Warren Mayes - Keep on kickin it

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 5, 2008 08:26pm | Post a Comment

In the mid-1980s, though hip hop was still primarily an east coast phenomenon, it was quickly spreading to other locales like the musically rich bottom of the map, New Orleans. In 1984, Mannie Fresh, Mia X, DJ Wop and New York-transplant Denny D formed New Orleans' first rap crew, New York Incorporated. Two years later, The Ninja Crew (ninjas being hugely popular then) released the first N.O. rap recording "We Destroy" on 4-Sight, the Ft. Lauderdale bass label. The Ninja Crew included Gregory D, Sporty T and DJ Baby T (aka DJ Lil Daddy). 
After those acts broke up, other local rappers began emerging in a rapidly expanding field including MC J' Ro J'Tim Smooth, 39 Posse and the subject of this blog, Warren Henry Mayes III.

Warren Henry Mayes III (often spelled “Mays”) was - along with Ann, Lisa, Travis, Eldridge, Bernell J, Melanie , Izell, Stella "Sunshine" and Renaldo – one of Melba "Ann” Mayes and Warren “Swingin’ Gate” Mayes's many children.  Warren Jr. was a songwriter and dancer. The large Mayes family lived in the 4th ward's Iberville projects.

Warren III (nicknamed "Stone") was also a songwriter. He released his debut, Doin Them Right (Touchdown Records) in 1986. It included the songs “Rock the Bells Baby,” “It’s Real When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Full Time Lover,” Warren Mayes Doin’ Them Right,” “That’s the Way it Is/I’m Backin’ Out,” “Telephone Lover,” “So How Ya Livin Homies,” “Straight From the Project,” “Don’t Stop,” “Stop Jocking,” “Do Your Thing,” “Backin’ Out.”

Old school New Orleanians still fondly recall the flashy legend, proudly driving his Camaro Iroc-Z and wowing the crowds (appropriately, given his sartorial sensibility) at Club Adidas and Club Polo. He released the single, “Get It Girl (Don’t Stop)” b/w “Jam” in 1989. In 1991, it got picked up by Atlantic. The song wasn’t quite bounce - it doesn't use the triggerman or brown beats, for example. It is recognizably New Orleanian in its used of a repetitive chants in the coda and the shout outs, albeit to various signs of the zodiac instead of projects, neighborhoods and wards.

The song, produced by the legendary Bobby Marchan for Manicure Records, also got picked up by The Re-Birth Jazz Band, who a year later would record Warren Mayes Jr.’s (Stone’s father) “(You Got the) Same Thang On.” In New Orleans, the second line bands and rappers often have close ties share a similarly cheerful antagonism as conveyed in chants like "If you ain't gonna roll get the fuck on out the way” and Warren Mayes pioneered a brand of New Orleanian hip hop that often used second line bands for accompaniment.

In 1994, Warren released the thirteen track Back for the 94’ on Party Time Records. For reasons unbeknownst to me, he dropped the “e” from his last name on this and all subsequent releases. He also he appeared alongside DJ KLC and Serv-On on Magnolia Slim’s “Made for Walkin’”debut, off his debut, Soulja 4 Lyfe (Parkway Pumpin’) in '95.

That same  year he released Warren Mays and the Canivin' Boys (1995/Hot Crescent Records)  which included the songs “Intro,”“Booty Shake,” “Get It Girl (Remix),” “ Bounce to This,” “Real Ass Brother,” “Revenge,” “Get Their Skull Cracked,” “Don't Bounce Bitch,” “Represent Yourself,”  “No One Wants to Get Shot,”  “Do My Thang,”  “You Make Me Nasty, “Let It Hang ,” “Doin' Em Right,”Warren Mays and the Canivin' Boys “It's Real,” “Rock The Bells,” “Back for the 9-4 (Club Mix),” “ If Your Down With Your Hood, Put Your Hand Up” and “Club Mix.” Not only did Mays on occasion employ Re-Birth to accompany him in his unique mix of hip-hop and second line music, he even included some tracks where Rebirth play without him. Another point of not, the album’s covers stark art is so at odds with Pen & Pixel’s then-dominant electronic collages that it could almost pass for Peter Saville.

In 1996, he appeared on Pimp Daddy’s posthumous release/tribute, Pimpin' Ain't E Z, with the tongue twisting bounce classic “Keep on Kick It" with production courtesy of Mannie Fresh.

The double album, Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – See Me When I Get There appeared in 1999, credited to Warren Mays and Da Posse. With 8th Ward Villian, Von Ness, YTs and a host of others, it's an epic compilation more than a solo record. Shockingly, it was reviewed by Neil Strauss in The New York Times when he included it in his article “The Pop Life: Undeservedly Obscure; Pop Critics List the Worthwhile Albums Most People Missed.”

Unfortunately, like so many New Orleanians, Warren Mays lost his life an early age, killed August 6th, 1999. As is the case with 99% of murdered rappers, the case remains unsolved. RIP

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Sissy Rappers - Tell me what a sissy know

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 3, 2008 04:42pm | Post a Comment
In hip-hop circles, you often encounter self-appointed arbiters of hip-hop taste who decry certain supposed negative trends in hip-hop. One frequent target for these musical Taliban is the prevalence of "bling," which is regarded as a new corruption of the scene (conveniently ignoring Gucci-clad, Rolls Royce-flaunting, "paid in full"-singing Eric B and Rakim or the massive gold ropes that adorned every rapper from Big Daddy Kane down the alphabet to Yella.) These paternal advocates of fiscal responsibility feel that rappers should be saving their money, I suppose, and not spending on ostentatious jewelry.

These conservative cultural watchdogs usually then go into an oft-repeated, well-rehearsed diatribe about meaningless, party-centric lyrics, the lack of reliance on DJing, the importance of being real and other things that place them ideologically in the traditionalist camp alongside their trad jazz forebears that griped when jazz moved beyond its Dixieland roots, the guy that yelled "Judas" when Dylan plugged in and prog-rock fans who decried the lack of humorless, showy, technical proficiency when glam began took over the charts and hearts of rock fans in the 70s.

But music evolves, regardless (and sometimes in defiance) of the griping and sniping of those stodgy snobs who stand scowling and motionless with arms folded whilst the masses keep on getting down. In 1968 Nik Cohn virtually created rock criticism with his book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of RockAs the title suggests, Cohn viewed the meaningless, shallow, fun music of rock's dawn in higher regard than the pretentious progressive rock of his day.  Another genre of music that haters love to hate is Bounce music. I felt like my love of this despised genre was validated, in a way, when the same Nik Cohn moved to New Orleans and worked with Choppa, an under-rated rapper from Algiers on the West Bank who had a big regional hit with "Choppa Style." Choppa dubbed Cohn "Nik the Trik" and Cohn wrote another book of criticism about his experiences, Triksta: Life and Death and New Orleans Rap.

Now, if you remember the late '90s, with the rising profiles of No Limit and Cash Money, the term "bounce" started getting thrown around by East & West Coast rappers who incorporated slightly southern rap-inspired beats to their club hits in what amounted, from where I stand, to a new form of minstrelsy that I call Southface. Jay-Z did "Can I Get A" and dropped excruciatingly wooden verses on a remix of Juvie's Bounce-inspired "Back That Azz Up," Ice Cube did "You Know I'm a Ho" with Master P and the southern-flavored "U Can Do It" and R. Kelly gratingly drove the word "bounce" into the ground with that one song that I'm not even going to try to remember the name of, lest it get stuck in my head. None of these songs really bore more than a passing resemblance to real Bounce music though and Bounce labels Big Boy (which initially had Mystikal and Partners N Crime) and Take Fo' (who had DJ Jubilee, Willie Puckett and Tec-9 from UNLV) as well as Bounce pioneers like TT Tucker & DJ IRv, DJ Jimi, and Everlasting Hitman were left where they started-- with little more than devoted regional cult followings.

Real Bounce is the extremely repetitive New Orleans-centered rap genre that draws from an incredibly small pool of samples. The source of all Bounce tracks is pretty much just the song "Drag Rap" by obscure 80s East Coast rap group The Showboys. The rest of the samples come from British DJ Derek B's "Rock the Beat." How those two little-known tracks became so important to New Orleans hip-hop is a mystery to me. Bounce lyrics usually amount to little more than repeated call-and-response chants, shouting out dances and the names of New Orleans' many projects.  If you want to learn more about it, check out the film Ya Heard Me which, from what little I've seen, looks to be a pretty entertaining and informative documentary about the critically-ignored scene.

Anyway, a few years into the Bounce game, along came Katey Red, pretty much the first openly gay rapper to achieve any degree of popularity when he/she dropped Melpomene Block Party in 1999. Katey's on Take Fo', a label which promotes what they consider a positive image, shying away from lyrics about drugs and guns, but having no problem with lewdness-- kind of a European sensibility, really. This is N.O. after all-- a city deep in culture and older than the U.S.A. itself.

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