[6] A Tribe Called Quest, ‘Can I Kick It? (Boilerhouse Mix)’

A Tribe Called Quest

Since the twin evils of Coolio* and Puff Daddy showed the hip hop world that you could have a hit by mumbling a couple of words over someone else’s entire song, this kind of record has become a thing of the past. Yeah, this is built around ‘Walk On The Wild Side’, but only a loop, and tons of other stuff has been chucked in. The Boilerhouse boys sound like they were having a cracking time, wall to wall ideas.

Made the mistake of lifting Junior over to the stereo for a dance, only for her to stare mesmerised at the spinning turntable. She was even further bowled over by my cack-handed scratching.

‘Can I Kick It?’’s a throwaway, sure. A Tribe Called Quest made other records that appeal more to the purist – even in 1991 – and they’re all great, but this was their pop moment. Or was that ‘Bonita Applebum’? Maybe we’ll do 1990 next.

*I’m baffled by the praise heaped on ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’. A boring rapper, barely ruffling a hair on ‘Pastime Paradise’’s head.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

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[9] Method Man featuring Mary J Blige, ‘I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By’

This record scares me. It’s a decent Puff Daddy mix for a start, and then there are the discordant, eerie Blige vocals hovering in the background, not to mention the sound of Method Man declaring undying devotion. It’s almost as threatening as Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’.

It has presence and power; I suppose that’s why I placed it so high. Not enough power, mind you, to distract Junior from scratching her mum’s dressing gown while she sends her emails. For now, Mum and Dad will remain the most fascinating objects in the universe, vying only with the Rollaround balls and sofa cover.

I only noticed today that Ashford and Simpson wrote ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’ in its original form. They built it up, and built it up, and built it up and now it’s solid.

Stevie Wonder, ‘I Wish’

Even Junior’s mum can only think of Stevie as a fat bloke in a bedsheet making sappy records, so goodness knows what the little one will think when she’s older. Or maybe those critics fanfaring a “return to form” will eventually hit the mark with their scattergun and Steveland will once more bestride the world like a blind, bead-sporting behemoth. 

There’s nothing new about praising his 70s output, but today we found a certain sort of context. This wasn’t the only one we played. Once Junior had bounced along to the rhythm and her mum had discovered where Will Smith’s “Wikki Wikki Wah Wah Wild Wild West Switch Hitch Turn Around Now” came from, we moved onto ‘Pastime Paradise’ and ‘As’ to marvel at how many of the album’s songs had been lazily regurgitated to form far bigger hits with a bit of mumbling over the top. So much hip hop is fresh and bright and shaking with invention, but the last 10 years have seen Puff Daddyfication sucking the life out of it. Why don’t the clever ones plunder Stevie?

Junior enjoyed ‘I Wish’ for a while until she was distracted by Roobarb on the television. As the tales of childhood high jinks came out of the stereo’s speakers, I remembered watching Roobarb and Custard as a boy and Junior looked forward to the day when she could write something nasty on the wall.