Filed under: Features,Interviews,Killa Queens,Strong Island
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Here’s the long overdue conclusion to the Geechie Dan interview (from six months back), where he talks about hanging out with battle legend Mikey D, his involvement with WBAU radio, the ups and downs of LL Cool J‘s career and trying to get a deal and missing his chance to become a professional MC due in part to the lure of the street battling scene.
So why did Mikey D have a record going at LL and accuse him of biting his style with the Kangols?
Geechie Dan: When Todd was in our neighborhood, he was wearing fisherman hats and tight jogging suits and headbands. When he was hanging with Mikey D, I definitely think he took some of his style. The way how he rhymed, and his image? I think he borrowed a little of that, ‘cos Mikey D always had Kangols. He had every color Kangol back then. Red Kangols, sky blue, black.
And Mikey was the number one street MC back then?
Mike was the number one guy back then. From ‘83 to ‘87, ‘88 – Mikey D was the man. Mikey Destruction, they labeled him as such. He was on a lotta underground tapes. His level of rhyming was right up there with LL. I met him in front of Pop & Kim’s, we drunk about six 40’s that night, he just get rappin’. I was like, “Yo, you remind me of Todd!” He was like, “I know Todd. I gave him the LL name.” He was like “I taught him” this and “he took my style” that. He was making up rhymes about him on the spot. The more he was drinking, the better he rhymes! I’ve never come across an MC that gets better the more they drink!
How much did you guys used to drink back then?
For this cat, drinking 40’s was like drinking pop soda. At that time, I wasn’t even drinking Olde English. I was drinking Colt 45 – I started hanging with him, I started drinking 40’s. Every single weekend, we’re passing 40’s around like guys pass blunts around. By the time we finished, there would be like ten or eleven 40 bottles where we would be standing at! He would just walk-up and battle cats on the spot – just wax ‘em! That’s how I got caught up. I wanted to do what LL did, I wanted to go straight into a professional record deal, but I didn’t do that. Hangin’ with Mikey – I’m not gonna say that it’s his fault that I’m not successful – but I was feeling that love that you get from the streets when people want to hear you rhyme. Mikey was definitely stuck in that mode, and LL wasn’t.
So that street battle mode takes away from making records?
Me rhyming in the streets, to get that street recognition, I lost focus on doing what I really wanted to do, which was to go to professional – and I got caught up in the streets. Looking for the next cat to battle. I’m hanging with Mikey D, one of the best rapper’s in the street! Everyone’s fearing Mikey D – no one wants to battle this cat! Mikey D called up the radio station at WBAU when I used to rhyme and make demos for the radio station. I felt the need to put Queens on the map, and let everybody know that LL wasn’t the only one from Farmers Boulevard who could spit. Bill Stephney graduated, and Doctor Dre from Yo! MTV Raps took over his slot. Public Enemy was making demos for the station, DJ MC Flavor Flav was coming to the station, T-Money, Son of Bazerk – Townhouse Three, the Nasty Four, the Dynamic Brothers from Freeport. A lot of groups from Long Island rappers I’d never even heard of. They brought something different to the table. It was kinda awkward to hear at first, but it was kind fly. It was different.
I started calling the radio station and making dedications, so when they opened up the phone lines, I’d call up, “This is Geechie Dan, I wanna say what’s up to Farmers Boulevard, Linden Boulevard, Liberty Avenue, O’Connell Park, Murdoch Avenue!” I’m putting my neighborhood on the map, and putting my name out there. I wanted everyone to know that LL and Run-DMC weren’t the only rappers from Queens. I called so much that Doctor Dre was like, “Yo Geechie, why don’t you come up and say your own dedications. You’re hogging-up the phone lines!” So I said “Bet!” So I went to the radio station and I met all the voices that I didn’t see. I met Bill Stephney, I met Doctor Dre, I met Chuck D. Flavor had his own following – the Flavortrons. It was kinda weird! Everybody that was a Flavortron could get into a party at a discount rate, or even free. It was like his fan club, it was kinda fly.
I made a demo for the radio station called “Let’s Dance” and everybody thought it was a record because they played it on college radio. Me and my DJ Shawny-D, we looped-up “Impeach The President” and we sampled “Let’s Dance” from “Dance To The Drummer’s Beat”. Doctor Dre played it, and people started requesting it. So that’s how I got my name out there. One day the phone rang at the radio station, and it was Mikey D, wanting to speak to me. I’m like, “Oh shit. I hope he don’t want to battle me!” ‘Cos that’s the kinda cat he was. He was like, “I like your song. Come around Merrick Boulevard and kick it with my people. We can drink some 40’s and shit”. To me, it was like talking to Grandmaster Flash! So I took the Q5 bus to Laurenton, and I saw all these niggas out the front of the store. It was called Pop & Kim’s. They had the coldest 40 oz’s of malt liquor in all of New York. This store could not be touched when it came to the coldest 40’s. I’m looking around for Mikey D, expecting to see some 6’2” cat with muscles, based on his voice. I hear somebody rhyming, and he’s about the same size as me! Just as skinny as I am, with green eyes! From that day on, I started hanging with him.
What else was going on?
I was still doing my thing on the radio, I made another demo called “She’s Outstanding”. I got a call from the owner of Wild Pitch Records, Stu Fine, he said “I got a new label I’m starting up, why don’t you make some demos for us?” Mikey was telling me, “I’m on Public Records, why don’t you try and get on the label I’m on with your song ‘Let’s Dance’”. So I went to Manhattan and went to this man’s house who owned Public Records. White guy, real cool, he lived in this apartment overlooking Central Park. It was real fly. I played him my song,, he liked it. He said “We need to do this in a professional studio, we can make this a single. I’m not giving you a contract for an album deal, just for a single.” I said, “OK, cool. Where the contracts?” I’m thinking I’m gonna be moving out my house soon, buy a Benz, I’m thinking I’m gonna get this fat gold chain, all these chicks. I’m gonna be the man! Yeah! So he says, “I can give you a signing bonus”. I’m thinking it’s gonna be $50,000 – my girlfriend at the time lived up in The Bronx, so I’m thinking “I’m gonna go to The Bronx, I’ll be fly, we’ll go the movies, I’ll go to DeLancy street and buy some sheepskins and some jewellery, I’m gonna be the fuckin’ man! This motherfucker pulls out the contract and the advance is $1,500! I said, “Ugh. Let me look it over.” I took it to a lawyer in Flushing, Queens and he looked at the contract and laughed. I’m like, “What are you laughing for? This is my life you’re talking about? What’s the problem?’ He threw it back at me and said, “I read REAL recording contracts. Not bullshit like this! Get this shit out my face!” I said, “C’mon man, just look it over!” He went, “Ugh, alright kid.” He took a red pen, like a teacher in school, and went, “This is bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. If you sign this contract, expect to get ripped off!” He gave me back the contract and it was all red! He’s crossed almost everything out! Public Records went out of business the same year.
What had happened with Wild Pitch?
They didn’t like my demos. I was trying to do different things, I didn’t want to do what Mikey D was doing, ‘cos most rapper’s who freestyle in the street don’t record good songs, so I kinda had to seperate myself from him. I still wanted that street recognition that he had, but I didn’t want to labeled as a street rapper / freestyler / battle rapper like he was. Then it finally hit me, this is why LL did what he did and moved on. I guess he saw that by hanging with Mikey D he wasn’t going to make good records. I started seeing that too, but by that time it was too late for me. Everyone already knew that I was freestyling a lot. When I tired to do songs like “She’s Outstanding” and “Chillin’ On The Beach” which was completely different to what everybody was doing. I felt like I could do like LL did with “I Need Love,” but he was already triple platinum and I was still a nobody. Did I really want to continue freestyling in the park for six hours, drinking 40’s? By that time, I lost focus. Not concentrating on getting a recording deal versus street recognition. I think Mikey got caught-up in that.
On top of that, my mom put a lot of pressure on me to stop rapping. She didn’t want me to rap. It was against the policies and the principles of the Kingdom Hall. I had a performance in Conneticut with Mikey D, it was his show and he was going to let me get on and do my song “Let’s Dance.” The problem was it was on a Thursday night, which was also the meeting night for Jehova’s Witnesses to go the the Kingdom Hall. My mom’s was like, “You go ahead and you do your little rap show, but just make sure you and your belongings are out of my house the next day. I’m not gonna allow you to miss a Jehova’s Witness meeting!” So my mom had a lot of power over me regarding trying to be a professional rapper. Now I’ve got two strikes against me!
LL and Cut Creator came to my house to tell my mom’s, “This is no fad.” By the time my mom’s wanted me to get a deal, it was too late. “Oh sweetie, did you see LL on the Grammy’s?” As time went on, the rap scene was changing. NWA was coming out, MC Hammer was coming out, Public Enemy was coming out. Nobody was trying to hear no bodacious rhymes no more. You either had to have some type of message behind it, or a gang Rakim just came out, KRS-One just came out, so trying to do something different in 1988 wasn’t going to make it. Just talking about yourself wasn’t going to make it. When LL was still doing that he got booed in Harlem, at 125th street at Harlem Day in the state building.
Walking With A Panther era?
He was just doing himself, but the rap game started changing. You had message orientated groups. Nobody was feeling him no more. People were tired of hearing about him, so they booed him. I felt bad for him, as person who grew-up with him in Queens. Everything he was saying then, they doing now! It was fucked up. Now it’s acceptable to have commercials and clothing lines and endorsement deals. He should’ve been a spokesman for Moet back then! For him to still be relevant 25 years later is a magnificent feat on his part. I congratulate him for that. When he did “I Need Love,” he changed the game. To see him rock at The Roxy and The Fever back then, and still be relevant today? That’s awesome. I appreciate Mikey D too – the fact that he can still be relevant in the streets. For me, that’s where it counts. To be popular on records? That’s good too, but if you’re looking at it as far as somebody who came up with hip-hop? I appreciate it more.
Thanks to Ausar for the radio rip.
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