Kriss Kross’ll Make Ya…
Where’d wiki go? Oh, they’re showing solidarity with the pirate community. Ok. I’ll have to finish off my run through of the number #1 charting songs in that magickal world of 1990s Australia some other time.
Here’s something else though.
My stepmom Roland (fun fact: she used to bring home strange men from the logistics company where she worked until they fired her and one time one of those guys hit me so they brought in social services and I spent two weeks with a South African foster family in a nicer house and she got a $1600 fine and a suspended jail term for child endangerment and we never saw that guy again – I think he was a Maori or some kind of Islander) anyway, she posted this video (sans irony), “Lenin Is Always With You”:
Now then, the interesting thing is that there was and English language rnb cover of this titled “He is Always With You” by the duo called “College Football” which featured none other than Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes – later better known for her work in TLC and the car crash that killed her – and Sandy Denton who went on to be the “Pepa” in Salt N Pepa. College Football were involved with the rather notiorious neo-Maoist group the Revolutionary Communist Party, sometime putting music behind the recorded speeches of party guru Bob Arvakian before he went into hiding.
Their version was a straight-forward hagiographic hymn like the original, with a new verse about Mao (“red light dawns in the east, my peeps big up they ears, there be no more tears”) and, as one would expect, rather soporific praise of the revolutionary genius of that particular obscure Armenian. Understandably College Football enjoyed little success – in fact if anyone can name any successful Maoist pop group except Alabama 3, you will win 1000 internets – and Lopes and Denton also grew weary of the RCP, moving towards a more commercially palatable Garveyite position before parting company on amicable terms, despite certain rumors circulating some years later about Lopes’ role in a dispute over publishing rights between Denton and Deidra Roper – better known as DJ Spindarella.
Interestingly, a lengthy but almost instrumental version of that track did appear on the European 12″ of Salt N Pepa’s “I am Down” which was the last single before the new band’s break through hit “Push It”. The lyrics were largely inaudible though, heavily treated with a Robot Vochorder (and remember this is almost 25 years before the current hiphop/rnb obsession with autotuning) and buried deep in the mix. The song re-emerged in a very different form 6 years later as SnP’s smash hit, “Whatta Man”:
By now, all reference to political figures and the revolutionary lineage of the song was removed; Denzel Washington, Barry White, notorious Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and 7/11 convenience stores are the only recognizable cultural references. The “man who made a difference in my world” the “God-sent original” is no longer Lenin, Mao, or even Comrade Arvakian, but a conventional erotic male fantasy figure.
The lesson, though, is that there was nothing inevitable about the song’s progress from symbol of Marxist-Leninist personality cult to inoffensive positive rnb AOR radio mainstay, and – at best – the thinking person’s “Shoop”, as I believe reviewing the interesting history of the track with the advantage of revolutionary hindsight reveals.