Kindo’ wishing we had all this technology back in the spring of 1990 – I’d likely cringe at my outfit from 8th grade (the ubiquitous Malcolm X hat atop a suburban cracker) but would give up my coveted copy of Space Ritual just for a glimpse at what I was carrying around in the Logitech cassette carrier. Even better, to see what I was carrying that in, and what I was playing the collection on. I do know about that time (almost two decades ago!!!) I was bleeding into Danzig/Slayer/Sepultura obsessions and my penchant for hip-hop had been whatever was the most vulgar. Yeah, it was that summer I got busted for possession of G.G. Allin’s Freaks, Faggots, Drunks and Junkies. But for all the contraband I was hording, the metal I was slowly degenerating towards, I was a sucker for New Jack Swing.
At the time it was hard to shake. I could easily post a history of the genre, of which I’ll credit to Teddy Riley (of Guy and Wrecks-n-Effect fame), but you’ll likely know all the major players. In a lot of ways, the fusion of hip-hop with trad-soul, quiet storm come-ons, gospel, and pre-blipster street sense was the result of New Edition’s break-up and growing-up – look at all the splinters that came from that: Bobby started it with Don’t Be Cruel, but Bell Biv Devoe followed up shortly with Poison, and even Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant got in on the fun with “Rub You the Right Way” and “Sensitivity” respectively. New Edition though is already in the Bo Jackson HOF – likewise with Teddy Riley. So here we make the case for Timothy Brown (aka Father MC).
Be forewarned. I’ve recently tried, without much luck, to listen to his debut Father’s Day in its completion. I’m surprised I choked it down way back then. Truth be told, most albums of this genre – fuck -- most hip-hop albums from the era were littered with filler – and besides the obvious two hits – Father’s Day is no exception, which is somewhat a shame because despite the bad rap the era’s lovermen received from their harder counter-contingent (Big Daddy Kane, Heavy D, Candyman), Father MC was skilled – and responsible for launching the careers of Mary J. Blige and Diddy (can’t vouch for the later though). To this day I still jam a ton of NJS and continue to pursue some of the lesser known. A recent summer mix finds Troop butting up against Hi-Five. The highlight of said mix are the two songs by the Father, namely “Treat ‘Em Like They Want to Be Treated” and “I’ll Do 4 U” (a Prince rip if ever, at least in title). While I prefer the gentlemen approach and soulful refrain of “Treat ‘Em,” by sampling the disco hit “Feel So Real,” it would’ve been impossible for “I’ll Do 4 U” not to be a hit on its own, especially with lines like “Introduce me to your mother and I’ll say hello Maim.” Not exactly sure how much Christianity was jostled around in the background, but the Father does get preachy, and seems a little too nice to be a hip-hop celeb, perhaps why a good portion of the album is wholesome choir practice. For a brief moment in time, he had his spotlight, but like his New Jack Swing practitioners, the tune changed rapidly and soon sophisticated safe rap became an endangered species.