Sunday, June 3, 2007

Frankie Smith - Children of Tomorrow

Frankie Smith's debut album
Children of Tomorrow

If we’re to believe Wikipedia, Frankie Smith is now a delivery truck driver[1]. Seriously. That might not mean a lot to you, unless you live in Philly and the dude gets stuck in traffic, but to me…okay, not to me…but to some, that’s a damn shame. Alright, maybe it’s not really that surprising of a career development. I mean, the guy turned out one big sellin’ hit[2], a one hit wonder that’s now relegated to nostalgic novelty mixes and the odd request fill on those rhythmic top 40 stations that like to dig through the vault every now and again[3]. But, to a certain segment of 21st century hip-hop culture, "Double Dutch Bus" was a little bit more than a forgotten smash.

One wonders what Frankie was thinking when whitey finally caught on to Snoop’s –izzlin’ and it entered the cliché hall o’ fame[4]. See, back in ’81, after cutting out a nice musical legacy by penning some tracks for The O’Jays[5] and The Spinners[6], Frankie asked some neighborhood kids to lay down some of their ca-razy slang on his new track and, thus, “double dutch” became “dizz-ouble dizz-utch.” Sound familiar? It should since Timbaland took such a liking to it that he sampled the song on Snoop’s “Snoop Dogg (What's My Name, Pt. 2)” and Missy’s standout “Gossip Folks.” So, there you go. And now the guy is driving trucks. C’est la vie my ass, that’s just bullshit.

Unfortunately, unlike a lot of one hit wonders, the tales surrounding the construction of the song are about as dull as Howie Mandel’s sex life[7]. As AMG’s Ed Hogan writes[8]:

Under the pseudonym Franklin Franklin, Smith recorded a 19(8)1 Paramount single, Double Dutch, based on the children's jump-rope game. With session time left over from a recording session for Fat Larry's Band, Smith had Fat Larry record a drum track. (Bill) Bloom took a copy of the track home and came up with a keyboard part. Two weeks later, a bass part was added to the drum and keyboard tracks. Earlier, to make ends meet, Smith had applied for a bus driving job with the city, but was never hired. Still smarting from the experience, Smith recorded an expletive-laced improvised rap about a "double dutch bus." The engineers laughed and told Smith that they couldn't use that and Smith re-recorded a cuss-free version of the rap. He kept in mind the huge crossover success of Kurtis Blow, who had a million-selling single with The Breaks… Smith recorded the rap at about two o'clock in the morning, giving the vocal a groggy, froggy flavor. The track became extremely long, with co-writers/co-producers Smith and Bloom having singer BeverlyJohnson add some vocals. The two decided to split up the track, with "Double Dutch" featuring Johnson being the A-side of the single and Smith's version, titled "Double Dutch Bus," becoming the B-side. WMOT favored Smith's track more and instead made it the

*snnrk* Huh…what…oh. Right, can’t sleep, still blogging here. Jesus, like you euthanasia supporters needed Kevorkian out of jail. Just give a CBS watcher a glance of that and Son and Daughter no longer have to pay nursing home bills.

Anyway, the one thing that is interesting about "Double Dutch Bus" is that it's essentially about a trend that never really caught on with the public at large in ’81 (jumping rope), yet was still able to provide the groundwork for one of the most easily recognized hip-hop clichés of this century because of those charismatic youngsters. So, a song about jumping rope suddenly translates into modern hip-hop cred? Talk about a total "whaaaa?" moment.

But, hey, want your mind blown further? Instead of reaching mainstream appeal through a disgruntled bus driving applicant, it took a perpetually baked gangsta who almost got nailed with a murder charge to bring the iz to its popularity boom[9]. Somebody flash the "The More You Know..." animation, because that is amazing.

[2] Two million copies, according to some sources.
[3] 99.1 KGGI here. But, we desert folk are backwards people.
[4] Dude, my mom is aware of the izzle.
[5] Not “Back Stabbers.” Sorry.
[6] Not “The Rubberband Man.” Sorry.
[7] I can’t imagine the sex life of someone afflicted with OCD and mysophobia is balls out fucking crazy. Girl: Are you rubbing bleach on yourself? Howie: BACK OFF GERM SLUT!
[9] See: Murder Was the Case.

1 comment:

bean said...

Frankie should sue or get a roalty check. I wish someone would interview Frankie. Someone said he never got paid a dime for his hit. I would like to hear from Frankie if this is true or not.