The Unkut Guide To: J.V.C. Force


Pic courtesy Meaning of Dope.

After forming meeting at high school out on Long Island, Curt Cazal, B Luv and AJ Rok (who was originally from Mt. Vernon) would spend three to four hours every day rehearsing their routines. It wasn’t until they were all in college that the J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E (Justified by Virtue of Creativity For Obvious Reasons Concerning Entertainment) began to send their demo tapes out to labels. They now admit to being a little surprised when B-Boy Records offered them a deal on the strength of ‘Nu Skool’, which the group considered to be their weakest song at the time. According to AJ Rok: “Rock Candy Records was the label. Scott La Rock approached them about doing a label, and B-Boy Records was supposed to be – on paper – the joint venture between Scott La Rock and Rock Candy. That’s originally how it started. But what happened is, the people that owned the label – I think it was two Jewish guys, and a black dude – because Scott never put no money up, they let him say you’re an owner…but the paperwork didn’t reflect that.” J.V.C. Force’s debut single for the label, ‘Strong Island’, was originally recorded as the B-side to ‘Nu Skool’, but once it was laid down there was no denying the power of that song and it went on to become a huge hit as the A-side in 1987, and was quickly adopted as the anthem for the still-emerging hip-hop scene in Long Island. By sampling Chuck D‘s rallying cry of “Strong Island!” from Public Enemy‘s ‘Bring The Noise’ ‘Rebel Without A Pause’, J.V.C. were the first crew to really stand-up and represent Long Island to the fullest.

DJ Spontaneous had traded me for my copy of ‘Good Times’ ‘cos he needed doubles for this party”, reminisces AJ. “He gave me this record by Frieda Payne, and when I listened to it I was pissed off I’d given up my ‘Good Times’! A few years later, the original beat we had for ‘Strong Island’ was ‘My Girl’, but B Luv said, ‘Hell nah. We’ve gotta look for a beat’. So we went to his pops house and I said, ‘Do you have anything by Frieda Payne?’ So he played ‘Band of Gold’ and I’m like, ‘Nah, that ain’t the record. Yo, turn it over’. It was the b-side, and we looked at each other like, ‘Yo!’ We called up Curt right away and played it to him”. Combing the two separate Frieda Payne samples, ‘Strong Island’ burst out the speaker with it’s rolling congo break, triumphant horn blasts and buzzing guitar licks, allowing AJ Rok and B Luv to kick an addictive back-and-forth routine that swings between light-hearted boasts and stern warnings to any doubters. J.V.C. also released the exclusive ‘Blue Mix’ of ‘Strong Island’ for the European market. “The U.K. was giving us mad love”, details AJ. “So we did something just for the U.K. It ended up going other places, but it was just for the U.K. It ended up coming back out to the States, eventually. They were giving us love so we gave them something extra.” Still instantly recognizable to this day, the track was remade by Chris Lowe (who produced much of Stezo’s debut) and Parrish ‘PMD’ Smith for ‘CT To LI Buckwhylin’ in 2000.

Building off of the momentum of the first single, their debut album Doin’ Damage featured popular tracks such as the title track and the Vaughn Mason-based ‘Take It Away’, but following the murder of Scott La Rock and the departure of KRS-One to Jive Records, J.V.C. found themselves as the lone golden goose at the crumbling B-Boy Records label. Frustrated by poor distribution and shady business dealings, the crew moved to Idlers for their sophomore effort, which proved to be equally unsatisfactory for different reasons. “Idlers was distributed through Warlock,” explains AJ. “The guy’s name was Tony Dick – he lived up to his name too. The best thing about him was that he introduced us to his lawyer, and his lawyer helped us get off our contract with B-Boy. And then his lawyer became our lawyer and helped us get off our contract with him. The bad thing about it was, he put out that Jungle Brothers‘ ‘Girl I’ll House You’, and then Hip-House started coming in he wanted us to get into that. And we did kinda listen to him, but I never felt it – it wasn’t me. They were trying to push us into areas that really wasn’t us.” Despite these creative differences, 1990’s Force Field proved to be a more diverse and adventurous musical excursion, delving into reggae and rock samples and even flipping the theme from the childrens television program The Electric Company (which was later used on MF Doom‘s Mm…Food LP). Another track – ‘We Got Our Own Thing’ – was based around CJ & Co’s hit of the same name, but after Heavy D released his own popular version of the song, Idlers asked the crew to remake it as a Hip-House mix called ‘It’s A Force Thing.’ Certified dope material such as the incredible ‘Tear The Show Up’ left no doubt that the crew were more than just one-hit wonders, but with minimal exposure and only one single released to support the project, the album didn’t make much noise outside of their already established fan base.

It would be another two years before the Force released new music, this time with Big Beat Records. While they recorded an entire (untitled) third album, the deal only yielded a single 12″ release – ‘Big Trax’/ ‘6 Feet Back On The Map’. The A-side was notable for being one of the earliest uses of the DeBarge sample made famous on Big L’s ‘M.V.P.’ and Biggie’s ‘Big Poppa (Remix)’, amongst others (although Kid Capri beat all of them to the punch on ‘Billy’ from 1991’s The Tape). What became of that third album (Creative Differences) remains a mystery, as the group finally parted ways during that period. Here’s what producer T-Ray, who worked a number of Big Beat projects at the time, had to say regarding that third LP:

“I want somebody to make sure they get that out. I would put it out but I don’t have all the masters. Here’s the sad thing. Power Play called me up, I was out here [in Malibu] so I couldn’t make it in time – some guys I knew that had bought Power Play, they called me up and they were like, ‘We gotta clean out all the old tapes, ‘cos we only got this one tape closet for the whole studio and it’s full of tapes. We just saw about twenty in here with your name on it!’ And they had some Percee-P tapes in there, with maybe seven or eight songs that had never come out, on two-inch reels. So I called Percee, ‘Yo, pick ‘em up.’ Percee didn’t go do it, and it’s my understanding that all of those got thrown in the garbage, including the original tapes of the Kenny Dope record with all that shit separated, versions we didn’t use and shit. What I’m scared of is that potentially that whole JVC Force album got thrown away, unless there are copies AJ has.”

Where Are They Now?

AJ ‘Rok’ Woodson went on to make a name for himself as an accomplished journalist, working as Associate Editor at On The Go magazine, where he conducted some amazing interviews with under-exposed old school legends such as the Crash Crew and the Fearless Four. He later went on to contribute to The Source and The Village Voice, amongst others. He reunited the whole crew for his Heavy Rotation Magazine Radio show in December of 2007 to mark the 20th anniversary of ‘Strong Island’, and has just published a book titled Spiritual Minded – Da Daily Devotion For The Hip-Hop Generation.

Curt Cazal brought the rights to D&D Studios name and moved all the equipment from ‘The A Room’ to his house and started D&D East in Long Island. He also released records as QNC (Q Ball and Curt Cazal) and contributed tracks for a number of projects, including M.O.P.‘s Warriorz album.

B Luv started a company called The Get Down Lounge, which does a lot of private parties and functions in Atlanta. He’s also produced for Mean Green and Yankee B, and is working with a new artist from Cleveland named Rhyme Heavy.

Albums:

Doin’ Damage (B-Boy, 1988)
Forcefield (Idlers, 1990)

Singles:

‘Strong Island’ (B-Boy, 1987)
‘Love Line’ (B-Boy, 1988)
‘Strong Island’ (Blue Mix) (RAP, 1988)
‘Intro 2 Dance’ (Idlers, 1990)
‘Big Trax’ (Big Beat, 1992)

J.V.C Force - ‘Strong Island’ (Blue Mix)

J.V.C Force - ‘Doin’ Damage’ (Original Version)

J.V.C Force - ‘Nu Skool’ (12″ Version)

J.V.C Force - ‘Force Field’ (Alternative Mix)

J.V.C Force - ‘Tear The Show Up’

J.V.C Force - ‘Trivial Pursuit’

J.V.C Force - ‘We Got Our Own Thing’ (Unreleased)

J.V.C Force - ‘The Move’

J.V.C Force - ‘6 Feet Back On The Map’ (Hardcore Mixxup)

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38 Comments so far
Leave a comment

…credit is due

Comment by swordfish 01.06.09 @

Terrific piece with great info Robbie! I never knew much about these guys even when “Strong Island” was getting spins.

Comment by Frost Gamble 01.06.09 @

ha ha i love how the samples are given wrong names to keep everything secret. Electric Company? Ha ha…Payne yup I got both of those 45’s crispy…good trade. Bally’s and Chess King word up. I covet force field to this day…one of the best albums of all time even if it has a hip house track. JVC is the shit. They used the beat to how many mcs 1st even if kid capri got the beat 4 billy 1st. what can i say I love that group. Red alert used to run their shit every weekend. I was just listening to force feild in my walkman today while walking to C-Town…great timing on this post.

Comment by Mercilesz 01.06.09 @

wow i never heard the other version of force field….dammmn my fav 45 king loop….dope…oh an don’t even look 4 the blue copy of strong island u wont find it….

Comment by Mercilesz 01.06.09 @

German “Strong Island” remix from 1989 here:
http://www.canibringmygat.com/2009/01/06/future-rock/

Comment by mattmatical 01.06.09 @

the force is da boss.
like the rmxs. props
future rock.

Comment by swordfish 01.06.09 @

Robbie,

…ahhh… I’m pretty sure that the Chuck D sample in ‘Strong Island’ is from “Rebel Without A Pause”, not ‘Bring the Noise’ as you reported.

Just keeping it correct.

Ausar

Comment by Ausar 01.06.09 @

When I heard “strong island” on wbls, i was like, “what the f*ck!!” thats not a beat machine!! the beginning of the sampling craze. shit was cold!!!! i wish ya’ll would have posted “big tracks” and “intro to dance”

Comment by dubz 01.06.09 @

nice article as usual!jvc force were dope indeed!you should have put the sirocalot track that came out at that time too which is dope.
and please someone track the big beat album down and release it!

Comment by mp 01.06.09 @

On point as always.
Mercilesz – I found me a Blue Mix just three months ago. they’re out there. just for completists though, it sucks compared to the OG

Comment by Drew Huge 01.06.09 @

do u live in America Drew?

Comment by Mercilesz 01.06.09 @

dubz i agree!!!!

Comment by Mercilesz 01.06.09 @

Yo on behalf of the entire JVC FORCE
I wanna thank Rob for putting this together and all of the incredible commments and love shown here. Thanx for helping keep the name alive and for the continued support! It means more then you can possibly know or words can possibly express.
May the Force continue to be with all of ya!!!
– AJ ‘AJ ROK’ Woodson
Author, Freelance Hip hop Journalist
and Professional Hip-Hop Junkie

check out for my new book
SPIRITUAL MINDED: da daily devotion for da hip-hop generation
http://www.lulu.com/content/2830182
also now available on Amazon.com
http://www.Amazon.com/shops/tahirbooks1 – cop a copy or two!!!

Comment by AJ 'AJ ROK' Woodson 01.06.09 @

Ausar + 1

Comment by Robbie 01.07.09 @

ausar keep it secret baby!!!

Comment by Mercilesz 01.07.09 @

yo i gotta go in again. Curt Cazal did another one of my fave 12″ N Tense Raise the Levels of the Boom” i GOT THAT CRISPY HOLLA!!!!!!

Comment by Mercilesz 01.07.09 @

Love JVC! Force Field is such a good album.

The version of ‘6ft Back On The Map’ posted here is the one where AJ Rock’s rhymes have been completely replaced word for word by Curt Cazal. The original with AJ Rock is out there.

As the crew are all in touch it would be interesting to hear why the third album never came out, I’ve been eagerly anticipating it for 17 years now!

Comment by End Level Boss 01.07.09 @

^ Yeah that would explain the “3 minus 1 equals 2″ comment. The 12″ has two versions of that song, but the only place I’ve heard the third mix with AJ was on ‘Hear No Evil’.

Comment by Robbie 01.07.09 @

Also, the digital version of Force Field that I copped has 18 tracks, as opposed to the 16 my vinyl version has. And both bonus tracks are dope. Robbie, I’ll email ‘em to you and you can post them for the heads.

Comment by End Level Boss 01.07.09 @

Once again a nice article, Robbie.

Curt Cazal brought the rights to D&D Studios name and moved all the equipment from ‘The A Room’ to his house and started D&D East in Long Island.

Check out “2 Hits & Pass” on the second D&D album produced by Curt Cazal. Premier couldn’t have done it better!

Comment by Lotuz 01.07.09 @

Legendary shit right here.

Robbie keeps showin these crab a$$ dudes that Unkut is numero UNO.

Sick shit Robbie.

Peace to JVC Force!

Comment by AFFEX 01.07.09 @

I’ve always loved JVC Force and I really hope we get to hear the third album someday, very dope and informative piece here Robbie.

Comment by Jaz 01.07.09 @

You know you’re banging it if your version of “Big Trax” starts with “Mike Turock rocks the house and Red Alert rocks the house and…” That’s the version with both mc’s on it.

Much, much respect to JVC! They had the best flow, best voices, best beats. True heads will always flip when you mention JVC.

How about that promo they did for Red Alert back in the day. That was SICK. Had that one line, “Let your dial spin to the halfway point, and take ya back into the day and tell you KISS is the joint!” Looking for that audio now…

Comment by The J 01.07.09 @

I’m a big JVC fan. My favorite track over all though is probably “The Force Is The Boss”…that’s my joint! Of course, “Stong Island” is the classic and “Big Trax” is hot to. I’ve recently been listening to the “Forcefield” album. I would love to hear that third album

Also, stories about people throwing away master tapes are some the most ridiculous stories ever! Seriously, if you are in the business and you find tapes like that labeled with known artists you would think you would find something intelligent to do them besides throw them away. That honestly makes me pretty angry and I’m a pretty non-angry guy….ha

Comment by kevin beacham 01.07.09 @

I was always a JVC Force fan. I remember the mc Sirocalot that Curt Cazal did the production for. He was getting some underground play in NY. I wonder what he is doing with himself now.

Comment by Blowyabackout 01.08.09 @

Once again, STRONG ISLAND. What is it about the NYC suburbs that have produced some of the best hip hop?

Comment by keatso 01.08.09 @

Bloody excellent article!

Comment by hxc 01.09.09 @

quite possibly the best acronym i’ve heard!!!

the force is the boss!

Comment by the.surgeon.general 01.12.09 @

Mercilesz – no, I’m in the UK

Comment by Drew Huge 01.13.09 @

yeah ive only seen that blue coppy once in ny and i been buying records for 19 years now.

Comment by Mercilesz 01.13.09 @

Is this the same “Tony Dick” who 3rd bass give the gas face to? I always just assumed that was aimed at Tony D. from Trenton, NJ (PRT, etc.)

Comment by keatso 01.14.09 @

Dope. Ive always wanted to know more about them since I heard Strong Island on a Liam Howlett mixtape (the producer for the UK dance group the Prodigy). Surprisingly, the tape is full of breaks and some pretty dope mixing—and JVC!
THanks
dappa d

Comment by dappadub 12.15.09 @

IT’S 2013 AND I JUST FOUND THIS!! Can we do this? Cuz you know it! Most underrated rap act from the 20th Century.

Comment by Dave 02.02.13 @

Stylin’ lyrics. The main ingredient for simon says.

Comment by Dan 12.29.13 @

“Chris Lowe (who produced much of Stezo’s debut)”

Where do you even get your information from? Paul C is all over Crazy Noise, if you can’t hear that then you probably shouldn’t be writing hiphop articles… This is not the only article i’ve seen on unkut that has unfounded and otherwise wrong information about important hiphop from the 80’s.

Comment by justified by 05.28.14 @

So you’re denying that Lowe was involved with that album? What are these other examples of so-called “unfounded” information you’ve read here?

Comment by Robbie 05.28.14 @

Love JVC. Anyone know the bassline sample from The Move? Shit is dope.

Comment by Al 08.11.14 @




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