Thursday, February 26, 2009

30 Greatest Albums: Pimp Fu - 'Coffee, Pot'

Cousin Timothy had disappeared from my life. If you know the O'Malley's, you know how unthinkable this is, to LOSE track of a cousin. But that's what happened. Timothy's father (my uncle Joe) passed away when we were both 6 or 7. His parents had already divorced so after this ultimate tragedy it was just not a common occurrence for our paths to cross.

In college we both were up for Irene Ryan Scholarships and we couldn't believe it when we ran into each other at the regional competition. But we each had scenes to prepare so that was a short-lived reunion.

Before Timothy moved in with me in Brooklyn, I'd seen him at my grandmother's funeral in college, my uncle's funeral in '96 after I'd moved to NY, and then my own wedding that same year.

Now, my marriage was over and Timothy was coming to live with me in Brooklyn. He'd been traveling America demonstrating digital cameras in a giant van. Needless to say he was exhausted. And I wasn't much better.

We discovered that we'd each been recording music on our own almost all our lives. I had a 4-track recorder and we decided to collaborate. Thing was, I was a folk/rock singer and he was a rapper/beat producer. Strange bedfellows, yes. But we thought it'd be a hoot to put the two together.

At the same time we started a rigorous exercise program. And when I say rigorous, I mean rig-the-fuck-orous. We were up at 5AM and in the gym shortly thereafter. We used creatine, protein powder, and 5 protein packed meals a day for fuel.

Arms as heavy as anvils I'd drag myself over to pick up Cashel, bundle him up into the stroller, haul that damn thing over turnstiles and head into the city to audition for a commercial or two, TV shows, plays, you name it. I auditioned a lot in those days. By the time I dragged Cash back in the evening I'd be spent beyond belief.

Timothy wasn't working. He was shell-shocked from having been on the road for almost a year. He showed me a postcard he'd gotten that came to his address but was labeled not for Timothy O'Malley but 'Pimp Fu'. I told him the universe had given him his rap-handle. There he sat all day, drinking coffee, smoking pot. Thus, 'Coffee, Pot' was born.

He went with it. I'd re-enter the apartment and he would play me what he'd been working on that day. Often there was space left on the tape for me to give my modest performance, either rapping as Pink Fu or playing some guitar to beef up the track.

I can't tell you how much fun it was to come in and get to witness this act of creation.

Pimp Fu is hard to describe. He is part sage, part fuck up, part hard case, part tragedian, part comedian, part lover, part bad ass, part juvenile delinquent, and all beat.

The first thing he ever played for me was called 'Cot In The Corner' which described his sleeping arrangement. This never made the final cut of the album.

The first thing we ever recorded together was called 'Goddamn King Kong' which involves a story of its own. A buddy of mine had spent a summer working in a fish packing plant in Alaska. A giant of a man would sell whippets on breaks. He constantly belittled the size of the hit the whippet purchaser would take. My friend avoided him all summer. Then on the last day he decided he wasn't going to let the summer end without doing a whippet at lunch. He was determined to avoid the scorn of this Grizzly Adams drug dealer. So he paid and then took the biggest hit he could muster. The giant looked down at him, almost perplexed, and said, "God Damn King Kong."

I always swore I would use the phrase in a song.

I told Timothy the story and we set about crafting an appropriate piece of music. Imagine a distorted little punk guitar gently scratching its back on an early hip hop drum machine. To this day it is still one of my favorite songs.

The track list is as follows...

1. O2
2. Pimp Fu Style
3. The Wistle Song
4. God Damn King Kong
5. Blind
6. 37 Yeti
7. It's Alright, yeah...
8. Open Your Mind
9. Anybody?
10. Take It On
11. Q-U-I-T After I D-I-E
12. Interstelic
13. The Joe Gene
14. The Mike O'Malley Song

What is great about Timothy's songs, style, and production, is that he veers wildly across the emotional spectrum. One second he is telling you his balls hurt and the next he is contemplating the specter of his very real demons. It is intensely personal music that perfectly reflects who Timothy is. He's funny, scary, fucked up, wise, lost, found, sexy, stupid, angry, quiet, kind, perceptive, empathetic, and FUNKY.

Now, you can't buy this album in stores. You can't download it off of the internet. But if you ask me to, I'll make damn sure you get a copy of it. Because it will blow your balls up behind your ears. Unless you're a chick in which case it will tie your nipples together and swing 'em on a chain.



Sheila O'Malley said...

Oh, Bren, this was so great to read. I love that album too.


Brendan O'Malley said...

hee hee!

i won't even go into 'the mike o'malley song' until we direct a video for it.