Saturday, July 31, 2010

Uptown Saturday Night, Part 1

When I hear "Harlem", I don't think about getting "wavy", or "light", nor do images of bedazzled skull belt buckles or True Religion brand body suits flood my mind.  Sign of the times, sure.

Here at PTP, we love our homework, heritage, history, Harlem, and Helly this post series will take you on a trip back to when the dresscode was strictly (aside from the obvious Face and Timberland) Guess, Nautica, Columbia, A-Solo, Vasque, and the like...when UPTOWN, NYC beats didn't have an ounce of crunk finger snap appeal.  To quote Killa:

New York, let's stop bitin' and start writin'
And start mountains
When the fuck we start bouncin'?

Let's get to some classic Uptown shit you may or may not know about...

Crime Fam

Produced by Younglord (the guy behind Pun's classic, "You Ain't A Killer", plus various album cuts for the likes of Tragedy Khadafi, G Rap, DMX, and you get the pic).  Some dope, low-eyed, villainous uptown shit.  During many a visit to the old (East ville) Fat Beats, I'd pass on the last copy of this 12"...simply because I had no idea what the fuck this shit sounded like, nor did the mention of Bad Boy Records on an indie 12" in '96 help calm a raised-brow-by-default...but I guess that strange bit of oxymoronicism just made it that much more intriguing-I finally threw it down before the register with the appropriate $4.00 in cash.  On my way back, to get over the Bad Boy shock, I had to read through the credits again...the correlation became apparent; Younglord was on Puff's producer payroll (a shortlived member of the Hitmen?) and this was recorded at Daddy's House Recordings...see, not so crazy after all.

Cut to mid-2003, around the end of my supreme eBAY reign.  I'm sitting in my old room facing the heavy hanging decision of whether or not to sell this record for mucho ducketry (the few who knew about this 12" expressed a keen willingness to break bank for new ownership).  Well, I realized that keeping it would one day put a smile on my face more than the momentary rush of a quick stack (and that it could always stand as a back-up plan if times got too hard, right?).  What really made me want to hold on to this, and the best part of the decision-making process, was when I took this for another spin on the 1200.  I not only realized how dope and nostalgia-laced Younglord's production was, but the main dude, as in the primary voice on both joints, was motherfucking Loon (yes, that Loon)!!!  Mind you, this was a good year after the whole Puffy "I Need A Girl" explosion.  Funny shit indeed...felt the same as when I was reminded, in '97, of an old Murda Mase verse in which he starts off, "Fuck wearin' the fly shit, Versace wear/Real niggas dress in Guess, that's what got me here" (meanwhile, the Ma$e we were well used to/sick of was on T.V. displaying a much different sentiment when it came to fashion).

G-Depp (or G-Dep)
"Today" was a banger he did for DJ S&S, well after his Tape Kingz days.  People who've had an ear to the pavement will most likely reflect back to "Head Over Wheels" for their Golden Era G-Dep fix...but as an alternative, this does the job just fine for everyone I've shown it to.  Listen to his fuckin' flow and, don't even ask why he's one of my favorites to ever emerge from my beloved borough of Money Makin'...the proof is in the pot.

Regarding the classic Tape Kingz 12" featuring the young "G-Depp" doing his best LL-swing-an-ep-in-my-truck (plus the ridiculously ill "Blow More Spots")...let me just say that I have fond memories of seeing the shit posted in the OG Fat Beats catalog.  Does anyone remember this fine "publication"?!?  It was completely indicative of the whole "pre-Rawkus" DIY/indie era...and why it was so great.  The catalog was an administrative assistant's nightmare...a multi-page xerox job, front & back, stapled...which more resembled a crudely fabricated construction site checklist, complete with misspellings, song title and artist name reversals, and little to no detail on anything listed.  It basically screamed into the reader's ear to "get the fuck up and go to the store to browse, in-person" ( just worked out better that way).  The point was, not only to go hunt, but to take a chance and trust in the opinion(s) of your local record shop staff (and not just what the super-paid(off) radio and T.V. outlets were shooting out into the air).  When you'd walk in and see a wall of generic white and black record jackets, each equipped with little rectangular cut-outs with multi-colored magic marker inscribed labels stating the artist name, key song(s) to check for, and maybe an added point of reference (i.e. "on Fondle 'Em Recs, Bobbito's label!!").  Nothin' fancy about it at all...but what did good music ever have to do with glossy graphics?  Anyways, I'm so burnt that I never picked up a copy of "Head Over Wheels/Blow More Spots" back then (would have saved me a pretty penny too).

Back to the Deputy, many of you already know how he went on to gather up steam through guest spots and freestyles on various radio shows and mixtapes...while dropping a "p" off of his name...and eventually got picked up by Bad Boy, from where he would release a solid debut album (though you probably slept because of the whole Puff shit...obviously if you did not know that Child Of The Ghetto was comprised of mostly hard joints - one of my favorite Bad Boy albums, ever...B.I.G. or not, doesn't matter).  I am extra pissed that I lost the leaked version of COTG, which boasted much less background vocal work from Sean Combs and an original version to "Fuck On The First Night" that had a ridiculously hypnotic beat.  I had so much hope in dude to keep it going and act as the new torch bearer for Harlem, taking on the duty from the likes of Big L, Killa Cam and McGruff...but it seems the game got the best of him when things were really looking up for dude.  PTP sincerely hopes Dep gets back on his feet soon.  We want more bangers ASAP...hopefully to sit beside one of his greatest recorded achievements, the perfect song/uptown anthem, the album's title track, "Child Of The Ghetto" (I will not accept any other opinions on this...that shit was TOO TOUGH).

More on the way...

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