Category: hip hop

On this day in music history: September 5, 198…

On this day in music history: September 5, 1989 – “Bust A Move” by Young MC is released. Written by Marvin Young, Matt Dike and Michael Ross, it is the second single release and biggest hit for the rapper from New York City. Born in London in 1967 to Jamaican immigrant parents, Marvin Young and his family moves to the US in the early 70’s, settling in Queens, NY. An extremely bright student, Young attends USC in Southern California after graduating from high school in 1985. When attending college, he meets Delicious Vinyl co-founders Matt Dike and Mike Ross. Young auditions for Dike and Ross over the phone, performing some original rhymes he’s written. His rapid fire and highly literate style impresses them immediately. The pair come to Marvin’s dorm room at USC, with a contract in hand to sign them to their label. Though before he records his first single for the label, Young MC re-writes the lyrics for label mate Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina”. Both become huge hits in 1989. Young records and releases his first single “Know How” / “I Let ‘Em Know” at the end of 1988. While looking for beats to sample for Young’s first album, Dike and Ross find jazz/rock band Ballin’ Jack’s debut album with the song “Found A Child” on it. They sample the tracks’ ultra funky breakdown, creating the main loop that runs through the song. “Bust A Move” also samples the break from Dennis Coffey’s classic instrumental “Scorpio”, as well as the breakdown of singer Bette Midler’s “Daytime Hustler”. The sampled track is augmented with live bass played by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and vocals by singer Crystal Blake, both of whom appear in the music video for the song. Released as the second single from “Stone Cold Rhymin’” in September of 1989, “Bust A Move” quickly becomes a smash, even more impressive since at the time, mainstream pop radio is still hesitant to play rap records. The single peaks at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 14, 1989, and #9 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. “Bust A Move” spends a near record 39 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, only being bested by Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” as the single with the longest run on the pop singles chart during the 1980’s. The Platinum selling single also wins Young MC, the second Grammy awarded for Best Rap Performance in 1990. Still hugely popular with audiences today, “Bust A Move” is still regularly spun on R&B oldies stations, with Young making a cameo in the 2009 film “Up In The Air” performing the song. "Bust A Move" is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 30, 1997 …

On this day in music history: August 30, 1997 – “Mo Money Mo Problems” by The Notorious B.I.G. Featuring Puff Daddy & Mase hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Christopher Wallace, Sean Combs, Mason Betha, Steve Jordan, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the second chart topping single for the Brooklyn, NY born rapper. Having made a major breakthrough with his classic debut album “Ready To Die” in 1994, with many of songs depicting his early years in the rap game, and his former life as a drug dealer, Biggie Smalls aka The Notorious B.I.G. makes a resolution not to travel over the same ground lyrically or musically on his sophomore effort.Wanting to show a progression from the first album, the material on the follow up “Life After Death” continues to tell the rappers story, but showing greater maturity and where he wishes to go in the future. The idea for “Mo Money, Mo Problems” comes out a statement Biggie makes during an interview, saying how his then new status as one of the biggest artists in hip hop had changed the attitudes of people around him. How money and fame don’t solve all of your problems, but instead bring a whole other set of them to deal with. The track for “Mo Money” produced by Stevie J. of The Hitmen production team samples Diana Ross’ 1980 hit “I’m Coming Out” and features R&B singer Kelly Price singing the hook. Puff Daddy and Mase also contribute verses to the song, with Biggie bringing it all home. “Mo Money Mo Problems” is the second single issued after four months after B.I.G.’s death on July 15, 1997. It is supported by a slick and glossy video directed by Hype Williams, and features archival footage of the rapper along with newly filmed footage of Puffy and Mase. Entering the Hot 100 at #4 on August 2, 1997, it leaps to the top of the chart four weeks later, unseating Puffy Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You” (after holding at #2 for three weeks), the Bad Boy founders posthumous tribute to the fallen rapper. “Mo Money” also receives a Grammy nomination in 1998 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, but loses to “I’ll Be Missing You”. The 12" single release of “Mo Money” is reissued in the US and UK on Record Store Day in April of 2017, pressed on marbled money green vinyl and is limited to 6,000 copies worldwide. “Mo Money Mo Problems” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 29, 1979 …

On this day in music history: August 29, 1979 – “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” by Fatback is released. Written by Fred Demery and Bill Curtis, it is the seventeenth single by the R&B/Funk band from New York City. Formed in 1970 by drummer Bill Curtis, The Fatback Band take their name from term “fatback” used to describe the heavy back beat of New Orleans jazz. The band move more toward a straight ahead R&B/Funk sound and away from their jazz roots. Fatback scores hits with the disco classics “(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop” and “(Do The) Spanish Hustle”, they officially shorten their name from to Fatback in 1977.. After scoring their first R&B top ten hit with funky “I Like Girls” (#9 R&B) in 1978, they follow it with “Freak The Freak The Funk (Rock)” (#36 R&B). In the Summer of 1979, Fatback releases “You’re My Candy Sweet”. The mid tempo dance single initially draws little attention and peters out at #67 on the Billboard R&B singles chart on September 22, 1979. While it is crawling up the chart, radio and club DJ’s discover the track hidden on the B-side. In the late 70’s, with Hip Hop culture still very much an underground phenomenon out of its birthplace of the South Bronx, the art of MC’s (Master of Ceremonies) improvising rap verses over R&B, funk and disco breaks is largely unknown to the general population. “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” features radio DJ Tim Washington rapping over Fatback’s chunky, driving backing track, supported by the band chanting the provocative phrase “Do it to me, and I’ll do it to you” in between the verses. Washington’s raps follow the tradition of R&B radio DJ pioneers like Jack “The Rapper” Gibson, Rufus Thomas and Douglas “Jocko” Henderson who often rapped between records while on the air. The reaction from music fans is swift, prompting Spring Records to quickly reverse the sides of the single. “King Tim III” hits the airwaves only two and a half weeks before The Sugarhill Gang’s landmark single “Rapper’s Delight”. The Fatback single enters the R&B singles chart at #88 on October 6, 1979, peaking at #26 on November 17, 1979. Though it does not have the same commercial impact, and is largely overshadowed by “Rapper’s Delight”, in time, “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” is acknowledged by music historians as the first commercially released rap record. Over the years, the song has been sampled numerous times including on songs by the Beastie Boys (“Shadrach”), Rodney O & Joe Cooley (“Cooley High”), DJ Qbert (“Track 10”) and J Dilla (“One Eleven”). After “King Tim III” charts, Fatback scores its biggest success in 1980 with their thirteenth album “Hot Box” and the back to back R&B hits “Gotta Get My Hands On Some (Money)” (#6 R&B) and “Backstrokin’” (#3 R&B). Still together after more than forty years, the band still perform “King Tim III” in their live shows.

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On this day in music history: August 27, 1996 …

On this day in music history: August 27, 1996 – “ATLiens”, the second album by OutKast is released. Produced by Organized Noize, OutKast/Earthtone Ideas, it is recorded at Bosstown Recording Studios, Doppler Recording Studios, PatchWerk Studios, Purple Dragon Studios, Studio LaCoCo in Atlanta, GA, Chung King Recording Studios and Sound On Sound Recording in New York City from Late 1995 – Mid 1996. Following the Platinum plus success of their debut “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik”, OutKast (André 3000 and Big Boi, respectively) seize the opportunity to explore new musical territory, and undergo the first of many changes in their creative approach, lifestyles and public image. Given carte blanche by their record label LaFace Records, the duo take a more hands on approach in the creative processs, co-producing several of the tracks themselves along side the production team Organized Noize. The songs on “ATLiens” act as a bridge from where they started on the first album, talking about their lives growing up in Atlanta and what they saw around them, to looking inward and interest in extraterrestrial life inspired by funk pioneers Parliament/Funkadelic. The music itself reflects the new found confidence, otherworldly sound and laid back tone the duo takes, also incorporating elements of dub, reggae and gospel music into the mix. The recording sessions are highly productive, resulting in a total of thirty five songs being recorded before being pared down to the final fourteen included on the album. The prolific number of tracks produced are all the more impressive, as many are composed in the studio rather than ahead of time. The albums title morphs together the name of OutKast’s hometown of Atlanta also know by natives at “the ATL” and aliens, to reflect the loose concept of the songs. That concept is also incorporated into the cover artwork, which includes a 24 page comic book style foldout depicting OutKast as defenders of “positive music” against the villain Nosamulli". The album is an immediate critical and commercial success upon its release, spinning off three singles including “Elevators (Me & You)”  (#5 R&B, #12 Pop), “Jazzy Belle” (#25 R&B, #52 Pop) and the title track (#23 R&B, #35 Pop). Shortly after the albums release, LaFace runs a promotion in tandem with the Blockbuster Video and music store chain, giving contestants the chance to win a fully restored and tricked out vintage 70’s Cadillac. The vinyl release of the album is remastered and reissued a two LP set in 2016, pressed on green and blue vinyl, and also as a limited edition picture disc set, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its original release. “ATLiens” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, debuting at its peak position of number two (for one week) on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 27, 1991 …

On this day in music history: August 27, 1991 – “I Need A Haircut”, the third album by Biz Markie is released. Produced by Biz Markie and Cutmaster Cool V., it is recorded at BMV Studios in Elizabeth, NJ from Late 1990 – Mid 1991. Landing major hits with “Just A Friend” and “The Biz Never Sleeps” album, the Harlem born rapper begins the task of following it up. With the assistance of engineer Ivan “Doc” Rodgriguez, Biz Markie installs a recording studio in his Elizabeth, NJ home. “I Need A Haircut”, features more of what has made Biz “The Clown Prince Of Hip Hop”. The first single “What Comes Around Goes Around” (#84 R&B), addresses the rapper’s new found fame. It’s directed at a girl who had dissed him on the way up, that now wants to be down with him. The track is given an additional brilliant hook, sampling The Emotions’ “A Feeling Is”. Biz runs into serious trouble with the track “Alone Again”, which samples Irish pop singer Gilbert O’Sullivan’s 70’s classic “Alone Again (Naturally)”. In past years, rap and dance artists had been able to freely sample music, without the fear of major provocation. However, that begins to change at the end of the 80’s, when De La Soul are sued by The Turtles for the unauthorized use of their song “You Showed Me” on the song “Transmitting Live From Mars”. Where as De La managed to settle their lawsuit out of court, Biz Markie is not as fortunate. O’Sullivan files suit against the rapper and his record company, resulting in the landmark Grand Upright Music, Ltd v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. court case. The lawsuit sets a new legal precedent in the use of pre-recorded music in other compositions. The outcome of the suit results in Cold Chillin’ Records’ distributor Warner Bros, pulling copies of the “I Need A Haircut” album out of record stores. Already struggling on the charts at the time, the albums’ abrupt disappearance from retail stops it dead in its tracks. Four years will pass before the album is re-released, and it is without the “Alone Again” track being included. In the future, all sampled material has to be properly cleared and licensed before it is released. Biz’s next album in 1993, is given the highly ironic title “All Samples Cleared!”. “Haircut” generates further notoriety with the single “T.S.R. (Toilet Stool Rap)”, which features a music video with the rapper sitting on a toilet naked. The video is immediately banned, and is never aired on television. As a promotional item to create awareness, Warner Bros sends out miniature novelty toilets (with the artist name and song title printed on them), that squirt water when the lid is lifted. Those later turn into sought after collector’s items by Biz’s fans. “I Need A Haircut” peaks at number forty four on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number one hundred thirteen on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: August 27, 1990 …

On this day in music history: August 27, 1990 – “Mama Said Knock You Out”, the fourth album by LL Cool J is released. Produced by Marley Marl, LL Cool J and Bobby “Bobcat” Ervin, it is recorded at Marley’s House Of Hits in Chestnut Ridge, NY, Chung King House Of Metal, Sorcerer Sound, Unique Recording Studios, Greene Street Studios in New York City, and Ocean Way Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1989 – Mid 1990. By the end of the 80’s, LL Cool J finds himself at a crossroads in his music career. Having established himself as a rap superstar with his first two albums “Radio” and “Bigger And Deffer”, the tide turns with his third release “Walking With A Panther” in 1989. Though successful, the album meets with a mixed to an outright negative response from many fans, feeling that Cool J has “sold out” in order to achieve mainstream crossover acceptance. Taking the criticism to heart, the rapper enlists the assistance of producer Marley Marl, who had previously remixed the single “Jingling Baby” from the last album (Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Roxanne Shante, MC Shan) to produce his next release. The new album’s title track (#1 Rap, #12 R&B, #17 Pop) is inspired by LL’s grandmother Ellen Griffith who tells her grandson to “knock ‘em out, Todd” when he is faced with negative criticism from fans and others in the hip hop community. Proceeded by the single “The Boomin’ System” (#1 Rap, #6 R&B, #48 Pop) in the Summer of 1990, the resulting albums perfect blend of street edginess and radio friendly accessibility is enthusiastically received by the public, not only helping to re-establish the rapper’s street cred, but also widens his fan base. It spins off a total of five singles including “Around The Way Girl” (#1 Rap, #5 R&B, #9 Pop), and “To Da Break Of Dawn” (#17 Rap). “Mama Said Knock You Out” wins LL Cool J a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1992. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2004 with two additional bonus tracks. It also comes with a bonus DVD featuring the music videos for the title track, “Around The Way Girl” and “The Boomin’ System”. Originally issued as a single vinyl LP in 1990, it is remastered and reissued as a double vinyl LP set in 2005 (Europe) and 2007 (US). Another deluxe edition of “Mama” is released in 2014, with the first disc featuring the original fourteen song album. Disc two contains fourteen additional bonus tracks including original 12" remixes and the movie soundtrack single “Strictly Business”. Also in 2014, another reissue pressed as a single LP with a 3D lenticular cover is released, as part of the “Respect The Classics” series. “Mama Said Knock You Out” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number sixteen on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 24, 1983 …

On this day in music history: August 24, 1983 – “Future Shock”, the thirty fifth album by Herbie Hancock is released. Produced by Material and Herbie Hancock, it is recorded at OAO Studios in Brooklyn, NY, RPM Studios in New York City and Garage Sale Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1983. Never standing still creatively, jazz musician Herbie Hancock takes his music in yet another innovative and unexpected direction. Hancock asks bassist Bill Laswell and keyboardist Michael Beinhorn of Material to work with him on an album. Armed with an arsenal of new and cutting edge synthesizers including the Rhodes Chroma and the Fairlight CMI sampling keyboard, he is joined in the studio with a group of musicians that includes Laswell (bass), Beinhorn (keyboards), Sly Dunbar (drums, percussion), Daniel Ponce (percussion), Pete Cosey (guitar) and vocalists Bernard Fowler (New York City Peech Boys, Tackhead), Roger Trilling, Dwight Jackson, Jr., Nicky Skopelitis and Lamar Wright. The albums centerpiece is the first single “Rockit” (#6 R&B, #1 Club Play, #71 Pop), composed in the studio by Hancock, Laswell and Beinhorn. Laswell enlists DJ Grandmixer D. ST (born Derek Showard) (now known as GrandMixer DXT), to add turntable scratching to the track (using the record “Change The Beat” by Fab 5 Freddy and Be-Side). Largely unheard outside of Hip Hop parties in New York City, the percussive of sound of D. ST’s scratching immediately turn heads. Laswell takes a tape of the unreleased song to a high end stereo store and plays it on one of the stores demo systems. The producer is immediately rushed by customers wanting to know what it is. Released in June of 1983, the public response is the equivalent of a seismic wave traveling across the landscape. “Rockit” is supported by a striking and highly innovative music video directed by former 10cc members Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. The clip features very little of Hancock himself, who is seen on a television monitor briefly. The video receives heavy rotation on MTV, winning five Video Music Awards at the first VMA awards ceremony in 1984. Amazingly, 90% of the singles million plus sales are for the 12" single release. “Rockit” also earns Hancock his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance in 1984. The musician also turns in a highly memorable live performance of the song (featuring D.ST) at the ‘84 Grammy Awards. It also inspires the international Turntablism Movement beginning in the 80’s, and exploding during the 90’s when DJ’s such as Qbert and Mix Master Mike site the song as a major influence. The album spins off two other singles including “Autodrive” (#26 R&B, #36 Club Play), and the title track. “Future Shock” peaks at number two on the Billboard Jazz Album chart, number ten on the R&B album chart, number forty three on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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K-Ci and Mary J. Blige photographed for Face Magazine, 1993.

On this day in music history: August 20, 1984 …

On this day in music history: August 20, 1984 – “Taste So Good” by File 13 is released. Written and produced by Doug DiFranco and David Witz, it is the debut single release and biggest his for the Electro-Funk duo from New York City. Originally one half of the seminal Hip Hip duo Double Dee & Steinski (“Lessons 1, 2, & 3”), Doug DiFranco continues to make sample based records after they part ways. DiFranco pairs up with CBS Records’s staff producer David Witz, to collaborate on a project outside their normal day jobs. DiFranco and Witz have worked together for many years recording radio promos for new albums, for various CBS artists. The pair come up with the idea of creating a dance record, that features samples of voices taken from 1-800 phone sex lines. They capture the telephone voices by running a patch into a telephone line. First recorded as a demo at Clack Studios in New York City, the music is composed on a Casio MT-40 synthesizer, one of the first low cost electronic keyboards aimed at aspiring amateur musicians. The rest of the track is constructed using a Roland TR-606 drum machine, and a Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer. After it’s recorded, one of DiFranco’s clients Ken Levy, suggests that he send a cassette copy of the recording to Cory Robbins at Profile Records. The home of Hip Hop pioneers RUN DMC, Profile likes the demo enough to release it. Before then, the label gives Doug and Dave an advance to clean up the recording and make a few necessary changes. The pair book time at Quad Recording Studios with engineer Dave Ogrin, replacing most of the original phone sex line samples, with hired actresses performing the dialogue. The completed track is issued as a 12" single by Profile in the Summer of 1984. Though it’s only a modest dance floor hit, peaking at #37 on the Billboard Club Play chart on October 13, 1984, “Taste So Good” becomes a classic in the Electro-Funk dance music genre. The record is also regarded as groundbreaking, in paving the way for other more sample based dance records in the late 80’s, like M/A/R/R/S’ “Pump Up The Volume”, Bomb The Bass’ “Beat Dis” and S-Express’ “Theme From S-Express”. David Witz records one more single under the File 13 name (with Warren Schatz) titled “Party Line” in 1988, though it is far less successful than its predecessor. “Taste So Good” has endured in popularity, and has featured on numerous Electro-Funk and Hip Hop compilations over the years.

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On this day in music history: August 13, 1991 …

On this day in music history: August 13, 1991 – “Cypress Hill”, the debut album by Cypress Hill is released. Produced by DJ Muggs, it is recorded at Image Recording Studio in Los Angeles, CA and Studio 4 Recording in Philadelphia, PA from Late 1990 – Early 1991. Formed in 1989, Los Angeles, CA based rap group are signed Columbia’s Ruffhouse Records imprint on the strength of an early demo recording the group makes. Their first album breakdown and change the sound of Hip Hop with DJ Muggs’ (Lawrence Muggerud) unique production style, a mixture of murky sounding Funk, R&B, and Jazz based samples, lyrics about their upbringings in South Gate district of Los Angeles, and the starkly contrasting vocals of rappers B-Real (Louis Freese) and Sen Dog (Senen Reyes), strikes a nerve in the Hip Hop community. With solid support from underground college radio, the groundbreaking album spins off seven singles, and winning the group a large and loyal fan base. The original vinyl LP is deleted shortly after its original release, but is reissued several times in more recent years. In 1999, UK label Music On Vinyl reissues the album as two LP set pressed on 180 gram vinyl for improved sound quality. In 2011 to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its release, Get On Down Records reissues “Cypress Hill” in its original single vinyl LP format, pressed on limited edition red vinyl. Two editions of this release are issued, with one featuring the regular LP jacket artwork, and a special edition with an outer slip case featuring the groups skull logo printed on a silver/gray background. Get On Down releases another vinyl pressing in January of 2016 to mark the landmark albums twenty-fifth anniversary. This edition is pressed on clear vinyl and limited to only 700 copies. “Cypress Hill” peaks at number four on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty one on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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