Filed under: Face Off,In The Trenches,Not Your Average,Shots Fired
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Photo courtesy of Fat Lace.
I just received this letter from the CEO of Tuff City, in response to some comments Funkmaster Wizard Wiz made about him in this interview:
February 1, 2010
I’m sorry that it has taken so long, but I don’t troll the net obsessively and there were some remarks by Funkmaster Wizard Wiz in your interview from February 25, 2009 that I feel I must correct.
In the early 80s before rap was a business and any of us were businessmen, Tuff City’s calculus for signing a rapper was, “Does their level of artistry make them worth the trouble?” and no artist was more trouble despite being worth it than Funkmaster Wizard Wiz.
Wiz was the king of bad behavior. When we finished “I Stink ‘Cause I’m Funky,” Marley Marl turned to me privately and said, “I respect what you’re doing with him [Wiz]. When Biz [Markie] goes out there, people know that they’re in on the joke. With Wiz, it’s the real thing.”
Some things don’t change. The interview that you printed is so filled with inaccuracies, so many of which are meant to marginalize my efforts, the talent-to-trouble ratio Wiz & I share remains the same.
It is important that I make the following corrections:
A) I did not rush out his first solo record to make the other members of The Undefeated Three look bad. In those hardscrabble days, no label could afford that luxury.
Wiz’s verbal superiority and expansive personality separated him from the crew; taking him a solo was as natural as separating Kool Moe Dee from the Treacherous Three.
B) I was responsible for almost every A&R decision throughout his career (not to mention every other Tuff City artist), picking and employing an all-star cast of beat masters from Master OC, to Pumpkin, to Marley Marl, to the Ultramagnetic MC’s Ced-Gee. Perhaps no other artist of that era had access to such a constellation of talent. If anything, I took too few production credits.
C) Wiz never beat me up, and I never sent him or any other rapper to jail. In contrast, I got rappers out of jail. In Wiz’ case, I made sure he knew that he would have a recording career waiting for him when he returned from jail. If you listen to the storyline in “She Flipped On Me,” about a guy whose best friend took his gal when he was incarcerated, you will see how quickly I resumed his career.
Though it’s disappointing that he would say these things even as we’ve “matured,” I still think he’s worth the trouble, as we have just resigned for the purpose of fleshing out other phases of a career that only gets more critically worthy with time. On the boards for reissue is an anthology of early 80s recordings with his first crew, The Undefeated Three, and the fleshing out of a late 80s project, a full-length narrative of his incarceration, Behind the Wall.
– Aaron Fuchs
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