Ink Drumble

Book and disc explore hidden hippity-hoppity old schools

A Minneapolis paper-clip-supply chain called Officianados finally buzzed security on Fred "Fresh" Schmid. The 40-year-old plaque etcher-DJ had bought and returned four Hewlett-Packard LPs, claiming the printers sucked ink despite having slavered no less than 105,000 rap titles in roughly 150 copies of his homemade catalog, Freddy Fresh Presents the Rap Records. Four g's of free ink later, we learn that Left & Right Shoe MC was on Talking Horse Records and that Freddy Fresh went toner loco, spending "endless nights of sheer misery" self-publishing his mustache off.

"What the fuck," says Fresh. Alphabetized by label, this laser-faced insanity tries to nab every rap 12-inch released from 1979 to 1989. Fresh eyeballs the book as maybe 60 percent comprehensive, while 90 percent of its contributors, stalked for catalog numbers and scans, would fondly call its author a "pain in the ass."

True, this project is a giant pain in the asterix in the space reserved for rappers like Dizzy Fitzgerald, the North Carolinian who once said, "I welcome myself to your record shelf." Easy, Dizzy—you can't have Criminal Minded, where on the cover, amid the bullets, the BDP, and the borrowed hand grenade, there's a plaque from Freddy Fresh, chiseled at his dad's trophy shop in St. Paul.

P Brothers! Are happenin'!
photo: Heavy Bronx Records
P Brothers! Are happenin'!

Though too rare to accept, the following deserve awards for existing: Jay Z's first group, High Potential. A Darryl Strawberry UTFO duet on Strawsome Records. Ice T & Egyptian Lover's score for the 1983 documentary Breaking & Entering. Tommy Boy's unreleased 12-minute "Cosmic Punk Jam," enriched by Bambaataa's sustained votoader burp and Cosmic Force harmonizing Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgetting."

Things will never be the same again. Even if you'll never hear these records, they just sound good. Wooly Reasonable, Rusty the Toe Jammer, a rap group called Damn! Another Rap Gr—. Zotz! Can't give up all the goodies.

Nottingham's DJ Ivory knows that, as well as most everything in Freddy's read. That most all the goodies somehow got to a farm in Nottingham is a coup, if not proof that someone left the henhouse doors off the hinges. When the sky falls off, the P Brothers (Ivory & Paul S) give shit-storm shelter. Their epic The Zulu Beatmix CD is an act of love and war that re-crates Afrika Islam's 1983 breakbeat electro show on WHBI, where you could hear Monty Python choking John Denver, Red Alert gonging demos, and Malcolm X doing drops from the crypt. In an ancient Roxy ad, Islam chants: "Street culture! Is happenin'!" Echo boinging off walls like a giddy kid one button away from his radio— One man's Record is another man's record.

Give pause for the Italian-sex-comedy-spliced king congas of "B Beat Classic," Spyder D's vocoded double aegis for West End when his label Telestar threatened to sic speech analyzers on him. A hightail drum chase ensues. Gentlemen, start your want lists. Ladies, stop your gentlemen and get them on the floor. A Jimi-ish voice tells all "kings and gnomes" that he wants to take you home. It's the ish and esque, where something's so like-like (Silver Apples thrum beat?) it begets love for strangers.

Wave hi to the Kosmischelin Man as "Planet Rock" gets retreaded by Can drummer Jaki Liebzeit, then rewound by us for the huh of it. An alternate fozzy keyboard version of "Planet Rock"? Cut back when "Pleasure Boys" (next song) got an electrode eyebrow lift from Danny Krivit? Radial blown.

Better ask Bambaataa. He opens The Zulu Beat, pinched dreaming from a 1983 U.K. doc Beat This, where children at a Bronx planetarium watch stars ski. Rocking a space Viker helmet, Bam appears in the red doorway and, no hoax, growls his Big Bam Theory through a vocoder. "Who controls the past controls the future funk!" Stop the printers. Start the world.

 
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