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Written by: Robbie Ettelson
NAME: The Rap Bandit (Real name Peter Goldman, stage name Danny Ozark aka ‘The Aging Wigga’).
AFFILIATIONS: Grew up with The Source founder Jon Schecter in Philly. Part of the original Mind Squad at The Source magazine, where he also penned the ‘Media Watch’ section under the name Pistol Pete. Later moved the column to Vibe magazine.
CLAIM TO FAME: Pioneered the art of making fun of rappers. One of the rare columns to actually move from one magazine to another.
CURRENT STATUS: On the rise in the stand-up comedy scene in Philly, and also gaining notoriety through frequent guest appearances on the highly rated Kidd Chris Show on WYSP-FM. According to the host Michael Cerio, ‘I’ll be honest he is into some crazy shit. Drugs, gambling, gay sex, STDs, trannies, you name it. All that being said he remains the nicest guy on the planet. I worry for him a lot but I guess that’s what makes him Danny.’ Was involved in a bizarre panty raid on NBC10 investigative reporter Lu Ann Cahn in 2007.
Robbie: What was the inspiration to start The Rap Bandit? Were you already writing for The Source?
Danny: I was writing for The Source under the name ‘Pistol Pete’. I was doing the media watch and was actually one of the first writers they had. See I grew up with Jonathan Schecter – he was the co-founder and original editor-in-chief of The Source. Then he went to Harvard and they started The Source there, and I would just do little articles, ‘cos I’m a writer too – I’ve written for the Phildalphia Enquirer and a bunch of different magazines. At the time we started it, hip-hop was semi…not in it’s infancy, but I think the Rap Bandit column debuted in ’92, and let’s say rap – for general purposes – didn’t really become known until ’81, ’82, and then sorta picked-up steam the great summer of ’88. A lot of times when something like that starts, the principals – all the rappers and all that stuff – they’re just revered, so The Source was good because it wasn’t just those cheesy rap magazines that were out anymore. From that, then you want to get into humor, so we started the Rap Bandit column and it was a really cool way to make fun of rappers because the reality at the time was…like ’92, I’m 26…in real life I was just a typical nerdy Jewish guy, and my real name’s Peter Goldman. As Peter Goldman, you’re not really gonna be able to make fun of rappers and be taken seriously…
So you created a nom d’plume?
Yeah. It was a cartoon illustrated with Todd James, we came up with a really cool illustration. Sheck came up with the name and there was a lotta speculation to who it was. He had a little input but he would give me a lotta freedom to do my thing. It really took off – the readers really loved it. I got a tremendous amount of mail. What happened was, it was goin’ really good, but it was really just for it’s time. Once the web came out people had access to all kinds of information, and a community started forming of people who just made fun of rappers. At the time we did it, no one was doin’ it. Then after a while it got dangerous to do it. Not for me – ‘cos I was just a cartoon, and I wasn’t even in the scene. That played a part in it too – nobody knew who I was.
I’m sure a couple of guys called up The Source saying, ‘Who wrote that shit in The Rap Bandit?!’
They had to field a lotta that stuff like periodically. Those kids lived in New York and had to go to clubs, and they couldn’t really make fun of rappers ‘cos they would get called on it. Rappers would come to the offices of all kinds of magazines and wreck shop. But I was really hidden behind that cartoon, and that was a good and bad thing as time moved on. It created some interesting situations. When I was at Vibe – I wrote for Vibe for two years, and Vibe wasn’t as good as The Source – but when I worked at Vibe, hilariously, I never met anyone that worked there. Ever. They knew my identity, but they never met me and they would just send out a check every month or whatever. It was to some PO Box in Philadelphia. That actually hurt me when the column started to go down – not being in the scene at the time, I was easily cast away.
Was that so no one would spill the beans?
The core nucleus at The Source knew at that was cool, ‘cos I was also writing the ‘Media Watch’ as Pistol Pete. At Vibe I had no personal connection with anyone, and it was a real transitory scene there as well. They were in and out of editors all the time. The bad thing was I had nobody in my camp over there either, so the writing was on the wall by the time they were saying, ‘OK, it will be you this month and you’re gonna alternate every month with Yo-Yo – a question and answer column with Yo-Yo’. That was pretty humiliating for so many reasons. People were writing to her for medical advice…
‘I’m experiencing some chafing from my new jeans!’
Exactly. The end of The Rap Bandit can be tied into a couple of different things – the web came out, and I sorta became obsolete. I didn’t even have a computer at the time. I just wasn’t in that scene. For a while, even though it was a humor column, people would really read it to find out what was goin’ on, and I would disappoint them in that way, like, ‘Why don’t you ever write serious answers?’ But once they did have access to oodles of hip-hop it made what I did less interesting. Also, I got older, and I always say about hip-hop – that’s gotta be something you feel. When I was doin’ it, I understood the music, I followed it a lot, and I felt competent to give the answers I was giving, knowing it would be funny. But as I got older and more out of the scene, I wasn’t the guy to write the best jokes about hip-hop. And you can’t fake that in rap! It actually started to get quasi-lame by the time I was in Vibe. It started to get lame because I wasn’t into it as much, and I always thought the two magazines had the same reader base. I used to get the greatest questions from The Source readers – they ultimately served as like the best set-up lines ever! I’d come-up with the right joke. But when I got to Vibe, half the mail I was getting was like, ‘What’s Boys II Men fan club address?’ When we all left The Source, that was ultimately the demise of The Rap Bandit. Although something interesting happened that you really don’t see a lot – an entire column shifted to another magazine. Very rare.
Were you part of the exodus after the whole Dave Mays/Benzino situation?
Yeah. Of course I was loyal to Sheck – that’s my boy. Plus I believed in what they believed in, but it was unfortunate for me because I had a really good thing going on at The Source with the two columns. There was plans to start a cartoon with it in the magazine, and I think that would been pretty hot.
‘The Adventure of The Rap Bandit?’
Yeah. I had wrote a couple and Todd was gonna illustrate it – they were funny. So when I got to Vibe it was a very sterile environment there for me. Comedy is like timing – Sheck would give me the latest possible deadline, so I would send in my jokes to him and – almost unheard of – three to four weeks later I’d see them in a magazine, whereas at Vibe there could be twelve inches of snow on the ground and they’re sayin’, ‘What are you doing for the summer issue?’ They had a five, six month turnaround from when they got my article to when it would be in print. If somethings not funny and I’m involved, I never blame anybody else. The reality is I started to get kinda lame because I didn’t really know as much and I wasn’t an insider. All the guys at The Source that I would hit up for insider info and then give it my own spin, they sort of moved on to different things and it wasn’t the same set up. Not having any allies at Vibe then started to affect the column and it then started to go downhill. I love that it had a little bit of a rebirth. So many things in hip-hop are great only for a little bit. To understand that and not be offended by it or devastated by a lack of continues success is a cool thing. I was able to move on and find a different voice for my comedy. It’s good for me, ‘cos now I can do comedy about all topics, not just rap. I am 39 and Jewish, so that’s a good thing. I’m real proud of it now. I would write back a lot of people myself to the address back, not just respond in the magazine, ‘cos I wanted to make people feel good. I got a lotta mail from kids and prisoners, and I just wanted to make them know that they weren’t firing off to some uncaring thing. Sometimes really cool things would happen. One time I walked into HipHopStore Dot Com in Vegas, and people found out that I was The Rap Bandit and a bunch of employees came down and they were pointing at me going, ‘That’s hip-hop royalty right there!’ It made me feel good during down times.
I actually wrote a book called The Rap Bandit about all this stuff and I never got a deal. Everybody in the world has gotten a book deal that was involved in hip-hop, and most of them were all terrible. And the harshest thing is that I’ve probably written one of the funniest books ever about hip-hop, and no ones ever gonna read it, except me and my agent and all the publishing houses that have passed on it. It’s dated – people go to me, ‘You can’t write about then. You’ve gotta write about current stuff’. I’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, I see what you mean, because books are never about the past!’ it’s just biased against me, but it’s cool. I’m not even sweating it anymore, because I get to go on stage every night, I get to go on the radio, I get to perform at casinos or whatever and say whatever I wanna say. So I kind of have the last laugh for now. There would be funny scenarios too, like in the mid-90s I was working at a hotel when The Rap Bandit was kicking. A lot of rappers would come through and I would have jokes about them while I was punching in their wake-up call. Chuck D I remember specifically. I had a lot of jokes against him when I was checking him in. It was real cool.
Then there was the famous ‘gay rapper’ saga…
I only knew what the people knew, which was supposedly Lyte and Queen Latifah and Erick Sermon…I was given credit for starting it, but it was really just some letter writer who did it, and then I wanted to make a joke about people being so interested in it. So I started giving out ridiculously general clues. I’d heard that Wendy Williams was a fan of mine and that she would mention me on KISS. At the time, I was less industry savvy than I am right now, and she sorta took that idea and ran with it and blew up. But I don’t begrudge her that, because I admire people that know what to do to make money and make moves. Ironically, it gets a little bit hilarious. So she took an idea that I sort of kicked off, made money with it and then there was extensive renovations done to the apartment house I was living in – so I had to move out, ‘cos it got to expensive – and she ended-up moving into that apartment building, ‘cos she started doing radio in Philly! I had a down period where I had to put up with a lot. The guy who replaced me got a show on MTV – Buckwild – so everybody was living high on the high except for me…little ‘no computer boy’!
Where did you go from there?
Vibe cut us loose in ’97, but that ended good because even after they said they didn’t want to do it anymore they were like, ‘Can you do a couple more months?’ After that I kinda dropped outta hip-hop for a minute. Then I started working for…Jonathan Schecter had the Hip-Hop Honeys, and at the time also Game Recordings, which was a hot independent label at the time. That was the genesis of the Hip-Hop Honeys series now. I started working for that company out in Vegas, from say ’99 to ’02. It was mostly just a record company at that time, the the first Hip-Hop Honeys came out in ’02 and then I came back to Philly and a little bit later I started doing stand-up. It was just in Philly but you’ve gotta make in-roads first. I’ve only been doing stand-up now for three years, so it’s a constant learning process, but I’m building-up steam.
Who was the most pissed-off rapper to call The Source and complain about you?
Das-EFX got a little mad, I think I associated them sexually with Madonna. Some people got it that if they were mentioned, that secretly meant that I was probably a fan of theirs. In comedy you make fun of the stuff you know, ‘cos you feel safe doin’ it. I would make fun of people I know and like. Basically the people that were screaming for attention, like Tony D, would make a big scene he was in it. But I’m sure he secretly loved it. The only person that got it was this rapper that was part of Ice-T‘s Rhyme Syndicate – this guy named Nat The Cat – and he actually had one cool song I love. If the re-emergence of The Rap Bandit does anything, I would like it to reunite me with Nat The Cat! He sent me something one time, like a tape and t-shirt and a note that said, ‘Hey man, any kind of mention is a good one’. And you know what? He’s right! And he probably understood I was a fan of his. I’d rather talk about him right now than LL. I’ll never forget…I set up a PO Box out here and the mail just started pouring in! People were like, ‘Who are you? What’s goin’ on?’ It had a lotta heat. The people at the magazine would beg to know how it was. It was just the perfect set-up, man. Up until we did it, rappers were usually revered. No one was takin’ them down a notch and that led to a really dull environment. Sheck was the greatest editor anyone could ever have. He gave me a lot of leeway and he was definitely on the cutting edge of the scene. A lot of people thought it was him, and it wasn’t. We have similar sense of humor and would give me the best info and the best direction, like, ‘That might not be the right way’. He helped me find a voice for it that would be New York approved, even though I was doing it from a remote location. All these factors combined and it just hit.
Everyone wanted to know who the Rap Bandit was, and I was very far removed from being reachable. This is pre-web, I’m living in Philly, and out of nowhere – I would say early ’92 – I got a call from Tupac‘s mom! I swear to you. I don’t know how she got my number, I don’t know what was goin’ on, but she was sort of his defacto publicist at the time. It was around the time when ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’ was out, the 2Pacalypse Now album, and I really dug that album. She was calling around and she somehow got my number – we never learned why or how – and she was telling me about him, and I finally cut her off and I said, ‘M’aam, you’re preaching to the choir. I’m a fan of your son’. This is at a time when he wasn’t that big. It was one of those unsolved mysteries – how did Tupac’s mom get The Rap Bandit’s phone number? When I first started I remember saying that MC Shan was a wide receiver in the USFL, and people would really believe it! We knew right away that it was a win, because people were falling for it and they were confused. That’s really just what we wanted. I started to fade out around ’97, and that was a very violent era in hip-hop. Violence retook over from comedy in hip-hop. There was just less and less a place for somebody like me on that level. I invite somebody funny, who could really handle it, to start a a column called ‘Rap Bandit Jnr’. Go ‘head, man. ‘That’s my son, yo!’
Are you still into rap?
It took me ten years to get out of hip-hop, and I have no desire to get back in [laughs].
FIVE CLASSIC RAP BANDIT LETTERS:
1. When asked what happened to Stezo, he replied that, “He owns a small but successful specialty shop in New York’s Greenwich Village called ‘Just Denim’.”
2. An inquiry as to the location of Kid ‘N Play‘s fan club resulted in this response: “666 Sell Out Drive, Hollywood, California, 90219″.
3. A Big Daddy Kane fan wondering if he was, “still into that 5% thing” was informed that, “Nah, his new release contains much more than the 5% of rap contained in Prince of Darkness”.
4. The guy from The Bronx who wanted to know who was the oldest rapper is was told, “While I could list them individually, it’s easier for me to ‘Just Say Stet‘.”
5. One of the numerous pleas to reveal the identity of ‘the gay rapper’ resulted in this helpful clue, ‘At one point in his career, the gay rapper made a song which sampled James Brown‘.
Nat The Cat – ‘While You’ve Been Waiting’
Rhyme Syndicate – ‘What You Wanna Do’ video:
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