March 20, 2011
The Beatnuts - The Spot: The Beatnuts Remix EP (February 10, 1998)
In the two years between the albums Stone Crazy and A Musical Massacre (the latter of which also marked their debut with Loud Records), The Beatnuts released two additional projects. One of them was an instrumental album for the Hydrabeats series from Hydra Entertainment, filled with original compositions. The other was what I'm writing about today, The Spot: The Beatnuts Remix EP.
The title of the project is a but misleading, as only four of the eight tracks presented are legitimate remixes. Three of them are sequels, and one of them is actually a previously unreleased song unavailable anywhere else. But every track on the EP is taken directly from the vaults of Psycho Les and Juju; at least one of them even includes vocals from former crew member Fashion.
The Spot: The Beatnuts Remix EP was ostensibly released to appease fans during the duo's two-year wait between albums, but my theory is that Relativity Records, who they were still signed to at this point, saw dollar signs when Latino rapper Big Punisher, who appeared on Stone Crazy's "Off The Books" in one of that project's transcendent moments, blew the fuck up with his own debut, Capital Punishment (which featured some production work from The Beatnuts; rappers are usually pretty good about exchanging favors). But since record labels weren't in the habit of re-releasing albums with bonus tracks back in 1998, they elected to draft an EP instead, commissioning a remix of "Off The Books" and filling in the empty space with some other stuff that Beatnuts worshipers would probably enjoy.
Yeah, um, about that...
1. R.U. READY II (FEAT GRAND PUBA)
The bizarre sound effect at the very beginning acts as a conduit between dimensions, with listeners getting a quick glimpse at one that features remixes and sequels that wouldn't otherwise exist. Over the exact same beat as the original (which was simply titled “Are You Ready”), Psycho Lester and Junkyard Juju kick different lyrics, sounding about as good as they did before, but guest star Grand Puba (of Brand Nubian) waltzes in and steals the show (even though he doesn't literally waltz in: the duo simply re-use the same verse Puba kicked on the first take). They let the beat ride for about a minute and a half, which is a bit much, but otherwise this alternate track was pretty entertaining. Interestingly, Fashion, who played a vital role on the original, is all but erased from history on here.
2. GET FUNKY (REMIX)
And then we're presented with this shit. When taken by itself, the instrumental is decent enough, but when combined with the flavors of its contributors, this remix tastes boring. Not only is this song not funky (and it has no business instructing anyone to behave as such), everybody rhyming on it sounds like their minds and hearts were elsewhere; perhaps they all had much better songs playing in their respective heads.
3. NO EQUAL (REMIX)
The remixed beat fares much better than that on the previous song, but it has become blatantly obvious why the tracks on this project exist on this remix project only and not as a part of their official canon. All three Beatnuts sound pretty good (M.I.A. member Fashion also pops up) over this simple instrumental with its plucked strings (which only barely tweaks the original's formula), but the track ultimately leaves you hungry within an hour. Juju's indirect swipe at Das EFX is still kind of funny, though.
4. PSYCHO DWARF II (FEAT NOGOODUS)
On this sequel to one of the better-known tracks from the Beatnuts catalog (if only because of the refrain “I wanna fuck, drink beer, and smoke some shit!”), Juju exerts his dominance over everybody else, including their invited guest, as if the beat (which is the same as it was on the original, although the drums are much more pronounced now) were custom-made for him especially. But when I say “dominance”, I mean “the rest of the song sucks otherwise”. Sigh.
5. OFF THE BOOKS (REMIX) (FEAT BIG PUNISHER & CUBAN LINK)
Since I have an unabashed love of music from the 1980s, new wave specifically, I didn't mind the mild synth notes on this remix, but in no way can this ever compare to the original classic track, so why did The Beatnuts even bother? My theory (continued from above): with this remix, their record label, Relativity, could legitimately slap a “featuring Big Pun” sticker on the outside of the jewel case. It isn't a bad track, but it doesn't even come close to what you're accustomed to.
6. LET OFF A COUPLE II (FEAT A.L. & RAWCOTIKS)
This track faded into the background at such a rapid pace that I didn't even realize it was over until the next song kicked in and broke me out of my state of serenity. So I listened to it a second time. And the same thing happened. So that's all I got.
7. PROPS OVER HERE (REMIX)
For some reason, iTunes lists this track as “Props Over Here (Remix Original)”, which is just strange. But since this shit sucks, you've already invested far too much of your time reading about a track that doesn't deserve your time nor your energy.
8. TREAT$ (FEAT A.L., NOGOODUS, & RAWCOTIKS)
This is the only new track to appear on The Spot: The Beatnuts Remix EP. Psycho Lester's line, “That's impossible / like a mission Tom Cruise couldn't even accomplish” is the epitome of awkwardness behind the microphone, and everybody present on this posse cut helps me to cement my argument that the masters of this EP could be deleted and the rest of the world would continue on without any sort of interruption. The duo's weed carriers (or crate diggers, I suppose) only make you miss the performance of Psycho Les, which can never be a good thing.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Spot: The Beatnuts Remix EP is a waste of plastic and vinyl that will only prove beneficial to Beatnuts fanatics. Psycho Les and Juju prove that some things are better left alone, or at least are better left as B-sides on twelve-inch singles. The remixes and sequels found on here are uninspired, and even though it was nice of The Beatnuts to provide a showcase for their friends without interrupting the flow of their actual albums, the listener is left wondering why they even bothered with this tax write-off. Luckily, you two can easily jump from Stone Crazy to A Musical Massacre without ever realizing that you skipped something, and that is the path I would advise everybody to follow. There is one interesting diversion to be found on The Spot: The Beatnuts Remix EP, but even that isn't good enough to warrant tracking down this project. I admire what Lester and Juju were trying to do, but perhaps this could have worked if the remixes and sequels added to the mystique of the original efforts, as opposed to detracting from the overall listening experience.
BUY OR BURN? Neither. This wasn't the worst EP that I've ever heard or anything, but there was nothing presented on here that would cause me to drop everything and buy it again.
BEST TRACKS: “R. U. READY II”
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