Original Format: CD
As usually happens, as soon as I finished the original Gangsters & Pranksters, I started coming across more songs that fit the theme. A sequel was inevitable, and finally materialized in 2004 in the form of two jam-packed CDs.
When I switched from cassettes to CDs I continued my policy of using every bit of available bandwidth — which makes sound economic sense. But it is obvious now that 80 minutes of music at a time is just too much. So I am dividing the two discs of G&PII into four installments of ~40 minutes each, which is a little more reasonable.
Having decided that the first edition was light on hip-hop, I leaned into the gangsta rap on this one. Maybe a little too much; the n-word appears on it much more than on anything else I’ve ever made, and the b-word too, for that matter. But that’s what can happen when you keep it real.
Gangsters & Pranksters Pavement
Malkmus comes down pretty strongly on the side of the gangsters, who are favored to take the donnybrook despite being outnumbered 11-to-1. Which leads me to wonder, was Neal Cassady one of the Pranksters? Cause I feel like that would tip the scales a bit.
Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta Geto Boys
I got excited when I saw that a country artist named Carter Falco did a version of this, as I have been scouting tracks for Gangsters & Pranksters III. But I don’t know; it’s OK I guess.
Keep It Real… Represent Kool Keith
I think that season 2 of Chappelle’s Show came out right after I finished this mix, or I surely would have found a way to include a clip from this:
Down for Whatever Ice Cube
Remind me, where do we stand on Ice Cube these days? Did he get cancelled for something related to the ex-president? Actually I don’t know that I care that much. It’s not like he was that nice a guy to begin with. Still funky tho.
Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy Ice-T
Another missed opportunity:
Macula’s Theory Prince Paul & Big Daddy Kane
“Leave it to Prince Paul, long one of hip-hop’s most imaginative producers, to assemble the first successful rap opera in A Prince Among Thieves. Not only does it maintain a coherent story line via skits that actually aren’t filler, it manages to stay musically compelling and focused throughout. And that’s no mean feat, considering the array of guest stars and the huge range of styles Prince Paul employs for their characters’ supporting tracks. Perhaps the most daring aspect of the record is that it frames the story as fiction, with no pretense of the realism (or illusion thereof) that hardcore prides itself on. The story concerns a young rapper named Tariq (played by the Juggaknots’ Breeze), who needs $1000 to complete a demo tape for a pending record deal. For quick cash, he turns to his friend True (Sha), once his mentor in the rap game but now a drug dealer who secretly resents Tariq’s good fortune. As True immerses Tariq in the underworld, a tragedy of cinematic proportions unfolds. The star-studded cast features Kool Keith as a weapons dealer, Big Daddy Kane as a pimp, Chubb Rock as a gang kingpin, Chris Rock and De La Soul as crack addicts, Everlast as a crooked cop, and Sadat X and Xzibit as prison inmates.” —Steve Huey, Allmusic
Rip Rip David Holmes w/Don Cheadle and Steve Zahn
“For Steven Soderbergh, Out of Sight is a paradox. It’s his best film since sex, lies, and videotape a decade ago, and yet at the same time it’s not what we think of as a Soderbergh film — detached, cold, analytical. It is instead the first film to build on the enormously influential Pulp Fiction instead of simply mimicking it. It has the games with time, the low-life dialogue, the absurd violent situations, but it also has its own texture. It plays like a string quartet written with words instead of music, performed by sleazeballs instead of musicians.” —Roger Ebert, June 1998
Al Capone Prince Buster
“Alphonse Gabriel Capone (January 17, 1899 – January 25, 1947), sometimes known by the nickname ‘Scarface,’ was an American gangster and businessman who attained notoriety during the Prohibition era as the co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit…. Cecil Bustamente Campbell OD (24 May 1938 – 8 September 2016), known professionally as Prince Buster, was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and producer. The records he released in the 1960s influenced and shaped the course of Jamaican contemporary music and created a legacy of work that would be drawn upon later by reggae and ska artists.” —Wikipedia
Gangsters The Specials
“This song is about a tour in France where The Specials were held responsible for damage in a hotel that another English band caused. The hotel manager even took one of their guitars as a deposit. The Specials had to pay the damage, and the situation escalated when the French police came around…. The band changed the original opening in their version from ‘Al Capone’s guns don’t argue’ to ‘Bernie Rhodes knows don’t argue’ as a stab at their former manager [also the once and future Clash manager], and at seedy manager types in general.” —Songfacts.com
I’ve Committed Murder Macy Gray
Did you know that there was a remix of this song by Gang Starr with Mos Def guesting? Me neither, till five minutes ago. A footnote at best, but fun anyway.
Somebody Got Murdered The Clash
“We got a phone call from Jack Nitzsche and he said ‘We need a heavy rock number for this movie with Al Pacino’ so I said OK. I went home and there was this guy in a pool of blood out by the car parking kiosk. That night I wrote the lyric. I gave it to Mick and he wrote the tune. We recorded it and Jack Nitzsche never called back.” —Joe Strummer
No Thugs in Our House XTC
According to Andy Partridge, the judge in this song was a reference to “Richard Branson’s dad! His father was an extremely high-powered judge, and got his son off of a very serious charge. The young Richard Branson, in the very early days of Virgin Records, had a scam where he was claiming that records were for export to Europe and getting them marked up as such. Then the lorry, instead of driving onto the boat at Dover, would turn around and come back to London, and they’d sell these discs that didn’t have tax on them, in their shop and by mail order. Branson would pocket the tax. This was an offense that could have led to jail time for him, but his father, who was a judge — and who knew exactly what the job of judging’s all about! — stepped in and sort of, [posh voice] ‘Well, now — look here.’ So he got off, completely scot-free! So, that’s a cameo in the song.”