"Check Your Head" is partly known as the project where the trio left behind most of the extreme sampling that created the sound of its predecessor, and insteaad saw bassist MCA, guitarist Ad-Rock and drummer Mike D pick up their respective instruments. Besides producer Mario Caladato, who had worked as an engineer on "Paul's Boutique", they were also joined in the studio by the very talented Keyboard Money Mark who played a very important part on the project, literally. Reading about the three year process it took The Beasties' to produce "Check Your Head", documented in Brian Coleman's "Check the Technique" amongst many other sources, is truly fascinating and greatly inspiring. It was a complete turnaround from the way that "Paul's Boutique" was recorded, not only because of the lesser amount of samples, or the trio's re-introduction as instrumentalists, but because they spent the majority of their budget on building their own studio; G-Son. The group has talked about the massive freedom, and the importance, this created, allowing them to experiment as much as they wanted and however they wanted... And "Check Your Head" is an extremely experimental record, especially for the time it was conceived, but that's also where its brilliance lays.
The idea was originally to produce an all-out instrumental project, and although much of those elements remained, vocal tracks such as "So Watcha Want" and "Pass the Mic" ultimately took the LP to the next level. One of the songs featuring MCA's, Ad-Rock's and Mike D's trademark lyrical styles was the blazing introduction, titled "Jimmy James". The cut introduced the group's new direction with a bang, displaying a majority of the wide spread influences that went into the making of the LP. Unfortunately, sample clearances can be a bitch, resulting in a much reduced version than intended making it to the presses. However, the track was eventually released as a single, including the so called "Original Original Version". This mix, which was instrumental, featured several samples of different Jimi Hendrix records, giving it a rawer, yet more accomplished feel than the LP version. In memory of the late MCA, who gets busy on the turntables on this one too, y'all should all listen to this classic joint as it was originally meant to be heard. Also make sure to tune in to Toca Tuesdays via Sirius XM this Tuesday, as Al Lindstrom will dedicate the show to the memory of the legendary MCA.
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