Sunday, 9 January 2011

East of Edan

Here I was all ready to act the highfaluting "oh, his 12"-only songs were so much better than anything on his albums, dah-ling" guy with a post about how Edan was only ever really worthwhile as a singles artist (hardly a besmirching remark since it'd put him in the company of Tweedy Bird Loc, Black Moon, and pre-2006 Ludacris) because you could only find his tracks which weren't hampered by standard white-rapper voice/delivery issues and the whole golden-era pastiche cul-de-sac he'd cornered himself into on them, when I sabotaged myself by skimming through his Primitive Plus debut (bought and, indeed, kept because Rapperfection was the one Edan album track I dug) for the first time in around 8 years and found the likes of '83 Wildin', One Man Arsenal, the original Emcees Smoke Crack, and You Suck! all goin' hard in the 2011 in a way they never did back when I copped it in 2002. Damn.

Still, I maintain the viewpoint that Edan's finest songs were on the Emcees Smoke Crack remix 12", that the Sprain Your Tape Deck EP contained his most entertaining experiments, and that his only effective '88 reappropriation was a rare 7" given away via a website, so let's not allow anything as trivial as my factual reconsiderations about 5 songs from Primitive Plus to act as portcullis to the castle of a pre-planned post which'll now have to be subtitled as ‘5 great Edan moments from his singles’ rather than ‘why Edan's singles were better than his albums’. These are in chronological order and if there is a notable absence here then it's his Jesse B. Weaver Jr tribute Schoolly D Knew The Time, which was a much more successful eulogy for an eighties rap hero than Nas's klutzy Unauthorized Biography of Rakim because, unlike that well-intentioned but ultimately dull testimonial by Jones, it captures some of the spirit of the rapper it's saluting and it also works as a banger that you'll actually listen to more than twice.

Edan - Beautiful Food (2002)
(From the Sprain Your Tapedeck EP)

So, there are 3 key experimental songs on Sprain Your Tapedeck : Run Your Shit, which we'll get to in a minute; the irritatingly zany Let's Be Friends, which Edan probably intended to sound like Biscuits And Eggs by Ultramagnetic but is more reminiscent of I Feel You Dawg by Filipino Frank; and Beautiful Food, which is little more than Edan rapping a list of scran he finds delectable, but he reels off the names of his favourite snacks with such relish that it ends up as an unlikely catwalk between Rae & Ghost in the kitchen and Young Dro's constant food references plus Mm..Food-era DOOM in the food-rap sub-genre we can trace back to starting with the Fat Boys, and which was continued with Lil B's cooking craze in last year. Okay, I'll concede that this joint might be as acquired a taste as the brown rice citrus salad sandwiches Edan bigs up in it, but, at the very least, you have to admit that it's better than that Lupe Fiasco song where he pretended to be a hamburger, right?

Edan - Run That Shit (2002)
(From the Sprain Your Tapedeck EP)

I recently saw someone describe Tyler The Creator as "like a black teenage Edan" and beyond the initial LOLz the comparison drew, I can sorta see what its author meant since Edan was a bugged-out rapper/producer auteur with a D.I.Y ethic like Tyler is. But if we're going to liken Edan to the current breed of young, independent oddball rappers then let's throw Lil B's name into the hat too since Edan had a knack for surreally replicating the styles of other rappers like B does. So, where B eccentrically channels AZ on Age Of Information or both Juvenile and Magnolia Shorty on The Summer, Edan reimagined himself as Kool Keith on Ultra '88 (Respect Due), or, in this instance, plays the Beantown homer by recreating a mythical mid 90s Scientifik cut (that piano sample is pure Buckwild) from the perspective of a kleptomaniac stick-up kid in his own absurd image, where our narrator is so gassed off the idea of never paying for anything that he ends up jacking people for their pet dogs, little brothers, and fried pieces of chicken.

Edan - Emcees Smoke Crack remix (2002)
(From the Emcees Smoke Crack remix 12")

And then it finally happened : Emcees Smoke Crack remix was the song was where all the elements seemed to align for Edan's steez and the problems I've encountered with him beforehand and afterwards - the awkwardness and earnestness all peckerwood rappers suffer from to some degree, the intentional retroism, the misfortune of too many of his records sounding like rap songs made by a white hip hop nerd rather than actual rap songs - all evapourated to be replaced with an obnoxiousness that's as close any other cracker has come to advancing on what the Beasties accomplished on Paul's Boutique, and, production-wise he finally built on the promise of Rapperfection and the interview which initially piqued my interest in him where he opined that his music was a modern take on New Rap Language without feeling as contrived as his later Beauty And The Beat album with all the psychedelic rock samples and moogs did. As mentioned previously, the true litmus test for songs by pilgrim rappers here at The Martorialist is if you can't imagine anyone else over the beat, and that's why this is Edan's one boda fide masterpiece. The B. side of this 12" wasn't half bad either.

Edan - I'll Come Running Back To You (2002)
(From the Emcees Smoke Crack remix 12")

I'll Come Running Back To You isn't quite as brilliant as it's A. side because I can imagine someone else over this beat since it's what I'd hoped Black Sheep's Non-Fiction album would've sounded like, but it's still pretty darn neat and I guess Edan's true strength may have been in inventing fictitious futures which never came to pass for golden-era rappers. After this 12" Edan bookended 2002 with his excellent Fast Rap mix cd, but, alas, it also proved to be a false dawn as his Beauty And The Beat album 3 years later in 2005 was a return to shockingly earnest levels of delivery and its new production style left me unable to understand what all the fuss was about. The only other song of his which came close to replicating the 4 songs in this post for me was another single-only track in 2005, this time an obscure 7" that was limited to 500 copies.

Edan - Funky Rhyming (2005)
(From the Funky Rhyming 7")

See, I can forgive Funky Rhyming for falling into the period-piece pastiche trap of Edan's earlier work because he raps on it with that same Emcees Smoke Crack remix/I'll Be Coming Back To You chutzpah previous records of his like Drop Some Smooth Lyrics were deficient in, and tenet # 43 of rap-law 101 dictates that every east coast rapper who debuted before 2005 must rhyme over Funky Drummer, Champ and U.F.O at some point during their career so Edan acted sensibly here by ploughing through them all on one song. His addressing of internet hataz on this is just about acceptable since the 7" was a HipHopSite exclusive, and history has taught us that it's far preferable option for rappers to respond to their online detractors in a song given away on a rap website than it is for them to get Immortal Technique-ed in the real world after being constantly embarrassed by a trannie-fellating Filipino teenager when posting on a rap message board.

As if to reinforce just how disappointing I found Edan's post-2002 career, even my copy of his Sound Of The Funky Drummer mix cd from 2004 went haywire after track 3 and then refused to play any further. I'm not shelling out for another copy and I've never been able to find a working download to it, but I'm interested to hear his actual 4 songs on there in the vain hope that they're more Funky Rhyming than Funky Voltron.


Thun said...

Great post. I too have always been somewhat annoyed by Edan's contrivances and voice problems so it's good to have the tracks where he mostly transcends these flaws in one place.

misterjay said...

how do you not like beauty and the beat? that is his only solid release front to back. he needs to start doing more drugs (again?). good use of chutzpah, tho.

what do you think of this value comparison:

jewish white rappers > white rappers

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

I love how his voice quivers with a touch of embarrassment when he says "she was sucking my dick" on Run That Shit. White rappers are just too nice to pull off sounding badass, really.

Misterjay, it goes without saying that White Jewish rappers are better because Paul's Boutique is the apex of all white-rap. White Jewish rappers aren't entirely infallible, though, since they count Necro and Ill Bill amongst their ranks.

I just didn't like his delivery on Beauty And The Beat. It's possible I might have come around to the production because I like psychedelic 60s stuff, but his voice on there is like the proverbial nails on a chalkboard for me. Has an instrumental version of the album ever surfaced?

done said...

yeh deliverys my main problem with most whites like with berner, that and the fact he only raps about the kinda weed he smoes and coke prices.

im curious what his ego trip colum will be like. run that shits always been my favourite song of his but yeh im sure if he toned down the delivery and stopped soundin so earnest in some of his rhymes like that history of rap one beauty and the beatd be a masterpiece, and i heard a few instrumentals but they were ridiculously lo-fi.

deliverance is a very underrated white rap album i think, but in fairness it is more so for the production

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

I love Deliverance and Bubba's first album.

That new Georgia cut Burn One posted the other day is pretty cool too.

done said...

iv never managed to find bubbas first album anywhere but if its full of timbo bangers of "ugly"'s calibre im sure its great

the ugly video is the only time a white rapper not eithercompletely workin the comedy angle or doing the "look how mental i am" RA-style shtick that achieves the natural coolness and feeling of wishing you were there that every good rap video should give

burn ones one of my favourite recent producers, hes one of the few modern dudes doin that country rap shit right

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Not sure if Burn actually produced that new cut, he just posted it on Blvd St.

The other single from Bubba's first cd was also great : Lovely.

done said...

never heard that before its really good. bubba and timmy fishing in a swimming pool>>> missy on a tractor

that kuntry folks song is great too, almost like one of nappy roots better songs. gonna try and find the album now

im new enough to burn ones blog i just assume most of what he posts hes associated with. them g mane tapes he did are great

Mr Bozack said...

Isn't Edan Jewish? And Serch... It ain't all good though - Blood Of Abraham were horrendous if my fractured memories of Yo! Raps are anything to go by.

I reckon Beauty and the Beat is class - the only rap album to really do the whole rock/psych thing? Hearing you about his delivery etc but there's some glorious music on there.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Blood Of Abraham were definately hebrews, and it appears that Beauty And The Beat is the ultimate marmite rap album.

I think the $tarlito Renaissance Gangster 'tape with Burn one is my favourite. Perfect match of rapping and production styles.

misterjay said...

exactly, i love pauls boutique. but i try my hardest to overlook mc serch.

percee p's verse on "torture chamber": glorious music indeed.
ive only found an instrumental of the intro on beauty and the beat, what other instrumentals are out there?

done, in case it helps with your judgement of berner's voice, he is latino, and is even part of thizz latin.

renaissance gangster is the perfect length and vibe to smoke a blunt to, in case anyone was wondering.

David said...

bubba's first one has some of timbo's best work & bubba always sounded genuine in a way that wasnt typically off-putting. very few rappers sound as honest as he does on 'nowhere' off the 2nd one, too

'twerk a little' beat off the 1st is some great production

& yeah i had the sprain your tapedeck ep back when, always thought 'run that shit' was great

brad said...

i liked "beauty and the beat" too, but his earlier stuff was better.

i'll rip you them songs from the "funky drummer" comp.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

David, Twerk A Little was the shit. Betty-Betty would be my album jam of choice from the debut.

Misterjay - stop the Serch hate! I think there must be a few Beauty And The Beat instrumentals since there were a few 12"s from the album.

done said...

eh not sure knowing berners latino will help, it definitly doesnt help with termanology. (who shares the exact same ethnic background as evidence from dilated peoples who is always described as white? and who i kinda like on occassion i have to admit)

soundin genuine and natural can be a problem with white rappers but its not like it completely ruins their appeal for me. i dont think 3rd bass and the beasties ever sounded that natural but they were great. oh and serch was a great freestyler (bar his embarrasing turn on the last yo! episode of course) but he did sound fairly earnest sometimes, especially with all the 5%er talk. bubba never had that problem.

done said...

i think i read somewhere edan purposley released all his instrumentals very lo-fi (the ones i heard were near unlistenable) to stop "mixtape rappers" usin em

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Changed my mind, All The Same with Sleepy Brown + Backbone was actually my album cut of choice from Dark Days, Bright Nights.

Add Slug from Atmosphere to the ethnic rappers who everybody thinks is a peckerwood list.

Versive said...

Call me naive, but I would never say Beauty and the Beat sounds contrived. That record was straight genre-bending and ahead of its time.

While he certainly wasn't the first to sample psych rock, he was definitely the first to successfully fuse the two genres with that sort of natural cohesiveness. To my ears at least, none of the samples come across as forced or out of place; each builds on the next to create a continuous flow and build a solid album. And it still remains rooted in funk-driven hip-hop.

All that being said, I do agree that his singles and EP have a certain something that the LPs lack. That lo-fi raw ish is tough to deny.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

I just thought it felt a bit too much of a stylistic jump at the time, but it's not out of the realms of possibility that I being was too harsh.

I really can't deal with his rapping on that album, though, so it's unlikely I'll revisit it.