When it comes to playing it straight, Stone Cold Rhymin’ is almost shocking in its innocence. Thirteen songs and zero curse words, the album endures as a quality listen because of Young MC’s wit, wordplay, and dazzling elocution… not to mention the funkiness of the music. The album bridges old school sounds and what at the time passed for cutting edge production.
Twenty years after its original release, this exclusive import of Stone Cold Rhymin’ comes with six additional tracks not on the original LP. “Principal’s Office (Impact Remix)” and “I Come Off (Southern Comfort Mix”) are rare mixes from original 12-inches. “I Let Em Know (Matt Dike Remix)” is a promotional mix never before released commercially, while “Pick Up The Pace (1990)” first appeared on the soundtrack to the Steven Seagal movie “Marked For Death.” The other two bonus tracks come from 2008’s RMXXOLOGY project: Diplo’s turbocharged versioning of “Bust A Move,” and Aaron LaCrate and Debonair Samir’s massive club banger “Know How Theme”.
Produced by Michael Ross and Matt Dike, “Bust A Move” is the song that broke Young MC. It won him a coveted statuette for Best Rap Performance at the Grammy Awards, where he beat out Delicious Vinyl label mate Tone Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina”, a song whose lyrics Young had also largely written. (The other songs nominated for Best Rap Performance were De La Soul’s anti-anthem “Me Myself And I”, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s tepid claim “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson”, and Public Enemy’s immortal “Fight The Power”). The follow-up to “Bust A Move” was “Principal’s Office”. A midtempo mixture of high school lyrical high jinks over a hurdy-gurdy sample, the track gave Young MC his second consecutive Top Forty hit, and helped propel sales of his debut album to double platinum.
Another stand-out cut, “Know How” is an early production by Dust Brothers Michael “EZ Mike” Simpson and John “King Gimzo” King. The song begins with a straightforward, even obvious stacking of samples but at the two minute mark it explodes into a sequence of searing rock guitar licks and tasteful, precise, stereo-panned scratching by EZ Mike. With an astutely funky bass line, the song’s tight cuts and stacked breaks are the closest prequel to the Dust Brothers’ subsequent cosmic cut collage on Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique.
With contributions from Michael Ross, Matt Dike, The Dust Brothers, Flea, Quincy Jones III, Kevin O’Neal and Mario Caldato, Jr., Stone Cold Rhymin’ was a monumental achievement for modern Hip-Hop and pop music.