Filed under: G Rap Week,In The Trenches,Interviews,Killa Queens,Not Your Average,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Continuing my talk with Dr. Butcher, we discuss Rakim, LL Cool J and the legendary Silver Fox.
Robbie: Have you got any DAT’s of G Rap, Ak or Grimm songs that were never heard?
Dr. Butcher: I think Grimm has released a lot of the material on his indy label. G Rap, a lot of the things he would do he would release. We did the song for the AIDS compilation that I think was bootlegged, with Grimm, G, Ak – there was a bunch of dudes. We were kinda annoyed because ewe went in and did the song for free as a benefit and then they turned the song down. Somehow it got leaked to the public and everybody was goin’ crazy over the song. Most of the things I have copies of was a lot of Akinyele’s material, but even that stuff, a lot of it he’s since released.
What can you tell me about Queens?
KRS-One used to say a lotta slick little wording in his songs about Queens and G Rap would always approach him about it and say stuff right back at him, but for some reason KRS would never answer G Rap. He always avoided him. Even in ‘My Philosophy’ he said something about, ‘The DJ behind me’ or something, and G Rap thought he was talking about him and Polo. So he went and approached him and he denied it. KRS was like, ‘No, no, I wasn’t talking about you’. G Rap wanted to battle him so bad. He just wanted to go at KRS-One so bad but KRS wouldn’t bite! He wouldn’t touch him, because he knew that G was the new young dude that was not to be touched. He had that fire, and a lotta people avoided him for a long time, they just wouldn’t touch him.
It seems like even G Rap and Kane had a friendly rivalry.
Absolutely! I’m sure you’ve heard the version of ‘Raw’ with G Rap and Kane freestylin’ on it. The story behind that record is – G Rap, right after he did the record he came and got me and said ‘Yo Drew, listen to the this’. What it was is that Kane had a girl in the studio, and G was like ‘Yo, I think Kane was tryin’ to impress the girl. He was workin’ on ‘Raw’ and G was just hangin’ out in the studio, and he was like ‘Yo, you wanna do something real quick?’ and G was like ‘Sure’. I think Kane had just wrote his verse, so he had a fresh, hot little verse that he wanted to spit – I think to impress the girl that was in the studio – so he did his verse, and he didn’t know that G had this monsterous verse sittin’ there waitin’ for him! [laughs] So he finished his verse, then G walked in the booth and did his verse and Kane just sat there like…he just couldn’t believe what G had just did. I know Marley was happy, ‘cos right after it hit the radio waves! [laughs] He wants the new hotness! It was funny, G was just like, ‘Yo, I just had to show him. He thought he was gonna catch me off guard, but I was ready for him. I had a crazy, crazy verse in the stash.’ Like you said, it was a friendly rivalry. Kane’s a really, really good dude. They always got along. G never had a bad word to say about Kane. It’s no different than Jay-Z‘s and Biggie Smalls‘ rivalry. People think them two dudes was just the best of friends, but travelling with Jay I’ve heard many conversations of like when they were doing the ‘Brooklyn’ song, how they was like ‘Yo Jay, you better tear Biggie up!’ It was a serious rivalry! It wasn’t all about, ‘Yo, that’s me dude’ – them dudes were goin’ at each other! But it was in a friendly way. God rest Biggie and all, but when he was gone, Jay just went and took that spot. They was waitin’ for the spot.
Even on that ‘Raw’ version, that was the first time G dropped the ‘creature, feature, teacher, taught ya’ style, and then Kane kinda adapted that.
You’re right. That was right after Rakim did his second album, ‘Lyrics of Fury’ and all that stuff. When he recorded that, Rakim was staying at a hotel near LaGuardia Airport, and that’s in Elmhurst where we live. Eric B.‘s brother Ant Live kinda road managed him and was staying with Rakim – from what I understand, he couldn’t focus being at home on Long Island, ‘cos everybody would always wanna come see him and hang out. So he needed to get away so he could write. He went and got him a hotel room in the Holiday Inn or something, and just stayed there so he could write the album. G Rap would go and hang out with him a lot, and then he called me one day, he was like ‘Yo Butch, I gotta take you to hear Rakim’s new record. The dude done stepped-up – his rhymes are crazy!’ and I was like ‘Are you serious?’ He wa slike ‘Yo, you just gotta hear it’. And he took me to his hotel room and that’s when he played ‘Lyrics of Fury’ and ‘Follow The Leader’ and all of that stuff, and I was just like ‘Wow!’ After that, it just made G Rap work even harder. So he was ready, when he heard Kane.
There was even a little thing between Rakim and Kane. Rakim, from what I understand – I didn’t hear it – but I know he had made a record called ‘Cut The Kane In Half’, and it was gonna be a diss record for Big Daddy Kane but he didn’t put it out. But if you listen to his rhymes, he says little slick stuff on the Follow The Leader album that was directed at Kane. Because there was a lot of stuff goin’ on about how was better and who was the best. Rakim was pretty quiet, he never talked about. Kane was a little more verbal about it. They never really made it publicly known, but he definitely was gonna do something.
How come G Rap was never drawn into that?
Him and Rakim were good friends. They respected each other extremely. Just the level of lyricism that was there, the two respected each other a lot. G Rap always hung around them, that’s why he’s on the back cover of Paid In Full album. They were like brothers, they went everywhere together. Eric B. was executive producer of the Wanted Dead or Alive album, so a lotta of that stuff was why those connections were there. Actually, when that happened, he was trying to sign me as an artist! He realized one day – him and LL, they were all on tour together, and I guess they were home for like a week rest, but they were hangin’ out. They went and got LL, and LL was in Corona, and he was like, ‘Yo, my man Drew lives out here!’ and they came to my house. Eric hadn’t met me yet, but G Rap was with them and he realized, ‘Yeah, that’s right. I forgot you and Drew were really close’. From there, that’s how that connection started, then Ant Live – Eric’s brother – started telling him about me, ‘cos me and G Rap were like the two best rappers in the neighborhood.
You used to rap?
Yeah. I came up as a rapper actually. Me and LL, all of us were in a group together. G Rap knew me as a rapper, we were just tight friends ‘cos we were like the two best rappers, and we always just hung out together in the neighborhood. He didn’t know I could DJ, and what happened was there was a cat named Camiro that he actually wanted to be ‘Dr. Butcher’. Right around when Jazzy Jeff and all them guys came out, he wanted a really good DJ to get down with him. But the dude had some issues and didn’t want to be the DJ anymore, so the girl that became his girl – that he had a baby by, my sister Karen – said, ‘You gotta see Drew’. And he was like, ‘Yo Drew, everybody tellin’ me that you can get busy’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m pretty good’, and he was like ‘Yeah, right’ – he still didn’t believe it. So I was like, ‘Alright, just come by the house’, and when he came by and saw me, he couldn’t believe it. He was like shocked! He started running around, telling everybody, ‘Yo! Butcher’s a better DJ than he is a rapper!’ [laughs] So he was like ‘Yo, I want you to take the name Dr. Butcher and be my other DJ’. So that’s when we started goin’ to the studio, doin’ Wanted Dead or Alive and I started scratching on his records and just kinda assumed the name.
So what was you’re name when you were rapping?
I was Drewski or something like that. I had a few names back in 1987. But it was fun.
What was the name of the group you had with LL?
Extravagant Three. It was myself, LL and another guy named Royal Rich, who’s brother was a guy named Professor KB. Professor KB was actually Paul C‘s partner, and that’s how I met the producer Paul C. After LL got his deal, me and Rich stayed together as a group, and Paul C. used to do a lot of beats for us, along with his brother KB. When Paul C. would work out of 1212 Studio‘s he would call us at night and we would always go to the studio and record songs late at night, so that was kinda fun too.
He did all those early Mikey D records too.
Exactly. Mikey D‘s the one who introduced me to Rich and LL. When he heard me…in my high school there was this contest called ‘The Rap Attack’, it was like a talent show goin’ on, and one of Mikey D’s partners went to my school, so he would come up there. I was from the other side of Queens, so I didn’t know who any of these guys were. When I got there – I was like real small, maybve a freshman in high school – and I was maybe 4’2” or something like that. I looked like a little kid with a big giant afro! When people found out I could rap, the word started spreading around the school: ‘There’s this new little kid – you gotta hear him! He’s incredible!’ So all of a sudden I started getting’ all these rappers from Jamaica would come up to the school and hear me rap. Then Mikey D met me, he was like ‘Yo, I know this other little kid, this young dude I need you to meet. You gotta battle him, and his name is Rich. I’mma bring him up here to battle you’. I was like “Alright, whatever’. So he brought him and we started spittin’ rhymes to each other, and he was good – Rich was really good – and we were impressed with each other, so it was ‘You know what? Let’s join a group!’ Then we met LL. LL was there with another guy named Max Mellow C – he went to the school – LL didn’t go to my high school but he woukld come up there every day, and afterwards he was like ‘Let’s join a group!’ So me, Rich and LL formed a group. Mikey D was in another group with DJ Johnny Quest. We were all like one little family – we all knew each other from high school.
But you never worked with LL after he got signed?
I produced for him! I produced a song called ‘The Soul Survivor’ for him on the 14 Shots To The Dome album. I produced it with C4. Me and C4 – the guy who did ‘Put It In Your Mouth’ – were production partners. I was going to C4’s house one day to work on some music, and LL was shooting his first video from that album on Farmer’s Boulevard, and C4 lived on Farmers Boulevard at the time. And I got off the bus and saw him and I was like ‘Yo! What’s up!’ We hadn’t seen each other in a while. We was always real cool, whenever he had time he would always come see me, but he had been so busy we hadn’t seen each other in a while. So he’s asking ‘Where you going?’ and I’m like ‘To my production partner’s house right down the street’. He’s like ‘Alright, I’mma stop by as soon as I finish the video’. So when I went to my man’s house I didn’t tell him, because I didn’t know if LL was really gonna come. He was so busy, I didn’t know if he was really gonna come by. So we down there working on music and the doorbell rings. He’s like ‘Who’s that?’ and I’m like ‘It’s probably LL, I saw him a few minutes ago and he said he was gonna come by’, and he didn’t believe me! When he opened the door, LL was standing there, like, ‘Yo, is Drew here?’ and his mouth just fell open! L came down and the track we were working on was actually the ‘Soul Survivor’ track, like he walked in the door and heard it. And the thing about it, when we originally did the track, we sampled JDL from the Cold Crush Brothers saying ‘The L baby, baby, the L baby, baby!’
That was the first song I ever produced, actually. L was working with QD3 and all these other guys, and what happened was – we did the song, as soon as he heard the track he just sat down, got a pen and pad and wrote the song. He just wrote the song right on the spot. He was like, ‘Yo, we’re goin’ to the studio tomorrow, gimme your information.’ I was like, ‘What information?’ He was like, ‘I need your attorney’ and I was like, ‘I don’t have no attorney, man!’ So I had to go get attorney’s and set-up publishing companies and we were in the studio the next day, recording and stuff. It happened that fat. But after we did it, the version that we did had a grimy, street feel to it, and the rest of his album was all clean, with instruments and all of this stuff, and the track kinda stood out. He was nervous about that, so he went in and let QD3 remix the song. He was like, ‘Because you’re my friend, I told Q I still want your name on it’, so we all ended-up splitting the production credits, but the version you hear is a remix. It was so funny because not three or four months afterwards, Wu-Tang Clan hit the scene, and the track that we heard sounded very much like a RZA track. It was strange because the track got leaked – everybody that heard it loved that track, ‘cos it had a street feel to it – they started leaking the song out,and you would walk down Jamaica Avenue and frequently hear people riding by, playing our version of that song. I was like ‘Maan, you shoulda left that version of the song on the album. You woulda got a lot more street play.’ But I understand what he was thinking. He’s coming off these multi-platinum albums and stuff, and he was just a little nervous because everything else is all pristine and played with instruments, then you’ve got this other stuff that’s filtered and gutter-sounding. I was never that crazy about QD3’s version though, but it’s cool.
Is C4 the guy from Black By Demand?
Uh uh, that’s CJ. C4 is a cat named Chris Forte. He’s done a lot of mixtapes with Joe Buddens and he was also doing a few joints with Papoose. CJ was another friend of mine that I kinda grew-up with. After LL left I met CJ Moore and he joined our group. We got real cool and then he was doing his Black By Demand stuff. Then later on we reformed again and became production partners.
Do you remember Silver Fox?
I can’t even believe you know Silver Fox! Silver Fox was LL and Kool G Rap’s mentor. Silver Fox is responsible for LL getting’ his record deal! Me, LL and Rich were workin’ on routines one day and we were listening to Fantasy Three, and they had the number to their record company on the label, so LL called the record store – Silver Fox owned the record store where the record company was – so he called it and Fox was like, ‘Yeah, come on down. Let me check you out.’ It was supposed to be all three of us that went down to the record store to meet Silver Fox. Rich and LL were supposed to meet me at my school. Rich was there, we waited on my steps for two or three hours – I mean I got out of school at like 3:30 and we stayed on the steps until 6 o’clock at night, waitin’ for LL. He never showed up. When we got home we called, like, ‘Yo, what happened?’ He was like, ‘Yo, I was up there. I didn’t see y’all’ It was like, ‘Yo, L – we was there! We was standin’ outside! How you didn’t see us?’ He was like, ‘Well I went up there to meet Silver Fox anyway!’ So he went and met Silver Fox and got real cool with Fox, and Fox introduced him to Rick Rubin – and the rest is history. So that’s how they met. They used to all go to a club called Joe Grants up in Harlem, and G Rap knew Fox too, and him and LL both told me that Silver Fox was hands down the best rapper – period! They said, ‘Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel – none of those guys were nowhere near Silver Fox.’ I asked Tito and he said ‘Nobody wanted anything to do with Silver Fox at the time. He’s like the most underrated, most uncredited rapper ever. And he’s probably one of the greatest rappers ever in hip-hop.
Does anyone have tapes of Silver Fox in his prime?
I wish! He actually mentored..G Rap and LL kinda patterned themselves [on Fox]. When LL told me it was a shocker to me because I know how much LL respected…Melle Mel and Kool Moe Dee were like his idols! When he came back and said, ‘Drew, Silver Fox will destroy Moe Dee and Melle Mel! This dude is on another planet! If you heard him you wouldn’t believe it’. And at the time LL used to amaze me, ‘cos you go in his room – the dude would literally have twenty garbage bags in his room and they were all full of rhymes! He would just write and write and not stop! He was the most prolific dude that I had ever met, I couldn’t believe how many rhymes the dude would write! For every one you would say, he would have thirty rhymes to say! But he was like ‘Drew, I’m nowhere near this guy! Trust me when I tell you – this dude is phenomenal!’ I met him in person with G Rap one day, we were doin’ a show in Atlantic City and he was there with some girl group he was working with. That was the first time I ever met him.
Next: Part 3 discusses his work with Main Source and Large Professor and his current projects.
Kool G Rap - ‘4,5,6’
MF Grimm, Kool G Rap, Akinyele etc. - ‘AIDS’
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