Two of WYDU favorites have combined forces to put out a remix album of sorts. Has-Lo has made numerous appearances on WYDU, the latest appearance came in the form of the Top 20 list for the first quarter of ’08. He also has the keys to WYDU land and can post as he wishes, so I guess you can call him one of the “in house” artists that populate the site. Small Professor was a winner in the WYDU awards for tying with Atmosphere’s “Strictly Leakage” for the Best Free Download Album of 2007 with his rendition of American Gangster, Crooklyn Gangster. I’ve been keeping tabs on Small Pro since then and the cat has been churning out heat since.
I’d like to be able to come out and say that WYDU is solely responisble for bringing these two Philly cats together, but I don’t know the whole story behind how they hooked up for this, I guess that is for Has to shine the light on some day soon. I’ve been trumpeting the greatness of “Fuck Has Day” for awhile now, with numerous appearances in my random “Weekly Spins” and being mentioned as an “Editor’s Choice” back during my weekly posts of material sent to me by artists, PR people and media people. It’s an album that I’m still playing weekly even five months after I first heard it. Not many albums/EP’s do that to me in this day in age of “all you can listen to” music blogs, music’s answer to cheap Chinese buffets.
Over the process of the past couple months, Has and I have built a little rapport with each other. He gave me a sneak peak of the Small Pro project when he sent me the SP version of the lead track, “Prelude”. Then last week while he was out of town, Small Pro sent me the link for his version, entitled “Fuck Has Day: Remixed But Still Fucked”, only problem was SP also sent me a remix for the “Chicken” contest we have going on, so I just assumed it was something to do with that. I ended up sitting on the link until Saturday. By that time, my man Kevin Nottingham had already beat me to the punch in posting the album. No sweat, I’m just glad other sites are catching on to Has and Small Pro. Short story even shorter, I dropped the ball in posting this in a timely fashion, but Has assured me he had a little something in the chamber in the upcoming weeks. Should be interesting.
After giving the “Still Fucked” version some spins over the weekend, I figured I’d sit down and give me track by track lowdown compared to the original version, see how it stacks up. Before I get into it, I must say, I’ve enjoyed both versions. Has did the beats for the original version, and I thought they fit the mood of the album precisely. Yes, I enjoyed some tracks more than others, but that’s to be with any album. What impressed me with Small Pro’s version is that he made the tracks his own. The tracks took on a completely different identity, a life of their own so to day, but still didn’t lose the original meaning behind them. Very impressive indeed, Small Pro is slowly making a name for himself and efforts like this will only continue to build the reputation. And so, here we go……..
1. Prelude (Original Version)
Immediately, the tone for the whole album is set just by the first five seconds of this beat. Has employed a stark approach to the beats on Fuck Has Day, a simple but effective music that sets a darken and gloomy tone to a lot of the tracks. A haunting violin sample plays out, similiar to a RZA beat in his pinnacle. Lyrically, I’m not going to say that Has is one of those cats that you are in it just for the lyrics alone, but he forces you to pay attention to what he is saying, which is also another reason why the production style fits, especially on this joint. Many quality MC’s these days are victims of beats that are overproduced and just too “busy” to really concentrate on what the MC has to say. I’m into beats first and foremost, but when the MC is a quality MC, I want to be able to know what knowledge he is kickin. For that reason, the beat for “Prelude” fits the opening of this album perfectly. It sets the stage for whats about to come, sets the lightly lit mood and is just a perfect jump off to a quality EP. One of my favorite songs on the EP.
Prelude (Small Pro Version)
When Has originally told me that Small Pro was going to be doing a remix of Fuck Has Day, I kind of had mixed feelings about the whole thing. I was getting into Small Pro’s production more and more of late, but I honestly didn’t really see any reason to mess with the original conception. I’m from the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” school and a firm believer in the fact if you are going to remix something, it better be as good if not better than original. Then Has sent me the remixed version of “Prelude”. Could it be? Is it possible? I thought that the remix version was at the very least, up to par with the original version.
Small Pro also sets the tone to his version. More sounds, louder drums, more strings, more everything, yet you could still stay with what Has was saying. Even the opening intro, which sounds like Kevin Spacey in a movie that I can’t quite place, sets up the mood perfectly and fits so well in this instance:
“Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, then you’ll notice that you’ve got their strict attention.”
By that time, the strings and a bassline kick in and while it’s a simliar sound to Has’ version, when the drums kick in, you know what things are going to be different. I’m still torn on this call, both ve
rsions are excellent and I’ll just leave it at that.
I know this is about the beats mostly, but I have to say Has’ first verse on “Calibration” is one of those that you just go….whoa! Not necessarily for what he is saying, just his flow and delivery. It’s fuckin’ dope. Beat wise, the deep bassline kicks in and that accompanied with the vocal sample, again sets up the mood and adds to the overall cohesiveness of the album. Has demonstrates once again that it isn’t always about the producer, that sometimes a great beat, is one that adds to the overall quality of the song in general, something that I think has been lost in this age of the producer.
Calibration (Small Pro Version)
This was one of the versions that I think Small Pro kind of lost the feel and meaning of the original track. A guitar loop and horn sample dominates the first verse. I will say it makes sound almost like a completely different song, but in this case, I’m not sure that is a good thing. SP switches up the beat on the second verse, something that he will do quite often on his version, which matches up better, but I don’t think it overtakes the original. It almost reminds me of the beat used by Above The Law on “Untouchable”, a real smooth, flowing track that uses a sample that I should be able to identify, but can’t. The gritty feel just isn’t there, or at least I’m not feeling it. It’s not that it’s a bad effort, I just don’t think it adds up to the original.
3. Fuck Has Day (Original Version)
The title track is a track that I loved the concept, I loved the lyrics, I loved the chorus, and I loved how it was all put together, but I always thought there was just something missing from the beat. It’s almost too simple in this case. I’m probably over analyzing, but that’s what I get paid to do…well if I made any money doing this shit. A basic drum track and bassline are about all thats involved in the track. It’ll cause your head to nod, so it’s not a bad track, and you’ll be all over the concept, but beatwise, it was missing that one essential ingredient. I’m not sure what it is, if I did, I wouldn’t be writing this……
Fuck Has Day (Small Pro Version) (track 4 on “Still Fucked”)
Small Pro does an excellent job tying the lyrics to the mood of the beat. It starts off slow and starts to crescendo to the point that Has starts spitting his lyrics about how the world is against him, including the “Fuck Has Day Festival”. The first verse, it sounds like SP used a shortened loop for the Doors “Break On Through” which was used on Jay-Z’s “Takeover”, each bar SP seems to add another element until we go back to the chorus and Has doing a adlib that adds to the song. The second verse is when the whole sample kicks in, another example of Small Pro switching it up a bit throughout the song. More elements are once again added. It’s a perfect blend of beats and lyrics that just make the whole concept stand out even more.
I knew right away it would be extremely difficult to top Has’ version for “The Usual Way”. The track is my favorite from the EP and one of my favorite tracks of the year. Again, Has executes the use of a vocal sample to give the track feel, acting as the main instrumental piece to the track. He also adds scratching to the choruses, that fits into the whole thing in an excellent fashion. By this time, you realize that Has is excellent at using the beats to set up his lyrics and this joint is no different.
The Usual Way (Small Pro Version) (Track 6 on “Still Fucked”)
You might think this track was doom to fail in my eyes no matter what it did. I will say it didn’t go down without a fight. A crazy string sample sets shit off, then dark and gloomy strings with an echoed percussion gives the feeling of being locked in a tunnel while Has spits his flow at us. The track essentially has a whole new life, it has been reincarnated into what Small Pro has made it. For what it has become, I like it. Do I like it more than the original when compared to back to back? Probably not, but I’ll choose to view these tracks in two different forms and being just distant cousins to each other.
5. Unsigned MC’s (Original Version)
This track was almost in the same boat as “Fuck Has Day”, in that beat was almost too simple. While it might have been able to use a little something else, I think beat wise, this was in a better position than the title track. A soft guitar sample dominates the track and gives more light to our gloomy ride, although the extra light is used to shine on the frustrations of being an unsigned MC, thus leaving us being sympathetic to the plight of the “bottom dwellers” in the business. And truly, that’s just want the beat does, it’s paints an empathetic mood on the whole track. It does it’s job of what it was created to do. The execution is superb.
Unsigned MC’s (Small Pro Version) (Track 3 on “Still Fucked”)
Small Pro once again creates his own monster on this track, makes it his own. Things are more sped up on the “Still Fucked” version, losing some of the original appeal. The listener is subjected to a more uptempo and schizophrenic type of vibe. Again, it’s a nice beat, but I just don’t know if it fits the original intention. I’d really like to hear this on another track with a more amped topic going on, and maybe that was SP’s intention, was to bring more passion to the cause, but I’m not sure it lives up to the original.
6. Hands (Original Version)
I’ve always had some mixed feelings with this track. I thought the concept of it was incredibly dope, with Has pulling a Slick Rick and rapping in two different characters, one being his hands. The music is fine, but for some reason, I’ve always had trouble concentrating on the whole story being told by Has. Has uses a stronger drum track on the joint than he does on some of the others. He follows his formula and has another ill vocal sample, but for some reason, I’ve never considered this one of the “great” tracks of the EP, just a good track.
Hands (Small Pro Version) (Track 5 on “Still Fucked”)
Truth be told, I had never truly got the true jest of Has’ story and concept of this track until I heard the Small Pro version of “Hands.” Small Pro takes a page out of Has’ book and uses the track to truly highlight the story that is being told, to make it better as adding to the story. The beat just truly forces the lyrics to be heard in the way they were meant to be heard, while still adding to the whole mood of the song.
7. Molotov Cocktails (Original Version)
In all honesty, “Molotov Cocktails” is probably my least favorite track from FHD (Fuck Has Day). It ne
ver seemed to fit with the rest of the beats and songs. A long string sample softly plays in the background as a drum beat and an occasional key note interrupts a fairly bland beat. Has kills it lyrically, but the beat was never enough to hold my attention.
Molotov Cocktails (Small Pro Version)
Small Pro turns my least favorite track on FHD into my favorite track on “Remixed But Still Fucked.” My first listen to Small Pro’s version of “Molotov Cocktails” was accompanied by me muttering the word “amazing” several times while infectiously nodding my head to the snapping beat. This is probably the best beat between the two version, as Small Pro just laces everything up nicely. SP turns this into his own creation and creates a whole new song, one that is incredibly dope and brings out the ill flow that Has has on this track, which was lost in the original version. This is what a “remix” should be all about.
8. All’s Fair (Original Version)
I’m a sucker for songs about evil and vindicative girls, I’ve had more than my fair share of them and it’s something I can easily relate to. It’s one reason I’ve always liked “All’s Fair”. The mood is painted excellently, one of somberness and despair. The beat almost gives me the feeling of getting sucked down a drain in a whirl pool of shit and chaos. Has closes the EP in great fashion as our dark and somber journey comes to a close.
All’s Fair (Small Pro Version)
When I told Eric that I thought “All’s Fair” was one of the tracks that I thought was better than the original, a “No Fuckin’ Way” was what I got back from him. To Eric’s credit, he wasn’t bagging Small Pro’s effort, but I know that the original version was one of his favorite track from FHD. It’s true though that while Has paints the song as one of loss and sadness, Small Pro adds onto that with an dark piano sample that makes me feel like I’m in a darken room with the walls coming in on me in a heap of shit. Both versions pack powerful punches for a song that I can so greatly attest to, yet, I’ll say that at this time I’ll call it a coin flip.
In the end, they are both great visions, both with their strong points, both with very little weak points. I hope these two make some music again in the near future and we hear more material from both in the long time future.
Be on the look out for more material from Has in the immediate future.
Check out Small Professor’s myspace page for his new instrumental album, Slowbus, a dope piece.