Friday, February 03, 2006
Throwback Friday #5.
There are two diners around my way. Both establishments set their radios to play smooth jazz. But only one has better atmosphere, and I'll give it to the one on my block. Better cheeseburgers, and their matzoh ball soups at least have noodles in them. While getting some food from said diner sometime last week, I overheard "Caught Up In The Rapture Of You" playing. It was actually, admittedly, the first time I had heard the song in its entirety. It was also the first time I heard the track as an actual song as oppose to being treated as a sample.
Today's Throwback Friday focuses on a lush soul track, and the white label rap track that loops it. When I think of Anita Baker's name, I instantly think of Adina Howard for some reason. But that's just silly, you might say. See, Anita Baker is synomonous with that reeeeally smoothed out soul music. Not so smooth that its flat, smooth that its like a nice delicious booty. Booty like Adina Howard's.
Listen. This track is THE track that defined Anita Baker's name. And believe me, I don't know much about it, I won't lie. Bear with me here though: even without doing much research, it's fair to say that this definitely is one of those timeless numbers. The production is minimal, its her and no one else on the vocals, and the melodies she creates...are totally goddamn sappy.
And sappy is good! It was recorded in 1986--- was anything sacred at the time? It probably wasn't meant to be the same kind of sappy we think of now (turns out even "Return Of The Mack" is considered classic now). The irony of pop music has been thrown out, rules are being rewritten as we speak. Shit, I have no idea what's going on. I'm rambling. Forgive me. I just found out that my electric bill wasn't paid when CLEARLY I sent it out last week.
Right. So like I was saying...this is a song I might hear over the phone while waiting to speak to those assholes at Con Edison. But unfortunately, waiting music is never cool anymore. Neither is being on hold for over an hour. And, furthermore, neither is sending checks in non-ConEd envelopes, apparently.
Anita Baker - Caught Up In The Rapture Of You
Speaking of "totally not cool", let's talk about Ras Kass. Don't get it twisted though, I've been dying to hear Soul on Ice for a minute now. Maybe even Rasassination too. But you know what my problem with him is? His newer material is not a very flattering gesture to convince me of purchasing an album of his. I suppose this is like assuming that since Kool G Rap is not really too great of a rapper right now, I shouldn't check for Wanted: Dead or Alive.
Feel me? No? Okay, check it....obviously at some point Ras Kass was great too, in his prime. But...I dunno, even his voice kinda irks me on his newer material. At least Kool G's growl will never get old. In the long run, for me, it's all about the lyrics.
And so brings me to "Understandable Smooth," a track that never got officially released. Going back to 1998, Ras was still on Priority, and could have very well put this on any one of his first two albums. However, I guess after what happened with Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz over the "Deja Vu" track due to illegally sampling Steely Dan, I'm sure any small hip-hop label at the time was trying to avoid the politics of clearing such popular samples. So it goes. Shit goes unearthed for years but thanks to the lovely Internet, everything is fair.
Ras Kass - Understandable Smooth
All you need to know is: simply great wordplay, guaranteed. Rassy puts the right amount of enunciation in his lines when needed, and the lyrics are actually quite inviting if you listen hard enough. As for the production, the drums are hot and those synths are key! So key!
Oh Ras Kass, if only you were still that stellar lyrically. And for god's sake man, step up your live show too.
Tomorrow on Headphone Masterpieces, we're turning up the tempo. Stay tuned. Tonight though, I might just travel downtown to the East Village to check out the debauchery at CBGB's (first and apparently last show I'll ever go to there if it ever decides to shut down that is). On stage will be Ill Bill, Sabac Red, Q-Unique, Slaine, and VINNIE PAZ DADDY.
1 am. 5 dollars. 1 hour of sloppy drunk performing with a crowd of Uncle Howie heads amok. I'm gonna love this.
...I could for a burger and soup first though.