Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde – An Appreciation
They started this black Gordon Gecko shit and bein’ a mere footnote in Andre Harrell’s corporate career is the muhfuckin’ thanks they get?
That corporate-rap shit. It ain’t easy to do well – check not-so-young Hov’ since a track like ‘U Don’t Know’ is more like Alan Sugar reciting his annual sales figures. Puffy? That new jack? Puh-leez. He’s the Chris to Andre’s Marlo. Nah, you want that real suit and tie corporate-rap shit then what you need to do is check Andre “Dr Jeckyll” Harrell and Alonzo “Mr Hyde” Brown. They didn’t just start that corporate rap shit, they lived it too, with Harrell constantly booking the group above Kurtis Blow, Run DMC and LL Cool J on bills. Gordon Gecko would truly be proud at such arrogance and ambition.
Emerging out of the ashes of the Harlem World Crew, it all started with ‘Genius Rap’ in 1981. Now, we got mad love for The Furious Five and ‘It’s Nasty (Genius Of Love)’ but can we just admit that ‘Genius Rap’ is the slightly better record as far as ‘Genius Of Love’ utilising disco-band rap records go?
Rappers making answer records to hot r&b singles was commonplace in the early to mid 80′s (we all know the rumour about ‘Eric B. Is President’ starting out as being an answer record to ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately’ by Janet Jackson, right chaps?) and ‘The Challenge’ from 1982 was a riposte to ‘Nasty Girl’ by Prince-produced girl group Vanity 6 daring them to prove their nastiness. We think you can get arrested for that these days.
But it was with 1983′s ‘Gettin’ Money’ that the group really started to get good after Profile drafted in Kurtis Blow on production duties. Providing the perfect mixture of live instrumentation and electro-funk courtesy of Blow, this remains one of the best examples of post-disco band, pre-’Sucker MC’s’.
The combination of the group and Kurtis Blow was too good to waste on a mere single, so they teamed up again the following year and recorded their masterpiece, the ‘Fast Life’/’A.M P.M’ single in 1984. This is one of those double-sided singles which should be mentioned alongside similar double-sided 80′s classics by Spoonie Gee, Run DMC, Doug E. Fresh & MC Ricky D, Schoolly D and Eric B. & Rakim yet, puzzlingly, hasn’t quite made its way into the canon yet. Why? We can’t tell you because ‘Fast Life’ is one of the finest songs of the decade and obliterates the vastly overrated Kool G. Rap & Nas song of the same moniker which appeared a decade later.
1984 was a busy year for the duo as it also saw them team up with their Profile Records label mates Pumpkin, Fresh 3 MC’s et al on the original The Symphony before The Symphony posse track ‘Here Comes That Beat’ by Pumpkin & The Profile All Stars where we find them stealing the show chastising bum mc’s as they got their Patrick Bateman on and detailed their double breasted suits and silk ties.
Here Comes That Beat
And so the inevitable album, ‘Champagne Of Rap’, arrived a year later in 1985. There’s nothing that reached the heights of ‘Gettin’ Money’, ‘Fast Life’ or ‘Here Comes The Beat’ and it feels a tad timid compared to the trailblazing LL Cool J and Schoolly D debut long players from the same year, but it’s hard to deny it does have a certain charm with some sublime Davy DMX production on ‘Transformation’, the classic single ‘Yellow Panties’ and a cover which manages to capture the essence of the group and their steez.