Filed under: In The Trenches,Interviews,Killa Queens,King of Rock
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Some of the best stories in hip-hop come from the local talent that never made the step into the record game. Queens native Geechie Dan shares some memories about his experiences as a local MC and hanging out with a young LL Cool J and Mikey D in his prime.
Robbie: When did you start out?
Geechie Dan: I started rhyming around 14 years old, back in 1983. I was a sophomore going into Junior High School, into the eleventh grade. By that time i was already listening to Zulu Beats on WHBI, I was listening to World Famous Supreme Team show, I was listening to Mr. Magic. I found a station on the FM dial – 90.3. I couldn’t get in stereo, but I got it in mono. I was flipping through the dial and I came across a hip-hop station, a college radio station called WBAU – Adelphi University. The disc jockey at that time was Bill Stephany, who was one of the producers for Public Enemy and started Stepsun Records. What attracted me to listening to him was he used to play the whole beat – he used to play the breakbeats. Back on my old Cold Crush 4 tapes and my Zulu Nation tapes, Funky 4 tapes and those Harlem World tapes, T-Connect tapes – they used to play the breaks, but they used to cut the breaks up. He was playing the whole record of that break on his show. He was playing the whole record of ‘Impech The President’, the whole record of ‘Substitution’. I’m like, ‘Damn! This is how the whole song sounds!’ So I started listening to him, and as time went on, from the tapes that I had – like I said,the Zulu Nation tapes, Cold Crush tapes, Harlem World tapes, T-Connection – I started emulating the way they used to rhyme. So I was rhyming in my basement, listening to the radio station and listening to my tapes. So I was taping his show and then l’d go back and rhymed off of the break beat that he was playing the whole song to. Emulating Grandmaster Caz and Kool Moe Dee and Tito from the Fearless 4 and L.A. Sunshine – that was one of my favourite artist’s back then. Zulu Nation – MC G.L.O.B.E and Pow Wow and Donald D.
I was listening to them rhyming and I was emulatin’ them , I was putting in my own rhymes the way I would say my name instead of theirs – you know, ‘Geechie Dan’ this and ‘Geechie Dan’ that. As time went on, I started getting a little bit better. My confidence level was increasing, I was feeling really confident about my rap skills. So I’d go outside, and I had all the tapes. Everybody in the neighborhood knew I used to tape all the shows and collected tapes. I was the hip-hop guy on the block! In ’84 when I was a Senior in High School I joined Zulu Nation and I used to go to Bronx River Projects on Tuesday afternoon after school. Me and a friend of mine from Queens, we used to go to Zulu Nation meetings. I don’t know if they still have them on Tuesday but at that time we used to go. We met Bambatta, we met Crazy Legs, we met B.O., so I started really, really loving hip-hop. I was feeling it, I was respecting it as a culture.
I was the type of a cat I never stayed in Queens all the time, I was always travelled. I felt like staying in my neighborhood wasn’t a good thing to do. I wanted to branch-out, get to know different people and get my name out there – ‘Geechie Dan’ this and ‘Geechie Dan’ that. One of my favourite movies from back in the day was ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ with Sydney Poitier and Bill Cosby, and a character in that show that played a gangster called Geechie Dan. My real name is Daniel, so everyone had nicknames, rap names. LL’s first rap name was Jay-Ski, you know, Mikey D. I wanted to be different, I didn’t want the same name everybody had. I had a Zulu Nation name called ‘Dan Zulu’ – that wasn’t working. Then one of my homeboys came past the block and he said, ‘Yo, you look like a fuckin’ geech!’ I’m like, ‘What the fuck does that mean?’. So there you go – Geechie Dan. It just kinda flowed. That was back in 1984.
Then I started rhyming. I wasn’t ‘good’ good, I was OK. I didn’t have a whole lot of metaphors, I wasn’t on Mikey D’s level at that time. I had heard of Mikey D at that time, I didn’t know him. I used to go to the Kingdom Hall as well – my mom’s was a Jehovah’s Witness – so I used to rhyme in the Kingdom Hall. I used to rhyme in front of the Kingdom Hall, after the meetings. So I thought I was in a class by myself because Hip-hop was street, but I was a Jehovah’s Witness – so I can’t be that street – but Hip-hop is all about incorporating different elements, being different. As Hip-hop grows, you don’t want it to be stagnant. You don’t want to keep hearing Cold Crush 4, Bronx MC’s – you don’t want to keep hearing New York City MC’s. I wanted be different, but I wanted to be able to stick to the format of how it was put out there from Kool Herc and Flash and Theodore and Funky 4. I didn’t want to stay away and start talking about ‘Jehovah this’ and ‘Jehovah that’ in my rhymes, even though I did mention Jehovah God in my rhymes. This is 1984, so I didn’t want to go overboard with it but I definitley wanted to be different from everybody else. I wanted to concentrate on something that I knew – girls! I knew girls – I was a playboy, I was always out there with the girls, so I concentrated on rhymes about the girls and how fly I was, but at the same time I kinda was putting my self out there by saying rhymes about Jehovah. My mindset was to be different than the cat that was rhymnin’ on the corner, I wanted to say something that he wasn’t sayin’. I was going to the Kingdom Hall from 1974 to 1984, so I wanted to rhyme about something that I was comfortable, but different.
In the meantime, I’m down with the Zulu Nation, I’m getting into all kinds of beef in the neighborhood, with the Five Percenters. I was real skinny, I was 120 pounds, I ran my mouth a lot. Always fightin’, always running my mouth, ‘cos I really didn’t care for a person was a follower. I like to deal with somebody one-on-one, I don’t like to deal with somebody that has a bunch of boys behind him, talkin’ for him, and he’s really not like that. The only reason that he’s like that is because he’s got 80 niggas behind him! [laughs] That’s why you’re talkin’ shit! Let me catch you by yourself then we can see the real you!
One time, there was club on 112th Ave and Farmers Boulevard in my neighborhood. I ran my mouth, I thought I was confident about my rap skills at that time. This was back in ’84. LL lived around seven blocks away from me, on the other side of Farmers Blvd. On that side of Farmers Blvd really didn’t get along with my side of Farmer’s Blvd. So one night, there was a party at a club called the ‘Black and White’, which is on 112 ave and Farmer’s Blvd. So I’m going up in there and I’m rhyming off – I’ll never forget, like it was yesterday – I’m rhyming off ‘Catch The Beat’, and me and this guy Feldman, his rap name was Fell-E-O, and I was rhymin’, and no one had ever heard me rhyme outside. Everyday heard I could rhyme and had the tapes and stuff, but no one had ever heard me in the street. So I decided to rhyme in the street! I said a rhyme about LL – his name was Cool J at the time, he didn’t have LL associated with his name – so I said, ‘It’s not a fable and it’s not a myth/Cool J’s real name is James Todd Smith/but when it comes to rapping he can’t compare/his hairline is back here, I swear!’ ‘Cos he had a messed-up hairline back then! So that started a big beef. He heard about it. His boys on his side of Farmers Blvd came to the party, ‘cos they heard I was rhymin’ up there. Then they said, ‘Yo, there goes that skinny cat right there! He was the one that was dissin’ you!’ They blew it all out of proportion. ‘He dissed you! I know you aren’t gonna let him slide!’
Was this when he had that group with Dr. Butcher and Royal Rich?
I didn’t know him at the time. I didn’t know his history as far as him hangin’ with Mikey D and Royal Rich and Dr. Butcher. He didn’t really come around the way like that. He kinda kept whatever travelling he was doing to himself. So he came into the club, him and his boys from on his side of Farmers Blvd, and I put my hand out, Yo Todd! What’s up?’ And he pushed me! And like I said, I was real skinny, so when he pushed me people took it as he pushed me across the room ‘cos I was ‘so skinny and he was so big’, but it wasn’t really like that. He pushed me, I went back and I pushed him and I tried to knock his hat off – his Kangol, ‘cos he used to rock Kangol’s – I was trying to knock his Kangol off his head so that way I can so-called expose him to everybody so everybody can see that the rhyme I said an hour ago was true about his hairline. It didn’t work – his hat didn’t come off at all! There was a guy in our neighborhood and his name was Lucious. He threw a chair in the middle of us to break-up the fight. [LL was] like, ‘I heard you dissed me!’ I’m like, ‘What you talkin’ about?’ He thinks saying his name in a rhyme was dissing him. To me, I felt like I was just sayin’ his name. I was acknowledging everybody what his real name was, I wasn’t trying to diss him. The hairline rhyme? Well…his hairline was messed-up, but at the time, no one else saw it. So everybody was speculating, ‘Is his hairline really that messed-up?’ So I was taking shots at him ,but I guess I was trying to take a sneak-attack at him.
I seen him a couple of days later on Farmers’, and he called, and he said, ‘Yo Geechie! Come here!’ I’m like, ‘Nah man, nah. I’m ain’t tryin’ to see you’, ‘cos he has all his boys with him. He said, ‘Nah, nah, no beef. No problem’. So I came accross the street and he’s licking his lips and all that nonsense, and I thought we were gonna fight, and he’s like, ‘Nah, it’s alright, ain’t no beef!’ So we started rhyming together on the bouley, then we drunk some 40’s and that was the end of that. As time went along, he started doing his thing and then he made ‘I Need A Beat’. I remember he came back on Farmers Boulevard with the trophy from – I believe it was The Roxy. I think he was fifteen years old, and he came and he was showing us love.
We was in front of Farmer’s, and he was like, ‘Yo! Let’s go and get some Chinese food!’ He was happy, and I was happy for him! He had mentioned Farmer’s Boulevard in his record, so he felt like, ‘Yeah, I mentioned Farmer’s Boulevard. I put Farmer’s on the map!’ That was his way of, ‘Let’s go celebrate. ‘Cos when I mentioned Farmer’s, I mentioned y’all! I mentioned all the guys I’m hangin’ out with. So let’s go celebrate.’ To us, going to get some Chinese food and drinking some Andre’s champagne was celebrating, at that time. So we went to the Chinese restaurant. Me, my homeboy Tim, Meek and Todd was in the Chinese restaurant. I’ll never forget this. Two hardrocks – guys in the neighborhood that was just getting into beef with everybody, they was always fuckin’ with people – one of the guys was a Five Percenter, and the other guy, rest in peace, his name was Pat. He was wild. One of them cats that just be knockin’ people out. Nobody really wanted to get into it with him – whether we could could beat him up or not, we just didn’t feel like going through the energy of bothering with him, ‘cos he was always beefing with somebody. So he was in there with this cat named Melachi, he was a Five Percenter. We’re ordering food, so Todd orders some pork fried rice – and Five Percenter’s don’t believe in eating pork. So Melachi said, ‘Close the door…and lock it!’ We was like, ‘Oh shit, this mother fucker man…’ There;s gonna be a problem, and I didn’t feel like getting into it with this guy tonight. Nobody felt like gettying into it! They’re messing with us, like, ‘What you getting?’ I’m like, ‘I think I got Beef Lomain or something’. So Toddd was the only one that got pork! So they looked at Todd and said, ‘Yo, God! Aren’t you righteous?’ He said, ‘Yeah!’ ‘Well you ain’t supoosed to be eating pork! What you doing eating pork fried rice?!’ He’s like, ‘Yo, I’m hungy!’ ‘You hungry?’ So he went up to his food – the food was streaming hot – and when it came out to Todd Melachi just knocked it all over the floor. Pork fried rice all over the floor! Todd just looked at him and said, ‘You’re right, no problem’, and ordered something else…
Todd was very confident in his skills. He would come and play some of his demos, like, ‘How I sound?’ ‘You sound good’. Then he’d keep rewinding the tape and let us listen to it again. I’d be like, ‘You sound good, B. Why you rewinding the tape?’ ‘Nah, nah – y’all didn’t hear this one!’ It was just getting outta hand with this guy, man! He was like, ‘Yo, ‘It’s Yours’ – that was me too!’ ‘Cos we didn’t know that was T La Rock, we didn’t know that was Special K’s brother. We sincerely thought that ‘It’s Yours’ was LL Cool J, ‘cos he said it! We didn’t know no better – we from Queens! We don’t travel! He could tell us anything! [laughs] He was kinda stuck on himself, but I give him a lot of credit. He really went for his. The only thing about it is I wish he coulda grabbed Mikey D with him and went as a group, but at that time he wasn’t thinking like that. He was more selfish about him, and Mikey D was more street.
Part 2 covers Mikey D’s battle rep and Geechie’s attempts to get signed…
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