Please excuse me for my language, but how FUCKING DOPE is this single right here? And how on earth is it possible that peeps are still sleeping on this? This single has CLASSIC written all over it and I definitely consider it to be one of the strongest singles of ‘94/‘95. Maybe the group and/or their record label should’ve picked this as the first single instead of “Summer In The City”, I don’t know, but the fact remains that this is one of those singles that every fan of good and honest hip-hop music should have in his/her collection.
The five original members of the Justice System hooked up in 1990 at Woodland High School in 1990 in Greenburgh, NY. Back then the group consisted of John “Jahbaz” Dawson (vocals and scratches), Tom “Folex” Foley (vocals and drums), Chris “Wizard C. Roc” Nordland (guitar) and the brothers Alex “Coz Boogie” (strings, piano, Rhodes piano, acoustic bass, bass) and Eric “Eric G.” Gopoian (drums). Alex “Mo’ Better Al” Auld (tenor saxophone, Rhodes piano, Hammond organ) and “Bim-E” (background vocals) joined the crew later on. They landed a deal with MCA Records and debuted in 1994 with “Summer In The City”, the lead single for the group’s criminally underrated “Rooftop Soundcheck” LP (get it get it it get!). Definitely a nice single, but it kinda turns pale in comparison to the single I’m reviewing today.
“Dedication To Bambaataa” dropped late ’94, early ’95. The promo with white labels and black lettering is dated 1994; the retail release with coloured MCA labels is dated 1995. In the end it doesn’t matter which version you get, because both versions offer the exact same tracklisting. Side A is dubbed the ‘Bronx Side’ and this isn’t without a reason. Not only did Justice System come from the Bronx, they hired a well-known producer from the BX to do a remix of “Dedication To Bambaataa”. If you heard the album you’ll probably agree with me that “Dedication To Bambaataa” was one of the key-cuts of the album. Production comes courtesy of Eddie Martinez with Coz Boogie on bass, Eric G on drums and Mo’ Betta Al on tenor sax and together they created the perfect soundscape for Jahbaz to kick his ‘dedication to Bambaataa’. Oh, and the vocal samples from BDP’s “South Bronx”, Tribe’s “Vibes And Stuff” and Funky 4+1’s “That’s The Joint” couldn’t have been picked much better in my opinion.
So the ‘LP Version’ is pretty much perfect already, right? Well yeah, but the ‘Reminisce Mix’ by Joseph Kirkland, better known as Diamond D, producer extraordinaire of the mighty Diggin’ in the Crates crew, is simply out of this world. For me, this is simply one of the best remixes ever and one of the many highlights of Diamond D’s production career. Everything about this remix is just perfect. And when I say perfect, I mean 11 out of 10 perfect.
If - for some reason - you still think that you don’t really need this record (I strongly suggest that you have your ears examined though), then please turn over to the ‘Queens Side’. If Diamond’s magic didn’t work on you, the finest producers out of Corona, Queens have a few tricks up their sleeve to convince you. And yes, with the finest producers out of Corona, Queens I mean the Beatnuts. And to show you that the mean business they didn’t just do one but two remixes. And guess what, both are slammin’. The ‘Flamenco Mix’ wins on points, but only with a marginal difference.
“What more can I say? / I wouldn’t be here today / if the old school didn’t pave the way!”
Well anyway, not too long after the release of the “Dedication To Bambaataa” 12” the group was released from their contract with MCA Records at their own request. The group went back into the studio, minus Jahbaz this time but with a new emcee that went by the name Casstedaro. After a long period without any new releases (a remastered version of “Rooftop Soundcheck” - retitled “Sounds Of The Rooftop” - was put out in 1999 though) the group - with Jahbaz on board again - returned in 2002 with their sophomore full length titled “Uncharted Terrain”. To my knowledge you can only purchase this on cd or in mp3 format (through all the proper channels), but if you’re a fan of “Rooftop Soundcheck” this is another must-own release. In 2003 another full length album - titled “Mobilization” - was released in Japan (through Handcuts Records) and this contained songs from the previous two albums plus a bunch of new songs. Haven’t been able to track down the original cd, but I purchased the new tracks in mp3 format (yes, there are people who actually BUY mp3’s) and these are all nice.
Justice System dedicated a song to Afrika Bambaataa and all other old school legends and I guess this is more or less my dedication to Justice System, one of the dopest and most original hip-hop bands out there. If you slept on this crew for a decade and a half, all I can say is that your sleeping days are now officially over. Go out and buy this single at least. I won’t cost you more than a fiver, but it’ll be the best five bucks ever spent. Peace.
AUDIO: Justice System - Dedication To Bambaataa (Reminisce Mix)
Justice System - Dedication To Bambaataa (Flamenco Mix)