Thursday, December 07, 2006


Just-Ice - Cold Gettin' Dumb
Just-Ice - Cold Gettin' Dumb II

Kurtis Mantronik owned mid-80s hip hop. His production skills were so far ahead of the pack, the pack must have felt like slipping cyanide in his morning cuppa. During a period where hip hop was reinventing itself daily, Mantronik was the one really pushing the sonic envelope. In fact, he put the sonic envelope on a rocket and sent it to the moon. Nobody could touch him. I have already enthused about him on the piece I wrote about T La Rock not so long ago, but then I unearthed this gem of a 12” from 1987 and here I am singing his praises all over again.

‘Cold Gettin’ Dumb’ was the stand-out track on Brooklyn MC Just-Ice’s debut album, ‘Back to the Old School’, released on Fresh Records in 1986. A scorching Mantronik production, featuring the editing prowess of the late, great Chep Nunez and a dazzling array of beats, stabs and offbeat cowbells that formed the basis for the original gangster of hip hop to rasp the verses through his gobful of gold-teeth. I love the way they add mangled vocal effects to some of the last words Just spits – it’s always in the details… Apparently, Just-Ice didn’t like the production on ‘Cold Gettin’ Dumb’. He, like many, felt that Mantronik was more into his own sound than promoting the vocalist, but others argued that this gave the record a live, party atmosphere, where the MC would always come second to the music.

For the follow-up, ‘Cold Gettin’ Dumb II’ released along with the original as a 12” in 1987, the production was stripped back, with near-on six solid minutes of relentless and intelligent rhyming at the forefront of the track. It’s not hugely different to the original, but you can hear how Mantronik has sharpened it all up so it cuts like a knife. This isn’t supposed to be a history lesson, but where would music be without Kurtis Mantronik? Those alien sounding R&B and hip hop productions with sparse beats and minimal synths favoured by Pharrell and Timbaland all come directly from this source. You haven't heard the last from Kurtis Khaleel on this blog…

Buy Just-Ice 'Back to the Old School' from Boomkat
Buy Mantronix from Amazon
Kurtis Mantronik fansite
Kurtis Mantronik discography
Just-Ice discography
Kurtis Mantronik at Wikipedia
Just-Ice at Wikipedia