Florida is best known in the rap world for a genre called bass, that beat-heavy, thump-thump-boom sound you actually can feel coming out of chopped-down cars around town. Bass music is like other rap forms but with more beats per minute and a woofer-blowing emphasis on, well, bass. It was pioneered by locals such as Beatmaster Clay D and his off-and-on associate Prince Rahiem. The Prince recorded three albums with Clay D's Get Funky Crew; his first solo album was produced by the Beatmaster. In fact Rahiem credits Clay D with giving him his first break after the two met at a talent show in 1987.
Last year Rahiem got an even bigger break -- he became the first bass artist to sign to a major label (Island). Former Foxy drummer Joe Galdo -- now a highly regarded producer and A&R man for Island -- recruited the rapper and has overseen the production of On a Ride, which will be Rahiem's major-label debut once it's released. And there's the rub. The album was completed last year, and a single, "Rock Wit' It"/"Ride," was released. But since then Island has continued to push back the release date for the LP.
Galdo is the man in the middle. "I advised against [releasing the single]. The Island and PolyGram merger was happening at the time, and I thought Prince Rahiem wouldn't get a fair shake." Galdo felt -- and continues to feel -- that the album needed additional work. So he and Rahiem have been putting in twenty-hour days at Island's South Beach studio, retooling the album. "I don't think we have it yet," an exhausted Galdo admits. "It's four or five months overdue, the company's on my ass, I'm feeling bad, he's desperate."
There are two factors behind the delay that fall into the "shit happens" category. One, Galdo considered tracks subcontracted to outside producers to be unusable: "They sucked." Two, he and Rahiem decided to use the hook from the theme song to the Sixties TV show Rawhide for a new cut. "[Someone] was supposed to clear the [rights] and he didn't," Galdo explains. "It was a masterpiece. Chris [Blackwell, owner of Island] loved it. But then the two old women who wrote it said, 'No way. We'll sue you.' After all the time we spent on it, it was back to the drawing board." Further, the album calls for all live instrumentation, not nearly as expeditious as samples but lots more human-sounding.
Mostly, Galdo doesn't want to blow this opportunity to expand bass's reach and make a superstar of Prince Rahiem. "Hopefully this will be the bomb," the producer says. "He's major-league potential. We don't want to make a record that's good just for Hialeah, but one that's good for Oakland, Chicago, New York.... The label doesn't want to add a song to the album because so many copies have already been pressed. I've got a mess on my hands. I'm doing a heavy Frankenstein on this thing. But Rahiem is one of the pioneers, and I think he's the shit, which is why I signed him."
A month ago Arlan Feiles walked onto the stage of the Stephen Talkhouse and preceded his set with a major announcement: Natural Causes is reuniting! Then came his punch line: "April fool." But there was a grain of truth in his prank. Working with Tom "Legendary Tom" Dowd and Joe Galdo (when he's not busy with Rahiem) at Island, Feiles has been cutting new tracks, recently reaching the point where it was time to bring in a backing band. After the Causes broke up last year, Feiles said that it was not inconceivable that he and guitar genius Joel Schantz might work together again. Feiles's new band: Joel Schantz on guitar; Sean "Birdman" Gould, who played with the Causes during their last few months, on bass; and on drums, the amazing Derek Murphy, who teams with Schantz in Milk Can and, before that, made his rep as probably the best rock drummer in South Florida with Forget the Name. The early buzz on the new outfit: Nirvana meets the Beatles. To find out for yourself, be at Rose's on Saturday at 11:00 p.m. InHouse opens, Nuclear Valdez is scheduled to close.
Murphy was also drummer for Sixo, whose Rene Alvarez returns to Miami from New York City for a show tonight (Thursday) at Rose's with Diane Ward and the band Me.
Keep an eye out for Meet the Mustard, the debut release from those trippy Purple Mustard guys.
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Saxman, movie star, philosopher, freedom fighter, and natty dresser Leo Casino will take part in "A Joint Parade" this Sunday (8:00 a.m. to noon) at South Pointe Park. It's a walk to celebrate mobility and raise funds to help those who can't walk. Call 949-2883 for details. Also, the funk opera O.J. and Nicole (Casino plays O.J., natch) will be staged sometime this month. Call 531-9643.
Shows that won't blow: Crash Basket at Churchill's on Saturday, Myriad at the MIEL acoustic series on Saturday (279-8100), and Bobby Ramirez at CocoWalk on Saturday (264-5924).
Red Road and Kevin Barnes continue the weekly series at Cafe Atlantico tonight (Thursday). Meanwhile the promoter of these Thursday night shows is planning acoustic evenings every Monday at Java Junkies. Strictly acoustic acts should call Taxi Productions at 672-8062.
And any locals interested in spreading their art (or selling their product, depending on how you look at it) should check with the Borders bookstore in Aventura. My pals there say they're seeking consignments. Call Danny or Robert at 935-4712.