There’s a little game you can play using social media that I call D-lister fishing. Think of a fallen star or minor celeb of the past — ideally with an ego — and mention their name on Twitter, ideally in a positive rather than malicious or particularly nasty light (no direct @ allowed) and see if they’ll favourite, Retweet or plug a forthcoming project to you. They love to trawl Twitter with a name search or ten. I’ve found out the status of a lot of missing rappers from my youth that way, and I got some harsh words from one of Yaggfu Front sent my way for saying that their album was underwhelming (I need to revisit that one and apologise if necessary). And honestly, I think that the rise of crowdfunding and an escalating interest in niche topics projects means that we’ll probably get a two-hour documentary on Mad Flava by the close of this decade.
Hip-hop heavy soundtrack albums were often used as a jumpstart for a new label signing and for decades I was mystified with the appearance and total disappearance of certain acts. Take The Cutthroats for example — their Guru-guesting track Stop Lookin’ At Me was on the Menace II Society soundtrack album before they just fell of the face of the earth more than Tyrin Turner ever did. the piano heavy production and “Mr. Potato Head I made you” refrain stuck with me, even though it followed the wave of a post-Onyx style termed “grimee” that included the raspy stylings of the forgotten Hoodratz, who put an album out in 1993. I looked for more from the group for years until I gave up hope. One of the members had the excellent moniker of “Sexy 17” and I noticed that he’d been given an RIP in the liner notes of a Gang Starr release several years later.
I only just found this comprehensive little history on them that a former member seems to have upped five years ago. It transpired that the Cutthroats signed to Jive mid-way through 1993, then suffered a RA the Rugged Man style limbo. An album called Neva Say Peace Say Beef was recorded, before they lost their deal and went to Sony/Columbia and called it Incite II Riot before being dropped again. Antonio “Sexy 17” Sealey killed himself in October 1998. These guys definitely weren’t alone in their struggle through the industry at the time, but three years without an actual single release to their name must have been exasperating. They even voice that frustration during this appearance on the Ron Alexander Show.
That was a mystery solved for me, but the other was the baffling inclusion of Mad Fright Night by Lo Down on the Kids soundtrack. With all the 20th anniversary attempts to annihilate a single speck of mystery behind the film, I assumed that someone might try to get in touch with group’s members to find out what such an underwhelming example of 1994’s musical output ever ended up on this CD. The only bigger mystery is why Folk Implosion’s Natural One, which was brief crossover hit with Casper, Jenny and company on its single cover was never in the actual film (even though this interview with Lou Barlow tells us a great deal more about the soundtrack process). If you think about Kids, the Fat Beats tape playing in the film springs to mid, with the horns and rolling bassline of Wrong Side of Da Tracks, Jeru’s Da Bichez and the Crooklyn Dodgers. Then there’s A Tribe Called Quest’s memorable Oh My God.
Lo Down’s track makes an appearance onscreen, but it’s mediocre at best and definitely doesn’t deserve to sit next to Sebadoh, Slint and Daniel Johnston. Baffling. Then Unkut mentioned a copycat controversy in this post. While the Wu bite might have been sanctioned (as discussed here), the theft of a Tame One Stretch and Bobbito freestyle for Lo Down’s Mask of the Phantom is unforgivable enough that it supposedly ended their career before it ever began after they daringly/stupidly revisited the scene of the crime by sending their demo to…Stretch and Bobbito. The most galling part of that lyrical heist is that Tame is one half of the Artifacts, are the ones who deserved Lo Down’s slot on the Kids soundtrack — another theft. While now know the sad story of the Cutthroats, Lo Down’s current status is a mystery to me. I’m assuming that YouTube user smokepiff’s claim that.“1 is dead and 1 works at a supermarket in hoboken” is a joke.