Impeach The President Got Top Billin’ From Audio Two (Video)
Turn on a lot of American newscasts right now, read the blogs, or encounter a “water-cooler” discussion, and one may likely hear the word “impeachment.” Over the last 20 years, this word has re-entered the lexicon in a major way, through several US presidencies, quite obviously including the current.
In 1973, “Impeach The President” was plausibly a new concept to many people. As Richard M. Nixon’s role in the Watergate Scandal was looming in a major way, as the impeachment process began. By 1974, the Republican from California became the first (and still the only) US President to resign. However, a lot of pressure led him to that point.
While it was not heard in the mainstream at the time, the Honey Drippers made what would become one of the most timeless calls for judicial action against the Commander-in-Chief. 1973’s “Impeach The President” (posted below) was a 45 RPM record released by Roy C’s high school student backing band from Jamaica, Queens. The drums were as filthy as the transgressions the vocals accused, and have always sounded resonant, real, and evocative.
The single on the Alaga label was reportedly something played at early Hip-Hop jams, where DJs like Jazzy Jay, Kool Herc, and Grandmaser Flash often covered up the labels to hide the breaks they found. As with many ’70s playlist pieces, the record re-appeared as a sample by the 1980s. MC Shan’s “The Bridge” was one of the early hits to use the song’s introduction and drums. However, Audio Two—one of the early Brooklyn, New York innovators worked the drums differently. In 1987, one year after “The Bridge,” they dropped “Top Billin’.” Emblematic of so many BK Rap messages to follow (from Biggie Smalls to Jay Z to Fabolous), the song celebrated a lavish life of success, skill, and elite rank within the Rap community. Brothers Milk Dee and Gizmo freaked the Funk differently, making the beat seemingly stutter its way into making bodies to move.
The video was simple—showing Milk Dee pouring up 2%, an early play on bottle-poppin’ culture. Synchronized dancers, party-goers, and a conceptual nod to Bob Dylan made Audio Two look like the coolest thing out. Rhyming slowly and clearly at a time when so many MCs were showing off speed and finesse, this fraternal duo was all about style and substance. They rapped about reppin’ the “Do Or Die” and checking anybody that got wise or in their way. Like the message found in “Impeach The President” back in ’73, “Top Billin'” was way ahead of its time.
While this is revered as Audio Two’s most memorable hit (co-produced by Stetsasonic’s Daddy O), the song was actually a B-side to “Make It Funky,” the real single serviced. The pair dropped two LPs between ’88 and 1990. Audio Two and their First Priority imprint would introduce and produce (some of the best work by) MC Lyte too. While Giz has stayed an engineer in the industry (Tyrese, Donnell Jones, Jaheim), Milk D introduced Eamon and “F*ck It (I Don’t Want You Back).” As an expanded note, Eamon is now working with Jedi Mind Tricks co-founder Stoupe.
#BonusBeat: The Honey Drippers’ 1973 original: