Filed under: No Country For Old (Rap) Men,Web Work,Wu-Tang Is For The Children
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Who made the best Drunk Uncle Rap for 2014?
Who made the best Drunk Uncle Rap for 2014?
Larry Smith passed away on the night of Thursday 18 December 2014, seven years after suffering a stroke that left him incapacitated. His son, Larry Smith Jnr. apparently read Larry the article I wrote about him for Cuepoint in October and he is said to have enjoyed it, so at least he knew that there were a lot of people who still appreciated his contributions before he left us.
While his the tributes are flowing on Twitter, there seems to be no mention of the fact that Larry was a ward of the state since his stroke, receiving the minimal attention from the staff for the final years of his life. Where were all these hot shot celebrity friends of Larry when he really needed their support and financial assistance? People such as Talib Haqq, Akili Walker and Spyder-D took the time to visit Mr. Smith in his time of need. I wonder when was the last time that Russell Simmons or Reverend Run took the time out to check up on the guy who helped to get them where they are today?
Russell Simmons actually sold-off Larry Smith’s half of the publishing from their Rush-Groove company to fund the deposit that Columbia Records required to give Def Jam their distribution deal, effectively selling him up the river so he could hand Rick Rubin the keys to the rock/rap blueprint. I can’t help but feel like the hip-hop world let Larry down when he needed them most.
I got 20 minutes with Prince Rakeem the other week. This was the result.
Spotify has the new Tragedy album available for your streaming pleasure, serving as a prelude to the Magnum Opus LP next year. You can get it through iTunes here if that’s more your bag.
Engineer all-star CJ Moore delves into the behind the scenes events of Kool G Rap‘s Roots of Evil and the infamous Rawkus album, heading out west, working with the Live Squad and much more in the second part of this interview trilogy.
Robbie: What happened after the Akinyele sessions finished?
CJ Moore: When money started coming into play between Dr. Butcher and myself, things started getting funny. I went out to California and I teamed-up with Ed Strickland again and we was with a guy doing a project called The Reality Check – a guy named Michael Harris – Harry O. He’s the guy who funded Death Row Records. Ice Cube, Ice-T, Dub C, all those guys were involved. I produced a couple of records with Ice-T with me and him rapping back and forth. I was doing the east coast stuff, Battlecat was doing the west coast stuff. I went to Big Daddy Kane, talked to him on the phone, I said, ‘I need you to be out in California. I’m doing this project, it’s kinda merging the east coast with the west coast. Let’s talk about what it’s gonna take to get you on the project.’ He asked me who was on the project, and I explained to him. There was guy named Black Ceasar on the project, he was from Pittsburgh, real talented guy, but Kane had a problem because his name was Black Ceasar. I said, ‘But your name is Big Daddy Kane!’ ‘Yeah, aka Black Ceasar.’ I said, ‘What kind of bullshit is that?’ He couldn’t do the project because of that. I stepped to Method Man and I was trying to get to Redman and everyone was kinda busy, so the east coast/west coast thing never did the proper merge. There was so much money on the table, more than these guys have ever made. For some reason it just backed-out. I guess the whole Harry O thing might have scared people to a degree, if you know the homework on the whole Death Row situation. But we can’t get into that.
DJ Kenny Parker has shared this recording of a Boogie Down Productions show at Brixton Academy, 1990. Highlights include the freestyle session where KRS kicks some rhymes that would appear on later albums. Also, it’s my birthday today so I’m off to drink some RAER whiskey and whatnot.
CJ Moore has been at ground zero for more classic hip-hop records that most of us can either count, through his work as an engineer at 1212 during the Paul C. era, with his group Black By Demand and with his work for Akinyele and Kool G Rap to name a few. After chopping it with CJ for three hours, there’s a lot of material to get through and a lot of behind the scenes stories to drop, so let’s begin with how it all got started.
Robbie: When did you first get involved with music?
CJ Moore: About 83, 84. My brothers had a DJ group, and I was just a guy around the group. They were into the deejaying aspect of it and I was into the rapping aspect of it. I started getting into the technical side of it around 84, 85. My mom had bought me a little portable piano and I started making my little compositions from that point. That stemmed into me being the guy who understood a lot of the technical ins and outs as far as equipment was concerned, and I took it from there.
You didn’t study engineering formally?
I just picked it up as I went along. It was a studio called 1212 that I worked at, I was 14, going on 15. I had made a record called ‘We’re Gettin’ Paid.’ My aunt had bought me a drum machine, called a Casio RZ-1. One of the first sampling drum machines, it had like a 2.5 seconds of sample time on it, so I started making my beats from that and using my little piano. I took it into 1212, and the guy who owned the studio – his name is Mick Corey – he took a liking to the fact that I had never been in the studio before, how I kinda knew my way around to where I recognised what I was looking at. I knew how to get in and out.I used to go over to Sam Ash and Manny’s on 48th Street after school and play around with the equipment until they kicked me out. I would watch people and at some point I would overhear conversations about studios. I was trying to get in these places, but I didn’t have the money nor the backing, as far as you get into the buildings and they see this little kid trying to come into a music building. They looking at me like I’m crazy, with no supervision. 1212, I saved up my little money and went and did the sessions. I asked him, ‘I would love to work in a place like this!’ And he said, ‘Why not?’ I liked at him like he was crazy. He was asking me what did I know about this and what did I know about that and I was answering all of the questions right. He was talking about ratio and threshold and attack and things of that nature. I understood that because I used to read a lot and picked it up from that point until I really got my hands on it. I had some sort of a tutorial head-start due to literature.
Biz Markie apparently makes up all his rhymes on the spot in the studio and then learns them later – except for when he gets his pals to write songs for him. Big Daddy Kane wrote the first side of Goin’ Off, as was clearly stated on the back cover (therefore not a case of ‘ghostwriting’) and for his next LP he enlisted GMC to lend his storytelling prowess for this entertainly tasteless tale of transgender luh gone wrong.
Seeing as though Caz’s original reference track was eventually issued with a 45 King remix, we can now compare the two. Who rocked it better?
This is the ultimate rap addict dedication – the fantasy league lost Ultramagnetic album that we might have enjoyed if they’d released a follow-up to Critical Beatdown in 1990. Sure, it’s a collection of b-sides and vaulted tracks from between 1987 and 1990, but this sums up everything that makes Ultramagnetic MC’s the greatest rap crew of all time. All praise due to Ced-Gee, Kool Keith, Moe Love and TR Love – the best to ever do it. Shout out to James aka BadNewz of 100X Posse for dropping that ‘MC Champion’ verse.
Craig Mack messed it up for everybody…
This episode’s theme? Deep cut remixes. Hence no ‘Shut ‘Em Down’ or ‘I Gotcha Opin.’
Continuing my interview with Kool-Ass Fash, we discuss him leaving The Beatnuts, meeting Kanye West, forming Missin’ Linx, getting beat-jacked by Dr. Dre and his ill-fated experience signing with Dante Ross.
Robbie: At what stage did you decide to do a solo album?
Al’ Tariq: While we were out on tour doing The Beatnuts joint, we were doing a show close to home at a school, maybe in Long Island or some shit, being on stage and then somebody started heckling us. Talking shit, ‘Yo, you fuckin’ aargh!’ I finally look and it’s Juju. Then he comes and hops on stage and joins in on one of our songs and shit. I was so mad, and I could never understand why Les and Peter Kang didn’t get mad with this dude. I had a few serious run-ins with him.
Artwork by Hams.
This dropped last month but what can you do. Delta has assembled an impressive collection of Australian funk, soul and jazz tracks for this mix, including the original loop from Kool G Rap & DJ Polo‘s ‘Butcher’s Shop.’ Please enjoy and accept this offering as part of Australia’s ‘Sorry ‘Bout Iggy’ initiative.
I was directed to this in the comment section of my Pos K interview last year by hotbox but forgot to post it. Take my wife…please!
Freddie Foxxx over a quality DJ Premier track.
The artist formerly known as Fashion aka Kool-Ass Fash took some time out to discuss the ups and downs of his career as both a soloist and as a member of The Beatnuts. This first part focuses on his early days, revealing that the Intoxicated Demons EP could have been completely different had fate not intervened, his thorny relationship with Juju, subliminal rhyme jabs between the Native Tongues and how recording the Street Level album was absolute hell.
Robbie: What made you want to rap?
Al’ Tariq: I wanted to rap at an early age, growing up in The Bronx. The first time I heard Spoonie Gee [starts reciting ‘Spoonin’ Rap’] I wanted to do it bad. I always sang and act and wrote plays and movies at a young age, but what made me think it could be real was I went to school with a young gentleman named James Todd Smith. We attended this school called Christopher Robbins Academy, we were both in ninth grade together. I had gone down to North Carolina to live for two years with my family and sister. I was down there in the fall, my brother came to see me, he was like, ‘Look at this record that Jay made.’ I couldn’t believe it. That was the moment. ‘He did it? I could do it!’ When I heard ‘I Need A Beat’ it was the fall of 1984. At them times, I was rhyming but I wasn’t out there rhyming with everybody. It was something I did on the low. Basketball and girls was all I thought about. I wanted to be an entertainer anyway, but rhyming was probably the fourth or fifth thing on that list. I had other pictures for what I thought I was gonna be at the end of the day.
If you need me, I’ll be hanging around the comment section of this video until that crab who insists that Droog is ‘miming’ his rhymes turns up.
Spotted at ego trip.
Bonus track from the Blasphemy LP, with Mr. Price making an always welcome appearance. You can download it for free here.
New Tragedy Khadafi, from the Pre-Magnum Opus LP, due December 16th.
Photo: Joe Conzo
Back before rap magazines and the internet, I heard a rumor that Grandmaster Caz and Ced-Gee were working on an album together. Needless to say, my young mind was blown at the possibility of these two rap geniuses teaming-up. While we only got a couple of Tuff City singles from this meeting of minds, it turns out that they did in fact record an entire album of material together in 1992 before Aaron Fuch‘s decided that the material ‘wasn’t commercial enough,’ according to a piece that Dave Tompkins did on the ‘You Need Stitches’ single. Tuff City eventually released the vaulted material on a couple of compilations, so I thought I’d assemble it all together to paint a picture of how Caz’s 1992 LP, The Grandest Of Them All was originally intended to sound before The Mighty Maestro was recruited to remake it. ‘I’m Gonna Freak You’ deserves a special mention as being one of the most amusing sex raps ever recorded, while ‘I’m Rich’ is flossing at it’s finest. I’ve also included the earlier records they did together, just on the general principle that everything Ced touched during that period was amazing and Caz still had some gas in the tank despite being part of the old guard by this point. Bronx brilliance at it’s finest, albeit in poorly mixed, unpolished form.