Nice & Smooth formed in New York as part of the fertile East Coast hip hop scene in the late 80s and found moderate success–mostly on the R&B charts–over the course of four albums. They scored their biggest national hit, by far, with “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow,” an anti-drug song which just missed the Top 40 in 1992. The track’s most prominent feature was a sample of the main acoustic guitar riff from Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.”
Unfortunately, when G-Funk began dominating the rap and hip hop scene, Nice & Smooth fell out of favor with the public.
I spent the latter half of 1992 living in the small town of Ithaca, New York and, when I listened to the radio at all, I tuned in to what may have been the only local station. The DJs broadcast a nice mix of classic rock and contemporary indie. They also had frequent call-in trivia contests with prizes ranging from CDs to concert tickets. Since this was just before the internet took over, you had to have these useless facts at your fingertips, and apparently I was the only person in town with my hands full. Because I won. A lot. The radio station had a limit on how often you could win so my roommate and his best friend often had to give their names and pick up the loot.
Anyway, at some point I correctly identified the first single by The Police (“Fall Out”) and the radio station gave me a CD by some forgotten group, and a cassingle–the briefly popular cassette single–by a rap duo I’d never heard of, the aforementioned Nice & Smooth. I immediately loved the song from the first press of the giant Play button, but since that time, I’ve never heard it on radio, TV, or in a movie. It’s like the song is mine. My precious.
So what is this post about? A short reflection on times changin’? A Proustian memory trigger brought about by mentioning cassingles? An excuse to use the word “Proustian”? I don’t know. This one’s random. Sometimes things don’t click.
Sometimes I rhyme slow. Sometimes I rhyme quick.