'Whutchagondo' C Boogie Brown (1995)

(This is my most recent musical obsession, see an earlier entry in the series, of appreciations which are inevitably a study in personality).

Iggy Pop in an interview said how he discovered Joes Bada$$ on YouTube, by chance; liked the MC's name and then became a fan of his music, my life is of a similar ilk, skipping over tracks to find one that stops me: and this one by C Boogie Brown is the most dramatic recent example.

If it were described honestly, well it wouldn't amount to much: a piano sample that repeats three, or maybe four maximum notes, an MC who while clever isn't offering the same kind of complexity as his peers, and well a recording that sounds as if it were hastily done in a cool-room. What is it then? All of the above and the urgency of his delivery. 

For a long time, when thinking it over to myself, I held onto this idea that for a hip-hop MC to transcend his/her peers this quality of urgency was key (and then backpeddled, of course, as there are other markers that can be of equal value) but here, C. Boogie Brown is forcing us to hear him, you can sense his character, and his youth. I like this. 

There's a sense of abundance, a feeling that he's just riffing off some kind of plan in his head and he's having fun, playing all the while. It's not so serious, but his voice gives the impression that he is; this is where the urgency comes in.  

Sound effects at the start, little more than a wash of noise (it sounds like a crowd, but could be just as equally a plane and then at 20 seconds in he kicks in, with that characteristic delivery of the era, but in a style where the repetitive tone of his voice echoes the repeated piano: with that extraordinary urgency, as if his life depended on it, but what is he rapping about, not very much in the end. This is not a criticism, though: these basic rhymes are an essential reason why it works).

C Boogie Brown, though not a YouTube hero, is not unknown, as a member of Leaders of the New School (LONS) alongside Busta Rhymes and Dinco D. in the 90s and featuring in A Tribe Called Quest's 'Scenario' ....

Returning to 'Whutchagondo' though, there is no desire to amp up the humour and burlesque to get our attention: indeed, the music stands on its own terms and this is why it appeals to me so much. It's pure in and of itself.

And makes you remember how each of the greats was before fame, before they became characters of their own making, while asking what we - the audience, those of us listening two decades on - are going to do for this young man, presenting his case, forcing us to listen.  I can't think of a better expression of hip-hop youth, though this comes a close second:

God, these guys were still teenagers then.

There's not much on C Boogie Brown online, though I did find this interview from a blog, date unknown, which includes a description of how he started out: 

What were the specific artists that you listened to growing up?
Melle Mell, Grandmaster Caz and the Cold Crush 4, Afrika Bambaataa. From there hip hop was on vinyl a lot more and I started listening to Run DMC, Beasties, Whodini, and Jungle Brothers. I’m a big fan. I listened to a lot of reggae, which influenced my vocal style like the noises they make when they chat. Brown raps and gives an example of his style on A Future Without A Past.

When did LONS form?
That came about in 85. I started the group, I hand picked each member of the group.The group name came from Chuck D.

And your MC name came from Chuck D as well?
Yes.

Was there a reason why you picked each member?
Well, Dinco I liked the way that he wrote. He wrote good rhymes and he lived around the corner.We did demo tapes at a mutual friends house, that’s how we hooked up. Busta, I met him through battling. I used to battle and he used to beat box, one day I was gigging on him and he was beat boxing. I started snapping and he didn’t like that and wrote a rhyme called “The Annihilator” (laughs). He came back and wrote a dope rhyme and he got me that day cause I was freestyling. So I said “Ok, lets become a group” and we became a group.

And how did you actually meet Chuck D and break into the industry?
I met Chuck D through my brother and he had a studio in Hempstead. They used to have a group called Spectrum City. I used to be a crate boy for my brother so I met them through them and going to parties and handing out flyers for Chuck D’s parties. I started going to the radio station when Chuck, Flava, and Dr. Dre from Yo MTV Raps had a show up at Adelphi University. He used to take us to a lot of seminars.

What was Chuck’s reaction when he first heard you?
They loved it! They thought our styles was different and they felt the group name fit us. We were in school, we had new styles, and Busta played drums it added a lot more dimension to the group.We were cutting our demos just trying to get on, we was real young though.