Last year, I joined Popdose‘s Jeff Giles and Robert Cass for a column called “‘Face Time,” in which we discussed essential (and some non-essential) cuts in the catalog of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, one of the most prolific singer/songwriters of the ’80s and ’90s. ‘Face and his partner Antonio “L.A.” Reid were one of the big 3 production teams that ruled pop and R&B during that era. There was also Teddy Riley and his New Jack Swing camp, and perhaps most notably, Minneapolis’s James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis. The former members of Prince offshoot band The Time turned out to be legends in their own right, composing and producing hits for a who’s-who of the music industry and proving to be as (if not more) influential than their purple-clad benefactor.
So in 2014, Jeff and I (along two new team members, fellow Popdose editor/Popblerd podcast co-host Michael Parr, along with badass co-conspirator Dr. Zack) are back to talk all things Flyte Tyme.
Next up–a true oddity from the Flyte Tyme canon.
Ice-T “The Coldest Rap” (1983)
Written by Ice-T | Produced by Willie Strong
Keyboards by Jimmy Jam | Bass by Terry Lewis
Parr: I had no clue. I admittedly have gaps in my knowledge of early West Coast hip-hop and this is kind of blowing my mind. My only query is this: why the hell does it take a minute and thirteen seconds before Ice “T” starts his rhyme?
MJ: Truth be told, rap intros were kinda long back in the day (see: “The Message”).
Jeff: I blame you for this, MJ.
MJ: Can’t he just be satisfied with “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit“? He’s GOOD in that!!
I will say…this song is kinda charming, which isn’t something one could normally say about Ice-T records. Also–I could do the robot to this all fucking day.
Jeff: Ice is all over the news this week! This
sounds kind of amazing!
MJ: “motherfuckers talk like Yoda.” HAHHAHHAHHAHHAHHAHAH
Parr: It’s an interesting, albeit pedestrian, look at Ice before he donned his “role.”
JG: This is one of those tracks that has a story more interesting than the music. There’s no reason for “The Coldest Rap” to be 5:45 (and that’s just Part One!), but viewed as a historical document, it’s pretty fascinating: you get to hear Ice-T starting out as a strutting party rapper, you hear the West Coast sound before there was a West Coast sound, and you hear our illustrious subjects laying down some nasty electro-funk during the Time era.
According to Ice-T
, the instrumental was originally meant for a female singer: “They stripped the girl’s vocal out, gave me the instrumental, and I rapped over it that night in the studio…Those were just some rhymes I had in my head.”
That’s pretty much what it sounds like, although I do think the falsetto roleplay is worth pointing out — Slick Rick
was the first rapper I’d heard doing this, and that was five years later.
MJ: I agree with pretty much every point here. It’s certainly got to be one of the first “West Coast” rap records to make any noise at all (although Ice-T is, in fact, from New Jersey, he’s most identified with L.A.)
I wonder if Slick Rick got his hands on this record, although I doubt it…this was a pretty minor/underground record. I’d never heard it until…I suggested it for this week’s installment of Flyte Brothers.
Jeff…are you not familiar with “La Di Da Di
” and “The Show?” Slick Rick’s first records-with Doug E. Fresh-from ’85. He was playing with voices even back then.
JG: I’m familiar with them now, but I wasn’t in ’85!
MJ: Oh man. Those were some school bus jams!
JG: My school bus jams in ’85 were “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Who’s Johnny?”
(editor’s note: “Who’s Johnny?” actually came out in 1986…oops…)
JG: Well, I think we can all agree you had the better soundtrack.
MJ: Yeah. I mean, I love me some El DeBarge
JG: When is Popblerd! going to publish a list of Top Courtroom-Set Music Videos from the ’80s?
MJ: There’s more than…three?
JG: I don’t know. That’s your job to find out.
Parr: That’s racist?