Some bright spark over at Traffic Entertainment came up with the idea of releasing a bunch of ’80’s albums on CD, which is a pretty decent concept since most of these are tough to find for anyone under 30 who wasn’t around to buy them when they first came out. Plus only stuff like Run-DMC was getting pressed on fancy-pants Compact Discs in 1988….
Their latest two reissues have a few things in common. Not only did they both hit the racks in ’88, but both The Krown Rulers and Masters of Ceremony featured guys named after a character from The Flintstones. In an effort to confuse rap fans of the time, Grand Puba Maxwell (straight outta Now Rule) and Grand Pubah (Camden’s Finest) both sported the same eccentric moniker, apparently with little concern over the similarity. Not only that, but both Pubah’s were quality vocalists, which raises the question – who was more deserving of the “Grand” handle? Actually, who gives a shit? Let me stick to comparing the albums.
Dynamite and Paper Chase offer two very different sides of hardcore ’88 rap, in that the Krown Rulers’ sounds like a classic Philly record and the Masters’ is more Bronx than New Jersey. With beats from the Tuff Crew, the Rulers stick to the PA legacy of drum machines, sparse breaks and a truckload of turntable work, following in the footsteps of Schooly D and Steady B. No sign of ballads, dance crazes or Hip-House, this is ten tracks of the raw shit. Sorry kids – no Fender Rhodes here, just tales of skeezers, suckas and a couple of remixes of “Kick The Ball”. Just the way I like it.
Guided by the legendary Jazzy Jay, the Masters of Ceremony start off strong with “Dynamite” and “Keep On Moving”, but Puba Maxwell’s “smoov” side was already steering his formidable skills off track, as painful ragga/R&B style joints like “Redder Posse” and “Rock With The Master” interupt the flow of proceedings with those cheesy keyboard sounds that didn’t even sound good back then. These missteps are quickly forgiven when you hear winners like “One To The Knot” and the classic “Cracked Out”. The previously unheard “Hard Core” is included as a bonus track, which I’m not complaining about.
Another feature shared by both of these LPs are their bizarre cover art. The M.C.’s are seen maxin’ on a pile of rubble, sporting Thiller-style leathers while cheap sparklers burn in the background, while the Rulers strike their best Excalibur pose in front of a castle, dressed in 16th century armor! I guess it’s better than some loser standing there with his shirt off.
Any way you look it, even if you have these on vinyl, it’s always good to have a clean CD copy of this kinda shit, plus it’s better than most of the shit coming out these days.
Now with added Beck-O-Meter!
The Krown Rulers – Paper Chase [Paper Chase, Warlock/Traffic, 1988]
Masters of Cermony – One To The Knot [Dynamite , Strong City/Traffic, 1988]
Review copies supplied courtesy of Shogun Distribution.
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