The next four post will be rewinds of 4 albums I recently bought but were all released prior to 1991. Since I was unable to track down the exact release date for this one, for those keeping track at home, insert this one right after Straight Out The Jungle.
Before today, I have never heard a single song from Masters Of Ceremony. I bought Master Of Ceremony’s Dynamite for one reason, and one reason only: Grand Puba Maxwell, who in my opinion is one of the most underrated emcees of all time. A few years ago I was reading an article about Grand Puba that made mention of MOC and their lone album Dynamite, and since I’m a fan of Puba’s I was curious to hear what he sounded like in the beginning, so I picked it up. Like most heads I became familiar with Puba during his Brand Nubian One For All days, the album that he pretty much turned the second half into a Puba solo project. But before his off again on again relationship with Brand Nubian and his solo career, there was the Masters Of Ceremony.
Masters Of Ceremony was the three-man crew made up of Grand Puba and his cousin Dr. Who, on the mic, and DJ Shabazz on the ones and two’s. In 1985 the trio released their first 12″ single “Crime” on Strong City Records, which was a vanity label on 4th & Broadway, which was a subsidiary of Island Records, which I’m sure these are facts that only super hip-hop nerds reading this blog will even remotely care to know. In 1986 they would release two more 12″ singles “Sexy” and “Cracked Out” (both I’ll discuss a little later in this post) that created a bit of a buzz for the group, at least in New York. Finally, in 1988 Masters Of Ceremony released their debut and last album Dynamite with Grand Puba handling the bulk of the production duties with an occasional assist from DJ Shabazz.
According to Wikipedia Dynamite received some critical acclaim, but due to the fact I don’t know a soul, other than myself, that owns this album or have ever heard any one talk about how sick Dynamite was, I question the validity of that statement and have a sneaking suspicion that Puba, Dr. Who, or Shabazz added that bit to Puba’s Wikipedia page. One thing we can be sure of is Dynamite didn’t sell enough copies to earn Masters Of Ceremony a wooden plaque, which would eventually lead to the trio disbanding.
Dynamite – Dynamite opens with a minimal Puba/Shabazz instrumental that Puba and Dr. Who use to live up to the group’s name. Puba doesn’t sound as polished as he would become in the next few years but by ’88 standards he and Dr. Who both sound pretty solid.
Keep On Moving – Puba and Who sound like they drank 100 Monsters as the proceed to scream all over this track. It almost sounds like they were trying to ape Ultramagnetic MC’s Ced Gee’s rhyme style but instead they come off sounding like the parents of Onyx. Either way, the style doesn’t suit Puba or Who well. To make matters worst, the instrumental isn’t even remotely aggressive, which makes their screaming sound even more ridiculous.
Redder Posse – Right from the jump Puba lets the listener know what their intentions are with this track, as he starts if off by saying “We gonna cross the chart totally on this one”. Then Puba’s cheesy Casio keyboard sounding r&b instrumental drops and he and Who attempt to sing for the next 6 minutes, along with a some occasional reggae chants from Don Barron and some misguided adlibs from an uncredited female vocalist. This was bad, in the proper sense of the word. And what the hell is a “redder” anyways?
One To The Knot – Over a simple drum beat, faint guitar licks, and Shabazz scratches, Puba and Who take turns on the microphone and both sound serviceable in the process. This was decent.
Rock Steady – See “One To The Knot”. Only, minus the faint guitar licks.
Sexy – This ode to beautiful women was one of the 12″ singles MOC released back in ’86. Puba kind of loses focus on the subject at hand as he goes from trying to get with a beautiful honey to a rant on how ugly and nappy headed her friend is, before ending the verse by dissing them both. Dr. Who sticks to the script and drops the smoothest line of the song with “more curves than an “S”, yes God did bless”. Don Barron stops by to do some more chanting in between verses. He kind of sounds like Heavy D, especially when he does the “badidlydidlydidlydi” thing, only more deadpan. This was pretty weak.
Master Move – Now this is more like it. Puba hooks up a funky instrumental that sounds light years ahead of the rest of the production thus far on Dynamite. Don Barron is invited back on this one and probably gets more mic time then Puba and Who. This was decent.
Cracked Out – This is the other 12″ single MOC released in ’86. Puba and Dr. Who discuss a few of the people they know who became victims of the crack pipe, which in case you’ve been hiding under a rock (pun intended), hit urban America pretty hard in the eighties. Props for the message but Puba’s instrumental is garbage, and he and Who’s rhymes sound super dated compared to the rest of the songs on Dynamite to this point.
Rock With The Master – MOC invite some uncredited female vocalists to sing the refrain and use some of the same melodies from The Staples Singers’ record “Do It Again” over a bouncy Puba base line. This was pleasant enough.
Hard Core – Puba hooks up a breezy instrumental, which is kind of enjoyable, but it doesn’t quite sound like anything close to what I would refer to as hard core. Who sounds cool (no, that was not a question), but Puba steals the show as drops some of his best rhymes of the album on this one.
Considering Dynamite was released in ’88, Puba and Dr. Who do sound pretty solid on the mic, even though it was kind of odd not to hear Puba talk about skinz and his 5 percent mathematics for the duration of an entire album. Dynamite suffers on the production side as Puba and Shabazz’ work is inconsistent and could use a lot tighter mix. As is, most of the songs sound like demos and you can tell that a portion of the songs were old ones that they added on just to fill out a full length release. Dynamite is mediocre at best. Only hip-hop historians and Grand Puba die hards dare bother with this one. Unfortunately, I fall into both of those categories.