Do Your Fucking Homework: Some Baltimore Club Obscurities Worth Searching Out

From True Laurels Volume 4:

DJ Precise, Precise and the Boys (Master Mind, 1992)

From that club-but-not-quite-club era where the "Bmore" blueprint was just beginning to be sketched out and local producers were mostly making nice lil' DJ tool-type tracks to creatively fill the void left by the slow burn dissolution of hip-house, which for some weird reason, didn't quite go out of style around these parts. As a result, there was a demand for goofy party time synthesizers and brass knuckle drums combos like this. Precise's "Get 'Em" is the one of obvious note on this 12 inch, because it's got a platonic "Think" break, but the most interesting thing here is "En Mochen": cheapo synth beeps, party music pulses competing with a trickier take on "Think" and oh man, a lo-fi, chipmunk'd sample from Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" that beat Nas and Large Professor to the punch on the super subtle almost subliminal atmospheric MJ sample flip tip. Raps on the other side, including Marty Cash's "I Don't Think You Gonna Make," featured on Secret Weapon Dave's recent mix, "A Different Kind of Dope: 90's Baltimore Random Rap Mix Vol. 1."

Miss Tony, "Bitch Track II - Yes!" off Frank Ski's Club Trax - Volume 3 (Deco Records, 1993)

So yeah, in 1993 Miss Tony recorded a house-influenced sequel to "Bitch Track" that features Tony declaring, "Yes I am gay, no I'm not ashamed," and telling the military to kiss his ass (President Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was put into practice the same year this was recorded). While doing research for my recent article for the Baltimore City Paper, "Miss Tony Stands Alone," on the life of Miss Tony, I learned from Frank Ski that this record was courted by Luther Campbell who wanted to put it out on his label Luke Records (Frank Ski being the obvious Miami/Baltimore connection here) and make a video and all, which totally makes sense: this was made in the early '90s when urban-skewing music could court controversy and actually cash out on that controversy. It is easy to conjure up an alternate reality where "Bitch Track II - Yes!" became the early '90s version of a meme and put Tony in the weird position of like, arguing with hateful homophobes on the Donahue show or maybe even becoming RuPaul famous!

*not available online*

DJ Ice featuring Ms. Nick, "Oh Baby Oh" (Iceland Records, 1997)

A weird one powered by some erotic-ish panting (echoes of Scottie B and Equalizer's "All About Pussy" from 1991), a few snippets of Basement Boys-like house horns, and almost industrial drums that invoke Underground Resistance-ish techno. Somewhere in the accidentally Detroit din, there is DJ Ice and Ms. Nick doing some in-the-club, sup' girl, sup' boy talk and a mid-song seduction breakdown that's genuinely kind of sweet: "Baby I want you so bad/ Girl I want to tap that ass...I give you everything that thing needs/ I'll make you my one and only." Then the XXX clips return, bringing the temporarily sweet song back into bonerland, which is how it should be. If Prince around the time of Diamonds and Pearls tried to make a club record, it would've probably sounded stupidly funky like this.

Krazy B, Pop Club EP (Unruly Records, 2000)

This record is not exactly an obscurity at all, but it isn't talked about much, and for some reason, it is one of the most easily available club records if you go digging around these parts. It's from somebody named Krazy B and Unruly put it out (and if the relative abundance of copies still around are any indication, they pushed it rather hard) and it's from 2001, which is a pretty interesting between-time for club: right after most the clubs closed in the late '90s killing club's hey-day and right before the yes notable, though heavily mythologized teen scene/hipster love moment that popped up in just a couple of years. This record's a good and strange, though, especially "Pop Club," which deviates from the flip-a-rap-song or resurrect an old club classic formula to deliver something that's New Jersey Nervous Records edgy with some Thomas Bangalter "Club Soda" fizzle and some synth-horn corn that trippily changes thanks to constant fidgeting with filters and effects. Four and a half transcendently monotonous minutes.

-Brandon Soderberg: @notrivia