Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble
Will Smith – or Big Willy – is 41 today, which means that he’s probably going to spend the evening regaling people with tales of his childhood. He might even do that thing where he mumbles something, then shouts something, then starts mumbling for comic effect. Tom Cruise might be there, blitzing through pints, getting off with the wife. Yes sir, it’s going to be quite a night. Which we’re not going to. Still, we thought we’d get him a gift nonetheless, so we all put nappies on, and sat around in a play pen, discussing ideas and chewing on bits of lego, until finally it boiled down to a toss up between seven quid or a clip from his rapping days. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Will Smith!
No room for the Fresh Prince…
Something about the sunshine and the outdoors can make certain records sound magnificent. Only a few years ago there was that Macarena song – a repetitive number, with a vocal delivery from two grown men who wouldn’t make 10p busking in the middle of Covent Garden on Australia Day. And yet, the combination of heat, cold beers, heavy drugs, and an semi-erotic dance made it the hit of the Summer. Hence, this list is not about summertime hits, but songs about the Summer itself. After much debate, the top four ended up looking like this…
1. MFSB, Summertime
An up-tempo instrumental take on the sultry jazz classic, we love this. MFSB stands for Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, which lends this track a wholesome family appeal, and it’s great for dancing around to in a field full of borderline trustafarians. At, say, The Big Chill.
2. Roy Ayers, Everyone Loves The Sunshine
When Roy Ayers was wondering what people might love, he eventually hit the nail on the head. Everyone really does love the sunshine. Except perhaps for Stephen Hawking that time his girlfriend took the batteries from his wheelchair and left him to crackle and burn in the sweltering heat (true story). But robotronic genius aside, this is one magnificent ode to the weather.
3. The Style Council, Long Hot Summer
For a brief period in the 1980s, Paul Weller – the Modfather – became a little bit camp, and this video catches him riding the crest of a slightly pink wave. And it’s no bad thing at all. In fact, we much prefer his Style Council days. Hence Long Hot Summer can be found rotating at around 45 rpm on the Interestment turntable with startling regularity during the sunshine months. Make no mistake about it, this is a classic record.
4. Alice Cooper, School’s Out
It’s hard to find a decent rock record that encapsulates that Summer feeling, probably because most decent heavy rock bands are made up of people who prefer the night time. This, by a strange woman/man called Alice Cooper, is one of the few exceptions. Sadly, grown men in leather get little chance to celebrate the school holidays in these increasingly suspicious times.
Some very sassy ladies didn’t make it…
Regardless that when you break it down, rapping is just poetry recital in front of your friends, there has been a serious shortage in female rappers over the years. The ratio of men to women is probably about fifty to one. Being very serious about our beliefs regarding equality, we would like to see this change. We want to live in a world where Jay Z is a woman, Snoop Doggy Dogg used to be a beautician, and Eminem has the most wonderful bikini body. Even so, choosing the four greatest female rappers was very tricky indeed, with MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill and Lady of Rage all falling at the final hurdle…
1. Roxanne Shante
Not to be confused with The Real Roxanne, Shante was party to one of the original hip hop beefs when she became caught up in the infamous Roxanne Wars of the mid-80s. Thankfully this was before the days when problems were solved with bullets, so she lived to rap another day. Our number one girl, she was famous for being a brilliant freestyle rapper, and as an affiliate of the Juice Crew (with Marley Marl, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap etc…) her legend is set.
2. Queen Latifah
The Will Smith of female rap, Latifah is now a cheerful tubby woman who crops up in films like Chicago, and is more likely to sing from the classic American Songbook than actually rap. But, there was a time when she was a serious MC, from her early days as a beatboxer with Ladies Fresh, to her decade long career as a Tommy Boy rapper. She’s a whole beautiful mountain of woman.
As conscious female rappers go, Bahamadia is the best. Her 1996 album Kollage was produced by the peerless DJ Premier, and she’s got a monotone, fluid flow that drips like syrup into a mixing bowl. If that makes any sense. The thinking man’s choice, she keeps Lauryn Hill off the four.
4. Jean Grae
Named after a character in the X Men, Jean Grae is possibly the best lady MC currently working. That she’s worked with the likes of Talib Kweli, The Roots and the legendary Masta Ace tells you everything you need to know. One heck of a gal.
This man does not count
There is an enormous difference between a film produced/executive produced by a pop star, and a film that stars them as well. Most of the latter category feature rap music’s force of nature, Will Smith – a man who will surely direct himself playing the parts of God and Jesus in the same film one day. We can hardly wait. But until that day comes, we’ve decided to quench our thirst by looking at some of the greatest films produced by people in the music industry. These are the ones we like best…
1. Repo Man
A totally weird/brilliant film, what makes this punk-fuelled tale of car reposession, drugs and aliens even more surreal is that it was produced by Mike Nesmith from The Monkees. It stars Emilio Estevez – possibly at his peak – and Harry Dean Stanton, who is one of our favourite actors ever. Probably our sixth favourite to be precise.
These men did not make the cut…
Actors tend to get divided into two camps early on. You get the pristine stars with their squeaky clean images, questionable religious beliefs and arranged marriages. And then you get the real heroes – the men with bad skin, anger problems, strange methods of preparation, addictive personalities, worrying intensity. They tend to be the ones that we like the most, the ones who can turn a good film into a brilliant one. Here are four of the best:
1. Mickey Rourke
By far the coolest man ever, he has enjoyed two excellent careers. One as the great looking heartbreaker in films like Angel Heart, 9 1/2 Weeks, and The Pope of Greenwich Village (below), and another as the heavy set lunatic in Sin City, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and The Wrestler. He has never been bad in a film.