R.I.P. Grand Daddy I.U.: One of LI's Greatest

Still reeling from the news of DOOM's passing in 2020, the last thing I wanted to do was end this year with back-to-back R.I.P. posts, but here we are. On December 13, 2022, Long Island lost yet another of its all-time greats, the hugely influential Hempstead rapper/producer Grand Daddy I.U. Most recollections I've seen over the last two weeks have touched on the impact of his debut album, Smooth Assassin, and his connection to the late Biz Markie, so I want to offer a few unrelated observations.

A few years back, in reviewing Roc Marciano's Behold a Dark Horse for Tiny Mix Tapes, I wrote a few paragraphs about his influences, meaning those who influenced Marc as well as those he influenced. Here, I made a case for his inclusion in the greatest rapper-producers of all time "discussion." Listing others, I purposely left two names out, reserving them instead for the review's "Others" piece (basically the website's equivalent of a record store's RIYL sticker comparisons). Those names were Q-Tip and Grand Daddy I.U. Which is to say 1) if you enjoy Roc Marciano's music in any way, you should also be able to find much to enjoy in Grand Daddy I.U.'s, and 2) even if only by virtue of the impact of those artists he inspired, Grand Daddy I.U. also belongs in "the discussion" about the most influential rapper-producers of all time.

About a year after that review, I put together a DJ Screw tribute mix called 6:31 'n the Mornin', which featured all the Long Island rap songs I could readily identify on Screw tapes. One of the grossest oversights in the history of LongIslandRap.com may have been the omission of Grand Daddy I.U.'s "Sugar Free" from that mix, and if so, I am grateful for Lance Scott Walker's DJ Screw: A Life In Slow Revolution for bringing to my attention that the song may have appeared on the seminal 3 'n the Mornin' album. Now, with all that being said, the song might be Juicy's "Sugar Free" like the internet says, in which case there are two errors in that one paragraph in Walker's book as he also refers to I.U. as a Queens rapper. Either way, it's fun to imagine Screw bumping I.U., perhaps hearing a kinship with other regional rap smooth-talkers like Too Short and Pimp C.

Lastly, I just want to point out that Grand Daddy's I.U.'s sophomore album, Lead Pipe, is one of the most severely overlooked and possibly one of the best rap albums to feature live instrumentation in the forefront rather than sample-based production. Like the early Roots projects, The Goats' two albums, and Schoolly D's Welcome to America (not coincidentally all by Philadelphia-based artists), Lead Pipe does not eschew any rawness in its embrace of studio musicianship, in this case arranged by I.U's brother, Kay Cee. On the contrary, if anything, Lead Pipe is I.U.'s most "hardcore" release.

That's all for my observations. Below you'll find some music and more, including in order: a Grand Daddy I.U. tribute mix by WUSB's DJ Cut Supreme, MF DOOM's remix of Grand Daddy I.U.'s "Slingin' Bass," and the three-part documentary TRB2HH Presents The Untold Story Of Grand Daddy I.U. by Kraze the King of Content.

"I just know this," says I.U. in the final moments of the documentary. "I just want n*****s to know that I am nice with my shit. That's all I ever wanted. I didn't even start doing this shit for money. I did it because I just wanted to do it. I did this shit before I got a record deal in my house just because I wanted to do it. I'd do this shit when I lost my record deal, when the shit collapsed. I just do it. And now once I've learned how to make records, I just do it when I want to just because I want to ... and I never did it for a check." R.I.P. Ayub "Grand Daddy I.U." Bey.

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