Ghetto Cowboy ("Sidepiece" Mania)
Daddy B. Nice's #76 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Party Goin' On (Up In Here)"
Ghetto Cowboy ("Sidepiece" Mania)
Composed by James Emerson & Albert Moore
Listen to Ghetto Cowboy singing "My Main Squeeze" on ProBeatPort.
Re-Posted from Daddy B. Nice's Corner:
March 1, 2016:
POKEY'S "MY SIDEPIECE" SPAWNING COVERS & RESPONSES IN THE SAME WAY THEODIS EALEY'S "STAND UP IN IT" DID A DECADE AGOLong before texting and Twitter, a Georgia-based southern soul singer/guitarist/songwriter named Theodis Ealey with a fine song already to his credit--"(All My Baby Left Me Was) A Note, My Guitar & A Cookie Jar"--put out a new song, "Stand Up In It," that became a sensation across the southern soul and blues worlds in 2003 and 2004, reproducing itself in countless covers (Falisa JaNaye's "Can You Stand Up In It," etc.), parodies and lyrical references within other artists' songs through '05, '06 and '07, culminating in then-king-of-southern-soul Marvin Sease singing in his new song, "Sit Down On It":
"Every time I turn my radio on,
I hear this cute little song,
Just trotting along,
Giving out instructions
How lovers should get it on,
I must admit
It's a cute little song.
But don't let the instructions
Lead you wrong.
They say you ought to
Stand up in it,
But if you really want to know,
The best way to get it..."
Note the hint of condescension in Sease's twice-stated reference to the "cute little song." A little jealousy, perhaps? None of the pundits predicted "Stand Up In It"'s popularity. It wasn't an emotionally-deep or instrumentally-innovative record, and even listening to it today with all the hype that has accrued, it doesn't sound that different from other popular hits of the era. But it was. It was a touchstone, a cultural turnstile.
Now comes The Louisiana Blues Brothas (featuring Pokey's) recording of "My Sidepiece." (For those of you unfamiliar with the culture of southern soul, "a sidepiece" is a "mistress.")
"I guess I got it from my daddy,
'Cause it's all in my genes.
I'm addicted to the nonny (see Poonanny, DBN)
If you know what I mean."
And the same frenzy of copy-catting that followed "Stand Up In It" is now in full fray with "My Sidepiece." Both songs extol a symbol or metaphor--"stand up in it" in the case of "Stand Up In It," "my sidepiece" in "My Sidepiece"--and in both tunes it's a sexual double-entendre executed with a swagger powerful enough to force the words into our everyday vocabulary.
What greater gratification can there be for an artist? And what greater temptation for the artists watching this unexpected band-wagon passing them by than to jump on, too, with their own takes? At the very least, it tells the listener their songs are of recent (i.e. post-"Sidepiece") vintage.
Here's a simplified genealogy of "My Sidepiece" and its musical progeny:
First came The Louisiana Blues Brothas with....
Listen to Pokey & The Louisiana Blues Brothas singing "My Sidepiece" on YouTube..
Listen to Heavy, Tucka, Pokey & Tyree Neal singing "My Sidepiece (Remix)" on YouTube.
...Which begat a woman's response:
Listen to Veronica Ra'elle, Lacee and Ms. Portia singing "My Sidepiece (Reply)" on YouTube.
Those remakes were created within the loose circle of musicians surrounding surrounding "Sidepiece" producer Beat Flippa and the Neal family. But then Ghetto Cowboy and producer Ricky White jumped on the band-wagon with an even stronger, anti-sidepiece lyric overlaying the same instrumental track...
Listen to Ghetto Cowboy singing "My Main Squeeze" on ProBeatPort.
Meanwhile, original Louisiana Blues Brotha Tyree Neal changed sides and put out his own version of an anti-sidepiece song:
Listen to Tyree Neal singing "I Came Back Home (You Can Have That Sidepiece)" on YouTube.
But the true measure of the "Sidepiece" phenomenon has been its incidental references in the songs of female performers. Stephanie McDee brags she can co-exist with the male "sidepiece" culture in "Taking Care Of Business":
Listen to Stephanie McDee singing "Taking Care Of Business" on YouTube.
But the Duchess Jureesa McBride's "Personal Love Vendetta" is more typical, in which she sings about a woman's not-so-funny experience of "wasting years" being a sidepiece without actually uttering the word:
"It was an awkward situation.
Never met your kids.
And after a few years,
Might have met two of your friends...
...And all the times we went out,
I can count on one hand."
Listen to The Duchess singing "Personal Love Vendetta" on YouTube.
The Louisiana Blues Brothas original was just an ornery, meant-for-fun-loving song, many men (and a sprinkling of women) might respond--not to be taken so seriously. And yet men, too, have taken up the cause from the more realistic female perspective. In his upcoming single, "Can I Be (The One You Make Love To?)," new artist Till 1 sings:
"Like my mommy and daddy told me,
Son, stay home.
You don't need no sidepiece."
To which Pokey might reply (from "My Sidepiece"):
"This is the definition
Of a real man.
When I’m with my sidepiece
About my situation
Perhaps the ultimate "Sidepiece" response song is Tha Don's "Hell Naw":
Listen to Tha Don singing "Hell Naw" on YouTube.
In an R. Kelly-inspired vocal, he advises a female friend to say "Hell Naw" to being a "sidepiece," thereby referencing in one fell swoop the two most popular songs of 2015, Pokey's "My Sidepiece" and Bishop Bullwinkle's "Hell Naw To The Naw Naw".
--Daddy B. Nice
February 21, 2012: NEW ALBUM ALERT
Sample or Buy Ghetto Cowboy's CD Debut: Check Your Mailbox.
Read Daddy B. Nice's 3-star, "Solid Southern Soul Debut" CD Review of Ghetto Cowboy's CHECK YOUR MAILBOX. (Scroll down to Tidbits #2.)
Editor's Note: Although Ghetto Cowboy doesn't have an album where a potential fan can sample his work, his signature songs (the songs discussed here) can be accessed at Ghetto Cowboy on ReverbNation.
At the time of this writing, Ghetto Cowboy doesn't have an album deal, and readers might ask your Daddy B. Nice, "How can you rate a guy with no CD's to his credit ahead of artists who have done many CD's?"
The answer is that once in awhile an exception comes along, a performer busting out not just with talent and promise but with actual, fully-realized, popular songs, tunes that have entered the contemporary lore of Southern Soul without benefit of an album.
Ghetto Cowboy's "Party Going On Up In Here" (not to mention a couple of his others) is such a song.
Since the late sixties, CD's have become the measuring stick of a recording artist's ability to be taken seriously, but with Malaco leaving Southern Soul and the album-buying public continuing to shrink, we may be returning to a singles-dominated time like the fifties and early sixties.
Ghetto Cowboy's songs may not be available in album form--indeed, they're not even available as singles (except by mailing the artist)--but they're all over the Internet and in particular YouTube, free and entire.
Like fellow Louisianan Cupid, Ghetto Cowboy is essentially giving away his music free to build his reputation for touring, where the real (or at least better) money is. A close friend of the late Reggie P., Ghetto Cowboy is an aggressive networker who has developed deep ties throughout the chitlin' circuit, not least among the other performers, who respect his music.
Watch Ghetto Cowboy assisting Reggie P. with "Hold On" Live on YouTube.
Ghetto Cowboy does his own marketing. He seeks out artists--Andre' Lee, Bigg Robb, Nathaniel Kimble--to collaborate with him, making his tunes even more marketable.
And it could be argued that Ghetto Cowboy's hard-edged Southern Soul in the sweat-flinging "Party Goin' On Up In Here" paved the way for the subsequently "monstrous" success of Sir Jonothan Burton's similarly hard-charging "Too Much Booty Shakin'" a couple of years later.
I liked Ghetto Cowboy's "New Rooster In The Hen House" from the first time I heard it, although it was years before I knew who did it. I just like lyrics about the barnyard, I guess. "New Rooster In The Hen House" has both roosters and chickens, which is unusual. And in "Party Goin' On" I love the garage-rock, "96 Tears"-sounding organ (? & The Mysterians). Ghetto Cowboy is a master of bells and whistles, but the meat and potatoes--"Party Goin' On's" pounding hook--is what makes it all worth listening to.
By coincidence Sylvia Robinson, onetime Savoy blues singer, "Sylvia" in Mickey & Sylvia ("Love Is Strange") and the "Mother of Hiphop," just passed away as this critique is being written. Sylvia was the producer who masterminded "Rapper's Delight" and, not long after, "The Message," the two songs that started the whole rap thing.
Ghetto Cowboy's "Party Goin' On" brings the exuberant flavor of "Rapper's Delight" to Southern Soul.
"There's a party goin' on
Up in here,
So let's party.
Me and my baby,
We came to party.
Get out of your seats.
Let's get it started."
Ghetto Cowboy's tune has the feel of a deejay talking over a record, and of overlapping vocals, and of street-corner harmonizing and hand-clapping. Most of all, there's plenty of pure fun in it.
Listen to Ghetto Cowboy singing "Party Goin' On Up In Here" Live On YouTube while you read.
"You can be young,
Or you can be old,
As long as your music
Has a whole lot of soul."
This is underground, boondocks Southern Soul as wild as small-town Louisiana cooks up in the middle of a hot weekend night.
"You can be black
Or you can be white,
Asian, Puerto Rican,
Whatever you like."
Ghetto Cowboy sings through a mix as harsh as a cheerleader's megaphone, but it doesn't really matter. The words don't call for subtlety but for hard country force. Plenty of women pop into the picture as well, both in rap cameos and background vocals that add even more zest and sexual buzz.
If you like the rhythmic groove of "Party Goin' On" but find it a little rough-hewn for your taste, you'll want to check out Ghetto Cowboy's slicked up, techno-funked "Pop A Pill" with Bigg Robb and his Problem Solvas crew.
Bigg Robb's production eliminates all the Louisiana coarseness, pitting Ghetto Cowboy's excellent, half-spoken vocal against a stark, gleaming background track. I prefer the rougher style of "Party Goin' On," but admire the techno effect that shimmers around the hook in "Pop A Pill." What's never in doubt is the same, propulsive Ghetto Cowboy groove, and whenever it comes to the forefront the listener settles into a comfort zone.
The last of Ghetto Cowboy's quartet of interesting songs is "You Walked Out," a ballad with the heft of a Carl Sims slow jam.
Listen to Ghetto Cowboy singing "You Walked Out" (The Original) on YouTube.
Once again, Ghetto Cowboy more than compensates for the crudeness of his vocal palate with a complex and memorable arrangement which, while programmed, still somehow manages to stir up some deep feeling.
He stresses the melody and accentuates it with echo effects, he plays with his vocal, giving it subtle after-echoes, he overlays his vocal on key parts of every stanza with a harmony line. When the bridge appears, a strange bongo-knocking commences. And throughout, at intervals, Ghetto Cowboy throws his head back and lets out a "Wooo!" All of the effects merge into one of the stranger musical brews you'll ever hear.
If "You Walked Out" were any more of an anthem, it would be waving its own flag.
Listen to Ghetto Cowboy singing "You Walked Out (Remix)" w/ Andre' Lee.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Ghetto Cowboy ("Sidepiece" Mania)
James Emerson (aka Ghetto Cowboy) was born and remains a native of Homer, Louisiana, a small town northeast of Shreveport not far from the Arkansas border. According to his own account, Ghetto Cowboy's first single, "New Rooster In The Hen House," came out in 1998.
Song's Transcendent Moment
Ghetto Cowboy: Check Your Mailbox (Desert Sounds) Three Stars *** Solid Southern Soul Debut by a New Male Vocalist.A debut album begs one overriding question: "Who is he (or she)?" Ghetto Cowboy throws his fans (limited to Southern Soul insiders at this point) a bit of a curve with his first published CD, Check Your Mailbox.
Listeners expecting to hear rousing party anthems on the order of "Party Goin' On Up In Here" or "You Walked Out" or Ghetto Cowboy's collaboration with Bigg Robb & The Problem Solvas on "Pop A Pill" could be disappointed. Maybe Ghetto Cowboy wasn't who we thought he was.
Not only are these YouTube songs (and Cowboy's original "Rooster In The Hen House") absent from the debut. The songs Ghetto Cowboy chooses to define himself on his introductory disc are much more mellow, inhabiting a middle-ground of melody and modest expectations that may surprise fans who up to now have been attracted mainly by Ghetto Cowboy's hard-charging rhythms and brashness.
"Check Your Mailbox," the title track and first single now bubbling up on deejay playlists throughout the chitlin' circuit (See Daddy B. Nice's #2 "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for January 2012), has a nice musical feeling to it, but it's unclear whether it has the pizzazz of some of those early hits which brought Cowboy his first notoriety.
"A night of pleasure bound us together," relates Ghetto Cowboy.
"You said you were pregnant
When I saw you again.
But all I wanted
Was a one-night stand."
The background vocal--or more accurately, voice-over--by Levy Marie as the hard-pressed single mother is indispensable. In fact, the female background singing, shared by Ms. Marie and Misty Lundy working separately on various tracks, is superb throughout the collection.
On "Down Low," another slow jam that epitomizes the more reflective and mature persona Ghetto Cowboy is intent on projecting in his first full-length disc, the combination of Levy Marie's background and the mainstream-sounding chords struck by a classic, cabaret-style piano mark Cowboy as a singer/songwriter more than an over-the-top, crowd-pleasing party impresario.
"Staying In Love With You" lifts the melody and arrangement from Bobby Jones' popular title cut from his 2011 Southern Soul comeback album, You Ain't Got No Proof. Southern Soul zealots will be sure to recognize the burglary; it remains to be seen whether they'll hold that against Cowboy's otherwise attractive redoing.
The closest Ghetto Cowboy comes to the adrenaline rush of "Party Goin' On" on Check Your Mailbox are the drastically-muted, mid-tempo finesse of "Wiggle" (no relation to the Willie Clayton standard) and the promising, subtly-exciting "Tighten Up," which plays a catchy, percolating rhythm against an eighties-style, synth-disco background.
As unlikely as it would have appeared before listening to this CD a few times, the cut that best represents what Ghetto Cowboy seems to be after in this collection is the #1 track, "Sweeter Than Candy," a pure, mid-tempo melody in the traditional Southern Soul style with a marvelous background cameo by Misty Lundy.
"I Love You," "Back Seat Love Affair," "Kick Off Your Shoes" and "Staying In Love With You" are cut from the same melodic, easy-going cloth. Ghetto Cowboy's vocals retain the same, rough, smoker's-harsh quality heard on his early singles, but the crescendoes and vamping are nowhere evident.
This lowering of the energy level might be fatal if not for the more-than-adequate songwriting, a task shared by James Emerson (Cowboy), studio maven Eric "Smidi" Smith and producer Pete Peterson.
Enjoying Check Your Mailbox is a bit like being invited to the house of a guy you've always known as a wild party-type and instead chilling in the living room with a few people and some pleasant conversation. If you can forgive Ghetto Cowboy for omitting the songs we wanted to hear (and still can't attain in published form), you'll find him surprisingly good company: a down-to-earth singer/songwriter with a real pipeline to the sweet mid-section of the Southern Soul canon.
Sample or Buy Ghetto Cowboy's "Check Your Mailbox" CD.
Read Daddy B. Nice's new Artist Guide to Ghetto Cowboy.
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked the Stereo MC's "Connected," you'll love Ghetto Cowboy's "Party Going On (Up In Here)."
Honorary "B" Side
"You Walked Out"
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