Thursday, 8 January 2009

Enjoy Records 1979-1981

Run by owner Bobby Robinson from his Harlem based record store since 1962, Enjoy was one of the first labels to follow up the success of "Rapper's Delight" by releasing many of the earliest rap records.

Enjoy #6000 featured the North Bronx rap crew Funky Four Plus One More (Keith Keith, KK Rockwell, Lil' Rodney C, Jazzy Jeff and female rapper Sha-Rock). The crew were also known as Bros. Disco - running a well-respected sound system named the Mighty Mighty Sasquatch fronted by DJ Breakout and DJ Baron.

It's a well known fact that the Sugar Hill Gang were hastily put together specifically by Sylvia Robinson to record "Rapper's Delight" - they were not an established rap crew. "Rappin' and Rocking The House" along with The Younger Generation's "We Rap More Mellow" is therefore one of rap's first authentic releases by a rap crew out in the field - running through routines they had performed on the Bronx block party scene.

Drummer Pumpkin and Friends provided a typically funky backing track that ran for more than 16 minutes on the A-side.

Errol "Pumpkin" Bedward - "King of the Beats"

Enjoy #6001 saw the second appearance of The Younger Generation on vinyl - this time under their regular name Furious Five, alongside their legendary Bronx DJ Grandmaster Flash. The uncredited Enjoy house band lay down another lengthy backing track - with the rhythm guitar playing the bass-lick from B-Boy classic "Seven Minutes Of Funk" - no doubt a Grandmaster Flash favourite. The Furious Five - Cowboy, Mr. Ness, Rahiem, Kid Creole and Melle Mel - go through their quick-fire routines and make this one of early rap's most solid releases.

Enjoy ER-6002 was the label's first release of 1980. A double-A sided release "New Rap Language" b/w "Love Rap", it featured both early rap pioneer Spoonie Gee - nephew of label owner Bobby Robinson - and the rap crew Treacherous Three (Special K, LA Sunshine and Kool Moe Dee). Again, this release has gone down as one of early rap's most solid examples - especially the "speed-rapping" style displayed on "New Rap Language" which took rap skills too a new level and elevated the importance of "flow". 

Pumpkin & Friends are once again credited, along with conga player Pooche Costello. The Spoonie Gee showcase "Love Rap" backed primarily by drums and percussion alone.

There is a gap in the catalog until Enjoy ER-6006, "Do You Like That Funky Beat", by Kool Kyle The Starchild. Also credited are female backing vocalists the Disco Dolls and Ronnie Ron & Crew - presumably the backing musicians. This release has a significantly bigger, more sophisticated production sound - less 'raw' than the previous Enjoy releases, including the female sung chorus chant and disco syn-drums. The rapper Kool Kyle Brinson was originally part of an expanded Furious Seven with Grandmaster Flash and later released tracks on Frills and Profile Records.

Enjoy ER-6007 saw the return of The Treacherous Three with another purist rap track - this time Pumpkin credited alongside Damond and Jeff, laying down a slower slice of funk for their tight routines. 

Enjoy ER-6008, possibly cut at the same session features an identical line up - this time augmented by female party effects and a lead synth line hinting at the opening melody of B-Boy classic "Daisy Lady" by 7th Wonder.

ER-6009 and ER-6011 were 7 inch and 12 inch alternative edits of the Furious Five's "Superrappin'", possibly released after the outfit had moved to Sylvia Robinson's Sugar Hill label. Sandwiched in between was ER-6010 "Move To The Groove" by The Disco Four - Mr Troy, Country, Kool Gee and Ronnie D plus Harmony - another solid group rap backed with a funky rhythm track and party effects.

ER-6012 was Enjoy's first release of 1981 - a decent release with an original backing track, licensed by Virgin for the UK Rap Tracks compilation.

ER-6013 was a rap version of the Taana Gardner hit on West End Records "Heartbeat" - which used a cover version with party effects as its backing track. "Heartbeat" is acknowledged in the intro and Kenton Nix - it's original writer - is label credited.

ER-6014 was Kool Kyle's follow-up to "Do You Like That Funky Beat". Pumpkin & Friends cook-up a backing groove based loosely on "Is It In" by Jimmy Bo Horne.

ER-6015 & 6016 were 7 edits of earlier releases. ER-6017 and ER-6018 were both licensed by Virgin UK for the Rap Tracks compilation - solid releases by Disco Four and The Treacherous Three. "Do It, Do It" featured great brass hooks and quick-fire rap routines. "Put Your Boogie In Your Body" is a rap over a fierce slice of boogie with a keyboard bass-line and horn line echoing Parliament's P. Funk classic "Flash Light".

These were the final rap releases of 1981 from the Enjoy label before they expanded into more R&B material and entered the electro era which I will cover later.

1 comment:

Francis said...

This is a great blog, particularly the Disco top 150, ECM and this Enjoy Records post. All good stuff F