Sunday, April 20, 2008
CURL ACTIVATE! Novelty Hip-Hop 12" Singles of the '80s
I was reading a story in the LA Times last week about a plane crash in Compton, and the photo of a witness to the crash caught my eye - what was that on his shirt? As you can see, it wasn't something suitable for a family newspaper. Good eye, Times editors!
I bet that guy would like these records. I sure do. They're pure low-budget fun, thoroughly funky and danceable, and blissfully uncool - not a cliche-spouting bling-bling gangsta in sight. Here's an album's worth of novelty/oddball hip-hop/funk 12" from the Jheri Curl era that I ripped from vinyl:
CURL ACTIVATE! (divshare link)
1. Deryl With The Curl & DJ Curl Activator: "Curl Activate" (Jam-Kru Records) - samples George Clinton "Atomic Dog"
2. Akeem "The Dream" Olajuwon: "The Unbeatable Dream" (Las Vegas Records 1986) - Basketball star Olajuwon is saluted and contributes a few heavily-accented vocals; a shoe company is credited with co-executive producer - the lyrics mentions the shoe brand name three times; Dazz Band/Gap Band-type groove by the sports-obsessed Hurt 'em Bad, who is featured elsewhere in this collection with a football song. He also recorded a song about boxing, but that's if we ever get to volume two.
3. The Rappin Reverend Dr. C. Dexter Wise, III: "The Original Rap" (Fantasy Records, 1987) - Nice backing vox by The Heydons; Dr. Wise's brother Raymond is responsible for the one-guy-with-an-electronic-keyboard -and-drum-machine production. Holy hell, this is funny.
4. Chunky A: "Owww!" (MCA, 1989) - Comedian/talk show host Arsenio Hall's chubby musical alter ego. This spoof of Cameo's "Word Up" is really well produced, as opposed to the private-press primitivism of much of these other platters.
5. Chick Hearn: "Rap Around" (Outpost, 1986) - Basketball's greatest announcer gets sampled by Dave Bloom and Dave Gillerman, whoever they are. When I was a kid, I thought this record was genius.
6. Hurt Em Bad & The S.C. Band: "Monday Night Football" (Profile, 1982) - Zapp-like music, complete with vocoder.
7. Mac The Rapper: "What Is Love" (Shinola, 1987) - Featuring a computer's text-to-speech program, by Bob Mithoff, a soundtrack composer for the infamous Troma Film company ("Surf Nazis Must Die," "Class of Nuke 'em High," etc)
8. The Wilson Sisters & Speedy D: "The Magic Man" (Positive Music, 1988) - Yet another sports tribute, this one to Earvin "Magic" Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers, the dominant team of the '80s. Record has no info, but came with a bumper sticker.
9. Rich Little: "Presidents Rap" (Broadway, 1982) - No, the veteran comic impressionist isn't rapping - these are a few Reagan-inspired comedy sketches set over music that swipes from the Tom Tom Club's 1981 classic "Genius of Love."
10. The Coach: "Take It To The Hoop" (Zuma Jay, 1984) - Another basketball-inspired song from Los Angeles. As you may have figured by now, Laker fever swept LA in the '80s. Music by the unlikely Dennis Dragon of popular New Wave club band The Surf Punks. Wait, it gets even weirder - Dennis' brother Daryl, the "Captain" of '70s EZ listening superstars The Captain & Tennille plays synth!
11. Gerty Molzen: "Walk On The Wild Side" (10 Records, 1985) - The then-79 year old German screen star and opera/classical singer covers Lou Reed in a heavy accent, as an uncredited rapper throws in random quotes from Whodini's "Haunted House of Rock" and Grandmaster Flash's "New York, New York." Truly the reason why the letters "WTF" were invented. I saw her do this on "David Letterman" when this record came out. Instead of singing "doot da-doot" for when the colored girls sing, she sang something like "zabidy-doe, zabidy-doe." For a few shows later, Dave would ask his bandleader Paul Shaffer, "I'm in the mood for some Lou Reed. Can you play a little Lou Reed?" and they'd play a tape of Gerty singing "zabidy-doe, zabidy-doe." No, it's not on YouTube - I checked.
12. The Fat Boys: "Chillin With The Refrigerator" (Sutra, 1985) - Our final sports tribute, from one of the most popular rap groups of the '80s, The Fat Boys, featuring the late great Human Beat-Box. I was shocked to find that their albums are all out of print - they had four albums that went gold or platinum. Their subject here is football star William "The Refrigerator" Perry.
13. Bobby Jimmy & The Critters: "N.Y./LA Rappers" (Ruthless, 1988) - Another comedic rap group whose albums are sadly out of print; Bobby Jimmy (The Weird Al of rap) was Russ Parr, the morning dj on Compton's legendary KDAY - at the time, America's only 24/7 rap station. In fact, I'm sure that's were I first heard this. Produced by Dr. Dre for Eazy-E's label. Bobby Jimmy & The Critters had a string of popular rap parodies that were actually almost mainstream successes. The Ice T "Colors" parody on this one is particularly hilarious.