The year was 1996 and Philadelphia based Hip Hop/Neo Soul band, The Roots, were ready to drop their third album, Illadelph Halflife. The first single from the album was “Clones” and it sparked Illadelph Halflife to become their most successful album to that point. They went on to follow it up with the single “What They Do” which became their first breakout hit and the video received favorable play on MTV, probably for its funny scenes of parodying hip hop video cliches of the time.
I know we all think of The Roots as Jimmy Fallon’s house band today but back in 95 I was first introduces to their music thanks to good old KRCL 90.9 FM and DJ Buz’s Friday night show “Rapp Attack”. I would religiously record Rapp Attack (via cassette tape deck look it up boys and girls) and then play that as loud as the families 91 Chrysler Lebaron could take it (Factory speakers ain’t got no bass, am I right Showtime?)
Anywho one night I heard “The Lesson Pt 1” (see below) and I was hooked. I picked up their second album “Do you want more ?!!!??!”, ate up every song on the album (Proceed, Distortion to Static, Mellow My Man, Lazy Afternoon, Swept Away, etc…) and became a fan for life.
The year was 1992 and the still named Prince was just launching down his path of eventually changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol and forcing music lovers the world over to refer to him only as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince (Or TAFKAP or The Artist if you were lazy). While unable to reach the popularity of 1991’s Diamond and Pearls, perhaps due to the initial single “My Name Is Prince” featuring the bizarre gold Mic gun, police outfit, gold chain mask, the 2nd most inappropriate use of the word Funk by Prince (second only to batdance’s violent, repeated “Get the Funk Up” line that 1989 me was unsure if he was using Funk or the other F word that shares 3 letters with Funk. SIDE NOTE: How bizarre was it that Prince did the entire soundtrack to the Batman movie in 1989 and even better it was a huge success? What is 2012 the equivalent to that? Lady Gaga doing a theme album for Spider Man?)
Anywho, the second single was simply titled 7 and would prove to be the biggest commercial success off “The Love Symbol” album reaching, poetically, the 7th spot on the billboard hot 100 chart. You can argue about the true meaning of the lyrics all you want, I’ve always found it a catchy tune so I give you…
“It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch … passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer. He was 47 years old.”
Others will do a better job reporting on the passing of Adam Yauch, better know as MCA from the Beastie Boys. I never acknowledged myself as the worlds biggest Beastie Boys fan but its amazing that when I went to select a song for the “Random Song of the Whatever” today in honor of the Beastie Boys that it was impossible to pick one. Looking back over their body of work its astounding just how much of an impact they had on anyone who may have had a passing interest in hip hop over the last 25 years. Their run from 86-2011 was unparalleled from a creative standpoint and a commercial success as well having sold more albums in the US than any other Hip Hop or artist not named 2Pac, Eminem or Jay Z. They crossed racial boundaries, musical boundaries, went main stream without selling out or losing any cred, played their own music, transformed the art of music videos, championed causes that were important to them, so on and so on and so on.
So to honor the passing of MCA today I give you my top 11 Beastie Boys songs. 11 just because I felt like it and no one of them isn’t “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right to Party”. Classic song but its not one of my favorites.
11. Too Many MC’s – Collaboration with Nas off of 2011’s Hot Sauce Committee Pt 2 album. Seems like several versions of this song exist but here was the closest I could find to my favorite version.
10. Gratitude – Off the 1992 Check Your Head album, features one of the most recognizable baselines ever
9. Right Right Now Now – Last single off the 2004 album “To The 5 Boroughs”
8. Hey Ladies – For some reason this song, the highest charting single from “Paul’s Boutique” really appealed to the 1989 me. I don’t think it was the video which seemed to be on overplay on MTV and the 1989 me wasn’t digging the polyester as much as the 2012 me does. I think it might have been the cowbell. I gotta fever and…well you know. “HEY LADIES! GET FUNKY!”
7. Body Movin – Prior to tonight I think I had seen the video for Body Movin just one time back when it first came out in 1998. I have never forgotten it or the song.
6. So What’cha Want – Who could forget the negative effect in the sky for this video? And Mike D’s awesome retro Knicks ringer T? I’m not sure if I like this song more or less after it being featured in Rock Band 2…hey I think I’m losing my mind this time this time I’m losing my mind thats right!
5. Sure Shot – The third single off 1994’s Ill Communication album features an awesome flute sample which just shows how nothing is unusable
4. Sabotage – One of the most memorable songs of the 90’s and one of the most memorable music videos ever
3. Paul Revere – “Now here’s a little story I got to tell…” and you know the rest. Features an infamous looping drum sample which legend has it was accidentally recorded backwards.
2. Brass Monkey – Okay I know this song is about an alcoholic drink and I don’t support drinking however ever since Showtime told me a story of a guy bumping this in his car at a particularly inappropriate moment this song has always brought a smile to my face. And that bass was definitely blwoing up speakers in the families 91 lebaron
1. Intergalactic – I think song about sums up the Beastie Boys best, from the samples to the drums to the lyrics and delivery…a masterpiece.
On a side note, after listening to more than my fair share of Beastie Boys tonight, has there ever been a group that has dropped their own names more often than these guys? The number of times they drop MCA, Mike D and Ad Rock is truly astounding…
Today’s random song of the whatever see’s us hit the waaaaaayback machine to 1991. I give you, the UMC’s with Blue Cheese!
While scouring the interwebs for candidates for this weeks random song of the whatever I went back through a veritable treasure trove of 88-92 hip hop that took me way back and I had a very hard time settling on one candidate. Expect lots more gems where this one came from and if you like the UMC’s be sure to check out their whole album “Fruits of Nature” definitely one of the unheralded classics of the era.
Okay admission time…I’m a fan of the Metric system.
Or at least I’m a fan of the band Metric, a Canadian indie rock/new wave band. I first stumbled onto Metric while playing NBA 2k10 (which has to be one of the greatest soundtracks for a video game ever by the way with in addition to Metric’s Help I’m Alive also features greats like Champion, Kanye’s Amazing, One Day, They’re Everywhere, Shootin, Top of the World, International, Electric Feel, Wavin the Flag, Mirando, Black and Blue, List of Demands, Radio Ladio, Falcon Jab, Lock It Down, only a handful of duds in the bunch) uhh where was I?
Oh yeah, Help I’m Alive quickly became entrenched in my brain from playing the game but that wasn’t enough to get me on the Metric bandwagon just yet.
The tipping point came when I watched a little movie called “Scott Pilgrim VS The World” (and for the record yes I’m a huge fan of the movie but that deserves its own post some day. You could say I’m in lesbian with it…) and caught a little ditty called “Black Sheep” from the fictional “Clash at Demonhead” band. A little research revealed that the song was actually written by Metric and they had performed the version of the song on the soundtrack (another great soundtrack by the way). Black Sheep was every bit as good as “Help I’m Alive”. Side note, the band Clash At Demonhead was at least partially, if not fully, inspired by Metric as Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley referenced pictures of lead singer Emily Haines when drawing them so it was very fitting they provide a track for such an integral part of the movie.
Now I was a fan and it wasn’t until doing a little more research that I connected the dots and realized that both songs were performed by the same group. Now having two Metric tunes in my brain I was a full on fan and searched for more.
Their entire library is fantastic (Hardwire, On The Sly, Soft Rock Star, Raw Sugar, White Gold, London Half Life, Ending Start, Sick Muse, Satellite Mind, Twilight Galaxy, Gimme Sympathy, Collect Call, Front Row, Blindness, Stadium Love are all awesome off the top of my head) but they also released an acoustic EP which while seemingly stripping away what makes them Metric (the whole new wave synth/techno thing) brought some of their greatest hits to life in an all new way…
With all that said I give you the acoustic version of “Help I’m Alive”. The acoustic version is a particularly haunting, soulful, reserved version that brings out the heart of the song.
And just because I feel I’d be doing a disservice to anyone hearing Metric for the first time, here is the album version of “Help I’m Alive”
Its a good time to hop on the Metric bandwagon as the group is scheduled to drop their 5th album in early 2012.