Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Amazon II - King Of The Beats

Amazon II - King Of The Beats (Aphrodite Recordings, 1996)

Before Mantronix there was Errol Eduardo Bedward AKA Pumpkin, a producer, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist who was behind many classic old skool hip-hop cuts on Enjoy Records such as Spoonie Gee's 'Love Rap', The Treacherous Three's 'Body Rock' and The Fearless Four's 'Rockin It'. He never really got the credit he deserved at Enjoy and signed a deal with Profile Records where he released the drum machine funk of 'King Of The Beat' in 1983 as well as producing for the likes of Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde and Disco Four. It is the 1984 posse cut 'Here Comes That Beat!' by Pumpkin & The Profile All-Stars that provides the majority of the vocals for Amazon II's 'King Of The Beats'. Pumpkin would go on to produce for Tuff City Records among others before passing away in 1992 of pneumonia and should be better known for his huge contribution to hip-hop.

Amazon II were Aphrodite and Tony B and they had a run of great releases from 1994 to 1996 with earlier cuts including 'Booyaaa! (Open Your Mind)' and 'Basslights'. The track opens with the heavily sampled/paraphrased "You say one for the trouble, two for the time, come on y'all..." from the beginning of Spoonie Gee's 'Spoonin Rap'. This introduces a half-speed beat with horn stabs taken straight from 'Lyrical Rundown' by Twin Hype, a later Profile Records act consisting of twins Glennis and Lennis Brown. Over this Amazon II use the vocals of Disco Four's Greg G. and Mr. Troy from 'Here Comes That Beat!' including the lines "the scratch, the bass", "the king of the beats is gonna rock the place" and "the one, the only" before dropping a lively Reese bassline over a simple two-step beat. The vocals continue throughout and help make it a particularly memorable track while I really like the mixing of the half-speed beat alongside full tempo drums, something that would become a regular feature of Aphrodite's productions. One of my favourites from his catalogue - as a vocal towards the end says, it will "make you clap, snap, rock to the rhythm a lot".

You can purchase the digital of 'King Of The Beats' over at Beatport. It is also available on the Aphrodite Recordings compilation and his self-titled debut album. Aphrodite remixed the track in 2010 and while I don't think it's a patch on the original it does add some Michael Jackson-esque "Hee-Hees" from 'Here Comes That Beat!'. You can check it out below:

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