Sunday, August 8, 2010
'The Mic Is A Third Rail!': Bob James> Eric B + Rakim> P-Funk
"Follow The Leader" is one of the coolest Rap songs ever made. Here's where this intergalactic headtrip by ERIC B & RAKIM took off from.
This journey into sound begins with "Nautilus" by BOB JAMES. Like the classic "Apache", this song is one of the most sampled ever. Over 30 different Rap songs have used portions of it, including hits by RUN-DMC, PUBLIC ENEMY, SLICK RICK, SOUL II SOUL, EPMD, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, WU-TANG CLAN, GHOSTFACE KILLAH, and JERU THE DAMAJA, as well as singer MARY J. BLIGE.
It's easy to hear why. This atmospheric Funk-Jazz jam, inspired by the submarine Nautilus captained by Nemo in Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", is full of hidden depths and strange phenomena.
BOB JAMES -"Nautilus" (1974)
Another key component is this rare gem by BABY HUEY, who made one killer Funk Rock album in 1970 before his untimely death.
BABY HUEY -"Listen To Me" (1970)
When you combine the eerie keyboards of Bob James (1:51) with the funky rhythm from Baby Huey (1:12) and the opening drums of Coke Escovedo's "I Wouldn't Change A Thing", you get this cosmic classic.
"Follow The Leader" by ERIC B & RAKIM is a micro/macrocosmic journey unlike any vinyl out at the time or much since.
Many Rap records of the late 80's were still about MC's battling over who was most original and who was biting their style, usually over a spare drum machine and a simple sample loop. Rakim leaves that local turf and loud ego stuff in the dust by taking the contest to a literally universal level. It becomes a spiritual journey that canvases the galaxy while challenging the inner self at the same time. Rakim's deft lyrics are put into interstellar overdrive by the def sonics of Eric B, all alien edge and pounding momentum.
ERIC B & RAKIM -"Follow The Leader" (1988)
GEORGE CLINTON was pretty used to being sampled by the early 90's, but he was so impressed by the sliquid words and infinite scope of this song that he paid it the ultimate compliment by covering it himself.
GEORGE CLINTON + P-FUNK ALL STARS -"Follow The Leader" (1995)
"I'm everlasting, I can go on for days and days
With rhyme displays that engrave deep as X-rays
In this journey you're the journal, I'm the journalist
You're not a slave
'Cause we was put here to be much more than that
But we couldn't see it because our mind was trapped
But I'm here to break away the chains, take away the pains
Remake the brains, reveal my name
I guess nobody told you a little knowledge is dangerous
It can't be mixed, diluted, it can't be changed or switched
Here's a lesson if you're guessing and borrowing
Hurry hurry, step right up and keep following the leader!
A furified freestyle, lyrics of fury
My third eye makes me shine like jewelry
You're just a rent-a-rapper, your rhymes are Minute Maid
I'll be here when it fades to watch you flip like a renegade
And follow and follow, because the tempo's a trail
The stage is a cage, the mic is a third rail!"