Tucked into my post yesterday was a mention of MC Ren’s “Behind the Scenes,” a record that brings a pile of memories to mind. I can distinctly recall seeing the commercial for Ren’s new EP, Kizz My Black Azz (which “Behind the Scenes” opened up), in between Yo! MTV Raps segments, and the subsequent look on my older brother’s face. My brother was a die-hard N.W.A. fan, ignoring the fact that we lived in a northern New Jersey suburb and that the most scandalous mischief that he and his crew ever got into involved smuggling Budweiser cans out of the local 7/11 and devolving the night into underage drinking sessions along railroad tracks. Far from flipping the proverbial bird at police officers over the stretch of 100 miles and runnin’, but he didn’t give a what. And for whatever reason, MC Ren was his favorite member, so the prospect of a new Ren cassette was sweet music.
Naturally, I snatched his Kizz My Black Azz cassette one day and tossed it into my Walkman. The second that track number two, “Behind the Scenes,” kicked in, I was hooked. Seedy, clearly R-rated storytelling above a spastic, increasingly violent funk sample; that opening line of, “Now this is the bitch who made straight A’s.” Insensitive, but still relatable; I was a nerd back in my day, the straight A’s dude who also excelled at sports. A walking contradiction. “Behind the Scenes” became an instant favorite, a flawless banger that I’d kept on repeat for days after; that I still run through on a weekly basis, giving it a new spin near the weekend’s introduction.
What’s always bothered me, though, is that hardly anybody else I know has even heard of the damn song, let alone felt the same love. If it were a single, maybe it’d have a better chance of achieving familiarity, but, alas, that’s not the case. “Behind the Scenes” exists in the section on my lifetime playlist that’s designated for the album cuts that have stood the test of time more so than the respective artists’ singles. Everybody has that Track 9 that they’ve long carried the flag for; I can name upwards of a few hundred off top that fit this bill. I’m talking about those songs that, in your mind, should be undisputed classics that radio DJs can’t help but drop during their old school hours.
It’d take an entire month’s worth of blogs to bring attention to all of the album cuts that I deem worthy of recognition, so let’s just settle on the following self-made EP. There’s really no rhyme or reason for me selecting these specific joints. Whatever hit my mind last night and this morning made first string. If you’ve never heard one or more of these, it’s my pleasure to bless your ears right quick. Regardless of that, though, flood the comments board with your own classic album cuts. Mine are mostly from somewhat-obscure albums (Nine’s infuriatingly-forgotten Nine Livez, for instance; am I the only person who loves both of Nine’s albums), but don’t limit yours to beneath-the-surface LPs. Off top, I can think of one mainstream example that could’ve lived comfortably in this post—Kid Cudi’s “Simple As…”
What about you all? —Matt Barone
MC Ren – “Behind the Scenes” [off of Kizz My Black Azz, 1992]
O.C. – “No Main Topic” [from Word…Life, 1994]
Nine – “Tha Cypha” [from Nine Livez, 1995]
MC Eiht – “Goin’ Out Like Geez” [off of We Come Strapped, 1994]
Bone Thugs ‘N’ Harmony – “Down ’71 (The Getaway)” [off of E. 1999 Eternal, 1995]
Blahzay Blahzay– “Good Cop Bad Cop” [off of Blah Blah Blah, 1996]
KRS-One – “Out for Fame” [off of KRS-One, 1995]
Black Moon ft. Smif-N-Wessun – “Black Smif-N-Wessun” [from Enta Da Stage, 1993]