Filed under: Bronx Bombers,In The Trenches,Live From NY,Not Your Average
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Amongst the seemingly never-ending open bar events which consumed much of my time and liver capacity while in New York City last month, the highlight from a musical standpoint was spending the better part of an afternoon as a guest at the legendary Lord Finesse‘s home studio in the Bronx, thanks to the homey Chaze from the GRIM Team. ‘Ness blessed us with some of the music from his forthcoming project with O.C. called The Alumni, which you might recall was the title of the group that Finesse, O.C. and Large Pro were forming, but it turns out that the Live Guy With Glasses wasn’t a big fan of the name so it’s being used on this album instead. I was a little concerned when he mentioned that it was a combination of samples and live instruments, but as soon as the eerie beats leaked through the studio monitors it was clear that this was some serious next level D.I.T.C. material. He has a guy add bass, drums and keys to his samples and chops but it’s so tightly put together that it sounds like all samples…shit was crazy.
I had to ask about the legendary B-1 demo that Finesse had produced and had been featured in RapPages demo section way back when, which I mentioned back here: ‘Takin’ Niggaz’ – B-1 feat. Freddie Foxxx, Kool G Rap and MF Grimm. The Lord didn’t have a copy of the finished track, but he remembered the beat he made for it, which he later used for a Stretch & Bob radio session and appeared on his ‘Instrumentals’ vinyl:
Other topics of talk included me asking if Grandpa Finesse is ever coming out of retirement (don’t count on it), what really held-up the Funky Technician Remix Project (a couple of ‘big name’ douchebags withholding their A-grade material) and the official final Big L project (another dead-beat dad scenario). Finesse also told the sad tale of an incredible BX MC named Billy Gamble who he had mentored around ’97-’98. Apparently this kid was on some super-lyrical type of steez, but he chose the road to quick cash instead of sticking to his craft and formed a group with a chick called Jackie-O, getting signed to Roc-A-Fella as Mickey & Mallory (word to Family Ties). Unfortunately for them, all they had to show for this deal was a mention on Jay-Z‘s ‘All I Need’ before they were dropped in 2002 without releasing anything. These days, Billy sounds like every other non-exceptional rapper out there…
Another interesting incident was a phone call Finesse received from Primo regarding some kid called Mac Miller, who had released a track of hm rapping over the ‘Hip 2 Da Game’ instrumental, called it ‘Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza’ and clocked 9,649,249 views on YouTube (!?). Turns out he got a deal on the strength of this song, and his people had reached out to Premier to ask Finesse if he’d lace him with some tracks officially… bizarre times, indeed.
^ Pause at the shirtless boom-box/weed carrier guy.
I was also lucky enough to hear some old demos and unreleased joints that he had in the stash, which I’m sure will appear on some limited Japanese vinyl one day, as well as the humbling experience of hearing Finesse praise Unkut Dot Com and admitting that he’s a regular reader of the site, even naming specific interviews and articles by name so I knew he wasn’t just being polite… legendary status, indeed.
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