July 19, 2008

Tim Dog - Penicillin On Wax (November 12, 1991)


I gotta say, that flattop is impressive. Timothy Blair, whose rap name Tim Dog will probably not be used on his wedding invitations, is usually considered by hip hop fans as the fifth member of the Ultramagnetic MC's, primarily because he performs with them so goddamn often. The first appearance of this South Bronx born-and-bred rapper was on the B-side to the single for "Traveling At The Speed of Thought", on a track called "A Chorus Line" which, sadly, was written about songwriter Marvin Hamlisch. It was well-received anyway, and Tim Dog's career was born.

In the late 1980's and early 1990's, West Coast gangsta rap was slowly starting to permeate the hip hop culture, and record sales were brisk, especially for a group of hoodlums from Compton that had the audacity to call themselves N.W.A. Their music, led by the musical ear of Andre Young, directed listeners to focus on the possibly-true-life street tales from the rappers in the crew, while nodding your head to the sample-based beats that were unlike anything that had come out of California at that time. This shift in focus to the West left the East Coast hip hop scene, specifically New York's, at a standstill, and since New York is where hip hop was born and all, Tim Dog took offense.

Incensed, he released a scathing single in "Fuck Compton", in which Tim Dog essentially starts up the East Coast-West Coast feud all by his fucking self, picking fights with various Cali-based rappers for seemingly no reason. (Some bloggers may argue that Tim Dog was in no way starting any sort of fight with an entire coast, and only sought to sell records, but you know and I know that rappers tend to misinterpret things and take shit waaaay too seriously, even if it's meant to be ironic, which "Fuck Compton" clearly was not.) Considering the fact that Tim Dog was the only dude from the East that was willing to battle their other half (all in an effort to keep the shifting eyes of the audience on the birthplace of our chosen genre), "Fuck Compton" was successful, except maybe in Compton, although I'm sure some fans bumped that shit on the low. Tim Dog's raw energy, palpable anger, and interesting taste in old school-ish beats created the sound that New York needed in order to maintain its stamina, and the motivation it created helped New York turn around and once again dominate hip hop after the slow fade-out of G-Funk (although, keep in mind, Puff Daddy is part of New York rap, so technically this sentence is historically accurate), or at least until the South fucked things up.

Tim Dog took this bi-coastal tension and used it to fuel almost the entirety of Penicillin On Wax, his solo debut album that is not completely made up of diss tracks, although it might as well be, considering that nobody seems to remember any of the songs that weren't about why Eazy-E sucks or why beating down DJ Quik is such a compelling option. Released on Ruffhouse Records, home of Cypress Hill and the Fugees, Penicillin On Wax didn't sell tons of copies, but sold well enough to warrant responses from well-known (and not-so-well-known) West Coast artists like Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg (who didn't even really have a career at the point "Fuck Compton" dropped: he only got involved at Dre's behest), DJ Quik, Compton's Most Wanted, and, most importantly, Tweety Bird Loc, who is most famous (infamous?) for performing on those rap albums by a group that referred to themselves as Bloods & Crips. (Remember those guys? I never heard any of their music, but their CDs always stood out to me every time I walked in to a Blockbuster Music in the mid-1990's.)

What was I talking about again?

1. INTRO
Tim Dog jacks the beat from N.W.A.'s "Kamurshol" (which they used again on Efil4zaggin's "Prelude") with mixed results, since Tim is not the best lyricist (and never claims to be), but he is fucking passionate about how much he hates N.W.A., although it seems the only reason he hates Dr. Dre is because Dre slapped Dee Barnes from Pump It Up (which, admittedly, is a great reason to not like someone). I'm more interested in the fact that the first voice that we hear on the messages is that of Kool Keith (utilizing a fake name, of course): did Keith also hate N.W.A.? Who the hell knows?

2. LOW DOWN N---A
Not as aggressive or antagonistic as I was expecting, but sounds okay regardless.

3. ROBIN HARRIS SHIT
Skit...

4. FUCK COMPTON
Tim Dog is far from "the beast from the East" as he so claims, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that this song was entertaining. The beat (from Ced Gee and Tim himself) certainly helps matters, and I laughed at Tim's joke at Michel'le's expense, which was misogynistic as shit but still kind of funny. Tim also released a sequel of sorts in 1994 entitled "Bitch Wit A Perm", aimed at both Dre and Snoop, but that track couldn't compete with Dre's monster "Fuck Wit Dre Day", which took the liberty of dissing Tim, Eazy-E, and Luther Campbell.

5. DJ QUICK BEAT DOWN
This skit plays out exactly as it reads. (That's also exactly as it is spelled on the back cover, and not "DJ Quik", the correct spelling.)

6. STEP TO ME
If you take these lyrics literally, Tim Dog only had issues with Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, and not N.W.A. as a whole. He seems to think of MC Ren as an otherwise "cool" guy who's simply guilty by association, and Tim obviously likes Ice Cube, since he comes to O'Shea's defense regarding his money issues with Ruthless Records. This beat will make your heart race, no lie.

7. PHONE CONVERSATION W/ REPORTER
Skit...

8. BRONX N---A
Tim moves on from his West Coast bashing agenda to spit about his daily routine, which seems to involve exacting revenge against his little brother's bully, fucking some random chick, and murdering unnamed police officers that kind of sound like Kool Keith. The hook is terribly elementary, but some of his couplets are actually pretty good.

9. YOU AIN'T SHIT
A production misstep, utilizing the Average White Band's "Picking Up The Pieces" to poor effect. This song ain't shit, truth be told. And the fact that he doesn't outright diss MC Hammer (Tim calls him "a wack-ass rapper", but quickly adds that he considers him to be "a dope-ass dancer") is mildly questionable.

10. I AIN'T TAKIN' NO SHORTS
This beat fucking rocks, even though it sounds like a parody of the musical craftsmanship Dr. Dre created for Efil4zaggin (and I mean that in a good way).

11. NFL SHIT
Skit...

12. I'LL WAX ANYBODY
Bob James's "Nautilus" gets put through the hip hop wringer for the eight thousandth time, but most every rapper sounds great over these samples. Tim Dog is no exception. He spits random disses in all directions, hitting Eddie Murphy and Monie Love square in their respective jaws, and even finding the time to toss a grenade towards N.W.A. (with that Raiders hat reference). Nice!

13. MICHEL'LE CONVERSATION
Seriously, is Dee Barnes Tim Dog's sister or something? Were they hooking up at the time? Because I can't think of any other reason why Tim would harp on one dumbass event in Dre's lifetime repeatedly.

14. CAN'T FUCK AROUND
This song ain't that good, folks.

15. DOG'S GONNA GETCHA
Over a drumbeat that reminds me of something The Automator would use later on Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon's "I'm Destructive", Tim submits a ridiculous attempt at horrorcore that is too funny to not like. He also mentions Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, and even though he only does this so his verse rhymes properly, I have to ask: does anybody even fucking remember Halloween III? Michael Myers isn't even in that shit, and it has that creepy-ass Silver Shamrock commercial with the kids chanting. Man, that flick is not scary at all. I did like the fact that, while some of the characters are in a bar or something, one of the TV stations actually advertises that, later that evening, they'll be playing the actual Halloween film. I always thought that was kind of cool and meta. Now look, I've gotten off track.

16. GOIN' WILD IN THE PENILE
Meh.

17. GET OFF THE DICK (FEAT KOOL KEITH)
Tim Dog brushes off gold diggers with the subtlety of a bag of bricks over a relatively weak track. The only thing I can kind of remember is Kool Keith's dialogue in the middle of the track (he doesn't actually rhyme over this).

18. I AIN'T HAVIN' IT (FEAT KOOL KEITH)
Kool Keith pops up again, this time outshining his host over a dope-ass Moe Love beat, which both rappers utilize to talk shit about commercial rap in general, in what should be seen today as a dry run for their collaborative album Big Time (as the two man crew simply called Ultra). Best line from Tim: "Rap is nothing you can put in a movie with a bunch of turtles!" Hi-larious!

19. PATRIOTIC PIMP
Although that title should be in the running for the best in hip hop history, the song itself isn't very convincing.

20. SECRET FANTASIES (FEAT KOOL KEITH)
Easily the worst song on the album. It doesn't fit into Penicillin On Wax's confrontational theme at all. Even Kool Keith sounds uncomfortable here, and this type of rap song is his fucking bread and butter. You'd be better off simply pretending that the album ended two songs ago.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Penicillin On Wax isn't a good rap album by today's standards: the production is good, and even fascinating at times, but Tim Dog is not the right man for the job. However, Tim's relentless need to tear into his enemies is pretty fucking entertaining, and even though his rhymes aren't very complex, I still found this to be a pretty good album. He never really explains his beef with N.W.A., but then again, some of my favorite horror movies are the ones where shit just happens and the characters are forced to react without the benefit of any exposition, so I didn't find that to be any sort of obstacle.

BUY OR BURN? I would actually recommend you buy this shit, if only because the beats are cut from a more confrontational cloth than most of the Ultramagnetic catalog. Not all music has to change the world, my two readers: it just mostly has to sound good.

BEST TRACKS: "I Ain't Havin' It"; "Dog's Gonna Getcha"; "Fuck Compton"; "I'll Wax Anybody"; "I Ain't Takin' No Shorts"

-Max

9 comments:

  1. Tim Dog did his part in history. I enjoyed how he came out: stomping... He was an awesome rapper and "Penicilin on wax" had the right attitude. The beats sound similar, but it's alright to me. The most interesting part on the album is the way Tim Dog is shouting and screaming and at the same time trying to sound clear.

    -Kay-

    ReplyDelete
  2. AnonymousJuly 19, 2008

    GOLD ! How did I miss this ?!?!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've always considered this to be an intentionally funny album. Some of the boasting just comes off as "He's gotta be kidding, right?". "Dog's Gonna Getcha" is the ultimate example of this. He's the Dog, Baby Baby! Dope beats through out and his flow make the album, but I can't help but laugh at most of the lyrics.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Phil Watts, Jr.July 19, 2008

    This is one of the funniest albums I've ever heard. Just like J-Zone said, Tim Dog is hard & hilarious at the same time.

    I actually like the "Secret Fantasy" joint, as it had Kieth talking about fucking Peebles (L.A. Reid's wifey, who went and screwed TLC and Tony Braxton out of millions while their albums were going platinum!) and Tim Dog was talking about doing an R. Kelly number on all 4 members of EnVogue! A lot of people wanted to have the obligatory sex joint on their records back then.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Any rapper that says that his name is his game is too old to be rapping. This dude must have been around 50 years old when he recorded this album.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Simply classic, he helped usher in the hardcore vibe that dominated early and mid 90's East coast Hip-Hop.

    ReplyDelete
  7. FUCK THIS BITCH ASS NIGGA TIM DOG!!!!

    HOW THE FUCK THIS WACK ASS EASTCOAST NIGGA GONNA DISS THE BOSSES OF THE WEST. WE ALL KNOW THE WEST ALWAYS PUT OUT DOPER MUSIC THAN THE EAST. I AINT DISSIN THE EAST, BUT FUCK THIS POOR EXCUSE FOR A RAPPER. HE HUNG OFF DR.DRE'S DICK FOR MANY YEARS YA'LL. AND IF ANYTHING, HE MADE ALL THE WESTCOAST DONS FAMOUS.

    THIS JEALOUS PIECE OF DOG SHIT STARTED THE WHOLE BEEF BETWEEN THE EAST AND THE WEST WHICH CAUSED THE DEATHS OF 2PAC AND BIGGIE. SO MY FINAL WORDS IS, "FUCK TIM DOG!!!!".

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you cop the Step to Me 12", not only is the mix better on that song but also on Secret Fantasies, which gets a better beat. Tim Dog's verse on that s**t is hilarious

    ReplyDelete