Kid Capri – The Tape (February 19, 1991)

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David Anthony Love Jr. was born in the Bronx in 1967.  At the tender age of 8, he begin deejaying at block parties (I know right? Where the hell were his parents?), and took on the moniker Kid Capri, after a female friend, who later passed away, told him it sounded like a cool deejay name. Capri would eventually work his way up from deejaying block parties to the club scene, where he would work the ones and two at legendary spots such as Studio 54. He might be best known for his 7 year stint as the house deejay for Russell Simmons Def Comedy Jam, which created a platform for up and coming black comedians in the nineties.

Many credit Kid Capri as being the godfather of the mixtape, as he was able to make a marginal profit off of his mixes in the eighties, before other deejay jumped on that bandwagon and made it as common as the cold.  Like most hip-hop deejays, Capri began to produce tracks as well.  Eventually Capri struck a deal with Cold Chillin’ and would release his debut album, strangely titled The Tape , which sounds even more awkward when you own the cd version, like myself. What is even more strange is that Capri doesn’t produce a single song on The Tape , but leaves that up to The diabolical Biz Markie, as he wanted to focus strictly on his lyricism.

Maybe he should have focused a little harder.

News Story – Kid Capri introduces himself and his crew (the Lords of Funk), before he abruptly jumps into this song. KC spits one long verse about some random drug dealer, whose hobbies include beating down punks and, of course, selling drugs, and his girl, who a porn star and helps her man distribute his pharmaceuticals, until he decides to kill her and ends up getting 25 to life. Not the easiest story line to follow, as Kid Capri will never be mistaken for Slick Rick.  Biz Markie samples Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Superman Lover” for his instrumental with mixed results. This was not an impressive way to start the evening, folks.

Billy – This one opens with Capri acting as a news reporter who interrupts the normally scheduled program to bring you the following special report :”we are looking for a man named Billy”.  Yep, that’s the only information provided. No age. No height. No weight. Just Billy. That narrows down the search to approximately 2 million people in the world. Apparently this Billy dappled in all types of illegal activity: fake credit cards, dealing crack, and…using UPS trucks? Wtf? Capri’s verses are ridiculously unfocused, and by the end of the song I’m not sure if Billy is a crack dealer or crack head. Kid Capri probably doesn’t know if Billy is a crack dealer or a crack head.  Biz uses the same sample from Biggie’s One More Chance” remix, which sounds okay, yet in still, this song is a hot mess.

This is What You Came Here For – Biz slows things down a bit with a laid back xylophone infused instrumental that Capri refers to as “the quiet blizzard”. KC sounds decent on this slower tempo joint but T.J. Swan completely derails any positive momentum with his horrific singing on the hook that is guaranteed to grate on your ear. Seriously, his singing is that bad.

Get ’Em – Biz Markie makes his first vocal appearance of the evening as he introduces KC before he spits one long verse over Biz’ minimal instrumental.  KC sounds okay, but I had to chuckle when he brags that he “can take an adverb and make it sound like noun”. What does that even mean?

Apollo  – This is Kid Capri’s ode to the legendary Apollo Theater. You’ll immediately recognize the horn sample this song opens with, since it’s been used on several other hip-hop songs over the years (ie “Show Em’ Whatcha Got” (PE), Show Me What You Got (Jay-Z), and “Rump Shaker” (Wreckx -n-Effect)). I must admit that Biz’ interpretation of that horn loop is the weakest of all the songs that have used it.

Hang ’Em High – This is one of two songs I remember liking back in the day, and ultimately why I had any interest in buying The Tape in the first place. Capri addresses the issue of child abuse and rape, advocating that the perpetrators of these crimes be sentenced to death by hanging. Capri turns in a decent performance but Biz Markie’s buttery instrumental is the real star here.

Lord’s Party – Biz opens this one doing the typical nonsense that made him famous, and unfortunately that is the best part of the whole song. Garbage.

You Know My Style – Biz opens this one with a “yo’ mama” joke to which Capri response to Biz that joking it not his style.  Biz provides a decent instrumental that KC does a serviceable job to, but I’m not convinced he even knows what his style is.

Whisper – Biz slows down the pace for Capri and his Lords Of Funk cronies, Silver D and Money Mark, to whisper in the lady of their respective choices ear.  The whispering is apparently working as some chick sounds like she’s having an orgasm during the hook.  Kid Capri sounds like Rakim compared to his Lords Of Funk brethren, so at least he didn’t get murdered on his own shit.

Jokes on You  - Jokes on me, as I’ve slept on this sick Biz instrumental for years. As usual, Capri’s rhymes are all over the place and not very entertaining. Just focus on the instrumental and Capri’s rhymes go down a lot smoother.

Pay Attention – Now this is my shit. If you don’t fall in love with this infectious Biz Markie instrumental, you don’t have a heart. Capri might not hold your attention but Biz’ instrumental with definitely make you obey the song title.

Don’t Sweat Me – Decent.

Step-off  - Okay.

The Shout-Outs – Over a sick instrumental that sounds nothing like something Biz would normally cook up, KC shows love to his peeps. It’s probably best that he didn’t try to rap over this instrumental as its way too serious for anything Kid Capri could conjure up.

The Tape made me think back to Micheal Jordan’s story. After winning his third consecutive NBA championship in 1993, MJ retired from basketball, stating he no longer had a desire to play the game. Many believed this decision was based on the murder of his father which took place a few months before he announced his retirement. He then decided he wanted to give baseball a try. After a brief stent in the minor leagues, MJ gave up on baseball and returned to the NBA and would go on to when three more consecutive championships, cementing his legacy as the greatest to ever play the game. Why did he leave baseball, you ask?  Because he sucked at it, and even though it was a dream he knew he wouldn’t be successful at it.   Sometimes you have to know your lane. The point I’m trying to make: Kid Capri’s lane is not rapping.  Overall, Biz Markie’s production is average, with a few stellar moments mixed in, but even if the The Tape was laced with masterpiece production from beginning to end, it wouldn’t make up for the lyrical lacking of our host.

-Deedub

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