Part 003 – Caveman  ‘The Whole Nine Yards…And Then Some’

 

Profile Records 1992

Track List –

Side A.

1. You are now rocking with…  (2:34)

2. Streetlife  – The Principle Remix  (4:17)

3. Neva Relax  (4:49)

4. Rap Biznizz  (5:30)

5. Whole 9 yards…And then some (2:52)

6. Skills Pt.2  (3:07)

Side B.

1. Brother in Action – The Principle Remix  (5:57)

2. Bods get slapped up  (4:54)

3. Put a punk against me  (5:07)

4. Watch Me  (4:15)

5. Business as usual  (0:56)

6. T-shirt and Panties  (5:29)
Personnel:-

MC Bee – Produced/Mixed tracks B3, B5 and B6, also rapping duties.

Diamond J – DJ Duties and poduced/mixed tacks A1, A3, B2, B4 and B6.

MCM – Produced/Mixed tracks A1, A5, A6, B2, B3, B5 and B6 and all the main rapping.

The Principle – Remixed tracks A2 and B1.

Gabin Stabin Gavin – Guest raps on track B6.

Detroit Red – Guest raps on tracks A3 and B6. 

 

 

Hip Hop closer to home has always had an identity problem. The UK scene couldn’t help but be classed as mere epigone; an imitator, and poor substitute to the founding forefathers across the pond. Put it down in part, to all those cool sounding American locations like The Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Compton, Philadelphia, Miami – the list is endless – all delivered in a drawl, swaggering US accent that always sounded more dramatic and cool. Over here we have to settle with Brixton, Hackney, Manchester, Neasden! All pronnouced with a usually nasal down-cast accent; almost out of embarressment. Those faraway cities and towns always carried a certain candour, and had a ring to them; the distance allowing naive green and young Hip Hop fans like myself, a chance to conjure up all kinds of precieved imaganitive preconceptions about these palces, which I’d only ever glimpsed on TV or dodgy quality video copies of Wildstyle.

High Wycombe, hmmmm…a good example of just what I’m trying to convey here. In the States they’d probably daw-out the vowels, “Hiiiiii-gh Wy-combe”, give it an exotic sound, but in dear old Blighty, it’s just plain old High Wycombe, the unassuming – well it was back in the 80s/90s, though in recent times its seen a spate of arrests and raids linked to terrorism – Buckingshire town, on the outskirts of London, spawned one of this countries great hopes against the tidal wave of American acts, the promising Caveman. Headed by the syllable swinging, articulate rapper MCM and his verbal sparring partner MC Bee, alongside the DJ poduction duo of The Principle and Diamond J; this loose collective cemented their rep from the off, with the release of the Victory EP in early 1990. By this point, the UK was producing some considerable contenders, such as The Cash Crew, London Posse, Black Radical MK II, MC Duke, Overlod X, She-Rockers, Blade and MC Mell’O’; all helped along by British labels, like the Simon Harris impint Music Of Life. Some glimmers of success and cross-over potential had occured with Derek B, whilst both Monie Love and Hijack were courted in the US – Hijack signed a brief deal with Ice T, and Monie appeared as a member of the Native Tongues posse, guesting alongside such notable Hip Hop acts as Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.

On the wave of an-ever-increasingly sophisticated and radical British scene, Caveman were snapped-up by Profile records, making them the first home-grown act to be signed by an American major label. Wasting no time, they blazed through an uninterrupted schedule, releasing a couple of 12″, an EP, and their debut album, Positive Reaction, all within the year of 1990.  Aficionados gave them an instant seal of approval, with features and countless underground radio aiplay.

Inspired by the same jazz and trunk funk cuts favored by such US counterparts as Gang Starr, Master Ace, Main Source and Pete Rock & CL Smooth; Caveman’s inital experiments flowed with a mellow air of lazy break-beats, horns and Donald Byrd-esque sampled loops – though they always maintained a rough edge. But it was the troglodyte inspired monikered crews follow-up LP, The Whole 9 Yards…And Then Some that really marked them out in my book.

With a bombastic beat-driven stomp of a sound, the 1992 tome of jeep-music bass-lines and voracious swaying lyrical spluges, still carried the signature jazz-matazz feel, albeit with an obsession for the Soulfather, James Brown – whose yelps, especially, pierce and punctuate nigh-on every track. Although all the original founding members make an appearence, DJ/producer, The Principle, contributes to only two tracks as a remixer. The double dose of heavy re-worked prime cuts include ‘Streetlife’, a bass booming, choped guitar riffing and Gillespie style blasting horns anthem, that reworks Randy Crawford‘s original; and the equally rolling beat-junkie classic ‘Brother In Action’, that features a vocal break ripped straight off the Marly Marl all-star cast rapathon, ‘The Symphony’ – the “Action is in effect” snatch sample is sung by Master Ace.

Guest spots come courtesy of fellow UK scenesters, Detroit Red and Cabin Stabin Gavin – I can only assume his title carries some relevence or connotation, that is oblivouis to me. Red dutifully rasps and peppers over the Public Enemy/Hank Shocklee charged wining ‘Neva Relax’, and pairs up with both main man MCM and Gabin Stabin for the salacious Byrd sampled, and sexual bravado bragging rites of ‘T-Shirt and Panties’.

MCM commands the lions share of these meaty and free-flowing tunes, shadowed on a handful by MC Bee’s more rough and stumbling cockney delivery style. Using a scattering of lyrical references indeginious to our own shores – check out the mention of snooker player Derek Taylor – High Wycombes finest blend social striking observations and showboating skills to the max.

Samples ae supplied by such funked-up party choices as Sly and the Family Stone’s smouldering organ motif led ‘Babies Making Babies’ – used on ‘Rap Biznizz’ – and Kool and the Gang’s ‘Who’s Gonna take the Weight’ – which is used wisely on the mauradering smokey ‘Watch Me’.

To beak up the sonorus deep barbecued, live at the Apollo beats, they throw in a couple of Beatnuts style viginettes. The introductory sultering, Diamond J scratch fluttering , ‘You are now rocking with…’ eases the listhener in, whilst the Motown fueled fuck-parody, ‘Business as Usual’, acts as an over-played sex-tape porn segue way.

Caveman set a benchmark, yet failed to stay together, with all the members splitting to pursue solo projects and carears – MCM still continues to release new material, though he trades, with respect, on the Caveman reputation. It’s a pity they had to drift apart, as I’d liked to have seen them carry on through the rest of the 90s, on into the noughties resurgance of UK Hip Hop – I hear their sound in many recent artists work.

‘The Whole 9 Yards…And Then Some’ takes a proto-jazz and rocking bombardment of big US production, and makes it somehow quientessentially British.

Highlights:-

Streetlife – Whole 9 Yards…And Then Some – Brother In Action – Watch Me – T-Shirt and Panties.

You May Also Like These:-

Gang Starr – ‘Step In The Arena’ – Chrysalis/ EMI – 1990

MC Mell’O’ – ‘Thoughts Released’ (Revelation I) – Republic Records – 1990

Ovelord X – ‘Weapon Is My Lyric’ – Mango – 1989

Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Mecca And The Soul Brother’ – Elektra Records – 1992

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