articles: Word from the Inside


C-Lig: The Chameleon Homie – Part 1

By a Gossiping Bitch on March 22nd, 2004


C-Lig: The Chameleon Homie - Part 1

Crews, posses, teams, cliques, clans, squads, sets, armies, butt boys, teddy bears for adults — whatever the hell you want to call these people, they are the scourge of hip-hop. How so, you ask? Uh, have you been paying attention to what has been happening in rap lately? See if this sounds familiar: Marginally talented rapper gets put on; finds some measure of success; takes that as a sign to bring his decidedly average homeboys along for the ride; and puts out an unwanted, unnecessary, and unbearable crew album. Then they expect you to care about shit like freeing their friend who is named after a slang term for cocaine from prison, when in actuality the world would be a better place if all these motherfuckers were locked up. (The rap world, I mean. I’m not trying to make a political statement here.) How can this be, you ask? Hey, I don’t have all the goddamn answers. If I did, I’d be out there saving hip-hop, wouldn’t I? No, probably not. So as I was saying, the crew is the killer of hip-hop. They are made up of yes men, more concerned with maintaining the status quo than helping their meal tickets advance as artists. Really, how could they facilitate artist growth when most know little to nothing at all about music? But they have opinions. Oh, do they have opinions. In fact, many of the worst ideas in hip-hop history can be attributed to some dude standing next to the artist saying, “Yo, that shit is hot!” There is one particular career sycophant who is responsible for many of hip-hop’s greatest blunders. This extraordinary fellow has found his way into the camps of some of the most influential artists in the history of the industry, and played an integral role in the destruction of their careers. His reign of wackness spans the entire history of hip-hop — from old school, to the early 80’s, to the late 80’s/early 90’s (known as the Golden Age of Rap, which would have lasted a lot longer if it weren’t for this cat), all the way to present day. Now and for the first time, he has come forward to tell his story. The GBs were able to schedule an exclusive meeting with him for this feature. Many people have called him many names. But to those ho’s in the know, he is, now and forever, C-Lig.

“That motherfucker is biting my whole shit,” says Charles Lightfoot, better known to the rap community as C-Lig, as he watches the new N.E.R.D. video on MTV. But he’s not talking about Pharrell, or even Chad Hugo. C-Lig points at the Neptunes’ male friend Shay who isn’t doing much of anything in the video. In fact, it’s questionable what role Shay has at all in one of the most popular crews in music, yet this is the one C-Lig is accusing of copying his style. Decked out in pink from his do-rag to his Nikes, C-Lig offers, “Well, I can take a pretty good guess of what that cat is doing with them [makes a triangle shape with his hands and presses it against his solid pink oversized t-shirt], but other than that, he’s securing his spot as their top homeboy, the number one yes man in town.” So, what crew is C-Lig himself currently looking to provide this service for? “These days I’m rolling Dipset [raises his arms, with hands still maintaining triangle shape]. It’s da’ Roc! I mean, look at me. You think I’m Pepto’ing my whole shit up for my health?”

Indeed. Unfortunate turns of phrases aside, the life story of C-Lig is a fascinating glimpse into a side of hip-hop rarely seen — the life of the hangers on. Little is known of C-Lig’s life pre hip-hop (the man himself remains guarded about this period), but it has previously been thought that his first appearance as a posse member could be traced back to old Cold Crush tapes from the early 80’s. On one of the landmark hip-hop recordings, while Charlie Chase was rocking “Pump Me Up”, C-Lig’s distinctly high-pitched voice can be heard in the background crying, “Go ‘head, go ‘head! I like that shit!” But C-Lig contends it actually started earlier than that.

“Yo, I remember back in ’78, I was at a P-Funk concert in Detroit,” C-Lig recalls. “I was able to sneak my way to the side of the stage, and I realized that there were so many motherfuckers up on there that if a motherfucker got up there with them, noone probably could tell the difference. So I was walking onto the stage, and security was steppin’ to me, right? I grabbed a tambourine and put on some clothes that were lying around — a frilly scarf, platforms, an oversized pair of sunglasses — and then started speaking gibberish about outer space and chocolate and shit, so dude let me by. Next thing I know, I was on stage, fuckin’ with Sir Nose and shit! Later, Bernie Worrell said it was one of our best shows. I agreed.

Then, when the hip-hop thing was starting up in New York, I went over there and attended a lot of the park functions and shit. That’s when I first started to realize the power of the mob mentality, the sway I had with people just by saying shit real loud.”

From his old school beginnings up to present day, C-Lig’s influence has had a great effect on the choices major rap stars have made, and always, without exception, a negative one. Think of the least creative, most boring periods in hip-hop, and C-Lig’s prints are all over them. From the Hip-House Era, to the New Jack Swing Era, to the G-Funk Era, C-Lig’s misguided encouragement of rappers and producers extended what might have been one-off wack tracks into full-fledged movements.

“Yeah, I was a big part of those eras, I admit it,” C-Lig confesses. “Yeah, that shit was weak, no doubt. A lot of errors in those eras, Errol.”

For a more specific example of C-Lig’s undue influence on rap music, one need only look to his or her collection. Locate those albums that just missed being classic. Pull out those albums full of hardcore, straight ahead hip-hop — that is, except for the one inexplicable R&B crossover bullshit track that kills the whole vibe. Where do these tracks come from? Why do rappers feel they can achieve some kind of widespread popularity with these tracks that they couldn’t with the rest of their songs? Just who in the hell is responsible for this? Up until now, the common answer was, “It’s the record labels, stupid.”

“Sure, record companies are responsible nowadays,” C-Lig clarifies, “but you can really trace that shit to Kane’s first album, and my involvement with that. Big ups to the Juice Crew, by the way.”

Long Live the Kane, Big Daddy Kane’s debut on Cold Chillin’, is widely considered a “classic” hip-hop album. But a GB survey has indicated that no single song on a rap album as revered as Long Live the Kane has induced the picking up of needles, fast-forwarding of tapes, skipping of cd’s, and clicking of mouses more so than the syrupy, cornball, love rap mess that is “The Day You’re Mine”. It seems that hip-hoppers have voluntarily and collectively blocked this track out from memory so that they may delude themselves into thinking the album is flawless. It very well could have been, if not for C-Lig.

“So we were up in Marley’s studio, and he had gone out for some dinner,” C-Lig continues, “and that’s when I brought up to Kane that he needed to have a joint for the ladies on there. I told him that even though the ladies already jocked him, he’d be the number one pimp motherfucker if he put out some love raps. I mean, back in the day I had wrote some lines for Kurtis Blow [on “All I Want in This World (Is To Find That Girl)”, from Blow’s debut album; it should also be noted here that C-Lig convinced Blow that a cover of Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business” would be “dope like soap on a rope so the people can’t cope”]. But, you know, this was King Asiatic! Through power of persuasion, I guess, all the crew started to agree. Next thing I know, Kane is getting his romance on over a Marley Marl throwaway.”

Years later, it was C-Lig that convinced Kane to rock a purple suit, an error in judgment his career never recovered from. Also, from ’88 on, the Cold Chillin’ label demanded a minimum of 1 softcore rap per 10 songs from all its artists, notably including The Genius, who was compelled to record “Come Do Me”, setting his career back several years until he caught on with Wu-tang Clan. Other labels followed suit, and these types of songs have become so popular today that entire rap video shows consist solely of them, as if other sorts of rap songs have ceased to exist.

This is PART 1 of a 3 part series. Click here for PART 2.
In PART 2: MC Shan, polka dots, Bionyx, Eric B., post-’96 De La Soul, and more.

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