Melody Maker | Album | 2 December 1989 | Photo: Tom Sheehan
STONE COLD RHYMIN'
Delicious Vinyl / 4th & Broadway
Young MC – Marvin Young – may be based in LA but he's a completely different type of rapper to the likes of Ice-T and Eazy E. He makes no attempt to give the impression that he's streetwise.
This is not to suggest that he's not blessed with a lively mind, though. He's currently studying economics at the University of Southern California and, as the man responsible for Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina", he's already attained a degree of notoriety.
"Stone Cold Rhymin'", Young's debut LP, is largely an exercise in minimalism, the simple drum patterns only occasionally embroidered with threads of melody – a funky guitar, a ragtime piano, a rattling church organ, or the monstrous hum of a bass synth. These and the other little touches - a sentence from James Stewart, an introduction to a boxing contest and, in "I Come Off" and "Bust A Move", Crystal Blake's gasps of pleasure - are all the more effective for their unobtrusive nature. Nothing is allowed to interfere with the flow of the rhymes.
The slow jams are as florid as their opposite numbers are flawless. The acapella "Fastest Rhyme" - a couple of thousand words crammed into half a minute - is an open invitation to exaggeration and proves that he knows more tongue trickery than a finicky cat. Rhyming "breathalyser" with "synthesiser", "hocus pocus" with "locust", and "intellectual" with "heterosexual" at such speed takes some doing. It's all good fun and although this album features as many boasts as most other rap records, they're balanced by his self-deprecating sense of humour.
There are serious messages too and Young takes a firm anti-drugs stance throughout, his concern being most clearly expressed in "Just Say No", a track with an electro feel which, until recently, was the trademark of West Coast hip hop. "Know How", on the other hand, is based on Issac Hayes' "Theme From Shaft" and "I Let 'Em Know" takes its cue from Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music". Both are brilliant.
About a year ago, the Delicious Vinyl posse played a couple of showcase gigs in the UK and Young MC was the most exciting of an otherwise fairly unspectacular selection of acts, which also included Tone Loc. "Stone Cold Rhymin'" is the fulfillment of that early promise. Taste it.