Following yesterday’s trip downtown with the Bush Tetras, we’re jumping on the 6 train at Spring and taking it all the way up to Mott Haven in the South Bronx, as today we’re looking at the early work of KRS1.
But wait a minute, this isn’t punk, or reggae for that matter, yet it’s still worthy of logging in the Bologna pages, as I’m about to demonstrate.
Ok, first up punk and hip hop’s patronage is well documented, I shouldn’t have to mention Blondie’s Rapture, or Chris Stein producing the Wildstyle soundtrack, or The Clash touring with The Furious 5, or even their disco rap dabblings with Futura 2000. And let’s not forget the Beastie Boys’ prehistory, Cookie Puss dominating rap radio in the same way the likes of Liquid Liquid, ESG and the aforementioned Bush Tetras wound up on constant loop at hip hop jams across New York.
And then there’s the esoteric ties, the do it yourself attitude, the cottage industry born out of frustration, soon to be exploited by big business on a global scale. I could go on and on but anyway, on to BDP.
Following a couple of false starts as The Celebrity 3 and 12:41, core members KRS1 and Scott La Rock regrouped as Boogie Down Productions releasing their debut 12″ South Bronx in ’86. While the A-side was all New York vernacular, spat viciously over James Brown loops, The P Is Free on the flip tapped into dancehall with it’s “de dada day” hook and the bare bones of a backing track laid down on a Linn Drum, leaving Jammy’s Sleng Teng sounding like an elaborate production by comparison; something which also ties this track to BAD’s Sightsee MC.
So that’s how I’m playing this one, reggae crossovers, stripped back production values, a record label which also doubled up as a porn business (ok that one’s probably not relevant), and a dub mix which sounds closer to the electronic tamperings of Martin Rushent than Tubby or Scientist’s reverberating roots.
Elementary’s previously unreleased dub mix recently cropped up on an ultimate 3xCD repress of BDP’s debut LP Criminal Minded, ripped from the original acetate in true dubplate fashion, it’s crispy hiss adding to it’s murky depths.
And here’s the 12″ mix of The P Is Free before they diced it up with the Diseases rhythm for the album version.
And finally, some hot club action, filmed for the promo to BDP’s The Bridge Is Over, featuring grown men dancing in baby grows and, from what I’ve heard, BAD’s mates London Posse in the audience dancing to a track which marries a Toots & The Maytals riff with Billy Joel. Granted, you still might not think this material is relevant to Skank Blog but it’s still spiky dread to me…