1993 is the year Father MC dropped the MC from his name and switched up is image from a lover to a player with his third album, Sex Is Law. That came out on June 15th. But just before he could switch it up, like right before, Uptown Records needed him in his R&B lover mode one last time, for their big Uptown MTV Unplugged special. The special aired on May 31st, and Father MC was featured performing one of his hits from his second album, “One Nite Stand.” Or, as it was titled when Uptown released the album version on June 1st, “One Night Stand.”
I remember at the time Uptown making a big deal that this was the first time MTV made an Unplugged special for a label rather than a specific artist. But I was mostly just disappointed that it was like 90% R&B and 10% rap. In fact, I didn’t buy the album version when it first came out because of that. I only picked up a cheap used copy years later because I found out it had a bonus studio track tacked on at the end. But we’ll come back to that.
If you don’t know, the gimmick of the Unplugged specials is that they were all live with no electric instruments, so we could hear their “pure” talents or whatever. As you can imagine, that meant little difference for some folksy-type artists, but for Hip-Hoppers, that meant no turntables, which is just the very core of Hip-Hop music, but oh well. Only a bunch of old rock fan executives would think we should be excited to not give DJ Eddie F the opportunity to get busy live on stage.
So the album is just the live performance as aired in the special straight-through, no funky edits or anything. Jodeci‘s up first and they do several songs for the first twenty or so minutes. Then they introduce, “another member of the family. We had the pleasure of doing a song with him on his first album. And second. His name is… give it up for Father… MC!”
And like I said, Father just gets the one 3-4 minute song. I’ve already written about “One Nite Stand” extensively here, so go ahead and refresh yourself. And lyrically, he just does it pretty straight. No verses from the 12″ remix or anything. He improvises a little “just throw your hands in the air” and stuff, but that’s about it. Instrumentally, it’s mostly just a watered down version of the studio mix, with more echoey mics and live guitar re-interpolating the funky bassline and “Microphone Fiend” riff. The horns sound nice (though no, they don’t do the “Ruler’s Back” bit) but the piano sounds clunky. They break it down for the third verse, though, and the percussion sounds really dope and that’s where this version finally clicks into something interesting. But then it’s over.
After that, Father MC introduces “the queen of soul, the ultimate Mecca queen, the Mecca of soul,” Mary J Blige, who performs for another twenty-plus minutes. And that’s interesting, because why didn’t they use the opportunity to have Mary kill it on the chorus of “One Nite Stand,” when she supposedly sang on the album version? I always said their was something sus about that supposed collaboration. For the live version they have four generic background sisters, who to be fair, sound as good as the retail version. But come on, Father’s on the stage with Jodeci and Mary, both of whom he’s famous for blowing up by starting them off on his records, and they didn’t have them to anything together? Pffft.
Anyway, the live show wraps up with Christopher Williams and Heavy D. Father’s the only dude to just get one song. But there’s one more track on the album… not a live song but a proper studio production of an all-original, exclusive posse cut called “Next Stop Uptown.” It’s like the sequel to “Uptown Is Kickin’ It,” and features everybody from the Unplugged show, which means yes, it’s still a majority R&B instead of Hip-Hop, but at least this time Jodeci and Mary don’t get five times the stage time.
DJ Clark Kent produced it using a ton of funky breaks and samples like “Keep Risin’ To the Top,” the song BDP used for the remix of “You Must Learn” (also the “Buddy” remix) and that crazy horn loop from Showbiz & AG‘s “Party Groove.” Mary J does a mini cover of DeBarge‘s “Stay With Me,” and Christoper Williams does “Keep Risin’ To the Top.” Heavy D does a ragga version of “The Overweight Lover’s In the House.” And Father MC actually rhymes first, over Show & AG’s “Soul Clap” groove. Lyrically, it’s pretty generic, but the whole experience is hype. Yes, all this stuff is all mashed together into one five minute song, and it works. It’s like those NY party megamix 12″s DJs used to release in the early 2000s, except with all new vocal performances, too.
So the whole Unplugged performance is alright but pretty skippable. But for the Father MC fan who’s gotta have everything, you’ve definitely got to have “Next Stop Uptown.” And the good news is, today, this album can be found on vinyl, CD and cassette for peanuts.