Champtown is a little-known name in Detroit hip hop, but he helped bring known artists Eminem
and Kid Rock
to national success. And he's a pretty good performer in his own right, too. Check It!
is one of only two real releases by the Champ, and it's got a good sound. While not in the same league as Eminem, Champtown is a decent artist who had his own style. This EP is pretty hard to come by, but it's got some quality material, some of it recorded exclusively for this release, while other songs, like "Do-Da-Dipity" (originally released in 1992) came out earlier as singles.
If there's one problem with the EP, it's that there are no solo cuts on the album, so Champtown might get lost in the mix at times. Most of the guest spots are from the rapper Uncle Ill. Thankfully, Kid Rock does not rap on this album. But he does provide turntable scratching on "Armageddon". The production is the high point of the album, drawing from elements that distinguish itself from mainstream hip-hop in a good way, with a nice funk/soul/jazz-oriented sound running throughout the album, psychedelic phase effects and Hendrix-style guitar riffs on "Listen To This", and woofer-damaging beats thumping throughout the disc.
"Fresh Mess" starts off with a sample of swing jazz horns, then transitions to a more "normal"-sounding hip hop track, with Champtown bragging that he should have been called Busta Rhymes
: "That name's already been tooken, but I'm better looking", saying that he has a bag of tricks like Felix the Cat, repping Detroit and namedropping Faygo. Another Detroit hip hop pioneer, Danny K, contributes a verse. It has a overall sound similar to The Pharcyde
and early House of Pain
"Do-Da-Dipity" is a pretty interesting one. The lyrics seem to be a diss towards Insane Clown Posse
, who were seen as "biting" Champtown's "crazed jester" persona, while the original 1992 music video for the song (released as a single in that year), featured a young Eminem, who later had a falling out with Champtown after some kind of personal dispute either involving Proof
not liking Champ, or Champtown trying to sleep with Eminem's girlfriend, or both. Regardless of the personal history associated with this track, the song has a great sound, sampling soul-funk keyboards, the boingy bass of the Fat Albert theme, and Black Sheep
's "The Choice Is Yours". It also features some terrific rhymes - it's definitely a standout of the album.
Though Check It!
might not be the easiest disc to find, it's very
listenable, regardless of its flaws, and it's definitely worth downloading. It just might become one of your most listened to alt-rap discs.