Unreleased and unaccessible Hip-Hop gems have been as much a part of the aural history of Hip-Hop as the scratch itself. We had the Live Convention releases of T-Connection and Celebrity Club parties on Disco Wax Records way back in 1982, Music of Life in the UK released a few volumes of Zulu Nation jams like Cold Crush vs The Fantastic 5 in the early 90s, but these were jams, these were live parties. The world of collecting & dredging for these is next level.
In this post, I want to discuss unearthing previously unavailable jewels that have been buried away on dust covered tapes in shoe-boxes in attics, and lounging behind radiators for decades like the K-Def produced and long sought after Year of the Hip-Hop by LL Cool J. I want to talk about our collective adolescence and the hidden treasures we used to hear on the radio in weekly rotation as we fine-tuned the boxes, I want to talk about the Rap that never made it to the shelves of the record stores.
In 2001, DWGs Rare Dave created a mixtape compilation of hard-to-find Rap, and accurately titled it ‘Rare Frequencies’. The tracks were original full versions, demos and unreleased cuts that had been broadcast on Tim Westwoods Capital Rap Show for promotional purposes, rarely making their way to retail for one reason or another. Sometimes it was due to sample clearance, other times they just didnt make the grade cos they had unsuitable subject matter et cetera. For me, hearing Rare Frequencies was a tipping point, Hip-Hop and Rap radio already had a huge effect on me, affecting the way I listened to, enjoyed and collected Hip-Hop over the years. This was probably because the first time I EVER HEARD Hip-Hop was back in 81, when as kid across the street from where my Aunt lived had just come back from a holiday in NY, he was playing a tape on a ghettoblaster, on his doorstep, recorded from the radio. Since then Ive held on to all of my ferrics and chromes, sifting through my own archives in the attic at the family home, and as I continue to collect and trade, the over-all sound of a radio show, the compression, the strange hissy quality still provokes an indescribable energy in me, as well as a seemingly never-ending discovery of random rare Rap gems.
Anyone that can recall the spine-tingling sound of a Mr Magic WORLD PREMIERE, the sound of a DUB PLATE PRESSURE radio spot, or the sound of a CAPITAL RAP SHOW EXCLUSIVE knows exactly what I mean. Amongst dozens of other station IDs, these were the sounds that announced to the listener that they were about to witness something special, something truly captivating, something that hadnt been heard before. Its these exclusives that I continue to fiend for today, I’ll be 43 in a fortnight, I have no shame.
Marley Marls In Control Volume 1 was such an iconic release, but when Volume 2 was released in 1991, there was something amiss. I clearly remember hearing it in my mates car for the 1st time that year, and thinking back to the Westwood plays from 1989; what had happened to this cut, to that cut, where was this that and the other. Where was the cut with Marley rhyming over that ‘Puppet’ beat? It seems that a few things had been omitted from the finished tape, things that I knew I’d heard, things that we knew we had on a D90 in the glove compartment, and knew that Westwood had been rockin…
Since then, it seems that there were at least three cuts that didnt make the grade for In Control Volume 2:
Unit3 – Here It Is [From an In Control with Clark Kent from 89]
Marley Marl – No Bullshit [Original Version above, lifted from a Capital Rap Show cassette from 7th October 1989]
and Marley Marl featuring Rapataire – They Cant Get With Me [a Straight head-noddin banger that got unceremoniously dumped in favour of usage on Marleys remix of the 3rd Bass classic Product of the Environment], btw, who exactly are Rapataire and the ‘def coalition’ Unit3?
The track No Bullshit is a hidden highlight cos its Marley rhymin on the mic, somethin he didnt do that often. The demo version that Westwood played was being dropped with those ‘exclusive’ IDs back in October 1989, nearly 2 years ahead of the retail release. The questions remain, how many more are there sittin behind radiators, gathering dust in shoe-boxes with other cassettes and DATs etc? The odd thing about No Bullshit is that, in comparison to the version that ended up on the alblum, the original unreleased mix murders the finished version, IMO. As Marlon says himself, the ‘beat thats smooth’ makes it an entirely different song, even if the lyrics are the same, but maybe it was the amount of tracks that ended up on the 1991 release that dissuaded the ‘All-Star Engineer’ to go with the plodding and head-nodding pace of the slower paced cut.
There were 10 cuts on Vol1, and 20 cuts on Vol2 [including a few skit bits]. Maybe there was an issue with the ‘Im Your Puppet’ sample from the 1966 classic, who knows. Marley even teases us with a shard of that James & Bobby Purify track before switching up the pace to around 115 bpm, cos it’d been ‘jacked already’. Weird thing is, I dont recall it being used until after 1991 [The Hi-C track is a personal favourite but its been ‘jacked’ many times since].
Fingers crossed the good people at Diggers With Gratitude, Slice of Spice or one of the other ‘vinyl goodness’ labels will get their mucky paws on these exclusives, until then, im happy to take the dolby off and press play. As with alotta these things, the more knowledge is shared, the more we fiend, it transpires that Rapataire had more than one cut, according to Chris [HDIC at DWG], as well as They Cant Get With Me, Rapa’ had another cut called Hip-Hop Science, was this another long lost Marley production? Is Marley worried that if he goes behind that radiator he’ll have another heart-attack? Will this Hip-Hop fiend ever be satisfied ? The questions remain…
Shouts to Palma, Beatlover and the rest of the DWG fiends…