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Old Rap Music

4-Ever Fresh – “Urban Sound Surgeon

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from I Got A Good Thang 12″ (Tommy Boy, 1988)

In case you were wondering the origins of the below jpeg that turns up when you type “New Rap Music” into google, here is 4-Ever Fresh’s “Urban Sound Surgeon.” Later popularized on a Dr. Octagon record, the vocal clip is often misattributed to Chuck D. It’s not. It’s Philadelphia’s 4-Ever Fresh, who basically dropped a one off Tommy Boy joint then disappeared completely.

Frustratingly I can’t find the quote now, but I think it was in Brian Coleman’s tome Check The Technique that some Tommy Boy signee talks about how the label required a certain amount of 12″ sales before an artist was deemed worthy of an LP. So acts like Digital and De La were eventually commissioned for full lengths while less successful artists – 4-Ever Fresh, Uptown, Too Poetic – languished in obscurity. Talk about some real rap What Ifs. Just a few barcode scans could’ve totally altered the DNA of this hip hop shit and we would have been talking about some nameless 4-Ever Fresh album in the same breath as 3 Ft. High & Rising.

Or not.

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14 Responses to “Old Rap Music”

  1. homey Says:

    interesting. another connection made. i knew, i knew the lyrics from somewhere. thanks, man!

    check it:


  2. jasper Says:

    A member of Digital Underground mentions it in Colemans book.

  3. Billions Says:

    Yeah, man, I remember that from the 90s, how Tommy Boy would float a single and then rush the artist to get an album made if it stuck – I think this is how House of Pain’s first album came to be, as well as Apache, and we know how the ‘We Love You Raheem’ and ‘Doo Doo Man’ singles wound up.

    Interesting. I wasn’t sure about the sample, but now seeing that it’s a Tommy Boy promo 12″, it makes me even more curious about the Automator/Shadow/Paris/Tommy Boy connections.

  4. david Says:

    i allways tripped off “what if”comics….cuz if u think about it…all comics are “what if”///liek “what if this was real”….

    but yea i allways thought it was chuck d tooooo…also holy calamity scream insanity…heard that onna few records

  5. Paine Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Uptown’s “Dope On Plastic” might be in my top three songs Tommy Boy ever released. Not a week goes by that I don’t “what if” that one, though… preferably if Tommy Boy might’ve done that instead of ohhh… Information Society (not De La).

    Few label slides (Rap-A-Lot, Death Row, Wild Pitch) sadden me as much as watching Tommy Boy go from Bam and Steinski to De La and Naughty to Coolio and then losing Royce, followed by Gucci Mane.

    Last I heard, they signed a kid group and are distributing Khia-O or something.

    BUT… in TB’s endless series of re-releases, I did hear that Afrika Bambaataa was going to write liners/do a mix of De La Soul Is Dead whenever that may be.

  6. david Says:

    paine: how did rap alot records slide??? if u ask me their the most consistent hiphop label ever

  7. noz Says:

    “BUT… in TB’s endless series of re-releases, I did hear that Afrika Bambaataa was going to write liners/do a mix of De La Soul Is Dead whenever that may be.”

    All Hip House/Global Beat!

  8. david Says:

    well hip house>>>rnb …

  9. Paine Says:


    My opinion is… Rap-A-Lot has the catalogues to die for. But since the days of “going Gold in Texas” went out with ’05, Devin left, Scarface (if he does this group album, will be on Def Jam with J Prince getting points, a la Fix), Z-Ro left…

    I’ll buy Wacko’s release when it drops, but I think that the machine is part of the consistency. Aside from recycled Scarface records/The efforts with Yukmouth/Outlawz in ’90s, you’re right… RAL doesn’t make bad records. But the machine matters, and like Death Row post ’97-’98 tax write offs/catalogue firesale… RAL seems more about baller blockin’ its ex artists than anything.

    I could be wrong, but that’s how I see it. I will say that if RAL put out its whole catalogue again, a la Wild Pitch, I’d be probably more excited than any other album-label in rap.

  10. Cob Says:

    yeah i like cats too.



  12. art@1716 Says:

    AS personal friend of 4 ever fresh’s aka alexis dean out of w. philly. He was truly a legend. He made a few demos with a another great rapper called Ricky Trixx out of south philly. These guys were ahead of their time. They had great music and lyrics that were above another thing that was out then and now.. Some mentors of theirs were later artist on Will Smith record/Jazzy jeff called Jazz Fresh. Also they were known by robbie b. another great philly artist. They didn’t get the credit they deserved because of the music industry. Like so many other talented performers who in philly were immerced in the culture and were kings in their before hip hop got corrupted and rrefused to mature and grow in to what it should be instead of a mere mockery of what it has become, these artist may one day get their break.

  13. art@1716 Says:

    hey lex, It’s “lee” artist styles, the king of all walls and hip hop, pop. to all those who don’t know wsk 1. the wild style kings. lex give me a holla at art1716@mail.com. Would love to catch up. living in fla, now and ministering. Can u believe it! But we always knew i would! God bless and may you still get the credit that you deserve, and ricki tricks rockmaster, Jazz fresh, robbie b, gary, yses st. la rock, todd one, and every one else who came up in philly who were real B-Boys and artists and mentors and held it down for yrs, decades before hip hop turned to rap and what is now perpetrated on an unknowing generation as hip hop is not, but a mass marketing scheme to seduce millions into mindlessness and programable marketing, but that is for another day. God bless.

  14. Kylee Jefferson Says:

    I would like to trade links

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