Perhaps The Cold Crush felt the need to reconnect with the hardcore B-Boys and Girls after their previous crossover attempt with the “Punk Rock Rap”. Or maybe they just realized they had never really flexed their full lyrical ability on record yet. Whatever the inspiration, when they returned in ’84, they came out blazing with “Fresh, Wild, Fly and Bold”. Everything about this song is excellent. The drum machine programming is top notch, using a variety of subtle switch-ups in the snares that add character thru out. There’s also some light keyboard work for effect, but the primary musical aid to the drum machine is the sharp and rigid cuts of Charlie Chase and Tony Tone. I don’t feel like I’ve ever heard this discussed anywhere, but the cuts on here are pretty impressive and stylish for the time. They are diligently used in a very musical sense and have a lot of personality, at times it’s almost as if certain scratch phrasing is actually speaking words to you. In fact, the B-side is a scratch version of the song that is subtitled, “Cold Crush It’s Us” and it allows the DJs to introduce some additional sounds and flex skills for an extended period with the inclusion of some heavy echo. However, besides the opening cuts of “Cold Crush…” this version doesn’t really display the cutting skills as well as they are utilized on the actual A-side track. There’s also a touch of vocals sprinkled in this B-Side version that sound like someone gargling water while talking thru a vocoder…whatever that means.
However, the A-side makes very effective usage of vocals. Once again, The Cold Crush Brothers bring forth a creative concept. Each MC is given an adjective that represents their personality; Grandmaster Caz is Fresh, JDL Is Wild, Supreme Easy AD is Fly, and Almighty KG is Bold. In the opening of the 2nd verse when they claim their titles they each make compelling cases for their adjective of choice, but none better than Almighty KG, “I’m BOLD (‘What gives you that impression K!’)/Because I don’t care what nobody say/(‘How Bold?’), so bold I’ll smack a man with his gun/I’ll kiss his woman, diss his mother, and don’t even run!” When I heard that I was like “WHAT??!!??” It took the art of braggadocio to a whole ‘nother level.
For the next couple verses the crew does what they are best known for and showcase their ability to effectively rock in unison and leave your brain lost trying to keep up with who actually has the mic at any given second. Then towards the end, the MCs get to engage in a solo assault and it’s here where Grandmaster Caz reminds us all why he is considered one of the all-time best. It’s one of his finest moments on wax and that can be attributed to the personal and real nature of the subject matter. For those of you not doing your Hip Hop homework, Grandmaster Caz is the un-credited and uncompensated writer for many of the most memorable moments from Sugarhill Gang’s “Rappers Delight”…the song that first helped the sound of Hip Hop ripple far beyond the New York Tri-State area. This came un-courteously via Big Bank Hank, who was a previous manager to the Cold Crush turned Grandmaster Caz rhyme borrower* turned Rap Star, who apparently never reached back to even say thank you, much less anything else…or so the story goes. I’ve never seen a interview that gives the Big Bank Hank side of the story, but Caz briefly touches on his thoughts about it for the first time on record, “So many biting MCs, you’re are all a pain in my neck/They should be sending me your royalty check/ You just bit my rhyme, didn’t pay no tax/Copied the music from someone else, put it on wax/I’m mad as hell cause it’s bound to sell/And you keep biting what I’m writing and people can’t tell/You changed it around, disguised the sound/With no prior desire to write, that’s why I frown/On those of you that don’t try to/Be original and write like the Captain do/Put your teeth away and try some day/And you can quote it cause I wrote only yesterday!”
There’s a few great things touched on in that quick verse. Of course, there’s the somewhat subtle reference to Big Bank Hank thing. Then he also gives a little bit of game on the business, before then I don’t recall anyone rhyming about Royalty Checks. I think I had to research what it meant. He also throws in a bit of a cheapshot with the “stole the music from someone else” line, referencing Sugarhill Gang’s blatant usage of Chic. Although, Rap records recreating the popular Disco, Rock, or Pop records of the time was fairly standard, but it sounds great here anyway and I suppose the Cold Crush had been good about using pretty original music on their records. An argument can be made that may part of what held them back from having hits, the lack of familiarity that people were being programmed to listen for. Anyway, Caz is also doing a few things stylistically worth pointing out. There are a couple spots where he is speeding up the lines at key places to push the words out, which has a nice effect. Beyond that, his placement of certain rhyme schemes really grab your attention, particularly the connecting of the “Prior desire…” and how he ends it with a fairly early and solid use of a multi-syllabic rhyme with his “Quote It…Wrote It…” piece. Essentially, Grandmaster Caz maximized that short verse by unveiling a well-rounded arsenal of skills.
The last official Cold Crush record of the 80s was “Heartbreakers” and I really never liked this song. I always thought it was a bit silly, even moreso than “Punk Rock Rap”, far as I’m concerned**. The concept is fairly obvious from the song title. iIt’s about how they are breaking the ladies hearts with their playboy tactics. I pretty much avoided this song, so much that it was probably a decade later before I heard the B-Side, “Heartbreakers Party”, which actually starts out as a freestyle rhyme type joint before approximately half-way thru going into the playboy rhymes of the A-Side. However, the beat also isn’t very interesting and the rhymes are nowhere nearly as potent as “Fresh, Wild, Fly and Bold”. In fact they don’t really capture any of their strengths on this record. The most powerful line of the record is an unfortunate one, as Supreme Easy AD rhymes, “I’m as wise an owl, as free as a slave/Been rapping 8 years and still haven’t got paid…” He drops a few other jewels in there and I would say he has the mot notable performance on the 12”.
The only other officially releases from the whole crew, in this time period, are their contributions to the Wildstyle Movie and Soundtrack. Of course, their hard-hitting “Basketball Throwdown” acapella scene with The Fantastic Freaks is a classic part in the movie. Their other Wild Style track is actually a live performance styled joint, “Cold Crush Bros At The Dixie” which displays the party rocking skills they are most famous for.The Cold Crush Brothers "At The Dixie" (from Wild Style):
Honestly, the finest lyrical representation from the Cold Crush in Wildstyle came from the Grandmaster Caz solo offerings of “Subway Rap” and “Yvette”. These eventually grew into a decent sized catalog of solo releases by Grandmaster Caz, who certain deserves his own solo profile, which I’ll write sometime soon.
Also, in ’88 an album called “Troopers” saw a limited release and is often credited as Cold Crush, but it’s project with just Almighty KG and Tony Crush a.k.a Tony Tone and it has a few solid cuts on it.
When we look back on the history of The Cold Crush Brothers I believe we need to diversify the story in order to get the full picture. Make no mistake, their live show and ability to rock a crowd is the root of their legacy, but it doesn’t stop there. We should recognize them as early pioneers of song concepts, as well as a group who made some solid records that mostly never got the proper attention they deserved. In fact, I think the lack of support and success of their records may have been too much of a deciding factor in the songs they chose to record. Clearly their strength was in telling stories (a la “Weekend Rap”, “Yvette”, etc…) and Braggadocio (a la “Fresh, Wild, Fly and Bold” and many of their live routines), but they had limited records that allowed them to showcase this. In the end, these additional details may not do much to elevate The Cold Crush’s position in the game, as it is already should be held in the highest regard, but I think it does assist in helping understand why they should be praised in such a way.
*Big Bank Hank the rhyme borrower: If you are looking for evidence of this in “Rappers Delight” then look no further than his use of the line, “The Casanova legend must have been true”…Caz is short for Casanova, he didn’t even bother to change the name…
**It’s worth mentioning out that I have generally always felt this way about most songs that focus on being a player, womanizer, etc… Now I can say it’s because of my respect for woman, but then I can’t really make that same argument. I considered myself a player myself in certain sense, I just didn’t care to hear people rhyming about it. If I was going to buy a record that’s not what I wanted to hear, instead show me some skills. That doesn’t apply to everyone. Some artists make great records with that as the subject matter, such as Spoonie Gee, Trickeration, Rakim, Whodini, and maybe a few others…