Friday 26 March 2010

Rakin' In The 'Lo with Zhigge

The U.K really is an ass-backwards place to call home. The highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe? Presenting Blade to the world as an example of how we could do that rap music stuff too? High court judges and F.A officials who let cunts like Steven Gerrard get away with physically assault scot free? All seem like minor examples of the machinations of our retrograde little country when we compare them to having to wait until this past monday for season 2 of Twin Peaks and the Definitive Gold Box Edition of both seasons to receive a dvd release here.

But 3 nights spent in the company of Dale, Lucy, BOB, and the Log Lady require a Zack Morris time-out this evening to reminisce on some early 90s Random-Rap courteousy of the Harlem 5-piece Zhigge, who included Salaam Remi (AKA him who hooked up Nas with a bunch of played-out but undeniable samples for 4 of the 9 great songs he made from 2000 - 2009) amongst their ranks as their Dre or RZA type superproducer figure. Think of this post as a triple-header of staples here at The Martorialist; a textual Chimera with a Reasons I Love Youtube edition where I salivate over finding a video I never knew existed for one of my favourite early 90s singles as the first head of the beast, a Martorial Elegance post where we gaze lovingly at the gear the rappers are wearing in that video and their other main video as the beast's second head, and an installment of Great Songs From Forgotten Rap Albums with a song from their album which was dedicated to their sartorial shopping habits as the third and final head of our beast all rolled into one.

Zhigge - Rakin' In The Dough (Headboppers mix)

This is one of those songs which sounds like it was written especially with a video in mind as every verse is a mini-narrative for each member to provide evidence that, yup, they're definately Rakin' In The Dough as they go about their business dipped in the finest Ralph Lauren Polo of the day. The contrast between this mix and the album version are subtle, but the additions of the DO THE UPTOWN BOUNCE refrain and the horns sure do make one helluva difference with this superior remix, and that "don't let the doorknob hitcha where the good lord splitcha in your rear, dear : get outta here" was pretty damn fresh. Why the Ego Trip crew didn't include this or Zhigge's other single in their 1992 singles list in the Rap Lists book instead of the odious Jump Around (which they ranked higher than Know The Ledge, Hand On The Pump, Ill Street Blues, Head Banger, Just Like Compton and Who Got The Props FFS) and cack like Age Ain't Nothin' But A # by Chi-Ali, and Back To The Hotel by N2Deep I don't know. Let's surmise that they were making the same kind of critical decisions which saw Y.N go from putting together an n.W.o dreamteam of blog posters on the old XXL site (plz forgive me Miss Elizabeth for tainting your memory by assigning Tara Henley your role in another lazy n.W.o analogy) and doing a rather fine job of blogging himself, to chronicling inane gossip about Rick Ross and posting the latest videos by Slaughterhouse and Kid Cudi on RapRadar the day they put together that best singles of 1992 list.

Zhigge - Toss It Up

Can you believe that there are numbskulls out there who genuinely prefer Zhigge's other single here to Rakin' In The Dough C'mon now. Heck, let's not even ponder such puzzling taste and just sit back and appreciate Zhigge's get-ups in both videos and suck our teeth at the height they're wearing their jeans around their stomachs on some ol' Margaret Sheridan in The Thing From Another World type shit.

Zhigge - Some Ol' 'Low Life Skit

I can't deny that Thirstin Howl III has had a few joints here and there over the years, but, realistically, he's a better interview and vintage photo displaying classic Polo pieces than he is a rapper, so it's no suprise that Zhigge's official ode to 'Lo and the Lo Life lifestyle remains rap's defintion track on the subject. Special Ed was the first rapper I know of who sported Polo, but how come no Brooklyn rappers were penning tributes to Ralph and the art of shoplifting? Kind've ironic that a Harlem group boosted the concept and beat every Brooklyn rapper to the punch, really.


Zhigge - Drop The Beat, Salaam!

Even Eric B. & Rakim had deserted the token dedication to the producer/dj album track by 1992 with Don't Sweat The Technique being their first LP to not feature an Eric B _____ (is probably on the john droppin' logs as someone else does all the studio work) track so it was left to Zhigge (and EPMD) to uphold the tradition. It's impossible to hear this and not wanna do the Ed Lover dance, but it's a pity they didn't throw in a few choice vocal samples, scratches and chants on this one or they could've found themselves with a 90s club classic of the Party Groove or Let Me Clear My Throat calibre.

Buddah Nation - Buddah Nation

Another example of rap songs about weed being better than smoking weed and all the grubbiness it entails by a pot-themed, Uptown-based supergroup of You Won't Be Around Next Year rappers including Downlow, Zhigge, and Figures Of Speech, plus the slightly more successful, pre-DITC Ghetto Dwellas. The B. side of Downlow's forgettable Hands On Ya Pumpz 12", this gem more than makes up up the lackluster A. side. Stretch & Bobbito apparently agreed as they all but ignored Hands On Ya Pumpz and rinsed Buddah Nation on their radio show in '92.

Weirdly, this one was hooked by UK citizen and former Wild Bunch/Major Force producer Milo Johnson, who also co-produced a couple of songs on the Zhigge album. There's some weird UK-to-NY connection between Milo and Salaam Remi (after running out of Incredible Bongo Band samples for Nas to rap over he went on to produce for Ms. Dynomite and Amy Winehouse) which I can't figure out. Who knew an obscure little group like Zhigge would be the crucial link in a game of 6 Degrees Of Seperation between Hiroshi Fujiwara and Blake Fielder-Civil, though, eh?


Mr Bozack said...

Call me a pedantic cunt if you wish but a Chimera didn't have 3 heads. Perhaps you mean Cerberus or even Ghidora (of MF fame)...sloppy.

The CritIQ said...

Dissing Blade? How very dare you even suggest that an Armenian midget plagiarising Big Daddy Kane in an utterly unconvincing Chuck D voice isn't the best hip hop on this, or any other, planet. Mr Blade needs to come out of retirement PDQ because the world needs another album comprised entirely of songs about how nobody bought his last album.

AaronM said...

As far as martorial excellence in "Toss It Up": Urkel-height pants aside, gotta give props for the stripe scarf and newsboy cap combo.
Did Salaam Remi lose his crates around 2000? Dude had breaks in the 90s and then he solely samples Incredible Bongo Band and JB?

Boothe said...

If I'm not mistaken, Toss It Up was the first single, and Rakin In The Dough was released afterwards.

The first Zhigge track on heard on the radio was Toss It Up (The After Party), which i think is superior to the version in the video. I bumped this track for a while before figuring out who it was. I thought it was some native tongue shit cuz Sound kinda sounded like Dres, and Tonga sort of sounded like Phife.

The album version of Rakin in the Dough is ass, but I love the track that follows it "Harlem".

Not the greatest album, but a worthy purchase.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Bozack - a lion's head, a goat's head halfway down it's back and a snake's head at the end of its tail = 3 heads.

The CritIQ - preferably with another Feeder remix.

Aaron - possibly the only great use of a scarf in a rap video? I'm sayin' yes.

Boothe - thanks for the chronology. The After Party mix is very 1990/1991 Native Tongue, innit? That's why i prefer the original as it's got that Harlem flava. Ditto No Time To Fess off the LP.

Boothe said...

Rakin in the Dough VLS, with the Uptown Bounce Remix (my favorite version), and the rarely heard b-side, riddles that rap, riddles that rhyme

Mr Bozack said...

Nice post, made me come over all misty-eyed for YO! Raps for some reason.

Gotta say I prefer this use of the Junior Mance bass line tho...

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Yeah, Baby Bust It is great.

Cheers, Boothe. If that's the full single then the Church Ave mix should be on there too. Really wish they'd used that beat and the Uptown Bounce remix beat you favour for proper songs rather than remixes.

brad said...

i'm with booth on which rakin' in the dough remix is best.

Anonymous said...

This Richard Tre Mane guy is a fucking faggot.