Sleeping Bag/ Fresh 1989
Nowadays, both Girls I Got ‘Em Locked and Crazy Noise receive honorable mention as two of the more famous obscure albums to showcase the production and engineering genius of sampling pioneer and mentor to legendary sampling pioneer Paul C (R.I.P.). Since both titles are grossly overlooked even in true school revivalist circles they partly function as ironic monuments to the man’s immense but unacknowledged contribution to the genre’s evolution. A cursory listen to Super Lover Cee and Casanova Rud’s classic jam “Do The James” should illuminate the uninitiated masses to Paul’s singular talent for manipulating technology to making significant improvements on the funky breaks that hip hop’s first b-boys and DJs might have worshipped as instances of musical perfection.
Perhaps more importantly, “Do The James” is a damn fun song. It’s funky enough to command the most ice grillingest wallflower to assume wop position. The drums jacked from you-know-where are among the hardest to ever rock the nation. In fact, they are hard enough to snap skulls, rupture vats of processed honey, or knock a lame duck out of office. That hard (nh). Many aging b-boys wax poetic on how the killer snares and superb fast rappin’ heard on “Do The James” evoke ‘87 in all of its stick-up kid taxin’, Rooftop-raisin’, dookie gold rope-a-dope glory but after all of the throwback rhetoric subsides we are left with one hell of a tight song. Girls I Got ‘Em Locked rests on this solid foundation of inspired party music.
Though “Do The James” is clearly the crown jewel of the album, most of the songs are worth blasting when you have company over. The title track (also the album’s second single) is as self-assured, libdinous, and carefree as you might guess, while “Girls Act Stupid-aly” proves to be four-and-a-half minutes of pimp slap funk and exudes bad attitude and fly style. “I’m Back” and “I Gotta A Good Thing” are reverent but raucous invocations of James Brown’s inimitable spirit. “Gets No Deeper” rolls and pulsates with the same rhythmic intensity that the listener might pick up in Super Lover Cee’s flow. These cuts push this ten-track album forward past its brief weak spots and into the eternal memory of the dazzled party people in the place to be.
The CT native known as Stezo is perhaps most famous for his stint as EPMD’s dancer, but his LP Crazy Noise is a forward if inconsistent late ‘80s rap record. The thickly layered hardcore grooves point towards the increasing complexity of sample-based hip hop that was more fully and famously realized on De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising and the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique from the same year. Stezo is not as technically skilled as Posdnous or even half as charismatic as King Adrock but his cockily nonchalant party host persona suits festive romps like “Bring The Horns” and “Talking Sense” well. “Girl Trouble” and the slightly overproduced “Getting Paid” are so catchy and endearingly one-dimensional that one can easily imagine them being as having been dreamt up as crossover-obsessed A&R’s at some big fat greasy major label. Except of course, that these songs are really good.
The mega-bangers “Freak the Funk” and “To The Max” were smartly chosen to be included on the album’s 12” singles even though several of the songs on this LP might have also worked wonders on the airwaves. “Get Into His Move” is the album’s finest moment (though many will point to the incredible usage of a certain Skull Snaps break on “It’s My Turn”). The song is densely packed with samples that would be re-used numerous times over the following decade and as such possesses a sense of urgency and grand historical significance. Oh, and did I mention that it’s dope as fuck? On the strength, though, be sure to add both Crazy Noise and Girls I Got ‘Em Locked to your burgeoning “shit that nobody has and everybody forgot about” collection.