I'm not sure if any of you check out unkut.com with any regularity, but if you are into older (ie: good) hip-hop and the history behind it, you really should check it out on the regular. Their interviews with old school OG's like Dr. Butcher and T La Rock are absolutely stellar and the MP3 hosting is off the damn hook. Last night, I checked in and gave a Ricky Powell-esque 'Oh Thit!!' when I saw that Fat Beats was releasing the shelved since '94 Freddie Foxxx release Crazy Like A Foxxx. Even better, it was dropping as a double-disc digipak with the original mix as it was to be released through Flavor Unit as well as the version as produced by the D.I.T.C collective of Showbiz, Buckwild and the all-powerful Lord Finesse. Disc two marks the first installment of Bumpy's Artist Series of releases from the absurd amount of unreleased material he has in his vaults. Case in point is the long-rumored and even longer delayed Amerikkan Black Man record. Freddie has three versions of the record in the can with no set release date.
Foxxx claims that he's been building catalog in the time since he released his Street Triumph mix tape, compiling entire records with produced by Peter Rock and DJ Premier. Records that are no doubt owned 100% by the Foxxx himself. Freddie has long been known as a man who has zero interest in being jerked by a record company. An early connection with R&B great Lloyd Price refined his business sense to a laser sharpness, acumen that helped Bumpy Knuckles earn the highest selling independent release of 2000 with Industry Shakedown. It's been all-indie since then: Foxxx has released his Street Triumph mix tape and two installments of music with his motorcycle crew Krupt Mob, not to mention digitizing a collabo record with KRS-ONE called Royalty Check and producing virtually all of hip-hop material for the WWE. And you street kids think you're gangsta! Try clocking those kind of checks and owning your masters at the end of the day.
Owning those masters has kept the Freddie in houses and gym equipment for years and he'll no doubt do fine licensing Crazy Like A Foxxx to Fat Beats. I had acquired a couple different versions of Crazy via the shadier corners of the web over the years, but never in such an expanded form. I never, and I mean never buy hip-hop new and rode through a thunderstorm on a Sunday to pick this up. Believe me, it's worth the trip. After a couple hours with it, I can say that I prefer the D.I.T.C version of the record, but it's important to remember how hard Flavor Unit were. Back then it was mostly Mark the 45 King's show, but Latifah was no joke back then, and with a crew that included Lakim Shabazz, Craig G and a gang of other dudes that were hard as nails, the Unit got a whole lot of well-deserved respect. To the best of my knowledge, there are no hard feelings between Flavor Unit and Foxxx, but you have to guess that '96 must have been the era when Mark really went off the deep end with the Dust, because there is no reason why this record should have been shelved.
The Flavor Unit version that comprises disc one is actually the second version of the record, rejiggered by Foxxx after the D.I.T.C demos were rejected by the Unit. It's a lot shinier than the grimy D.I.T.C version, with some ill-chosen interlude stuff and some beats that come off a bit dated fourteen years on. There are also some questionable moves, like leaving off a banger of a track with Kool G. Rap in favor of a Tupac collabo, or ushering in his pre-Bumpy Knuckles personae of Daddy Boot Knock, but Crazy Like A Fox is still pretty strong. Compared to most hip-hop today, it's practically Breaking Atoms. Chuck D makes a great cameo on Step, and it's funny to be reminded that the title track was an Ultramagnetic diss. All of this is from an era where beef was beef and not just rap beef, making the prospect of making Foxxx's knuckles that much more bumpy all the more terrifying. No wonder Kool Keith was making up rumors about being in Bellevue.
The Diggin In The Crates demos that comprise the second disc are that much rawer. I personally would be interested who produced what. but credits are non-existant. Could be for fifth-amendmant self-incrimination issues, as there as more asses being beaten and bodies being caught than a bad a day at Attica. There's much more of a boom-bap vibe and it is banging. Songs like Click Click will be giving rappers nightmares like Freddy Krueger. Every one of these tracks from 96 show how much of a fucking beast Foxxx was (as is). Only a couple of the tracks from this era made it to the Flavor Unit, Project Mice is an interesting gimmick that doesn't do much. I feel the same way about Reverend Glock, but Pressure On The Brain kills and bangers like 8 Bars To Catch A Body and the G. Rap collabo Cook A Niggaz Ass should have made the cut. They cut your speakers like a buck fifty, but don't think that Freddie Foxxx needs a tool to beat your ass down. His Bumpy Knuckles and raw rhyme power get the job done just as handily.
Leave the Lupe Fiasco cd on the shelf and grab this from Fat Beats with the quickness. Two cds for $15 is a pretty decent deal and you won't have to wear white louvered sunglasses to enjoy it. On the more recent, Bumpy has jacked 50's How To Rob and dresses down all the fake-ass rappers on How To Rob 2008. Consider yourself warned and check it out on the Myspace.
the eighteenth letter