Filed under: Great Moments In Rap,In The Trenches,Not Your Average,Rest In Peace,Tape Vaults
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Today hip-hop has lost one it’s true pioneers – Sir Juice, aka Mr. Magic, passed away after suffering a heart attack. Not only was Magic the first rap DJ to have an exclusive rap show on commercial radio on WBLS (The Rap Attack with DJ Marley Marl and Fly Ty) but his often brutal honesty (aka breaking their vinyl live on air!) would inspire BDP to record ‘South Bronx’ and ‘The Bridge Is Over’ – thus sparking the legendary ‘Bridge Wars’ – while he was equally vocal about his disapproval of an early Public Enemy track, with his “No more music by the suckers!” declaration being sampled for the
Fear of A Black Planet It Takes A Nation of Millions… album. Not to mention that the ‘Roxanne’ answer record craze was sparked-off by UTFO turning down an appearance on Magic’s show, only to appear on KISS-FM. With a career as a radio personality spanning twenty years, he later hosted a show on Hot 97 with Mister Cee from 1992 to 2002.
The Juice Crew, named in honor of the man, remain as rap’s greatest collection of MC’s ever assembled, while younger listeners might know him best as the host of ‘Wildstyle Pirate Radio’ in GTA3: Vice City. He also produced records for Force MD’s, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde and Waterbed Kev and released a series of compilations in the late 80’s through Profile Records. Whodini and Thomas Dolby even recorded a dedication to him in 1984 called ‘Magic’s Wand’.
Always a man that stuck to his guns, when WBLS decided to switch to the ‘Quiet Storm’ format only a year after his show debuted in 1983, he chose to walk away:
“So, we were at WBLS for a while, then a gentleman came and told me they wanted me to stop playing hip-hop, because if I stopped playing it, it would phase out. They offered me the chance to be a regular air personality and do the Quiet Storm. But I said the best person to do the Quiet Storm would be Vaughn Harper, because he was one of the people I really looked up to, and he had that nice bedroom voice. So we left WBLS and went back to WHBI.”
Of course this saw WBLS take a huge plunge in the ratings, and before long they asked Magic to return. For the full story, check this great interview with Mr. Magic by the Fatlace crew.
Here are a couple of clips of ‘The Official Voice of Hip-Hop’ in his prime, courtesy of Will C, who put together the essential Down The Dial tribute CD with Magic last year.
Mr. Magic Disco Showcase – October 10, 1981
Magic disses Public Enemy (February 21st, 1987 “Rap Attack” excerpt)
Rest In Peace, Mr. Magic. On one of the realest to ever to do it.
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