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Lil Slim

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 1, 2008 03:15pm | Post a Comment

Lil Slim was one of the first artists to be signed to Cash Money Records. After a series of underground classics, he parted ways with the label. A couple of years later, CMR signed a multi-million dollar deal with Universal and the label's star, Juvenile, carried the new roster to success whilst Lil Slim receded into the shadows.


Lil Slim lived way out in the 17th Ward on New Orleans's western edge in Hollygrove, a small, lower middle class neighborhood that also was home to Big Boy (and later, No Limit) artist, Fiend. Representing the Apple and Eagle intersection, he brought his raps to audiences at Club 49, where he performed alongside UNLV and Soulja Slim. One day, Ziggler the Wiggler introduced them to Mannie Fresh, a young DJ from the 7th Ward who'd gained a measurable degree of local fame with rapper Gregory D. Shortly after, Lil Slim was introduced to Baby and Slim, brothers and co-owners of the fledgling Cash Money Records label. They signed Lil Slim and recorded his first album in Baby's kitchen.

The album was The Game is Cold (1993). One highlight is "Hoes I U's 2 Sweat." Another is "Bounce Slide Ride," a Bounce classic in the vein of DJ Jimi and Juvenile's "Bounce for the Juvenile" which name-checked Juvie and echoed his taste for Reeboks and Girbaud. Lil Slim's style was sing-songy, reggae-informed, repetitive and heavy on chants -- somewhat similar to Pimp Daddy, UNLV and early Juvenile. One thing that set him apart was his exaggerated Yat accent, in which the familiar interjection "Ya heard me?" sounded like "Ya hoidz me?" Cash Money was then primarily a Bounce label and a good deal of the lyrics amounted to little more than calling out wards and projects. Expecting lyrical complexity out of Bounce is missing the point, however, and the album is emphatically danceable. Its Intro and Outro tracks allowed Mannie Fresh to cut snippets of Slim's already sparse prose and make them almost completely abstract.

His sophomore release, Powder Shop (1994) moved a bit more into a more narrative, Gangsta territory, creating a Gangsta/Bounce hybrid made popular by his labelmates, UNLV. Some of the highlights include "Eagle St. Bounce," "True to the Game" and "Powder Shop," the latter about a heroin operation. Like a lot of early-'90s New Orleans rap, heroin is the drug most often referenced -- which is a bit unsettling, especially when the rest of the rap world was melloThug'n & Pluggin' lil slimwing with Indo, Chronic and gin 'n' juice. I guess all that dope in the Grunge scene had to come from somewhere. Listening to it now, it's shocking how much Lil Wayne and, even more so, (Young) Turk owe to his sound.

Lil Slim's final album for Cash Money was Thug'n & Pluggin (1995) which saw him (and especially Mannie Fresh's production) making more concessions to West Coast styles on G-Funk flavored tracks like "Bitches Ain't Shit," "Gangsta Day," "Shakem Up Shakem," "Time to Murder" and the excellent "Hands on My Gun." "Live in Club Rolex (Real High)" with its heavy use of the triggerman beat from the Showboys' "Drag Rap" was a throwback to Lil Slim's straight Bounce beginnings. "Neighborhood Terror" is another highlight.


Like all Cash Money productions, other artists from the roster make frequent guest appearances. In the pre-Hot Boys era that means B-32 (Birdman), PxMxWx, Kilo G (Cash Money's first signing) and Mr. Ivan. Of course, Lil Slim appeared on albums by other Cash Money artists such as Mr. Ivan, PxMxWx, Pimp Daddy and UNLV. He also brought an artist to Cash Money's attention that today is the CEO of the label. In 1994, Lil Slim heard his eleven-year-old neighbor rapping at a block party. Born D'Wayne Turner, the Eleanor McMain Magnet Secondary School student was calling himself "Shrimp Daddy" and owed a considerable stylistic debt to Lil Slim and Pimp Daddy, whose "You Gotta Be Real" he re-did as "You Gotta Be Lil." Lil Slim was suitably impressed and promised to introduce the child to Baby and Slim. Then, at one of his autograph signings in a record store, the little kid performed a rap where he spelled out Hollygrove. Paired with the twelve-year-old rapper Doogie (aka Gangsta D) and rechristend "Baby D" in a duo called The B.G.z, they ultimately went on to find more fame under their subsequent handles, B.G. and Lil Wayne, respectively.


In 1995, Lil Slim parted ways with CMR. According to Lil Slim, it was over contractual problems, including unfair payment of royalties; Baby being a student of the Suge Knight school of label-running makes that charge pretty likely. In addition, almost everyone that's left the label since has made the same allegation, sometimes suing and winning. On the other hand, Slim and Baby maintain that they dropped the original line-up of artists for not being disciplined or hungry enough, spending any money they got on dope... which, given their brown-centric lyrics, may have a grain of truth to it too. Whatever the reasons, the members of CMR's original line-up fared poorly after their departure. Kilo-G, Pimp Daddy and UNLV's Yella Boy were all murdered. Mr. Ivan died recently. I suppose PxMxWx, Miss Tee, Magnolia Shorty and Lil Slim can at least count their blessings that they're still alive, gone from the spotlight but not forgotten. Cash Money, on the other hand, went on to sign a multi-million dollar deal with its new signings, all (save Lil Wayne) of which left echoing Lil Slim's claims of unfair payment.


Lil Slim's final release was Lil Slim's Back (1998-Franchise Player), a six-track mini-album that I've never heard. About five years later, Lil Slim relocated to Northern California, where he currently lives. His current obscurity is shocking given his importance as a rapper both artistically and historically. For better or worse, without him we probably never would've heard from Lil Wayne or Turk. I contacted him with the hopes of an interview and he never got back to me.

(Update: Slim did attempt to get back to me and I to him but it didn't happen. Now he's got a proper website on which he tells his story in his own words so check that out here).



*****

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Earl Palmer 1924 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, September 23, 2008 03:55pm | Post a Comment


The feel of rock and roll would have been a hell of a lot different without the input of New Orleans musicians, and at the top of that class was drummer Earl Palmer. He provided the distinctive backbeat for the seminal sound of rock starting with the likes of Fats Domino and Little Richard and Eddie Cochran. Earl Palmer died last Friday in his home in Banning after a long illness. He was 83.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, Palmer played on thousands of rock, jazz and pop music sessions, as well as on countless movie, television and commercial scores. In the late fifties and early sixties he played on such rock classic singles as Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin” and “Walking to New Orleans,” Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and "Long Tall Sally," Ritchie Valens' “Donna” and "La Bamba," Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and "I Hear You Knockin"' by Smiley Lewis. Legendary producer Phil Spector used him to build his Wall of Sound on such songs as “You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'” by the Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner's “River Deep, Mountain High.” Palmer’s work was rarely off the charts for two decades.

Palmer left New Orleans for Los Angeles in 1957 to work for Aladdin Records. His career as a session drummer included work with a who’s who of 20th century musical icons: Frank Sinatra, Rick Nelson, Ray Charles, Bobby Day, Don and Dewey, Jan and Dean, Larry Williams, Gene McDaniels, Bobby Darin, Dick Dale, Tim Hardin, Tom Waits, Tim Buckley, Roy Brown, Neil Diamond, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Duane Eddy, Sceamin' Jay Hawkins, Barbara Streisand, Taj Mahal, David Axelrod, the Beachboys, Elvis Costello, Everly Brothers, the Mama and the Papas, the Monkees, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Johnny Otis, Thurston Harris, The Byrds, Marvin Gaye and Lloyd Price, just to name a very few. Not to mention the fact he recorded with practically every great New Orleans musician who ever tracked a song to vinyl, like Professor Longhair, Huey Piano Smith, Doctor John, James Booker, Dave Batholomew and Lee Allen.

Palmer was also the session drummer for a number of television show themes and soundtracks, including -- Flintstones Theme Song, 77 Sunset Strip, I Dream of Jeannie, Green Acres, Ironside, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Odd Couple, and M.A.S.H.

Much of Palmer's work took place at the legendary Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles located at 6252 Santa Monica, near Vine Street, right down the street from Amoeba Records. The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll states that Palmer was "possibly the most inventive drummer rock and roll has ever had.” In 1999 he was the subject of a biography, Backbeat, written by Tony Scherman, published by the Smithsonian Institution Press. A companion CD collects 30 of his most famous tracks.

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Hot Boy Ronald -- toot it up!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 25, 2008 01:34pm | Post a Comment
I was watching the Argentina vs Nigeria game the other night and started fiending for some N.O. Bounce. Before long I was searching for some Hot Boy Ronald and I stumbled on this fan video that made me lose it.

But let me back up a little bit first. Hot Boy Ronald is a 9th Ward Bounce artist who's collaborated with Choppa, Juvenile and others. Some of his certified bangers have included "Shake it like a oink" and "Walk like Ronald." The latter is on Bounce Back (2005 - King's Ent.). Looks like he's got a new record called Bottom of the Map. I tried to do a little background on him but Wikipedia's got nothing. Allmusic's got nothing. His own myspace doesn't have a bio (although it's got more bells and whistles than the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics). At that point it becomes a cold case.

As with any Bounce hit, popularity isn't measured in terms of CD sales, but how many youtube videos people post of themselves dancing to your song.

First up you've got Ashley in San Antonio sort of lethargically doing the "Walk like Ronald" with some enormous slippers on.


And then you've got Christina and friends. Um... still a little rough.


Mark, Nick and Stacy are a bit better. But the image quality will screw with your eyes.

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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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