While thumbing through the pages of Gang Starr’s Daily Operation liner notes, I found it pretty ironic (and probably more amusing) that in the duo’s long list of shoutouts, they gave props to an emcee who most would consider illegitimate or a cornball. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Father MC.
Timothy “Father MC” Brown came on the scene in 1990, inking a deal with Andre Harrell’s, once dominate r&b label Uptown Records. Father released his debut album Father’s Day in late 1990, and created a bit of a buzz with two minor hits in “Treat Them Like They Want To Be Treated” and “I’ll Do For You” (two songs that would introduce the world to Jodeci and Mary J Blige, respectively). Both songs (and the album) were heavily influenced by the Uptown new jack swing r&b sound that many of his label mates used at the time, including Guy (which included Teddy Riley, the father of new jack swing), Al B. Sure, and to a lesser extent, Heavy D (rip). After the mild commercial success of Father’s Day, Father would return in ’92 with his sophomore effort Close To You.
Like its predecessor, Close To You would feature heavily r&b flavored production from a cast of producers that would include Eddie F (from Heavy D & The Boyz), Prince Markie Dee (formerly of the Fat Boys) and Howie Tee. It would also include lyrics written by Father MC and his team of writers (which alone should be reason enough to have the “MC” officially removed from his moniker) about love and romance. Which you probably already figured out based on the album art work.
All I Want – This is really the only reason I re-purchased Close To You (I originally bought it on tape way back in the day) a few years ago when I bumped into it in the dollar bin at one of my frequents. No, Father doesn’t sound impressive on the mic, neither do the vocals of Terri Robinson and Melissa Pierre singing on the hook. I do love the Dave “Jam” Hall produced instrumental, though. Even if it sounds a bit too r&b clean for a rap artist.
One Nite Stand – This was the first single released from Close To You, and it features a guest vocal from the then up and coming but now legendary, Mary J Blige. Over one of Eddie F’s r&b flavored instrumentals, Father drops cheesy line after line in an attempt to convince a chick he’s trying to do more than just hit it and quit it. He even goes as far as saying “sex aint my appetite I just want to treat you right”. Negro please. Even if you are trying to legitimately be her man you still want to bang it out from time to time.
Close To You – Eddie F builds this synthesized r&b laden instrumental around a sample of Alicia Meyers “I Want To Thank You”. R&b group Intro stops by to sing the hook on this one. Father’s rhymes aren’t designed to impress real heads, but I kind of like this instrumental.
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright – I believe this was the second single released from Close To You. Prince Markie Dee builds his instrumental around Chic’s “Good Times” as Father’s fellow Uptown label mates Jo-Jo and K-Ci Hailey of Jodeci, stop by to sing the hook. This was garbage.
Do The One, Two – Eddie F samples Parliament’s “Flashlight” and I’ve never heard the loop sound so clean and undesirable in my life. Mary J adds vocals to the hook, but this still was not good.
Red Lace Lingerie – Prince Markie Dee loops up the Mary Jane Girl’s “All Night Long” for the backbone of this backdrop. Father uses it to instruct his lady to put on her red laced lingerie, so he can take it if off and beat it up. I’m paraphrasing, of course. Father suggests the proposal with more finesse and tact. Wait. Was his line “you had a taste of chocolate, now come taste the fudge” aimed at Kane? Word? Father didn’t really want it with Kane, did he? Either way this was weak, and he sounds like a perve during the last-minute of the song, moaning and groaning as if he’s busting a nut.
My Body – Father hi-lariously flips the script on the ladies as he accuses them of only wanting one thing from him, which I believe is self-explanatory based on the song title. He starts the song off with probably the funniest line of the entire album: “honey check my intellect first, I know you want my body but my mind comes first”. Prince Markie Dee’s instrumental is actually pretty decent, it’s Father’s rhymes and content that bring this song down to corny status.
Ladies, I Luv ‘Em – This is Close To You‘s version of “Treat Them Like They Want To Be Treated”, only minus Jo-Jo and K-Ci. Apparently Father didn’t have enough in the budget to pay them to sing the hook on a second song, so instead an uncredited guest does his best Jodeci impersonation. You’ll forget about this one once it’s over.
Baby We Can Do It – This is a bad rap and r&b remake of the SOS Band’s “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”. Next…
Go Natalie – I believe this song was on the soundtrack for the movie Strictly Business (it was definitely played in a scene during the movie), that starred a young and gorgeous Halle Berry. This song is actually about Berry’s character in the movie. Interestingly, this song was written by Little Shawn (remember “Hickeys On Your Chest” Little Shawn?) and the production credit is given to Howie Tee, who completely rips the Brand New Heavies “People Get Ready” record and adds a couple of irrelevant sounds to it.
On The Road Again – Yes, this is a hip-hop version of Willie Nelson’s song with the same title, and it actually sounds cornier than you are currently imagining.
Look. I’m not completely opposed to heavily r&b laden synthesized hip-hop (some of hip-hop’s greatest producers have done it), but it has to be properly balanced in order for that shit to work for the entirety of an album. Unfortunately, for Father MC and even worse, the listener, Eddie F, Prince Markie Dee and company didn’t find the proper formula to pull off this difficult task on Close to You. But even if they did, the bigger problem with Close to You is its host. Father MC has a quality rapping voice, however he never gets away from his tender “love raps” or party rhymes (he’s kind of like a nineties version of Pitbull, only less successful) and tends to sound synthetic and cheesy in the process. It’s clear Father MC was created to reach the female listener. If only he had the chops he could have been an r&b singer.