Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Check Yer Demo

After three long years of patently waiting in silence for some type of sign, my beloved Beastie Boys appeared in a newspaper article one day. They finally had a new album on the go. I had waited from 1986 to 1989 for them to release their second and most triumphant album "Paul's Boutique" and now here I was repeating history. Another long three year gap. It amazes me how I had the love and patience to do such a thing. Since Paul's Boutique is what I consider my musical bible, it's comparable to die hard religious fanatics waiting around for the second coming of Christ I suppose. The wait had been well worth it for Paul's, so one could only imagine what the Boys would serve up after another three year hiatus.

Everyone, with the exception of the die hard fans, had turned their backs on the Boys after the success of their juvenile debut "Licensed To Ill" fizzled out. Sheepish people pegged them as one hit wonders and then closed the door on them. I can't even begin to count how many times in that three year span that I listened to Paul's, nor can I count how many times while listening, someone asked me what I was listening to, and the scenario always played out like such:

"What is that you are listening to?"
"The Beastie Boys"
"They're still around?"

People had no idea they were still a functioning group and still making music. Nobody cared. Paul's Boutique, in my opinion, is one of the greatest rap records ever made in the history of rap music, but sadly it was slept on by nearly everyone who considered themselves a fan of rap and hip hop. One could only wonder how the B-Boys were going to deliver on this new record. An answer was soon delivered in the form of a music video for their first new single called "Pass The Mic" As soon as it aired I was covered in goosebumps, it felt so good to see the boys again, and they were looking fly. At first I thought the song was decent, but the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me. To this very day I still get that feeling of excitement every time it hear this song. It's like a constant reminder of true love coming back into my life. The love of their music. I was totally stoked to see what else the Boys had cooked up for this new record. Unfortunately there was still another month to go before it hit the record stores. It was going to be a long month, or so I thought.

I'll never forget this. It was a Friday night. I had plans with the Brampton boys to goto Ci-Ci's for drinks. I was hanging out at my parents waiting to go out. The phone rang. It was Derek. "Hey do you mind if I stop by and see you quickly?" he asked, to which I responded "Sure"
I couldn't figure out why Derek wanted to come by my folks house. Whenever he was in Brampton, he spent all his time at his girlfriends until she went to bed. So needless to say I found it odd that he was coming by my parents at 8pm on a Friday evening.

Derek showed up at my door with a big smile on his face. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a blank cassette tape and handed it to me. I looked down at the hand written label on it and read "Beastie Boys - Check Yer Head" I absolutely freaked out. My reaction was easily comparable to a young child on Christmas morning finding exactly what he or she had asked Santa for sitting under their tree. We exchanged a few words and then D went on his way. Once again his good karma and connections had pulled through.

As soon as Jerry picked me up to goto the bar, I pulled the tape out with a wicked grin on my face. We popped it in the deck and headed on our way. We only got about 4 or 5 songs in by the time we got to the bar, but we were loving what we heard. After pounding a few back, I noticed a familiar face at the bar, it was George. I went over to say hello. We chatted for a bit, then headed out to Jerry's truck to burn a pipe of maryjane. I popped the tape in and Georgina instantly started grooving to it. I knew right then and there the Beasties had truly come up with something special. We were totally in the zone when all of the sudden a badge and flashlight pressed against the truck window. It was a Peel Regions finest. Thankfully we had already smoked what little weed I had, so the cops sent us on our way with a warning. We headed back into the bar and closed the night off, both of us constantly singing "Funky boss funky boss get off my back!"

For the next month straight, nothing but this tape was playing in my life. I listened, studied, and memorized the lyrics to each and every song. By the time the record was actually released in stores I had already played it countless times. It felt great to be ahead of everyone else, and regardless of the facts, I still went out and bought the record, on cd AND on double vinyl. The record cover was so simple. Just the three of them sitting on the curb, photographed in black and white. As I sat with Mike and Derek one day listening to the record I had a revelation. "Yo! We should rip this cover off for our demo!" Mike and Derek loved the idea. So much in fact that we instantly hit the streets looking for a suitable location that resembled the picture. We ended up settling with Ellen Mitchell recreation centre. A place we all went swimming throughout our childhood, and neighbour to the legendary MacKay Pizza.

We dressed as best we could to match the picture, we were on location, and we were ready to shoot, but there was one slight problem. We had nobody there to photograph us, a minor detail we overlooked. I quickly called Sanjai from the pay-phone since he lived around the corner. Sanj pulled up on his bmx less than five minutes later and the photoshoot was history. We went and got the film developed as quickly as we could, then we selected the best picture. From there we photocopied the picture so it would be rendered in black and white, since there was no such thing as Photoshop back in the days. Our demo now officially had a cover and we were ready to shop it around. We had the Beastie Boys to thank for that, as we were stuck on the cover concept idea.

It was a great choice on our part. Check Yer Head was blowing up the charts fast, and people instantly recognized our homage to the Boys when they first looked at our demo cover. Peoples faces would light up when we handed it to them, causing them to smile from ear to ear. One could only assume that this was going to help us get noticed that much more...

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