More native, less tongue.
Purchase this album: Amazon
THE SCENE: In 1993, New York’s Jungle Brothers had oodles of respect but had yet to create a breakthrough album. These founding members of the Native Tongues rap collective dropped the well-regarded Done By The Forces of Nature in 1989, the next year they were commercially upstaged by fellow Tongues A Tribe Called Quest’s career-defining .People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. To ramp up their game they enlisted the expansive talents of producer Bill Laswell and some four years later they popped out the schizophrenic J. Beez Wit The Remedy.
Much like John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy, J.Beez sways back and forth between two poles, head-bobbin’ beat-heavy linguistic assaults and bizarre tone-free sound collage.
In the head-bobbin’ corner, The JB’s smoothly ride the beat of the crisp “40 Below Trooper” with scratched-in horn samples a-plenty. “Book of Rhyme Pages” begins with the active clacks of a typewriter (remember those?) and segues into a piston-tight flow:
Some see the end, but then some see nothing
The pages keep on turning and my DJ keeps on cutting.
My constant high on life combats stress and strife,
But there always comes a time when you must sacrifice
So my cells ripidy pop as the lovely lyrics drop
I’m never going back; I’m over stocked with stock
Cops and thiefs both practice same beliefs
So I run and make my own
So I don’t need grief
Over in the bizarre corner “Blahbludify” sounds like five different songs played simultaneously, all on defective CD players. Drum machines suffer from tremors, the codeine-slow vocals slur underneath shards of tinkly piano, and many sounds end without starting.
In “Spittin Wicked Randomness” their zooted-up raps glide over glass breaking and electrical hums, with beats that simulate a free-falling industrial elevator changing floors.
The deranged carnival organ and background shouting of “For The Headz At Company Z” is the ideal soundtrack for that sketchy, psychotic ice cream truck driver that makes all the local kids nervous.
By the time you get to the random snippet tapestry of “Man Made Material”, it’s clear that the Jungle Brothers intended to hijack rap and drag it into a new progressive new world.
THE FALLOUT: Their original album, titled Crazy Wisdom Masters, was rejected by their label repeatedly for over two years. After excising several songs, several mixes, the title and the producer, the now neutered album — retitled J. Beez Wit The Remedy — was still nutty enough to catch fans off-guard and J. Beez never caught on with the public. Once again, The Jungle Brothers didn’t release their next album for another four years.
It’s currently out of print but Amazon carries used copies and you can listen to tracks here from both J. Beez Wit The Remedy and Crazy Wisdom Masters:
So fresh it sounds like it was released two hours ago, J. Beez Wit The Remedy is a lucrative mind puzzle for the sonically enhanced.
See you next Wednesday.
NEXT WEEK: Sly Stone’s first attempt to take you higher.