Filed under: Books,Def Jam Week,Great Moments In Rap,Not Your Average
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Somehow or other, I recently found myself at the local library, where I stumbled across a book titled Def Jam, Inc. The author, Stacy Guerseva, did a great job of recalling the history from the early days of the label based in Rick Rubin‘s dorm through to the powerhouse that it would eventually become. Of course I was less interested in the corporate development and more focused on the what rap trivia I might find. Turns out there was a lot of great shit in there:
1. MC Breeze was signed to Def Jam for years (on the strength of a song called ‘Popcorn’ he did with the LA Posse) and recorded over sixty songs for the label ,but never got a release. The LA Posse went on to produce LL’s Bigger And Deffer, however.
2. Doctor Dre from Original Concept and Yo! MTV Raps was the Beastie Boys DJ for a while (after Rick Rubin had to end his role as DJ Double R due to an ear infection that prevented him from flying for several months), but he was fired for ‘being lazy’ and replaced by Run-DMC crew member DJ Hurricane.
3. Roadie Runny Ray once forgot to pack the records for one of Run-DMC’s first shows in the UK. To make matters worse, it was a hot afternoon and the spot had no air conditioning. Fearing a riot was about to break out, Lyor Cohen called everyone who brought Run-DMC vinyl to get signed to bring their records to the stage so that they could get in first – and then handed the pile of wax to Jam-Master Jay to do the show with!
4. Slick Rick tried to pick fights with many members of the Def Jam roster while on tour, including an incident with JMJ over The Ruler’s comments to Word Up! magazine that Run-DMC were ‘garbage’. He is also reported to have fired three shots from his pistol into the roof of the Def Jam offices when he was ignored one afternoon, yelling, ‘Attention, peasants!’
5. After the disappointing performance of Walking With A Panther, LL Cool J visited Prince Paul and pleased for him to make him a hit record. Paul replied as he would if he LL would get him the same white Benz with a blue top that he’d arrived in.
6. Big Daddy Kane once beat-up a Rush tour manager Big D in the office after he’d left him stranded in North Carolina after his tour bus had broken down, while another tour almost resulted in a fight between LL and Rakim in an elevator.
7. Nice ‘N Smooth pulled guns on Lyor Cohen after he released ‘Old To The New’ as the first single from their third album instead of ‘Return of the Hip-Hop Freaks’. They also stepped to Russell in a less threatening manner.
8. Public Enemy and 3rd Bass had a brawl and trashed the office while the back cover of Fear of A Black Planet was being shot. The cause? Griff wasn’t pleased with the parody of the S1W’s in the ‘Gas Face’ video.
9. Russell Simmons wasted a shit-tonne of money and resources on his pet R&B projects like Tashan, Oran ‘Juice’ Jones, The Black Flames and Don Newkirk. Rick Rubin doesn’t drink and claims to have never done drugs….say word?
10. Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boy’s not only discovered LL Cool J’s demo tape from the seemingly endless boxes of demo tapes that were sent to Rick Rubin’s dorm room every week, but he also wrote one of the verses for ‘It’s My Beat’! It seems that he was also heavily involved programming tracks like ‘Hold It Now, Hit it!’ and ‘Paul Revere’ from the B-Boys Def Jam debut.
This trip down memory lane also inspired me to dig out my collection of maroon label Def Jam singles, so prepare for a week loud drum machines and Shout Rap as we set off Def Jam Week here at Unkut…
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