Friday, 29 July 2016

Oliver: Ronin - Who Got The Last Laugh (16 February 1992)

This isn't just any hip hop record, it's a whole label's philosophy wrapped up in 4:49.  Ronin Records of North London released their first record in 1989, a tune by DEF II presenter Normski.  It was slow going to judge by the label's Discogs page, although they hit a huge surge of activity in the late 90s, early 00s.

At the point that producer Ronin decided to make this record, the label had only a handful of releases under its belt, but with an attitude that Peel would undoubtedly have approved of, that was fine.  What mattered was getting the stuff recorded and put out, even if it was just one record, and it was even more important, as the opening of this joint alludes to, if others told you that you were wasting your time.

This joint should have given Ronin not just the last laugh, but a massive hit into the bargain, because it is tremendous, furnished by a bassline so thick and sleek, you could cut toffee with it; sublime wordplay which gathers its story up without dropping a syllable; and a compressed brass sample which overlays the whole thing from the first chorus onwards.  It makes the piece sound like the soundtrack for the greatest blaxploitation movie never made.

After this, Ronin went back to producing, but had left behind an almighty high standard to follow for  anyone recording on his label in the future.  Well if you own the playground, you may as well play on it to win.

Apropos of nothing, I had a look at Bloodstone's track, Who Has The Last Laugh Now, wondering if it was in any way related to Ronin's opus.  It isn't but it's so gorgeous in its Philly Soul Slow Jam wonderfulness that I can't believe Peel didn't think to play the two tracks back-to-back.

Video courtesy of Setinal One (Ronin) and Out2gecha2 (Bloodstone)

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