Release Date: Jan 96
Chart Position: 11
Reggae’s US cousin from the late Sevs to present day is naturally hip-hop, and both share many of the same characteristics. DJ’s selecting dubplates, MCs controlling the flow, Reuse and rebirth of music through sampling and versioning. Many of the key players of the scenes have dipped their toes in both genres – one of my favourite tunes of the last few years As We Enter by Damian Marley and Nas highlights how great this hybrid can be.
We’ve seen a lot of hip-hop/swingbeat crossover tunes on the Neggae Hot 90 – but no full on, blunted, buckwilin’ hip-hop. We do now, and it’s a F@CKIN treat of a tune.
Mid-90s hip-hop was dominated by Gantsta Rap or G-Funk from the West Coast scene, with the likes of Dre, Snoop and Warren G raiding the P-Funk back catalogue and chronicling the mean hoods of Compton over laid back grooves.
On the East Coast, the response was a similarly relaxed offering called Boom-Bap. Protagonist DJs such as Pete Rock and J Dilla eschewed the perhaps more obvious 70s Electro P-Funk samples for noodly Jazz and Funk riffs, all layered over heavily compressed, yet natural sounding drums. The rolling sound produced a beautiful, head-nodding response – and the sound became known as Boom-Bap. Grand Puba and his group Brand Nubian were key players in the genre – so it is no surprise (and a beautiful thing) that the Boom Bap sound shows up on the Neggae Hot 90.
THIS IS A FANTASTIC POP RECORD. And who do we have to thank for the nagging keyboard line that drives the song along? Sir Bob Marley, that’s who. Robert Livingson, Shaggy’s go to producer has pulled the rabbit out of the hat by layering Boom-Bap beats over the beautifully wonky Mr Brown keyboard line (one of Bob’s earliest and lesser know tunes). And from there it just gets better. The female vocals are beautifully poised, and call to mind the close-knit female harmonies of 40s jump blues outfits like the Andrew Sisters.
Shaggy toasts with typical verbosity and invention. When all is said and done on this blog, I will look upon Shaggy in a different light. My view of him was somewhat tainted by his noughties efforts like It wasn’t Me and him titting about on Ali G’s cash-in – but everyone deserves a paycheque I guess. EVERY entry of his on this chart has been a delight, and for me he is a worthy runner-up behind the masters Chaka Demus and Pliers.
Grand Puba’s noncheloquent (made-up a new word there) spittin’ is sublime – this is easily the best rapping on the Neggae Hot 90. And hats off to the producer Robert Livingstone for bringing all these seemingly disparate elements together in va beautiful Casserole of groove.
As for the video, well it’s no Virtual Insanity but does the job perfectly. It is a typical mid-to-late 90s MTV staple; beautiful looking 20 year olds of all sexes and races getting down in riot of colour and noise. It was almost as if video producers knew that on a Sunday afternoon in the teenagers all over the UK would be melting into their collective sofas in somnumbulant bliss (after returning from the Spar with more kingsize rizlas, strawberry Yop and curl-wurlies.)
Score: 8 out of 10. Well done Orville.
I hate to say this but I think Shaggy has got this all wrong. In terms of a misjudgement of mood and audience it’s up there with Vincent Synan telling a Gabrielle joke to a one eyed man outside Wetherspoons. In fact you can see a similar change in facial expressions half way through the track to Vince that night when he realised mid way through ‘am I really telling this joke? Keep going it will be OK, Jonny’s here and he’ll soften the blow somehow.’ Well neither the joke or the track are OK and my reaction to both was to simply pretend it’s not happening and look in a different direction.
I’m going to take a punt at this, but I don’t think that they are really in that slightly seedy under section of the Brooklyn Bridge. Which begs the question; if you have the means to superimpose any background, of all the locations in the world why there? Why not stick to the neg blueprint? Beaches, booty, fruit punch, sunshine? It’s all there for the taking, but no, let’s use an autumnal New York Bridge, not the good bit where you get nice views, the shit bit where all the crack addicts hang out! Another massive error from the Shaggy and Pube boy!
Now thankfully Shaggy still has a few entries left in the hot list , I would hate for this to be our last meeting.
On a more positive note we are now 90% of the way through this with only 9 more tracks to cover. Which by my reckoning means that on the 1st of August we will be done and will all be celebrating in a similar style to someone who has been released from prison. We’ll get planning, but hope to see you all at the closing party!
Score: Shaggy why did you get it so badly wrong? 4/10 from me.
‘m a bit disappointed to find out that Shaggy had minor hits. I thought he was a serial one-hit wonder, popping up every few years with a tune of jaw-dropping perfection and staying completely off the grid in between. Seems I was wrong because this is definitely minor. If Oh Carolina was Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Boombastic was the Starry Night, Why You Treat Me So Bad is that picture of a chair.
Shaggy’s voice and flow are as good as ever, of course. I’m less sold on Grand Puba: he provides the track’s most memorable moment with the “Ain’t no honey fly enough, ain’t no booty fat enough” bit, but for the rest of the time he’s reminiscent of late 90s rap’s human filler machine Ma$e.
Filler is the word, really. There’s nothing to object to in the groove, or the chorus, or the verses, but nothing much stands out either. It’s a shame everyone in the video is having a whale of a time, taking CJ Lewis’s original concept of berking about in an underpass to the next level. But I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this as much as they did.
Score: 5 out of 10
Been a bad week, had a three day headache from an unwitting suicide attempt by alcohol poisoning over the bank holiday and have chronic back pain, but the meds aren’t bad, Naproxen mmmmmm. Fortunately to drag me out of this body decaying induced funk we’ve got Shaggy (my favourite solo Neggaeist) and former Brand Nubian Grand Puba who was responsible for Golden Age classics such as this, this and also delved into Acid Jazz with this. I’ve a confession to make, although I’m now a fully-fledged disciple of the church of Neggae my first love was Hip-Hop. This culminated in the biggest hip hop night of the Boom-bap era at Addlestone Community Centre, which sticks in my mind for a number of reasons;
- People from Addlestone threatening to stab people from Chertsey and Byfleet and vice versa, looking back I think these were idle threats but when you’re fourteen it was totes ghetto;
- My girlfriend going off with the local nutter, 5 years older than me and turns up in a leather jacket and stonewash jeans whilst I’m popping fresh styles in my NY Yankees polo neck and baseball top combo paired with Jordan IVs, and I lose my bird to some old f*cker dressed like a gyppo Michael Knight, great;
- The night culminating with my mate Franks landing a helicopter, which had flown from Amsterdam, on the community centre roof and stepping out bedecked in full Adidas tracksuit and accompanied by Run DMC! Oh no, actually that was a lie he told to ingratiate himself with the riff raff when he switched from a prominent private school to our New Haw comprehensive. What a chief.
Anyway that’s enough of the whimsical walk down memory lane, or Addlestone High Street as it’s more commonly known, I’ll get on with reviewing the song. The intro sees Puba and Shaggy competing for plaudits which is no bad thing as the England squad with Shilton and Clemence proved. Then the production kicks in which could be a bone of contention with other elders question it’s Neggae authenticity. I’m going to say yes because it samples this mighty bassline from the man who made Neggae possible, Bob Marley. The beat is classic golden era hip hop fare as is the production generally, I don’t know who produced this but if Pete Rock tried his hand at a bit of Neggae I don’t think the results would be too dis-similar. There’s a nice vocal hook in the chorus and combined with Shaggy’s consistently excellent toasting and Puba’s exceptional flow it marries hip-hop and Neggae perfectly.
Lyrically it’s not an original theme as Shaggy and Puba bemoan the fact that women can be prone to riding roughshod over their man’s feelings. Well lads the simple answer is because they f*cking can (re: second bullet point above). The best thing to do is not over analyse and just move on with no bitterness and not write about it in a Neggae blog 24 years later. The video was shot by the canal under the M25 Bridge on the Byfleet/New Haw border. Now I spent a fair bit of my childhood knocking around there and this is not an accurate reflection of what it was like, there weren’t multitudes of models hanging around dancing but instead the odd dead rat, yet another example of hip-hop glamourising ghetto life.
Although this might not be the most authentic Neggae track we’ve had it’s like Mozart compared to a lot of the dross I’ve had to sit through, so for that reason I’m giving it 8/10.
NEGGAE SCORE: 6.25