By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
By Ray Cummings
By Nicholas Pell
Women stand to benefit from going out more regularly with the girls to see male strippersthis according to esoteric South Bronx crew the Juggaknots. The new electro-meets-hip-house track "Strip Joint," from their 10-years-coming sophomore disc Use Your Confusion, is a product of the three public school teachers' romper-room-style "Why'd you hit me?" sibling interplay, first heard on 1996's landmark vinyl-only release Clear Blue Skies. "It's a fun song, it's a sexy song, and we have the flexibility as a group to deal with issues from both a female and a male perspective, " explains Queen Herawin, chilling with her brother MC Breeze Brewin in his Bronx home. B. Slim, older brother of the two and the group's primary producer, actually just stepped out. (Yeah right.)
Relax, guys. They're not knocking strip joints. The song simply knocks around the idea of equal strip joint opportunitya dick bar next to that titty bar on every cornerwhile contemplating the crucial role strip joints play in our daily lives. "Cats go to strip joints and spend their rent," Breeze says. "I've seen it happen. I'm like, 'Dog, you just spent the mortgage.' I might end up blowing the cable bill, but, yo, stop there." (Herawin's a tightwad, though. On the track she's full of Hennessy shots, shoutin', "Damn boy/Work that," while the rock-hard dudes are "looking real handy with serious tools." But she's still not giving up the loot.)
You may know Breeze as "Tariq" from Prince Paul's much lauded 1999 hip-hopera Prince Among Thieves, where he played lead among big dogs Big Daddy Kane, Kool Keith, Chubb Rock, Xzibit, and Sadat X. Prince Paul handpicked Breeze after listening to his demo. Really. "A cool, cool cat," recalls Breeze, who lent a hand in Confusion's production thanks to his time with Paul. Even B. Slim's beats have a touch of the daisy. Remember when samples were almost undetectable? When producers would just piece together tiny snips of songs and use cool, anonymous one-liners from movies instead of lazily just speeding up an entire record, vocals intact, so it's totally obvious what's being sampled, and thus it just sounds like a remake with a rap on it instead of an original song? "We've definitely not really wanted to have the run-of-the-mill samples," Breeze says.
For "30something," he reunites with Brand Nubian's Sadat X, wherein they decide, as Breeze now interjects, "It's not that bad being old." Still, they take issue with how a lot of good older rappers are "getting aged-out on some Menudo shit" instead of getting bigger gigs like older musicians in other genres. Slick Rick of "La-Di-Da-Di" fame (who's actually facing deportation again) joins forces with the crew for "Vows"; Brooklyn's Wordsworth, Herawin's college classmate, drops in for "Liar, Liar," which expounds on how lying may not always be right, but in some cases is polite. The Juggaknots like to slip in little axioms. Even Use Your Confusion's title track offers existential comments on everyday shit, but don't use the C-word on them. "When I hear this 'conscious rap' attack, sometimes it's unfair to cats 'cause there's a certain pedestal that's easy to fall off of," Breeze says. "For what it's worth, we're regular people."