nonsense, and it made me feel like a creepy "bear" being secretly cellphone picturized for a filfhunter site just by listening to it once.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 0%

BLUE MITCHELL - Graffiti Blues - Part 1 / Graffiti Blue - Part 2 - $1

I knew I had heard of Blue Mitchell before, but couldn't remember where. After listening, I think my guess is he was on this fucked-up triple record Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz collection I got of them early funk overlords of the jazz scene - most of whom got sampled to death by the Dust Brothers along the time of Paul's Boutique. I had been thinking I needed more jazzy selections for the jukebox, and almost shelled out $3 for a Miles Davis single and $3 for some other dude I can't remember now, but neither made me feel imperative to break the $1 rule I had going in my head. This Blue Mitchell single sounds like the feeling of waking up to oral sex late on a Sunday morning, right when you're first waking up to it, feeling good about everything like the sax and harmonica solos, and you can even smell potatoes and bacon already cooking downstairs, which means breakfast ain't far away either, and without much work on your end. This was actually in my pile of Maybes, and it got in simply because it had "graffiti" in the title, even though it was done in like '71 or '72. Sad to think of the singles I simply stuffed back into boxes who didn't make the cut, and how awesome they might have been. That is the eternal curse of the crate digger. There always be some golden gem for like a quarter nobody has ever found before, and it's always just about to be found by you. It causes you to look through four more boxes of records than you promised yourself you would, and it fills you with dreadful pride when you're in some joint and ask for 45s and the guy's like, "I don't keep 'em out, but I've got a ton of them in the back. Let me put the dog in the bathroom, and you can go back there and look through them."

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 100%

ROBERT PARKER - Barefootin' / Let's Go Baby (Where The Action Is) - $1

Bought this for two reasons... Number one, it was on something called Nola Records, meaning New Orleans, which means horns in all likelihood. Secondly, motherfuckers taking the time to call attention to how folks ain't even wearing no shoes is usually good stuff. "Barefootin'" is that, supposedly about dancing, but there's that pretty obvious sexual euphemism about not wearing no shoes meaning not wearing no clothes. Chicks wearing open sandals or no shoes always kinda trips me out, because when you look at crap like Leg Show, there's dudes who obsess over sexy feet, so those women are pretty much running around naked for a small demographic of perverts. One time, while thinking about this, and I might've been high, I stared at my wife's feet for like twenty minutes trying to give myself a foot fetish. It didn't work. They still just looked like feet to me. I have more of a vagina fetish myself, to be honest. B-side is serviceable enough to not take away from the greatness of the "Barefootin'" track.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 92%

JOHN EDWARDS - Careful Man / Claim Jumpin' - $1

Chose this one because the label - Aware - sub-billed itself as the "Hotlanta Sound", which made me think that must mean great. Obviously, my mind was ignoring all the crappy trap snap blink bloop blip THUMP music made in the ATL today. (I don't really say "ATL" in real life, because I'm not from Atlanta, and I've never flown on an airplane either, which might've required my luggage to be labelled with an "ATL".) Just to be sure, this is not the John Edwards dude who's doing that gimmick to try to be President where he says in a fake almost gay-sounding southern accent, "I can relate to having shitty jobs, because my parents had shitty jobs, and I understand what it's like to not be heard, because I talk like a faggot running the night shift at the Fas-Mart on the east end of Kingsport, Tennessee," and not telling you he's a scummy lawyer who made millions being all scummy and taking up lawsuits against people who may or may not have been scummier than him, which allows him to feel like he was actually doing something good for society, so much so that his dumb ass thinks he should be President. Nonetheless, "Careful Man" is a good song, but I think with such a normal name and that song title, I was expecting Jim Croce level brilliance. I looked this dude up online and he became one of like 17,000 guys who sang for The Spinners, but he also was a regional star on something that got referred to by the internet machine as "the chitlin circuit". I have a cousin in college now who, when he comes home, it's like some weird tradition for his little part of the family to have chitlins, which I guess correctly spelled are chitterlings, but who the fuck can spell who eats that shit regularly? I am a man who is known to eat some fucked-up shit (country stores that have fried gizzards and hearts will probably show up on my eventual autopsy when I drop dead from the blood getting stuck in one half of my body), but I don't think I've ever even eaten chitlins, mostly because, well, it doesn't seem like a great thing to eat. Yeah, yeah, I know, put them in water and boil the shit out of them, but come on. I think the greatest thing about my cousin who loves to eat chitlins is the name he's known by, and most everybody who knows him back home calls him by to this day, at whatever college age he's at now, is Punkin'. Oh yeah, "Claim Jumpin'" was almost better than the A-side song, but neither was stand out awesome, even though neither sucked either.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 68%

CLEAN LIVING - In Heaven There Is No Beer / Backwoods Girl - $1

With this being on Vanguard Records, which I think the Vanguard Awards today are some sort of dork gospel christian country awards of some sort, and the band called Clean Living, I assumed this would be old-fashioned deep water Baptist "I don't handle snakes but I've got a crazy uncle in the mountains who does" type bluegrassish gospel. Except it's not. It's hokey country, but all about how beer is meant to be drunk and with piano solos and dudes hooting and hollering in the background, all with a steady clap track holding the time for everybody involved. "In Heaven there is no beer / that's why we drink it here / when we're gone from here / well our friends will be drinking all the beer" is basically the entire lyrical database to this song, repeated over and over. In other words, it's one of the greater songs I've heard tonight. "Backwoods Girl" is just a hokey country band, which they were on the other side too, but this song lacks the goofy schtick of being so stoked about drinking beer you made a stupid song of it. Actually, "Backwoods Girl" is a song that makes John Sebastian sound hard (he's that dude who welcomed back Kotter theme song-wise, and also painted rainbows all over your blues at Woodstock). And this single is the perfect example of how tough it is to put singles in the jukebox rotation, because even with a strong song on one side, it can really get dragged down by the other side. There's some songs I motherfuckin' love I have on 45, but I'd never put it in the jukebox for fear of somebody by chance deciding to play the other side and some crap-ass song coming out and then dudes just looking at me like I do Risky Business dancing around the house when nobody else is around.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 42%

MIAMI - Kill That Roach / Mr. Notorious - $1

I was kinda hoping that "Kill That Roach" had something to do with smoking the left-handed cigarettes. I'm not sure if it is or not, kind of an early disco song, meaning it still had enough funk to not make you feel stupid for hearing it, and there's basically chant singing with another dude doing "oww" and "yeah" sounds in the exact same voice of that guy who was in Cameo who's glasses got broke when that hot chick walked by in the beginning of Born In East L.A. Mostly instrumental funky jams like this, complete with Wes Montgomery-lite guitar solos, are perfect for the jukebox, because I always imagine if I eventually do have my stupid jukebox in working order, I'll sit around a lot drinking homemade wine and playing Spades at the kitchen table. Spades is a good married couples who like to use party as a verb activity, because all the kids can go play upstairs and you can sit around getting fucked up while attempting to win a game with your partner against another couple. Or you can do the battle of the sexes thing, which usually isn't too much fun because dudes always win, because we're almost as smart but like a thousand times more competitive. You can't do that teaming with the other couple's opposite sex counterpart thing because it creates too much sexual tension, and that wife-swapping shit never ends well. Somebody always ends up feeling gypped, and then someone else might be a little too eager to make the trade again next weekend and it just creates tension. Plus, I always have a hard time paying attention to whether or not somebody already played the ace of diamonds when my boy's wife is rubbing the inside of my shinbone with her naked foot, even though I don't have a foot fetish, and you try to look like nothing is happening. Then double plus, you get all pissed because what if that shit is happening the other way too? I guess all your feet would get tangled up under the table, and then you'd all just have sex together on the lambskin in the living room, but even then, too many feelings to get caught. Plus, for me, being a happily married man, the excitement of being with women before being married was the penis-tingling excitement of a naked woman. If every time I was gonna look at a naked woman there had to be a naked man there too, I probably would've just masturbated my whole life. I ain't really trying to get down like that. "Mr. Notorious" is an instrumental jam with a lot of flute action, which I guess if I was into swinging and shit like that, I might at some point desribe to a swinging buddy about a new swinging couple we hooked up with as our night at the Comfort Inn jacuzzi room being "an instrumental jam with a lot of flute action," and then I'd nudge him and laugh and we'd all have sex with each other's spouses and everybody would die from AIDS.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 69%

KURTIS BLOW - Starlife / Way Out West - $1

One time I lived in a trailer with a dude and we had a fish tank and it had three fancy fishes and two scrubs. The fancy fish were named Kurtis Blow, Curtis Mayfield, and Curtis Lowe, and the scrubs were Scrub One and Scrub Two. Then my roommate went away for the summer and I bought a channel cat and he ate everybody there so I caught him in a coffee can and flushed him down the toilet. I can only assume, from growing up on '70s TV movies, that now, somewhere in southside Virginia, there's like a 200 pound albino channel catfish feasting on unattended baby strollers. "Starlife" is like a Lisa Lisa & the Cult Jam song, meaning it sucks. The thing I've found about old Kurtis Blow singles on 45 is if both sides have an actual song, you are going to lose, because Kurtis Blow is not actually good, unless you reduce his entire discography down to those two lines "Now basketball is my favorite sport, I love the way they dribble up and down the court," and not even the rest of that song, just those two lines. But if you can find a 45 that has an instrumental version on the B-side, the beat will sound kind of like a Chuck Brown go-go beat for a good chunk of the song, making it at least partially worthwhile. "Way Out West" is pretty fuckin' bad, too, though slightly not as terrible as "Starlife". Still, it's old school rappin', which is ironic in whatever way people today liking shit from the past that sounds stupid gets defined as ironic.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 21%

THE STAPLE SINGERS - Samson And Delilah / Hammer And Nails - $1


Two things led to this purchase... First off, "Samson And Delilah" is a song the stupid Grateful Dead always played, and they were basically the most famous cover band ever, and I bought at a yard sale a few years ago a version of "Staggalee" by the Pacific Gas Company or some shit which is like three billion times better than any version I ever heard the Dead come close to doing. So I figured this might be the same deal as The Staple Singers are those folks who did that "I'll Take You There" jam from AM soul's heyday. Secondly, for about two weeks, my dad got some religion in his life, before my sisters were even born, and he was gonna read to me from the Bible, and since I had no sisters, it meant I was under six, and the only story he ever read from the Bible was the one about Samson and Delilah. My dad also always had a ponytail my whole life except for one period during my teen years where I think he had to go to court or something. This has brainwashed me to this day to be afraid to cut my hair off, even at 33 years old, because I don't want to fall in with the devil. When I say devil, I don't mean killer coolin' devil like Reign in Blood and Blizzard of Ozz devil, but more like child molestation tobacco lawyer town council devil. "Samson And Delilah" is great, though not as great as that "Staggalee" song ended up being, and "Hammer And Nails" is good, and I guess I can be down with a gospel single in the jukebox. There's a ton of that shit in the bins, but it's such a giant leap to buy one, because I don't know shit about black gospel music to know what might even be good or not, so for me, it'd just be, "Haha, this song is about cars and the devil," or something. I guess that's one of the final fields of expertise an expert whiteboy music dork has to make - to dabble into black gospel music to know what's great and what ain't and be so much smarter than everybody else. God, I hope I never get like that.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 53%

Z.Z. HILL - It Ain't No Use / Ha Ha (Laughing Song) - $1

There is no better stage name in the annals of American music than "Z.Z. Hill", and "It Ain't No Use" more than lives up to a name like that. This is one of those rare songs that make you tell yourself, "Hey, I really need to have crazy wild animal sex in a junkie-looking room with nothing but a red light on" to it. There's no real singing involved here, just Hill drinking with a woman, then a knock on the door and another woman, slurring her speech and trying to explain some shit to Hill, and then he kicks in to a quick verse about how shitty the slurring woman on the other side of the knock was, and you can imagine he's gonna get back to putting the work into that new woman. I'd say if there's one major fault with rap music it's that there's not nearly enough of it perfectly designed for fucking to, I guess because it's so alpha male. But that doesn't make logic, because alpha males love having sex, too. Whoa, the B-side song actually relates to the A-side, because the new girl is crying at the beginning of "Ha Ha (Laughing Song)" and Z.Z. explains how she shouldn't cry, he'll get all that noise worked out with Esther. And he does, because everybody's laughing at him, so he's all like, "Fuck you, Esther." I like how the fact a woman cheats on you is not as bad a slight as the fact that other people know she's been cheating on you, and that actually makes sense to me. It makes me hate Esther, too, especially since this is an old song so there's no way she's still hot enough for me to want to help her cheat on Z.Z. Hill some more.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 94%

THE ROLLING STONES - Tumbling Dice / Sweet Black Angel - $1

I'm gonna have to be careful the jukebox doesn't turn into a bunch of hipster doofus soul nonsense, so I try to keep an extra watch for some actual good rock-n-roll on 7-inch with the big hole (stupid punks) in the middle. This meant I was pretty goddamned excited to find a 45 single from off maybe the greatest rock-n-roll record ever - Exile On Main Street. And "Tumbling Dice" no less. The Stones in their reckless prime of the '70s was the most perfect rock-n-roll you could make, because it made you want to drunkenly drive other people's car as fast and as far as you could just to see where you ended up at. I dig some of the stoner rock bullshit that's been coming about in the recent years, but it's kind of retro nostalgia and you dig it and think, "Man, that's awesome, I wish rock was rock again and not all pussy-fied!" but you don't want to actively drunkenly drive other people's cars like primetime Stones made you want to. The pure essence of rock, just like rap, is something that can't be revisited, with some bullshit Hip Hop is Dead label. It reinvents itself as so motherfuckin' awesome somebody just has to suck your dick. Most bands on Earth would sell their soul to the Jewish label owner to have a B-side song like "Sweet Black Angel" be the only A-side they had their entire lives.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 100%

JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES - I Got The Feelin' / If I Ruled The World - $1

I had thunk "If I Ruled The World" would be awesome, but the "I Got The Feelin'" song was better, but more famous, and the world-ruling song was actually pretty crappy. Far too slow and string-ridden to properly allow for James Brown's drug-addled wife-beating mic-crushing best.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 9%

JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES - Don't Be A Dropout / Tell Me That You Love Me - $1

I guess the concept of not being a dropout as a James Brown song is a great one, but the actual version lacks the barely coherent rambling intros and outros I had been hoping for. Still, it's James Brown, which means I can buy like three thousand other singles by him for a dollar. Seriously, that dude was the hardest working because he must've released a new 45 every Tuesday. B-side is a song. By James Brown.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 19%

JOHN & ERNEST - Super Fly Meets Shaft / Problems - $1

Ahh, a collage song where there's some stupid story about Superfly and Shaft and the President and they have snippets of actual songs you would know. It's briefly interesting, in a purely novelty song type of way, which means after hearing it two times, it's stupider than fuck and you want to punch anybody who accidentally plays it. "Problems" is generic studio musician funk, so in all likelihood, this single was born from a couple of record producer dudes doing a goofy montage thing for one side, and then giving a bunch of black dudes a pack of cigarettes and two pork chops apiece to do a jam for the other side.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 32%

RUFUS THOMAS - Do The Funky Chicken / Turn Your Damper Down - $1

I always get my shit all mixed up, like on all those old records that say Rufus featuring Chaka Khan and then Rufus and Chaka Khan, I thought Rufus and Chaka were an Ike and Tina type couple, so there was a dude named Rufus Khan. And I guess since I actually had heard of Chaka Khan from the '80s, I figured Rufus Thomas was that dude's original name before he and Chaka got hooked up in whatever weird form of pop music Islam they were into back in those days. This is about that funky chicken dance, but also a song heavily sampled by Eazy-E (more likely Dre) on his debut album, which we used to call LP back in the day, because it was a long-playing record. Both sides are good enough, but I'm feeling slightly stifled by flipping stupid 45s over every three minutes, and plus I've been drinking, so I'd like to get this bullshit done and put on something that'll play for longer than me walking across the room and sitting down.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 38%

LITTLE JOHNNY TAYLOR - Open House At My House (Part 1) / Open House At My House (Part 2) - $1

I assumed this was the same Johnny Taylor who eventually became Stax Records' "Soul Philosopher" when I boughted it. Did you ever see, anonymous internet fucker, that old movie called Straight Outta Brooklyn that Matty Rich did by borrowing the money for a camera for his uncle? Very low budget coming of age in the ghetto tale that was so hyped as gritty and realistic that I even remember them playing it on PBS one Friday night? Well, if you did, then you remember the main character's drunken wife-abusing father who had the go-nowhere job at the gas station, who was nothing but shithead, until you saw him get talked down to by white customers and he came home one evening, but rather than beating his wife like you thought he would, they put on some old records and danced around the kitchen... this was the song they would've played, that would've made the abused wife remember why she loved her man and they had a family in the go-nowhere ghetto together, trying to make a dollar out of a stack of past due bills. That means this song is the motherfuckin' greats if you haven't seen that flick, and it's what you should listen to right before you end up getting shot over some stupid shit your stupid kid did that leaves you laying there looking like a misunderstood Jesus with head sideways for a camera to take a picture of you for everybody else to pretend they understand your Jesus nature better through, even though you're still just as misunderstood, because no one gives a fuck still. I guess that's the wonderful lie about Jesus being awesome is he made people give a fuck, according to the popular legend as spread by people who think he's awesome. Seems to me people don't really give a fuck about much still though, except having faster internet and lower credit card finance charges. I didn't really talk much about the specifics of this totally the best song ever song, but that's sort of the point of getting drunk and listening to music, isn't it? It's like religion, and digging through shitty old boxes full of records nobody's thumbed in four months... it's so mysterious and full of promise and flashes of joy, but mostly you get left with not a hole lot of anything.

Likelihood of making the jukebox rotation: 100%

Thursday, February 1

EWA100 - #94. Chubb Rock - Treat 'Em Right



94. Chubb Rock - Treat 'Em Right (Select. 1990. From the EP Treat 'Em Right)

(Note: The song more famously appeared on the 1991 LP "The One")

Mike Dikk: I really wish I could remember how my initial infatuation with this song came about, but I can’t remember that far back. I think it’s because of that part where he says “Rob Swinger got no dinkie hot dog” or whatever it is. Or it could have been the continuous “Go! Go! Go! Go’s!” because I was a big sucker for shit like that back in the days. You can’t deny that fucking chorus either.
I think a lot of people sleep on Chubb Rock because this was his only real hit, and he dabbled in that short lived House Rap trend, but this whole record was good. Or at least I remember it to be good, but I was probably in 7th grade the last time I heard it, and I wore House shirts in 7th grade, so I could be wrong.
I still hear this song every once in a while with no real explanation. It’s never like “HERE’S A CLASSIC OLD SCHOOL JOINT FROM THE LEGENDARY CHUBB ROCK!!”. They just play it in between “Chain Hang Low” and “Hustlin” and act like that’s not a weird thing to do. It’s pretty cool because most old songs the radio bothers to play, they act like its some big fucking chore to play a song that’s more than a year old. It makes me think that some radio DJ’s aren’t complete tools, or that Chubb Rock signed a deal with the devil to have "Treat 'Em Right" played at least 20 times a year on popular Hip Hop Radio until the day he dies.
Speaking of the devil, I was real pumped (what was the early 90’s slang equivalent for "pumped"? Was it "geeked" or something?) for his follow up record, but it sucked a dick. There were a lot of religious overtones going on, and then a lot of hippie bullshit that didn’t sit well with me. I was 14 and ready to move onto, THROW YA GUNZ IN THE AIR AND BUCK BUCK LIKE YA DON’T CARE so I didn’t need to be hearing about God and racial unity. I needed 14 more "Treat ‘Em Rights" and instead I got a shit sandwich in a flimsy cardboard cassette case. They couldn’t even spring for the plastic shell on that one.

Raven Mack: The fat black dude semi-sex symbol genre... something that hip hop has fully embraced that a lot of whiter musics seems to be afraid of doing. I mean, what the fuck, Biggie was rapping about getting tons of ass (meaning a lot of normal-sized portions of ass adding up to a ton, not like six women as big and ugly as he was), and we all saw that one interview clip I guess in the "Mo' Money" video where he looked like a cross-eyed beached whale gasping for air while fireflies followed his dark ass around in the daytime. If a dude like him could get ass, then Chubb Rock - a perfectly fine looking hefty gentleman - should have no problem himself.
I think more positive rap should take note of a song like this, because Chubb is not being all "I'm megascientifical with cunninglinguisticals getting metaphysical about how shit's reflicted yall" and calling all sorts of attention to how positive and intelligent he's being, with metaphorical neon arrows pointing to his brain the whole time. Chubb just lays the shit out smooth and fluent, representing the positive party people vibe, and it makes his hopeful message that we all can hang out and dance and not shoot each other much easier to swallow. Whatever happened to the party people? They were good, fun-loving people, just looking to have a good time, maybe knock some boots, if someone gets pregnant, get a job and shit and just try to keep being party people but a little more responsible. When did rap just want to be about shooting and pimping and shit? It's silly, because party people seems the way to go if we ever wanna get towards a utopian society - people just spinning "The Funky Drummer" and wearing bright clothes and girls with big dookie earrings and that hairstyle that looks like the top of a ice cream cone, but usually dyed blonde.
Should also mention, them old school hyper-hip-pop beats are kinda hard to ignore, that whole new jack era. "GO! GO! GO! GO!" They should just pump in music like that all the time at shitty jobs so we'd all stop being such lazy bitches about having to do any sort of work whatsoever. See, if we lived in a more fucked-up country, dudes like Chubb Rock and Heavy D and dudes like that could just make propaganda music to keep our production levels up, and we'd get smoothly sold on how great the way we were wasting our lives was in the grander sense of things. Instead, all we get is crappy beatmakers making specialized ringtones, which in turn has caused actual beats on the radio to sound like someone's annoying-ass cellphone ringing in the DMV lobby.

(EDIT: The link is fixed. you can now download the song. Sorry about that.)
Download: Chubb Rock - Treat 'Em Right

Despite the fact that Youtube has every single rap video ever recorded, it doesn't have "Treat 'Em Right" for some reason. It was a pretty popular video back in the day, so maybe someone wanted all copies destroyed or something. Well, instead you get some bloke from london doing it kareoke style. In the meantime, SOMEONE UPLOAD THE TREAT EM RIGHT VIDEO TO YOUTUBE.