Tuesday, November 1, 2005

DITT: MCJ & Cool G - So Listen

If you're Canadian, and you were in Junior High or High School in 1990, you know who MCJ & Cool G are. Or more likely, you not only know who they are, but you busted a funky running man to their mega-hit So Listen at a school dance. Calling their debut single a mega-hit might be an exaggeration out of context, but you have to realize that MCJ & Cool G were from Halifax, which as loyal readers know, is also Herohill's hometown. Hearing So Listen, a rap song done by two guys from Halifax, on local FM radio (which at that time played rap slightly more than never) and seeing the video on Muchmusic made them bigger than big time. Seeing Michael Williams play an MCJ & Cool G video on RapCity was the ultimate validation, and this tape was an automatic buy when it came out.

James McQuaid (MCJ) and Cool G (Richard Gray) were originally from Halifax (Uniacke Square and Mulgrave Park respectively I think, but I could be wrong) but relocated to Montreal to make a run at the music biz. In 1989 they became the first black act to be signed by Capital records in Canada. In 1990 they dropped their debut album So Listen, which featured the singles Smooth as Silk and the aforementioned title track. The album produced three Juno nominations for the duo and cemented their place as pioneers in the Canadian hip hop biz.

MCJ and Cool G called their style "Double R&B;" (Rap, Rhythm & Blues) due to the fact that MCJ handled the majority of the rappin' duties while Cool G kicked a few rhymes, but was like an old-school, Haligonian Nate Dogg, singing on most of the jams. Beat wise, the album is all programmed drums and keyboards reflecting the New Jack Swing sound that was huge at the time. Most of the beats sound like they could've been pulled off New Edition's classic 1990 album, Heart Break. The MC-ing is pretty basic, based on old school New York styles like Whodini or UTFO, but MCJ & Cool J weren't trying to be KRS-One on the Mic, they were more about rockin' the party.

Listening to the album today, it definitely sounds dated, but dated in a good way. But I have only fond memories of the New Jack swing era and all the songs it produced, so listening to, ah, So Listen, is a Halifax-tinged walk down memory lane. After a couple years on the scene, I think there was a bit of a backlash in Halifax against MCJ & Cool G as rap on a whole was getting more hardcore, and people in Haltown were afraid of being associated with MCJ & Cool G's Double R&B; good times. But I think enough time has gone by now for people to look back and see that these dudes came out of Halifax and accomplished something pretty impressive.

As for what MCJ & Cool G are up to now, I have no idea. If you have any news on them, leave a comment. Otherwise, enjoy the two singles off the album, So Listen and Smooth As Silk.

So Listen

Smooth As Silk

Posted at 12:04 AM by naedoo :: 9 comments

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At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

these guys are pioneers of hali hip hop


At 9:30 PM, Anonymous K Baker did sayeth:

I've been looking for this song eveywhere for a long time, found it linked here and it says it's no longer available. Booooooooo! Any chance the links will be valid again sometime soon?


At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Naedoo did sayeth:

Tell you what K Baker, send an email to the gmail address you can find on the front page of herohill.com, and perhaps So Listen will find it's way to you.


At 9:52 PM, Blogger style did sayeth:

As one of the original dancers of the group I would have to say it was great times. Was able to travel all over the country and meet many of my US rap idols. If I had to do it again I would in a heart beat. MCJ is currently in Halifax producing under the company name Homegrown and Coolg is out West as a family man.



At 10:59 PM, Anonymous Shao did sayeth:

Can someone plz send me "So listen" as well? Link will not work:(
I need a fix:P


At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

Didn't they come out with an album in 94. And had a song called "No Sex with my sister"


At 8:30 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

Yes indeed they did. If anyone has a copy, I'd gladly post it.


At 9:02 PM, Blogger Troy Neilson did sayeth:

Dang... the links aint' working


At 9:07 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

Good news, they are working right here:



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