Sunday, January 31, 2010

posted by O.W.

I finally got around to catching up on my blog reading and noticed that Super Sonido recently wrote up Mon Rivera's "Lluvia Con Nieve." This salsa classic was introduced to me by Murphy's Law and I consider it one of my Top 3 go-to, never-fail salsa cuts to get an audience moving (Willie Colon holds down the other two with his "La Murga De Panama" and "Che Che Cole"). "Lluvia Con Nieve" fits right between those two - more aggressive and forceful than "Che Che Cole" though, for my money, nothing can ace the horn opening to "La Murga" but that "Lluvia" comes pretty damn close. Trust a trombonist to know how to use some brass to get feet to slide.

Super Sonido included Rivera's original plus a cover by Lucho Macedo on Virrey which I had never heard before (good stuff Frank!) and that made me think of this:

Carlos Pickling: Lluvia Con Nieve-El Molestoso
From Suplemento Dominical (MAG, 1970s)

Can't say I know much about this Peruvian organist except that he's, um, Peruvian and an organist. I picked this Mag LP up a while back, mostly on the strength of this medley/cover of "Lluvia Con Nieve" that segues nicely into "El Molestoso," a pachanga (Eddie Palmieri's?). The use of organ is what sells this cover for me, just adding enough of a touch of difference to stick in the ear.

Meanwhile, over at Philaflava's TROY blog, he's got the latest post in his "Who Flipped It Better" series up, focusing on samplings of Five Stairsteps' "Danger, She's a Stranger." It reminded me that I hadn't done an installment of my own, similar series in well over a year and as it was, in going back over some key Willie Mitchell productions, I forgot how many folks had flipped Al Green's "I Wish You Were Here."

Al Green: I Wish You Were Here
From Al Green Is Love (Hi, 1975)

Nas: Shootouts
From It Was Written (Columbia, 1996)

The Lootpack: Wanna Test
From Soundpieces: Da Antidote (Stones Throw, 1999)

Consequence feat. Kanye West: The Good, The Bad, the Ugly
From Don't Quit Your Day Job (Good, 2007)

Wu-Tang (Ghostface Killah + Tre Williams): I Wish You Were Here
From Chamber Music (E1, 2009)

I find it rather remarkable that this song has been such a popular sample over the years if only because it's just not what I associate with Green's core canon. Doesn't mean it isn't a great song and in particular, such a classic Willie Mitchell sound. On that note, it's rather amazing that no one in the Wu seemed to mess with this until last year given that it sounds pitch-perfect for the Wu's well-known affections for the Hi catalog.

However, it was Nas who seemed to have been the first to flip this (Poke and Tone of the Trackmasters to be more exact), back with "Shootouts" from It Was Written. Call me crazy but listening back to this, some 14 years later, doesn't one get the sense that Poke and Tone were listening to some of Rza's beats and thinking, "yo, we need to get on this steez?" In any case, I admire how they didn't opt for a straight loop but chop it up instead (Jesse "Fiyah!" West style!) Madlib's flip on the same sample for The Lootpack's "Wanna Test" doesn't cut things up as much, opting instead to filter parts of the main, opening loop to add some dissonance. Fast-forward to 2007 and it's an interesting contrast with how Kanye uses more of the original sample in its "pure" sonic form to open, but then chops it up a bit (w/ Green's vocals sped-up and attached) for the main parts of the song. Honestly, I think I gotta give it up to the Trackmasters for the best flip of this sample - it just has the most edge and appealing sound of the bunch.

Continuing my "songs I thought of while reading other people's posts" - Earfuzz has the new Kings Go Forth's single, "One Day" and that reminded me that I'm behind on posting this:

The One & Nines: Something On Your Mind
From The One & Nines EP (2009)

This soul band out of New Jersey (no Jersey Shore jokes, please) contacted me over winter break and I really dug this one song off their new EP. Reminds me of that Noisettes song I posted last year in general sound but sans the rock elements. The arrangement here is done with smart subtly - the song doesn't try to force an overly aggressive crescendo; it's content with maintaining a slow burn that sparks towards the end without ever departing too far from the core, Southern Soul aesthetics that make this such an appealing tune. (Excellent use of back-up singers too - this isn't nearly as acknowledged as it should be.)

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

posted by O.W.

Gladys Knight: Try to Remember/The Way We Were
From I Feel a Song (Buddah, 1974). Also on The Essential Collection.

Wu-Tang Clan: Can It Be It Was All So Simple?
From Enter the Wu-Tang (Loud, 1993)

Freeway: When We Remember
From Free At Last (Roc-A-Fella, 2007)

Yeah, I know it's been a minute since the last "Who Flipped It" segment. This one came to mind the other week when I was chatting about this Gladys Knight song with my wife and I thought about both the Wu and Freeway songs that use Knight's vocals so effectively. But before we get there, let me just note that it wasn't until that conversation that I realized: duh, this was the same song as Barbra Streisand's hit. Not only that but Knight manages to combine the song with lyrics from The Fantasticks, making this song an impressive proto-mash-up conceit.

Musically, RZA doesn't really much of Knight's song for "Can It Be So Simple" (look to Labi Siffre for that) but the song also wouldn't be the same without the forlorn sounding snippet of Knight ghosting into the chorus. In contrast to that kind of subtlety, Bink decides to set off a bomb in your face when he takes a different part of the song and uses it power Freeway's explosive "When They Remember" (one of my favorite songs of all 2007...the energy here is so palatable). On hypeness, I'd have to give the nod to Bink's flip.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

posted by O.W.

Pleasure Web: Music Man Pts. 1 and 2
From 7" (Eastbound, 1973). Also on Super Breaks 3

Jurassic 5: Jayou
From Jurassic 5 EP (Interscope, 1997)

Jurassic 5: Concrete and Clay
From Quality Control (Interscope, 2000)

Similar to the last "Which flip is better?" post, this one features a single producer who has used the same sample source twice for two different songs.

The source here is one of the more obscure 45s on Eastbound: "Music Man Pt. 1 and 2" by Pleasure Web. Personally, I couldn't find much on the artist at all; if anyone knows some details, illuminate the rest of us.

Cut first used "Part 2" of the song for "Jayou," arguably the most distinctive cut off the first Jurassic 5 EP from '97. Then, he revisited the same 7" and flipped "Part 1" for "Concrete and Clay" which first appeared on the "Improvise" EP of 1999 (and was later released on the full-length Quality Control album). Personally, I was always more partial to "Concrete and Clay" myself though "Jayou" had more buzz going. It's hard to choose b/t the different parts of "Music Man" though given that they're practically two different songs. My inclination is to go with Part 1 simply b/c I like it with lyrics better but it's hard to front on the flute flavor of its sibling.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Taking On Nautilus: Who Flipped It Best?
posted by O.W.

Bob James: Nautilus
From One (CTI, 1974)

Lord Shafiyq: My Mic Is On Fire
From 12" (NUWR, 1987)

Main Source: Live At the BBQ
From Breaking Atoms (Wild Pitch, 1991)

Ghostface Killah: Daytona 500
From Ironman (Epic, 1996)

I had the idea for this post for quite a bit, ever since I remembered reading an interview with Bob James where he was asked what he thought about different samplings of his music. RZA's flip on "Nautlius" for "Daytona 500" drew high praise, especially because RZA transposed the sample into a different key, giving it a more sinister edge. However, RZA was the latest in line of hip-hop producers to play off "Nautilus," arguably the most popular of James' CTI-era compositions, though not the most recognizable.

I realize the three songs I picked were merely a handful out of dozens of possibilities but "Live at the BBQ" seemed like a good contrast, especially because the way Large Professor worked with "Nautilus" isn't as obvious as other uses. On the other hand, I went with Lord Shafiyq's random rap classic, "My Mic Is On Fire," because it was one of the early rap tunes to use "Nautilus" so prominently, and using one of the more striking passages at that.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Craig G vs. ATCQ: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band: What Can You Bring Me?
From You're So Beautiful (Warner Brothers, 1971)

Craig G: Take the Bait
From Now, That's More Like It (Atlantic, 1991)

A Tribe Called Quest: Rock Rock Ya'll
From The Love Movement (Jive, 1998)

First of all, apologies for being MIA for a minute; it's been a long few weeks, work-wise. I've got some boogaloo-themed pieces in the works (look for the first of those to roll out in a month or so), plus two sets of liner notes involving some very interesting projects focused on one of the artists included above (hint: not a rapper), and some other assorted things that have been keeping me busy. Once I get over the next week or so, I should be back to slightly more frequent posts. Consider this another place holder (albeit, one with actual songs).

In any case, I know I've already done a challenge feat. both artists before but I couldn't pass it up given the Charles Wright/Watts 103rd connection. The original song is off the last Watts 103rd album before the group disbanded and it's also one of the handful of their songs sung by drummer James Gadson instead of Wright himself. Great guitar line and horn reply, right?

The man, Marley Marl, was one of the first to work with that loop for one of Craig G's unsung masterpieces - "Take the Bait" - which, if I may add, very nicely incorporates Gadson's falsetto. I'm actually rather surprised that no one seemed to have picked up on it until ATCQ used the same loop (albeit slightly differently) for the posse cut off of The Love Movement.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

KMD vs. Eric. B and Rakim: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

Bobbi Humphrey: Blacks and Blues
From Blacks and Blues (Blue Note, 1974)

KMD: Plumskinzz
From 12" (B-side of "Nitty Gritty") (Elektra, 1991)

Eric B. and Rakim: Keep the Beat
From Don't Sweat the Technique (MCA, 1992)

I wrote about the Humphrey song before, about two years back, and had this to say: "My favorite Mizell's related track though is Bobbi Humphrey's sublimely mellow "Blacks and Blues" - I love how it foregrounds Jerry Peters' beautiful piano work at the front end and Humphrey's flute floats in with a nice subtlety as does Fonce Mizell's clavinet. It's a great arrangement - memorable from jump and a song you can come back to a dozen times over and never tire of." (Note: I still feel the same way).

Of course, back in the early '90s, I didn't know much about the Mizell Bros or Bobbi Humphrey. I did know something about KMD and their sequel to "Peachfuzz." Right from jump, the beat for "Plumskinzz" caught my ear and that's no small reason why I continue to be charmed by Humphrey.

I wasn't alone - "Blacks and Blues" shows up a few other places but if you're going to go head to head with KMD, who better than Rakim Allah himself? I'm not sure how actually produced this cut (real heads know what I'm talking about) but I like how they included a vocal interpolation to go along with the original sample. The whole cut has a nice smoothness that complements Rakim's honeyed baritone well.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ski vs. Dr. Dre: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

Labi Siffre: I Got The (Blues)
From Remember My Song (EMI, 1975)

Jay-Z: Streets Is Watching
From In My Lifetime (Roc-a-Fella, 1997)

Eminem: My Name Is...
From The Slim Shady LP (Interscope, 1999)

About time we got these two producers in the mix...and with an intriguing contrast of a shared sample. The Labi Siffre track has been used multiple times but most tend to flip the front part of the song - that dramatic portion that Ski uses for Jay-Z's beat. It's easy to see what the attraction to that would be. But it was Dr. Dre, coming up with Eminem's first break-out single, who really put the highlight onto the bridge instead.

Personally, the real winner here has always been Siffre's song. Apart from the fact that I love how an openly gay Black British singer would supply a track that'd be the backbone for rap artists not exactly known for their queer-friendly attitudes, "I Got The" is an incredible song in terms of how it builds, shifts and unwinds. Right around 3:25 is my favorite portion, right in the middle of that bridge that Dre uses. Simple sublime.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Pete Rock vs. Kanye West: Who Flipped It Better
posted by O.W.

Don Covay and the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band: If There's a Will, There's a Way
From Different Strokes for Different Folks (Janus, 1970). Also on Funky Yo Yo.

Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth: Lots of Lovin' (remix)
From 12" (Elektra, 1993)

Common: Southside
From Finding Forever (Geffen, 2007)

When I first heard the "Southside" during a listening session, my automatic thought was, "ah, 'Ye is flipping that old Pete Rock beat." Well...not exactly - there are some similarities, especially in how both songs use the same guitar/piano loop but while Pete Rock sticks with that sample, West uses more of Covay's guitar to give "Southside" a harder edge. Gives the song a nice touch of difference and should make debating these two tracks more interesting.

Speaking of Covay, this Different Strokes album follows his Country Funk album and that's an apt way to describe a lot of his tunes. It's not "funk" in the conventional James Brown sense of it but Covay's songs in this era managed to blend together country, blues and hard Southern soul together in a raucous little package.

"If There's a Will" gets love given its sampling but frankly, I've always been a bigger fan of a different song off the same album: "Standing on the Grits Line." Covay's not from NOLA but this song has a distinctive Mardi Gras piano touch to it if you ask me. Recommended!

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Primo vs... Primo?: Which Flip Is Better?
posted by O.W.

Caesar Frazier: Funk It Up
From 75 (Eastbound, 1975)

Gang Starr: Ex Girl to the Next Girl
From Daily Operation (Chrysalis, 1992)

Gang Starr: Speak Ya Clout
From Hard to Earn (Chrysalis, 1994)

I thought it'd be fun, for a change of pace, to pit a producer against himself. In this case, DJ Premier sampled two different portions from the same original source: "Funk It Up" from Caesar Frazier's other Eastbound album, 75. (I put this up a little over 2 years ago. Fans of this series will get a kick out of the first line of that old post. Looks like I've backed off my own policy, at least for the time being).

Personally, I like that a producer would go back to a once-used source and find a new way to flip it (better than Marley putting out both "Ain't No Half Steppin" then "Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag" of the stranger re-uses I've heard). There's a rather obvious Dilla example of this too which I might throw up at some point.

What's so striking in this case though is how utterly different the two uses sound which reflects the differences in the portions of Frazier's original. It's unexpected that a single source would yield such contrasting sonic styles.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

People Under the Stairs vs. Marco Polo: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

Duralcha: Ghet-to Funk
From 7" (Microtronics, 1974). Also on Funk Spectrum 2.

People Under the Stairs: The Dig
From O.S.T. (Om, 2002)

Marco Polo feat. Large Professor: The Radar Remix
From 12" (Fat Beats, 2007)

I've avoided using drum breaks as a point of comparison but I thought, given the distinctiveness of the Duralcha break and its prominence in both these songs (one being brand spankin' new), it'd be worth throwing them up for public chatter. I'm fairly certain Thes One was the first dude to put the "Ghet-to Funk" drums on a record and this was in the last 5 years so it's cool to see that the art of break diggin' (which, of course, is what "The Dig" is all about) isn't a lost one, especially with Marco Polo coming with that same distinctive breakdown in 2007. All I know is that b/t the two songs, I'm fiending for that Duralcha 45 (North Carolina funk at its finest).

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Buckwild vs. Beatnuts: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

Cal Tjader: Morning
From Agua Dulce (Fantasy, 1971). Also on Descarga!.

O.C. and Buckwild: What I Represent
From America Is Dying Slowly (Elektra, 1996)

The Beatnuts: Fluid
From white label 12" (?, 1997?)

For this latest installment, I'm rolling with 1) one of my favorite Cal Tjader songs, 2) one of my favorite O.C. songs, 3) one of my favorite Buckwild productions and 4) one of my favorite Beatnuts' productions/songs. And as fate would have it: it's all based around the same song...

Cal Tjader first recorded (I believe) "Morning" for his Soul Burst album but he re-recorded a different version, this one with a vocal chorus accompaniment, for Agua Dulce, a surprisingly difficult title of his to find despite being on Fantasy. Both versions are nice...just sublimely mellow, but I've always been more partial to the Agua Dulce version just for the vocal touch.

Apparently, Buckwild liked it a lot too since he looped this up for "What I Represent," a stand-out, yet slept-on, song from the American Is Dying Slowly soundtrack. This was back when O.C. was still like the Promised One for a lot of cats and between his lyrical content, the beat and that chorus built off Ike White and Q-Tip, the whole song was something lovely, lovely, lovely.

About a year after that, this white label of supposedly unreleased Street Level-era songs surfaced. I've heard, from some corners, that there was an official Relativity test-pressing that had three of these songs, including "Fluid" on it that came out around 1995 but I've yet to see anyone confirm its actual existence. That said, "Fluid" definitely sounds like it could have been on Street Level and it takes the "Morning" loop and juices it up more uptempo (note: I'm pretty sure the version of "Morning" here is from Soul Burst). A different style and sound from Buckwild's approach.


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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Marley Marl/Craig G vs. Puff Daddy/Biggie: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

Lou Donaldson: Who's Making Love
From Hot Dog (Blue Note, 1969). Also on Blue Note Breaks V. 1.

Marley Marl feat. Craig G: Droppin' Science
From In Control Vol. 1 (Cold Chillin, 1988). Also on Droppin' Science - The Best of Cold Chillin'.

Notorious B.I.G.: One More Chances (Hip Hop Remix)
From "One More Chance" 12" (Bad Boy, 1995)

I still remember the first time I heard the "Hip Hop Remix" of "One More Chance" and my thought process went something like this, "goddamn, this is hot...but kind of familiar...why is that?" Back in '95, Puffy hadn't quite become the beat-jackin' villain that people accused him of by the late '90s but there were more than a few heads being scratched given that BOTH remixes of "One More Chance" were using beats that had already been put out.

The more obvious comparison was the "One More Chance/Stay With Me" remix since it used the exact same DeBarge loop that Big L had just put out a few months earlier on "MVP" (production by Lord Finesse) though Biggie had a far, far bigger hit with the track than Big L ever saw. In the case of the "Hip Hop Remix," it had been a good seven years since Craig G had lit up the same track on "Droppin' Science" (arguably one of his greatest moments in a career that never caught fire like it possibly could have).

I should also add that this whole era was like one long Donaldson-love fest for producers. In general, the Blue Note late '60s/early '70s era was being torn through but Donaldson was practically the undisputed go-to artist for loops and breaks. Good times, good times.

And before I get comments full of "and [insert artist/producer here] used this same loop too!"...yeah dudes, we know. I was tempted to include both "Hot Sex" and the "Kaught in the Ak" remix but opted out mostly because 1) I've already featured Primo and ATCQ (though I'll inevitably end up bringing them back and 2) I always liked the idea of a Craig G vs. Biggie head-to-head.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Grand Puba/MC Lyte vs. Diamond D: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

Three Dog Night: I Can Hear You Calling
From Naturally (MCA, 1970)

MC Lyte: I Am the Lyte
From Eyes On This (First Priority, 1989)

Diamond D and the Psychotic Neurotics: Best Kept Secret
From Stunts, Blunts, and Hip-Hop (Chemistry, 1992)

First of all, I'm glad folks are feeling this new series. It's funny - I'm assuming most folks have heard most of these songs already, thus making downloads irrelevant. Meanwhile, posts featuring actually songs folks are less likely to have are getting nary a comment. I'm not complaining mind you - I just think it's funny.

Anyways, I remember Diamond telling me how he decided to tackle this same sample on his album even though Lyte had just dropped it a few years prior...keep in mind, this was at a time where someone like Diamond probably was going to be very careful about what samples he was using and trying not to look like he's biting (diggin' in the crates and all that, y'know) so he must really have thought he could do something different with his flip. Does it really improve on what Puba did for Lyte?

I'll leave up to the peanut gallery to argue. I will say this - and no disrespect to Diamond at all - but Lyte just rips this track. Lyrically, advantage: Ms. Moorer. Also, in general, I think it's worth noting that if you don't own a copy of Eyes On This, you don't like hip-hop. Yeah, I went there. Deal.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Q-Tip vs. The Beatnuts: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

Monty Alexander: Love and Happiness
From Rass (MPS, 1974). Also on Strange Funky Games and Things

Apache: Gangsta B----
From Gangsta B---- (Tommy Boy, 1992)

The Beatnuts: Let Off a Couple
From Street Level (Relativity, 1994)

The Heath Brothers: Smilin' Billy Suite Pt. 2
From Marchin' On! (Strata East, 1976)

The Beatnuts: Ya Don't Stop
From Street Level (Relativity, 1994)

Nas: One Love
From Illmatic (Columbia, 1994)

I'm sure this is just sheer coincidence ( it?!) but in both these cases, The Beatnuts and Q-Tip both sampled the same songs...but used different parts of them to craft their beats. With the use of "Love and Happiness" (a lovely cover by the way), one could propose that the Beatnuts, not wanting to use the same part of the song that Q-TIp did for Apache's song from two years earlier, settled on a different portion of it.

With "One Love" vs. "Ya Don't Stop" though, they came out so close to one another, it could just be blind chance that they picked the same song but different sections. Whichever the case though, it does make measuring them against one another more intriguing.

Gilles Peterson giveaway update:
The correct answers were 1) Darondo's "Didn't I" on Music City and 2) Lonnie Hewitt on Wee. East Bay, represent!
Winners: Allen T., Adam D, and Talbot Y.

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

M.O.P. vs. Scarface: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway: Be Real Black For Me
From S/T (Atlantic, 1972)

M.O.P.: World Famous
From Firing Squad (Relativity, 1996)

Scarface: On My Block
From The Fix (Def Jam, 2002)

Like our last face-off, what's striking here is that the beats are, for all expressed purposes, identical. You might be able to quibble with the engineering differences but really, this comes down to which MC sounds better over this beautiful little loop from Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway's anthem of self-love and pride.

I'll say this much: if it was a video showdown, advantage: 'Face.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Premier vs. Beatminerz: Who Flipped It Better?
posted by O.W.

The Blackbyrds:
From Cornbread, Earl and Me Soundtrack (Fantasy, 1975). Also on Lovebyrds.

Gang Starr: Say Your Prayers
From Step Into the Arena (Chrysalis, 1991)

The Roots: Silent Treatment (Beatminerz Remix)
From "Silent Treatment" 12" (Geffen, 1995)

I've had this idea for a long time but had forgotten about it until I had cause to listen to Gang Starr's Step Into the Arena the other day. I had always remembered "Say Your Prayers" back in the day mostly because I loved the sample but it was also a short song and left me wanting more. I was pleasantly surprised a few years later when the Beatminerz remixed "Silent Treatment" by The Roots and used the same loop: the moody, mellow "Wilford's Gone" by the Blackbyrds.

Normally, in these situations, I felt like the nod goes to the originator but that rule of thumb has so many exceptions to it (see the uses of "Hydra" by Grover Washington or "Nautilus" by Bob James for excellent examples of how later uses improved upon earlier attempts) that it deserved a re-evaluation. So here you go: part one in a series of side by side comparisons, beginning with a heavyweight face-off between Primo and Mr. Walt/Evil Dee.

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