Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Embarrassing records I used to own: The Surf MC's


It's true. I used to own a record by the California-based (one assumes), surf-themed, rap-rock, Beastie Boys rip-off group, the Surf MCs. It was 1987 ('88?), an innocent, cassette-oriented, listen-to-anything-as-if-it-was-the-greatest-thing-ever kinda time. My friends and I would raid the cutout cassette bin at Glendean Drugs (home of the surly cashier lady with the fully-formed mustache) for records and came up with a number of gems, including, but not limited to, The Smiths' Meat is Murder, The Ramones' Too Tough To Die, The Dead Milkmen's Eat Your Paisley, DK's Plastic Surgery Disasters, any number of Violent Femmes records, and more. All of these are pretty cool records that should not obscure the fact that I was also way into Madonna, George Michael, and Miami Sound Machine. Still am.

Anyway, with the wheat comes the chaff, and the Surf MCs is as chaff-y as it gets. I fancied myself quite the skater at the time (even though I never successfully performed even the most meager of ollies), so the word "surf" really drew me to the tape as did the "MCs" designation. On the cover, there were four totally awesome guys on the cover doing totally awesome, California-ish sorta things, and the title "Surf or Die" meshed well with my newly adopted "Skate or Die" mantra (soon to be abandoned for "Clapton is God"). I picked it up for a few bucks. The fact that this thing was already in the cut-out bins (within a year of release) for such a cheap price should have been a tip-off.

It was heinous. Even I, then at most my juvenile, was insulted by this record, though I do remember laughing at a line that said something like "the monster in my pants stood up like a sword." Yeesh. I tried and tried and tried to like it, but it was the worst, most pandering, tritest piece of garbage I had heard in forever, and probably the first record I ever bought that I actively disliked. White boy (there was a black guy in the band, but I bet he didn't wanna be there) hip-hop had only been around for a year or two and already it was taking a terrible wrong turn. Urban Dance Squad had nothing on this. For a sample of the lyrics, might I direct you to the titular track, "Surf or Die":

Oh, Surf!
Or die!
Surf!
Or die!
Surf!
Or die!
You've got to surf!
Or diiieee!
We were born in the year of our lord
With nothing on our backs but our funky surf boards
Miles at sea - that's where you'll find us
Hundred foot waves, not far behind us
Sharks on my right, sharks on my left
One false move, we knew it was death
Thats when we heard a terrifying cry
"Hug wood, homeboy - you better surf or die!"
Surf!
Or die!
Surf!
Or die!
Radical!
You've got to surf!
Or die!
Homeboy!
Surf or die!
Surf or die!
We surfed as Magellan; we surfed as Columbus
We surf around the world, and we don't need a compass
We have no beginning
We have no end
If you're reincarnated, you'll surf with us again!
Surf!
Forget the other shit
The other shit's bunk!
We want the beach town surf
We walk on the beach, in the sand
with our boards in our hand
And If you don't know by now
Then you'll never understand!
Surf!
Surf!
R-r-radical!
Surf!
Radical!
Surf or die!
Or die!
Or die!
Now on the beach, Californ-I-A
Where another surfers born every single day
Zuma Jay board, the one I use to surf
We put on our wheels when we're rollin' on the dirt
We roll through the streets, we roll through the valleys
We roll through the hills, and we roll through the alleys
Once on water, now on land
If it can be ridden than the funky surfers can!
Surf!
Surf!
Or die!
Radical!
Surf!
Homeboy!
Or die!
You've got to surf!
Or die!
Or die!
Surf!
Or die!
Radical!
Surf!
Or die!
Radical!
Surf!
Or die!
Radical!
You've got to surf!
Or die!
Or die!
Surf!
Or die!
Surf or die!
Radical!


Indeed.

I don't really know what happened to the tape. I probably taped some Lenny Kravitz or Zeppelin over it or something. I've been trying to track it down again to remind myself that even that Collective Soul record you bought and then blamed on a mysterious record-buying grandmother was light years better than this piece of putridity.

Anybody got any MP3s?

10 comments:

Joey said...

Sadly, you actually picked the best song on the album. Don't forget "Big Wednesday", "Gotta Get Air". And yes, I still own the LP...and I have since burned .mp3s of each track. It's actually entertaining in an ugly "kitsch" factor. For me though, cheeseball 'surf' music starts and ends with Malibu's SURF PUNKS - masters of (if I can call it this) genre.

Den said...

You say rap had been only around for a year or two? On which planet? Rap and Hip-Hop had been around for about ten years when that song was released.

BB said...

In response to Den, he said "White Boy Hip Hop," not Hip Hop in general LOL!

Tony said...

Man, what kills me is that I really used to love that album. I'd kill to get a new copy of it. "Movin' like a shark on my new concave..." Nothing better for a nerdy white kid about 13 years old living 300 miles from the wrong ocean...

intermadness said...

WELL SAID! for a 13 year old white kid in the suburbs, reared on hip-hop, metal and MTV, the Surf MCs seemed to evoke visions of rad California paradise.

i first got hip to them while watching Dr. Demento's Top 20 Video Countdown. i wonder where they are now... (cue "Behind The Music" intro theme)

not for nothing, but "Big Wednesday", "This Surf Is Live", and "Boomin' It" are hot tracks. i can still recite these tracks from memory.

don't know why, but i thought about them this morning on my way to work, and thus began my googling of them. i still have the tape. maybe i should rip it into mp3s for the hungry masses...

intermadness said...

HOLY SHIT. i just watched the video and remembered laughing at the irony (even back then) that they couldn't even FUCKING SKATE! it seemed like the long-haired Kerry King rip-off dude was the most talented skater and musician in this super group...

Anonymous said...

I still have the original cassette for them, along with the Surf Punks and Agent Orange. It IS the music that played when we grew up, now I'm trying to get my kids to listen to what it was like back then...for what it's worth, it is funny. I have all the Urban Dance Squad cassettes or CD's, and by the way, UDS was awesome live in concert. Agent Orange just played here in St. Pete/FL at a Pub...great show too. Long live the skate scene. Keep Rollin.

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Anonymous said...

I just came across a cassette I made from the LP many years ago... I was googling to see if there are any mp3 downloads out there. (Even though I bought the album, I am waaaay too cool to own a cassette player today.)

Anonymous said...

"Threw a little party and the beat was lower down, all the neighbors in my hood couldn't comprehend my sound!"

I was clearing out some old tapes and came across this forgotten cubic zirconia gem. This seemed like a quick grab from the studios after the success of Licensed to Ill.

Believe it or not, this album won't complete your Surf MC library. You'll need to pick up Christmas Rap, with the song "A Surf M.C. New Year" to do that.

8/2014