It’s Funky Nerdy Enough: 5 Beautiful LA-Centric Record Finds from Beat Swap Meets Past
The next Beat Swap Meet will be far enough in the future that I’ll have forgotten about the failures of the 2011-12 Los Angeles Lakers. Until then, to cheer up my sad sad heart, I’m revisiting some of my luckiest finds from the last few BSMs I’ve attended.
1. The D.O.C., No One Can Do It Better (Ruthless, 1989). $8.
“Before the bass started womping/I had to hook it up with the boys from Compton/Searched and found the sound and accepted/The job of making L.A. well respected.” During the ’89 NBA finals, the Lakers got swept by the Pistons. The city’s self-respect took a beating, but I bet you No One Can Do It Better dropping a few weeks later made LA feel better about itself. Anyway, there should be no shame for LA’s fans during the ’88-’89 season, since at least the team made it to the final round that year. (This is a situation with which I am unfamiliar when it comes to the 2011-12 squad. SIGH. VAMOOSE, GASOL.)
The D.O.C. was from Texas, but he established his brand here and created an album that was absolutely made for thumping out of an Escort’s subwoofers in stop-and-go traffic, so his LA credentials are strong. No One Can Do It Better is production heaven—not to take anything away from the D.O.C.’s nice rasp or solid, KRS-esque flow, but I have a weak voice and a terrible flow and even I would sound great over a late-80s Dre beat. The album is rarer than its $8 price tag would lead you to believe; the true test of a good find is in how many “OHHHHs” you get from the other attendees when you walk around the swap meet with it under your arm, and I must’ve gotten 10 or 12 the day I got it. It contains the phrases “on the hype tip” and “I don’t fess,” plus an Air Jordan flight jacket on the cover, all of which places it squarely at the tail end of the Reagan era, but it bangs, STILL, now, forever, always. It also contains the words “Ruthless representation: Jerry Heller,” to which I respond Uhhh yeah, no kidding. (I hear things did not end well there.) And that Kings hat on the cover is pretty prescient since they’re about to maybe win the Stanley Cup. These days, The D.O.C.'s songs mostly turn up in skate videos and video games as the soundtrack for nostalgia. But this at least means you and your 14-year-old cousin have new common ground.
The order in which fam is thanked in the credits is a fascinating thing – was it completely random? Or did he make a list of his people in order of importance in his heart? Thanks, in order: “The Almighty Father, my family, MC Ren” (??). Ice Cube, Yella, Eazy, and Dre are fourth, fifth, sixth, and (ouch, Dre!) seventh, respectively.
2. Willie Hutch, The Mark of the Beast (Motown, 1974). $3.
Willie was from Texas, too—and he made his name in LA, too. His voice wasn’t scratchy like The D.O.C.’s, though—Willie had this powerful, achy sweetness to his instrument.
The Mack soundtrack is a guaranteed find at any BSM, though probably in the form of the dreaded reissue. The Mark of the Beast, though, is a rare one—especially an original issue, which is what I found. I am truly blessed. The sleeve was wrinkly, like bong resin had spilled all over it and someone panicked and tried to flatten it out to dry. But the vinyl itself is incredibly free of scratches, allowing the album’s walking-down-the-street bangers to really shine. “Get Ready for the Get Down” will make you feel like a ‘70s god—Michael Corleone in a nice wool suit—or, ladies where you at, a ‘70s goddess like Cleopatra Jones (or maybe Farrah if that's more your thing). In any case, you have your choice of self-esteem-raising jams on The Mark of the Beast. “Don’t You Let Nobody How to Do Your Thing,” Willie says, to which I respond You got it, daddy. Plus, he’s so closely aligned with Three 6 at this point, the whole first side of The Mark of the Beast sounds like Project Pat’s about to come in with the hook.
3. Cannonball Adderley, The Black Messiah (Capitol, 1972). $9.
Recorded live at the Troubadour in 1970, produced by David Axelrod from Los Angeles, California, with Mike Deasy (from LA) on guitar (he also played on the The Age of Aquarius and Pet Sounds). I don’t cyber-dig, but I do cyber-lurk, and few things in life are as satisfying as going to online record stores, typing into the search box something I already own, and seeing “Sorry, this selection is currently unavailable” show up. The Black Messiahis one such jewel in my collection. It’s got Tribe’s “Infamous Date Rape” break on it, it’s pleasurable as both background/washing-the-dishes/