These "Record of the Week" posts began a few months back on the paid end of the Vault subscription site as a little bit of "content" for the customers there. Being a man of the people I can't let that shit live behind a paywall forever and will pull the best of those entries and let them live here for all the world to see. Enjoy!
Young Zee (No Brains Class)
"Musical Meltdown" Part One
Getting the Sonos back up after months without because of a router replacement had me building a monstrous stream-of-consciousness playlist. Honestly one of my prouder moments...not sure if you all can click in on it, but it's titled "Just Some Shits" if you're curious.
In the process of compiling the list, this song "Stay Gold" popped into my head as it has, on and off, over the past three years. And prior to popping into my head for those years, there was a little morsel of it buried in the deepest folds of my brain.
So there's a clip I remember seeing MANY times on MTV. Featuring the Fugees, probably 1995 or so, I recall it being somewhat structured as a press conference, someone off camera says something inaudible and Pras or Wyclef say "Yo, they wanna know if we gonna do a rap about OJ" and Lauryn Hill steps up and immediately unleashes this verse (or a slight permutation of it)...
"These dimensions and extensions will secure my future pension When I mention corporate lynchin's like the cowboys did to Indians The intention of the Devil is to cause me hypertension So stay gold like Stevie Wonder don't blunder like OJ Simpson"
Pure fucking genius. Unforgettable. Wowed my mind back then and I get chills just typing and re-reading it today.
Fast-forward a decade plus, and SOLID Milwaukee brother Chris Schulist starts a hip hop reissue label called Dope Folks. Shit is real, they don't mess around, put out tons of records and send multiple copies of all of them to TMR. I'd never heard of Young Zee before, but apparently these tracks were originally a cassette-only release that got four mics in a review in the Source but never saw widespread release.
When I put this on "Stay Gold" from this album the Christmas lights in my brain illuminate all corners like Clark Griswold. I KNOW THIS! The same damn verse from the Fugees press conference!
But YouTube detective work turns up absolutely no evidence of the aforementioned freestyle from back in the day. And I become more and more aware of a phenomenon that needs a name (if it doesn't have one already)...the doubting of memories solidly held because there's no corroboration of them. (I used to feel this about the fake episode of "Saved By the Bell" featuring Marsha Warfield, but that's been subsequently proven). I'm worried this will only be exacerbated by the seemingly absolute nature of the internet. If it's not on there, it must not exist...right?
SIDE NOTE: It makes me want to dig through the garbage in my mom's basement and grabbed all the soot-stained VHS tapes, featuring old episodes of Squirt TV, long forgotten commercials and Presidents of the United States of America late night television appearances, digitize them and make sure they BE for everyone else out there who just might be curious. I know there were multiple episodes of the TV show "Comic Strip Live" that my brother taped...EARLY shit from Greg Proops (talking about Pixie Stix), EARLY Jeff Dunham featuring Peanut, Amazing Jonathan...we watched them endlessly, helping form the comedic bedrock that my life is based on. I met Proops once and asked him specifically about the Pixie Stix routine and he said "I literally cannot remember anything about that entire set other than I mentioned Pixie Stix." I get scared when I think that jokes are lost to time, if not for VHS tapes just waiting to be saved.
Anyway, the plucky high-pitched timbre of the backing melody on "Stay Gold" is just lazy and loopy enough to constantly replay in my head. But only this week did I think to ask Chris about all of this. Texting me tonight, he said "She would recycle that verse a lot. Especially on Sway and King Tech." Immediately followed by "Funny thing is at the Vanguard (bar Chris owns) right now we are having RAPPY HOUR where a DJ plays classic rap videos and he was just playing "Fugee-La." I saw this text and looked around like you guys were here punking me!"
So that leads me to intensely question whether the verse is written or spittin. Not that it really matters, but...I can't recall the other songs on the 12" and am not even going to bother trying at this hour, honestly anything/everything on Dope Folks is worth grabbing if you have a jones for old school, unknown, unheralded hip hop gems. NO ONE does it better than them.
Texting through the night with Chris (who was lead singer in the Mistreaters in a past life) had him say "I sincerely wish we lived closer to you guys. It's crazy to think our dumb bands could forge such lasting friendships. I love it." I then sent him a pic of seventeen-year-old me sleeping on a recliner at his house and he said he wished he was at home to send a pic of my high school poetry zine...yeesh!
Followed up with "Are you drinking? This seems like drinking Blackwell"
Not drinking. Just drunk on memories and the tricks the mind plays on them.