Funk Fridays: Cameo – She’s Strange

Cameo, Funk Friday, music

If I mentioned the group, Cameo, to you. I guarantee two things would come to mind: the red leather cod piece… And Candy (now hijacked, to my chagrin as the electric slide song). But let’s not succumb to the masses, for as fine as Candy was/is, that was not all that Cameo was about and this post celebrates one of their other classic songs – She’s Strange.

 

This is one of my favourite songs because it just sounds so strangeeerie, almost like a Western. I think it also pays testament to Cameo’s willingness back in the day to embrace different types of music as the majority of the song is rapped. Alright, he’s not flipping metaphors and switching lyrical styles but back in 1984, this was hot ish. Probably. Ahh, the 80’s – a special time when singers were also rappers. Thankfully they don’t do that now. #noChrisBrown #noTreySongz

 

Special mention must go to the video, which incorporates so many elements that are just pure 80’s gold. The jheri curl bouncing in the moonlight, the day-glo colours and the most random shots in video history – a woman’s stiletto squashing a tube of toothpaste (at 1:28) and sensual cake eating (at 3:10). Those images have stayed with me for years.

 

Of course, such a classic song wouldn’t pass by without being sampled numerous times. Most notable ones are:

·        2pac – Young N****z: Blatant sample by Mr Shakur from one of my favourite ‘Pac albums, Me Against The World

·         Snoop Dogg – Crazy: One of my favourite songs from Tha Blue Carpet  Treatment. Took me a while to find the sample, but it’s actually in the hook “walking down the avenuuuue”. Not totally convinced it counts as a sample, more an ‘interpolation’.

·         Snoop Dogg – Leave Me Alone: More Snoop funkiness, containing him singing parts of the Cameo classic

The Rizzle Review: Cruel Summer

Kanye West, music, Reviews

The British summertime. Once filled with green fields, long, hot sunny days and short nights. Now replaced, somewhat rather harshly, with a few outbursts of sun, grey, gloomy days and umbrellas. Some would say that our Summers and the expectations surrounding them are rather…Cruel. Something that Kanye West has probably experienced during the making of this album. And if, on purchasing the G.O.O.D music family’s debut collection, you were expecting a body of musical  reflections on the effects of global warming, you, sir, would be frankly mistaken.

Instead what we have here is a slickly produced mixtape slash album featuring some of the “finest” talents in US hiphop today. But is it actually any good?

As an avid hip-hop fan, I’ve been waiting for this album for a good few months, dating back to the time when it was originally going to be released in the summer (and it actually made sense to call it Cruel Summer). In this time, Kanye released a whopping 5 tracks off the album (which of course everyone and their mother downloaded).

In all fairness, those singles all bump. Pretty hard. Special shout out to Mr Cheeks 2 Chaiiiiiiinz’s closing verse on the trunk rattling, Trap inspired Mercy; Ghostface Killah’s verse on the Ghost-sampled New God Flow and the grimey, dingey posse cut, Clique.

In today’s music climate, if you’re going to release 5 singles from one project, you are going to need a healthy collection of album cuts to back it up and to Kanye’s credit, there are a few notable other cuts here. R Kelly (love him or loathe him) puts in a stellar performance on the anthemic opener “To the World”. “Higher” features the Dream doing his best impression of a wounded, robotic woman and a rejuvenated Mase offering some choice words to his former Badboy labelmate/Islamic convert Loon (“you know I’m not Muslim my n***a, I’m about my bacon”). The exquisitely produced, 80’s sounding “Bliss” finds crooner, John Legend and socialite-cum-singer, Teyana Taylor both in fine voice.

But once you deduct those tracks, you definitely feel that Cruel Summer could have been so much more and unfortunately, there are numerous misteps. For all the reppin’ that Common does for G.O.O.D. music, he is criminally underused – just one short verse on the illuminati-ode, “In The Morning”. And D’Banj’s inclusion in that same song is downright laughable – some random crooning in the background. Almost a slap in the face for the whole Afrobeats movement.

In comparison, for some inexplicable reason Cy-hi The Prince is all over this album despite his lyrics being that of more of pauper.

Oh yeah, and Kid Cudi’s track ‘Creepers’ is boring. There. I said it.

Cruel Summer, for better or worse, offers a snapshot of hip-hop in 2012 (albeit doing so in a much slicker way than the average stuff that tops the charts these days). Lots of bass, slight paranoia, over-indulgence and some good punchlines. There was a lot of hype over this album and in all honesty, it was always going to be a tough feat. But compared to Kanye’s previous albums Watch the Throne and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, this album fails to take any of the musical steps forward that they did. It’ll still sell by the bucket load due to the extensive guestlist but frankly, there isn’t really much new ground being broken here.

Funk Fridays: Funkadelic: Not Just Knee Deep

Funk Friday, Funkadelic, G-Funk, music

This might be one of the more obvious posts I’ll do on Funk Friday, mainly because it’s a tune that pretty much anyone with a passing knowledge of Funk music will know. Added to the fact that the song has been sampled a million times, you will understand where I’m coming from.
As a wannabe/aspiring/former body popper and locker (all three), Not Just Knee Deep is our quintessential theme tune. If you look up many a bodypopping competition on youtube, that tune is bound to be featured in one interpretation or the other and it’s fair to say that Funkadelic and George Clinton unwittingly provided the soundtrack to many poppers’ lives.
I blame my parents for introducing me to this song but it’s just so damn funky. And then gets repetitive. But then the funk draws you back in and all is forgiven.
After the original was released back in 1979 and shook up the mothership funk connection throughout the 80’s, nothing could brace us for its resurgence in the 90’s, mainly thanks to the popularity of gangster rap and it’s offshoot G-Funk. It’s almost like rappers forgot that there were other tunes out there to sample, or that they could actually try and make something original. But, who am I to hate. I’ve downloaded most of these tunes and they are just so damn funky that I can’t even hate. In fact, if I was a West Coast rapper in the early 90’s, I probably would have utilised that sample too.
In no particular order, here’s a few of the notable interpretations of the song:
  • Dre Day – Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg: noticeably slowed down sample but we know what time it is
  • De La Soul – ““Me, Myself and I”“: Probably the most blatant use of this sample but tellingly one of De La’s signature songs.
  • Can’t C Me – 2pac – One of my favourite 2pac songs. The “Knee Deep” sample is almost made to sound eerie over 2pac’s venomous raps, Dr Dre’s production and George Clinton’s vocals.

So basically, every sample of this song has been pretty good. Shout out’s to George Clinton and Funkadelic for creating such a timeless tune. Salute!