A Long-Overlooked Drama

Opining about the not-praised-enough Marley Marl and Pete Rock radio show “Future Flavas” the other day sent my mind into a frenzy. That night, to calm the overworking thoughts, I tore through the closet in my old bedroom, clawing through piles of old clothes and stuffed animals (don’t ask—though, My Pet Monster is still unfuckwitable). In there somewhere, or at least I thought, rests a shoddy Chicago White Sox gym-bag—I’m Jersey through and through, born and raised, but Frank Thomas was once holier than thou in my eyes. And in said gym-bag are dozens of the mixtapes I made while recording “Future Flavas.”

Unfortunately, the bag is MIA, and all I could dig up was one measly tape. I immediately popped the tape into my stereo’s still-functional deck and let it ride. The first track was all I needed to send nostalgia into overdrive—“The Turnaround,” by Real Live.

“The Turnaround”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/09-bangers081909_theturnaround_reallive.mp3]

Those brolic strings. The bass that knocks harder than the ATF on DMX’s door. “The Turnaround”—produced by one-half of Real Live, K-Def, who was a Marley Marl protégé—was a heavy rotator in my Walkman back in ’96, as was the accompanying full-length, The Turnaround: A Long-Awaited Drama (Big Beat/Atlantic). 15 tracks of non-skippable goodness, Real Live’s one and only record still holds up today. Since Monday, I’ve given it at least five complete spins, each listen leaving me to wonder, “Why the hell is this album never talked about?” If I remember correctly, it wasn’t even discussed back in 1996 when it was released.

A crying shame, really. Tightly produced by K-Def, The Turnaround: A Long-Awaited Drama is more than a sonic showcase; husky and sardonic-flowed Larry-O—the Guru to K-Def’s Premier—more than holds his own throughout. He’s never lyrically exceptional, better at straightforward writing than metaphorical wizardry. “Cops raid the block like scenes from Red Dawn/The American Dream in the ghetto is long gone,” he drops on “Ain’t No Love,” which, by the way, was Jay-Z’s “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” five years before The Blueprint.

“Ain’t No Love”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/05-bangers081909_aintnolove_reallive.mp3]

Listening to this album today, it’s impossible to not transport back to the days when acts of this kind could get actual radio play. When O.G.C. could achieve gold-selling success, and a Jeru the Damaja album could be the lead review in a major music magazine. The Turnaround: A Long-Awaited Drama, if nothing else, is a true time capsule. Dusty and dirty, compact and cohesive. Straight out the gate, the album even opens up with one of those old instrumental intros, less than a minute long and intensely cinematic, similar to the jumpoffs heard on Capone N Noreaga’s The War Report and Big Noyd’s slept-on Episodes of a Hustla EP. Shit, Real Live ended the album with a face-ripping remix of “Real Live Shit” featuring Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna and Killa Sin (Sin, for the record, is worthy of his own Matt Barone-written blog some day; dude was/is severely overlooked).

If this is the first time you’re hearing of Real Live and/or The Turnaround: A Long-Awaited Drama, hopefully you’re still with me at this point. If so, in “Future Flavas” fashion, allow me to lay some treats on you. Below are a few of the album’s highlights for your listening pleasure. —Matt Barone

“Crime Is Money” (if anybody can recall the Fabolous record that used this same beat, please do; I’m drawing blanks but I know there is one that did]
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/13-bangers081909_crimeismoney_reallive.mp3]

“Pop the Trunk”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/02-bangers081909_popthetrunk_realive.mp3]

“The Gimmicks”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/03-bangers081909_thegimmicks_reallive.mp3]

“Real Live Shit Remix (ft. Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna, Killa Sin)”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/15-bangers081909_realliveshit_reallive.mp3]

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    I never heard Future Flavas but I’ll definitely do the research tonight…

    • http://www.myspace.com/fastlifearchitects miles archer

      I got that Real Live Shit on a J-Love mixtape. That’s Lord Tariq with the second verse. Killa Sin has always been ill. His verse on the “The Worst” with Onyx is banannas.

      I like that beat for “The Gimmicks” with the Biggie sample, but, this shit is whatever son. I didn’t fuck with this shit in ’96. The only reason I’m listening to it now is nostalgia for that sound.
      Tell me why son sound like Heavy D would sound on some criminology?????
      Shit wasn’t slept on… it just isn’t that good.

  • General

    I feel ya. There were so many raw artists at that time. Nice Jeru The Damaja reference, he seems to be another of those forgotten cats from the 90′s.

    I’ll admit that I was bigger fan of West Coast shit during that time.

    Probably the most criminally slept on CD from the West during that period was Above the Law “Uncle Sams Curse”

    Real Live’s tape was alright though. I admit that I had completely written these dudes off though since

    I do miss the old breakbeat and sample beats though

    • General

      BTW…good drops on the blogs so far this week (no WhooKid)

  • murK

    the ‘crime is money’ track i’ve heard on the diss track lloyd banks did about game. haven’t heard the song loso did with it.

    • P. Harris

      I don’t know what Fab song did the same beat… but I know Nas used the same sample on “Where Yall At”

      “I slow dance with the devil / snow sittin in the bezel / mo sippin phantom bumpin aaron neville…”

  • vhingrhamesonyo’momma

    this crazy as hell! I ain’t neva heard of this cat but I’m suprised mo’ niggas ain’t up on’em too. He puts in the mindset of a unpolished big or shyne but he still dope tho’. That ain’t no love joint woulda’ been better than jay’s if they didn’t clutter the beat so much, homey had jewels.

  • capcobra

    i remember that remix..them other joints i never heard of..he remind me of a thugged out craig g…lol.

  • RiZob

    Dammit i hate the East coast bias on this site….smh….

    • $ykotic/Don McCaine

      I wouldn’t call it bias RiZob. Most of the east rap was exposed heavily due to radio, shows and collabs back then.

      I’m finding out now about a lot of West music that had I had no access to back then and a lot of it is flavor. Example given, I just digested Mac Dre’s catalog last year.

      @ Pierzy

      Future Flavas took over where Mr Magic left off. breaking new artists, which is not done these days.

      @ Matt/Vanessa

      You’re on to something that will replace the classics archives…

  • http://myspace.com/devitan Devi Gargon

    Wooooooooooow!!!

    Real Live….Really!!! The only way this was gonna be recovered was by diggin the tape bags. Like last survivors of armageddon find relics of life past.

    I had the real live shit on 12″. The instrumental was used on my second demo. Did I just say demo??? Its was the 90′s, we didnt have Street Albums and no one was usung the mixtape as a vehicle to launch careers yet. I know RZA got that demo…..

  • latino heat

    i admit i never heard of these dudes, the shit sounds cool though.

    co-sign what you said about Killa Sin. dude is tragically overlooked. i looked Sin up on Wikipedia a while back and he’s doing a 4 year bid. what a waste of talent.

    • $ykotic/Don McCaine

      Taino Killa Sin was ill with it.

      Him & Killa Priest used to murder cameos back then.

      Dig in the Sunz of Man archives…

      • latino heat

        @ Syk
        i got the 1st Sunz album. were the others worth checking out for anything more than the cameos?

        do you remember that dude Holocaust? he has the 1st verse on Holocaust(Silkworm) from the 1st Bobby Digital album. that dude spit fire. was he ever on anything else though?

        • DV8

          lol, I think Holcaust did a guest spot on KILLARMY’s second album and on a couple of those Wu-Tang compilation albums. thats the last I heard of him.

        • $ykotic/Don McCaine

          Real spit.

          Holocaust had rap beef in NY. He was part of RZA’s Black Knights(west) & there were East Coast Black Knights.

          When he got ran up on Holo specifically said he wasn’t fukking with them anymore, thus wanted no beef or part of an ensuing beatdown that was coming. That was the last I ever heard/saw of him till this day.

          @ latino

          Umm no for Sunz. “Love Without Hate” really was it for them. “Shining Star” off the second LP was “meh”, & “Tai-Chi” never took off, although I liked it.

  • iGotOnMyBackpack79

    K-Def laced the production but Larry-O was mediocre on the mic. You couldn’t fuck with that production though. It’s one of the best produced LP’s of that era

  • MindState

    Still got this album. Mint condition on cassette. Ha Ha!

  • mazemayhim

    That “Crime Is Money” used the Minnie Riperton-Rainy Day In Centreville sample. I dunno what Fabolous record. But, Nas used that same sample on “Where Ya’ll At”

  • http://www.myspace.com/emcdlthemusicprofile EmCDL

    Damn I’ma have to check this out; I love diggin’ up classic ish!

  • dj blendz

    great 90′s pick,not too may ppl. was up on them…

    immortal tech uses that ‘gimmick’ sample on harlem rennaisance

  • Snitchy McRt

    Not Fabolous but Nas and the song is called
    Where my Gangstas At? Sample Minnie Ripton, Rainy Day in Centerville

  • http://www.justice.gov.za GO-Getta’

    Lost hidden tressure i have’nt give a listen . I’m off 2 pick 1 if they still on sale.
    Where can i cop 1? or maybe download the whole thing.

  • P. Harris

    Yoooooooooo!!!!!

    That real live shit rmx use to come on The Underground 88.1 all the time…

    That used to be the shyt!

  • okok

    futureflavas was definitely the shit. can you post the show