On October 18th, a, now infamous, televised debate was held for New York‘s 2010 Gubernatorial election. Along with conservative Republican candidate, Carl Paladino, the current NY State Attorney general/Democratic nominee, Andrew Cuomo, and 4 others, there was one relatively unknown third-party candidate that managed to overshadow the other 6 and take the world by storm. Looking like a cross between Rudy Ray Moore and Dr. Zaius, Jimmy McMillan used his pimp-style cadence to express the core positions of his “Rent Is 2 Damn High Party“, which include a pro-gay-marriage stance and, as would be expected, a belief that the rent in NY is “too damn high“. Over the last 2 weeks, McMillan‘s stock has risen, as the footage from the debate has continued to spread across sites like Youtube and spring-board him to into full-on internet meme status. In this relatively short period of time, the McMillan footage has been treated to the usual auto-tune remix treatments and SNL parody, while the man himself has received backlash, due to information suggesting that he doesn’t even pay rent on his own apartment, but rather provides maintenance services in exchange for his housing. Now, the latest news surrounding the aspiring Governor involves another step towards celebrity status with the release of his very own full-length LP of poverty-inspired soul jams.
Before we delve further into that topic, however, we want to provide you with some original footage from the debate, as a foundation for anyone who has yet to see it:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4o-TeMHys0
The internet age has provided mankind with the ability to spread and mutate information at an unheard of and alarming rate. Although, most people were completely unaware of McMillan‘s existence until recently, this isn’t his first foray into politics or the public eye. In fact, Jimmy started the “Rent Is Too Damn High Party” 20 years ago, under which he has already run for Mayor of NYC in (1993, 2005, & 2009), Governor of NY State (1994) , and US Senate (2000). His 1993 run, under the moniker “Prince Jimmy McMillan” (aka: Papa Smurf), involved him being involved in such newsworthy fiascos as being found blindfolded, doused in gasoline, and tied to a tree next to the Belt Parkway and scaling the Brooklyn Bridge, while demanding TV coverage, after which he was talked down by police and hospitalized. That election found him coming up 300 signatures short of qualification for the general election ballot. For the 1994 Gubernatorial race, he stayed in shelters, while traveling on foot from Brooklyn to the site of the Democratic Convention in Buffalo, where he commenced heckling, then governor, Mario Cuomo and was tossed out. He failed to make the ballot from lack of signatures that year, as well, and was removed from the 2000 senate ballot, in which he was challenging Hilary Clinton. For his mayoral runs in ‘05 and ’09, McMillan did qualify for the general election ballots but, with his new found fame, tomorrow’s Nov. 2nd Gubernatorial election should put McMillan in, arguably, the best position that he’s ever had to give his party the National recognition that he has fought so erratically passionately for.
The more information that is released about McMillan, the more fascinating he becomes as a figure. Beyond his political aspirations, Jimmy has also been credited as a Karate master/instructor, actor, postal worker, “independent private investigator”, a bodyguard for Mel Hall (ex-Yankee Outfielder/convicted rapist), author, former stripper, and Vietnam vet. His time in NAM and, more specifically, his exposure to Agent Orange are what he attributes to his constant “need” to sport his trademark black gloves, by stating, “When I get home tonight, I know I’m not going to be able to breathe if I take them off. It could be psychological, I don’t know, but I just put em on and wear them anyway.” He’s been referred to and/or adopted such names as “Prince Jimmy McMillan“, “Papa Smurf“, “The Black Hulk Hogan“, “Santa Clause on Venus“, and “Rambo“, but there’s one specific pseudonym that has, surprisingly, gained much less exposure, recently. That alias is none other than “JIMMY MACK“, soul singer extraordinaire.
Here’s a popular Jimmy Mack‘s single titled, “A Woman is So Hard to Understand” that was released 35 years ago by Hamster records.
Tomorrow is now much more than a day for Jimmy to earn the support of New Yorkers and take a shot at becoming governor, it also marks the release of his official return to the music industry. His new release, The Rent is Too DAMN High (Volume 1), will receive a worldwide digital release from iTunes, Amazon.com and other digital music outlets, on Tuesday, Nov. 2nd, with a physical release slated to follow on December 7th. We received our copy today and it’s 12 songs deep; composed of electronic drum beats, soulful grooves, and funky synth jams.
Here’s the first single, titled “What Is This?”
Why this track was chosen for the lead off single, I can only speculate. In my opinion, it is definitely not one of the strongest efforts on the release and it didn’t really showcase his vocal abilities. I would have probably dropped something like the super funky, “Ghostbusters“-era Ray Parker Jr jam, “Come To The Floor” or the NELLY-esque rap-inspired, 2-step “Landlord Listen Up“, before anything. This album jumps from sounding like Rockwell and Ready for the World into spooky “Murda Was the Case“-style Dr. Dre production. Then there’s the song “R.E.N.T” with it’s chaotic mish-mash of overlaps, which sound like the voice of satan being ghetto-processed through a Casio SK-1 sampler. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that… it’s kind of awesome and probably better than you would expect. On top of that, you have to give McMillan props for making the entire album all by himself. Keep in mind, this is a full-length album and, just because the last two weeks have provided McMillan with a platform to release it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole thing was simply thrown together within that time frame.
Here are some quotes from the man himself, pertaining to the effort:
“I like to listen to myself as I drive around campaignin’. It keeps me focused and gets me really pumped up. I wrote and recorded all these songs myself and never thought anyone would like them.”
“The guitar is my main instrument but I play everything from drums to the violin.”
As you might have guessed, most of the subject matter on the album is restricted to the topics of rent, the cost of living, and voting. With an album full of lyrics which encourage the listener to “Vote for the Rent’s 2 Damn High Party and Jimmy McMillan November 2nd” being released on the one and only day that would make that suggestion even remotely relevant, one has to worry if the youth will even receive that dire message in time. But don’t worry folks, “as a karate master” and Vietnam Vet with “3 Bronze Stars“, Jimmy Mack is no fool. He knows that you can’t make a real soul album without at least one track devoted to making sweet love and sweet love making is one topic that is not only universal, but timeless, as well.
On the track “My Place“, Jimmy begs the question, “Does he ever take those gloves off?“, as he woos the ladies with such lyrics as:
“I know you didn’t come to talk
Let’s get it on
We can do it in the hall, In the kitchen
We can do it while I’m talking on the phone
We can do it while I’m moppin’ the floor
We can do it while I’m cleanin’ the kitchen
We can do it while I’m rakin’ the yard
We can do it in the car,
in the backseat, on the hood, on the truck, on the floor, in da- oh MY GAWD!“
But is that enough, really? The election is tomorrow, but the physical release of the album doesn’t come out until December 7th. I hear ya… but, like I said, Jimmy McMillan is no fool! He’s got it covered folks, with a brand new Holiday classic just in time for the season.
The following lyrics are taken from the track “Rent 2 High Christmas“:
“Santa Clause got evicted
Cause he couldn’t pay his rent
Now he sleeping in a park, in a tent
Yeah, he homeless“
In all honesty, the stripped-down holiday tune might be my favorite song on the entire album, so far. Regardless of the fact that it is cursed with the combination novelty of being both a Christmas tune and part of a political campaign, Jimmy‘s vocals are incredibly soulful and I’m a sucker for the melodica-style keys that support it. Plus, it’s somber groove allows it to operate outside of the polarizing formulas of “overly cheery” or “depressingly religious” that Holiday music is generally restricted to.
If you want to buy the album, it’s available for only $5.99 through our Amazon link HERE.
If you want to see a karate fighting, glove-clad soul-singer become Governor of NY, make sure to place your vote for Jimmy McMillon on November 2nd.
1. Come 2 The Floor
2. Aint Nothing To Talk About
3. This Is What I Like
4. Vote 4 Me
5. What Is This?
7. When You Can’t Pay Your Rent
9. Land Lord Listen Up
10. My Place
11. Rent 2 High Christmas (listed as “Rent Party Christmas” on Amazon)
12. I Never Seen