Posts Tagged ‘positive k’

Positive K “Shakin'”

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Stream: Positive K “Shakin'”

Few rappers are as memorable or convincing as the god Positive K at his peak. Although he rarely incorporates the 120 Lessons directly into his lyrics, his persona is that of a particular strain of five percenter —the suave, dapper mack exemplified by his friend Big Daddy Kane— that coexisted alongside the militant vanguard and afro-centric bohemian types. Positive K is like the anti-Lakim Shabazz: all charismatic, flashy Brooklyn street kid, all of the time. I imagine that his lyrics are partly inspired by the stories the older gods trade about NGE founder Clarence 13x’s fondly remembered penchant for vices like gambling. His idea of show and prove is to ensure that his swagger is the center of all attention, and he never slips.

His friendship with fellow conflicted debonair godbody Grand Puba ((Manifested in likable, arrogant splendor on their collaboration “Grand Puba, Positive, and L.G.” from the Brand Nubian debut One For All.)) —with whom he shares a fascination with the ribald storytelling and conceited posturing of Slick Rick— also informs his showy, witty approach. “Shakin'” ((From Positive K’s only full-length release, Da Skills Dat Pay Da Billz)) sounds as if it was penned by a wisecracking  too-cool-for-school student of early 80s style masters like Spoonie Gee and T La Rock who was also addicted to Warner Brothers animated shorts. It  is a song that is essentially about nothing that manages to be quite eventful; even if you walk away from the song without remembering a single line, you’ll be humming one of Positive K’s flows. He gets busy like that.

In recent years, bloggers and critics have expressed disdain for whimsical “golden era” or “throwback” rap styles, suggesting that rappers whose verses include lines that are not directly related to the hook are at worst, frivolous, at best quaintly corny. ((Exceptions are generally made for any rapper under 30 residing below the Mason-Dixon line. I haven’t figured that part of it out yet.)) I cannot for the life of me imagine this genre without those verses whose lyrics jump from topic to topic and image to image, while the emcee switches up his delivery to add to the inspired madness. I want more rappers to do the equivalent of breaking out into a Kool G Rap impression mid-verse; where exactly is the joy in rap that sticks to scripts as a matter of principle? — Thun

Positive K – A Good Combination (Kan Kick Remix) 1995

Monday, September 14th, 2009


I first heard this version on a random remix compilation that was posted on WYDU in ’07. I had the song in constant rotation but I never knew where it was from and when it was made. Since I knew that it wasn’t on Positive K’s first album The Skills Dat Pay Da Bills“, I though to myself, could he had released it on 12”.. maybe in ’95? I tried to do some research but nothing came out. A couple months after that, a Positive K compilation Back to the Old School” was released on CD. I immediately saw “A Good Combination” on the tracklist. Once I got my hands on the CD, I immediately skipped to the track, and guess what? It wasn’t the same version that I knew. I was really dissapointed even though I had just heard the original ’89 version. So after that, I though that it was probably just a homegrown remix. Finally, a couple weeks ago, I found that “remix” version on youtube labeled as the Kan Kick Remix. It was from Side B of DJ Babu’s Comprehension Mixtape from 1995. I immediately went to download it and when i heard it, all that searching was finally over. I cut the part from Side B and labeled it as a single mp3. It was in a way better quality than the one I had way back.. I can’t even listen to the original when I hear this remix. The original seems too plain compared to the Kan Kick version.


— Thomas V

Repartee: Apache, De La Soul, Positive K, Viktor Vaughn

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Positive K ft. MC Lyte “I’m Not Havin’ It”
De La Soul “Bitties In The BK Lounge”
Apache ft. Nikki D “Who Freaked Who?”
Viktor Vaughn ft. Apani “Let Me Watch”
It is a rare occurrence when a “battle-of-the-sexes” back and forth dialogue is acted out in a rap song. I wish it happened more frequently. In spite of the anti-rap fervor that such songs have the potential to generate they are oftentimes quite engrossing. Surface skimming listeners who vigilantly and strategically denounce any rap song that leans in the direction of misogyny may balk at some of the lyrics contained in today’s selection. The fact remains that three of the songs features female emcees who are widely praised for their skills, and all of today’s selections contain moments in which male bragodocio is effectively foiled.
This is not to suggest that the existence of these songs somehow cancels out the genre’s sexism. Or that all of these rhyming exchanges are models of equitable exchange. Or that the intrinsic entertainment value of these selections invalidates attempts to scrutinize the function and position of the female voice and perspective. On the contrary, these songs have the potential to spark constructive debates about these issues. Even within this small sample the male-female repartee is approached in several different ways with decidedly different outcomes and implications. All I’m saying is that these tracks are a welcome relief from the endless parade of songs that unilaterally bash women, or even the songs that feature a counter-argument ventriloquized by a man (think Slick Rick “Mona Lisa”).
MC Lyte rebuffs Positive K‘s playalistic advances so calmly that “I’m Not Havin’ It” could almost be confused for an emcee battle between the two. I stress “almost” because the song is quite revealing for a contest of wits that reenacts the kind of humorously belligerent exchange one might see in Brooklyn at any given moment. The normally self-possessed MC Lyte sneaks shows brief signs of insecurities developed during past failed relationships. Positive K’s pimp profile appears little more than a psychological defense mechanism against society’s marginalization of the broke and bummy. There’s no clear winner here, except for the listener, as Lyte and Positive are two of the most charismatic rappers in history.
Apache‘s probably unintentional self-effacement on the much bawdier and even more combative “Who Freaked Who” is somehow less compelling. The song is still a gem, if only for the train-wreck scenario of witnessing a highly mediocre, infamously chauvinistic rapper put up the fight of his life against the wittier Nikki D. The banter here approaches comedic genius, and Nikki is noticeably more comfortable in this mode than her “Daddy’s Little Girl” routine. I’ll leave you the listener to decide exactly who freaked who, but it’s not looking good for the genius behind “Gangsta Bitch.”
The first half of “Bitties In the BK Lounge” is typically sardonic De La commentary on the pettiness of celebrity worship (a female cashier changes her attitude from surly to sunny when Trugoy removes his hat and reveals his trademark dreads) but the ensuing war of words in the second half is downright hilarious. After a complete beat flip, we have Posdnous as a Burger King cashier forced to spar with a sassy customer unimpressed by his lowly station. If the entire song is taken as male versus female verbal scrimmage, Maseo’s outro ad-libs secure the last word for the fellas, but this is more than likely a draw.
“Let Me Watch” is probably the most sophisticated — and perverse — of today’s offerings. In cinematic fashion, the listener is granted omniscient access to exchanges between MF Doom‘s alter ego and his lust interest voiced by Apani, as well as their interior monologues. The mounting conflict of interest culminates in a cleverly inconclusive and slightly disturbing ending. The wannabe Lothario gets dissed for sure, but if the narrative’s punchline is a stand-in for an all-encompassing self-deprecating boast (plausible given Doom’s penchant for such multiple entendre). Those seeking a satisfying resolution to rap’s gender wars will remain unfulfilled for now, but at least they have some great tunes to bump in the meantime.

— Thun

Positively K (with refreshed link)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Props to DJ Dee-Ville from Ain’t It Good To You for this gem.

Born in the Bronx; Positive-K’s first national release came in 1986 with ‘Gettin’ Paid’; a compilation only track for New Jersery label Star Maker. The following year Pos signed to the excellent New York label First Priority. As First Priority was owned by MC Lyte and Audio Two’s father Nat Robinson, Pos’s career was under-developed and slightly overshadowed by his sibling label mates. He still managed to drop one of my all time favorite songs ‘Step Up Front’. Even now, I remember buying the 12″ from a tiny local indie store. Everything about that record is ill, the Grand Puba beat, the sirens, the flows, the Alliance Remix with different lyrics! I also loved the First Priority logo; the red and yellow always seemed so fresh to me…

Life after First Priority led Pos first to a Big Daddy Kane produced venture for his own Creative Control label, then to Island Records in 1992 for an album and a gold single in the form of ‘I Gotta Man’. It bugs me that in some mainstream quarters Pos is remembered as a one hit pop wonder, when to me that was the second chapter of his career.
The third chapter continued down the independent route until 2002 when the world of the Gentleman, the Rapper became very quiet. In 2006 Nas allowed him a few bars on the nostalgic ‘Where Are They Now’ track; and for 2008 the album ‘Positive-K – Back To The Old School’ got it’s release a couple of months ago. I shit my pants at the news of unheard Pos material. I even thought maybe some genius has compiled all my favorite cuts together. Sadly the album didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It’s worthy of a listen but it isn’t the ‘Step Up Front’ album.

So I felt compelled to do this. It was time that song was part of a solid album. I looked at everything Pos related from the First Priority years and saw a classic Golden Era album staring at me. I collected the tracks, added some bonus’ and for fun put the First Priority logo on the cover. Shit turned out dope. I have been jammin’ this non stop since I mixed and mastered it. Could you imagine the classic status an album like this would have acheived if it had actually dropped in 1988? – DJ Dee-Ville