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Saturday, May 17, 2014

BUSTA RHYMES x BIGGIE x DILLA - "Modern Day Gangstas"

Now this right here is a real underground GEM if I ever heard one! "Modern Day Gangstas" is an unreleased track that first made it's presence known to the public as "Dangerous MC's" via Notorious B.I.G.'s first real posthumous album, '99's "Born Again". That remix was produced by Nottz and Dominic Lambert and added additional vocals from Snoop Dogg and Mark Curry, and differed immensely from the original song it was built around - a track produed in 1996 by none other than the now legendary Jay Dee/J Dilla/James Yancey. This is prime example of why I so strongly disliked that album; B.I.G. recorded several slamming non-album cuts before his passing, but when it came time for Pappa Diddy Pop to turn these sessions into a 1999 album he tried to make it sound like it was recorded yesterday and therefore destroyed the original cuts by enlisting more popular producers and guest vocalists to fill out the spaces between the BIG verses. If a remix is not at all improving on the original it loses it's purpose, and in cases where the artist have passed away it's damn near sacreligious to mess with their unreleased music. The best examples of this on "Born Again" is the Eminem remix of "Dead Wrong", an original joint BIG cut with long-time friend and musical partner Easy Mo Bee, which albeit ruff in its original incarnation is a straight up slamming jam. Even more interesting is the aforementioned Jay Dee production "Dangerous MC's" (originally titled "Modern Day Gangstaz" and sometimes labeled as "The Ugliest"), originally recorded as a Busta Rhymes song in sessions for his '96 solo debut "The Coming"

The story goes that this beat was one of several tracks Bus' picked from Jay Dee's beat CD for what would become "The Coming" (the others being "Still Shining" and "Keep It Movin'"). Somehow Puff Daddy and The Notorious B.I.G. heard Busta's version of "Modern Day Gangstas" and was blown away. With its heavy umph, low Rhodes melody and heavily filtered bassline, it was vintage Jay Dee during his The Ummah period and very similiar to the other stuff Busta used for the LP. From what I have heard what happened was that The Notorious ended up dropping a verse on the track as a cameo; as you hear BIG kicks off the song. If you listen closely to that verse you'll realize that it includes one of Biggie's most subtle, yet most agressive disses against 2Pac ever: "Missed you by inches, you're talk is senseless/ Actor needs chiropractor for cracked jaw/ Yes, I rocked your chatterbox, dangerous you're not/ I get down, twist your body 'Round & Round', upside down...". The story goes that Busta didn't want to be caught up in that whole East Coast/West Coast beef (remember the fuss after LL Cool J put Prodigy on the "I Shot Ya" remix) that was creeping towards it's tragic peak, and instead gave the song to Bad Boy Entertainment for inclusion on "Life After Death". This would explain how Puff Daddy owned the masters and had the rights to put it out on a BIG album in '99. The third emcee on the track, Labba, is a little known artist with ties to Busta Rhymes and The Flipmode Squad (appearing on Busta's "We Could Take It Outside" amongst others) but was replaced by Snoop and Mark Curry on the oficially released remix.

If you haven't heard this track before you are in for a real treat. Both Busta Rhymes and Notorious B.I.G. were pretty much at their respective peaks here in my humble opinion, and as far as I know this is the only track these two musical giants ever collaborated on. Add to that that they are doing so over a lost Jay Dee beat, one that has all the trademarks and signifcance of the type of music Yancey was into during his early days with The Ummah collective - deep basslines, a love for filtering the groove and a heavy umph on the beat. There's even a video clip shot of Jay Dee in a wheelchair during his last trip overseas where the legendary beat master discusses the making of the song with Frank-N-Dank. This video was taken circa 2005 and appears on the Frank-N-Dank DVD "European Vacation". Here Dilla also reveals that in addition to Bus' and BIG, an additional legendary emcee was originally supposed to appear on the track as well (hey, maybe that Snoop Dogg verse really was made then haha). For some reason the YouTube clip of said video won't let me embed - instead you'll have to click here to watch. Below you find "Modern Day Gangstas" in all of it's original glory and man, what a track it is. I think it would've sounded marvelous on "The Coming". TURN IT UP!!

BUSTA RHYMES / BIG / LABBA - "Modern Day Gangstaz"

4 comments:

  1. This track bangs! I had never heard it. Good looks. It's a shame there is not a no dj version floating around out there.

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  2. I loved this beat every since I heard it on Dilla's "1996 What Up Doe Sessions" beat tape. Actually I recall Busta Rhymes saying on Hot97 back in the early 2000's that he did a song with B.I.G. back in the mid-90's and the verse was so crazy everyone left the room trying to figure out how to follow up after that. He also mentioned that NaS was supposed to be a part of this record, Kinda makes since as there are a few pictures of Nas and B.I.G. together in the studio even though nothing ever came out of it as far as we know.

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  3. who raps the hook? nas?, dilla said nas was supposed to be that joint. it sound like nas a lot to me but ive been told different

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  4. Nas was supposed to be the third rapper on this, check the video that's linked in the original post... i'm pretty sure that the rapper doing the hook is an emcee called Labba who appeared on Busta's "We Could Take It Outside" in 1997 (probably around the same time this was made). he dropped a few 12":s and quite a bit of guest apperances - check his discogs page:

    http://www.discogs.com/artist/145877-Labba

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