Filed under: Bronx Bombers,Features,Interviews,Non-Rapper Dudes,The 80's Files,Video Clips
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
In response to Mr. Magic‘s Rap Attack show on WBLS, New York’s KISS-FM mounted a counter-attack by recruiting DJ Chuck Chillout and Kool DJ Red Alert. The resulting competition meant that Tri-Borough residents were spoiled for choice in the mid to late 80’s when it came to hip-hop on the radio. Chuck was also a member of The B-Boys, released several DJ records and produced for crews like The Dismasters, Deuces Wild and put out an album with Kool Chip in between breaking new music on his Friday night show. Here’s what he had to say about the most exciting era of hip-hop on wax, getting mobbed by fans and his uncle’s love of Australian beer.
Robbie: When did you start deejaying?
DJ Chuck Chillout: I started playing when I was thirteen, fourteen. You’re trying to make a name for yourself, so you practice in the basement, get a little house party. The next thing you know, you’re making your little tapes. Your tape starts circulating and you start making a name for yourself, but no one really knows who you are so now you’ve gotta come out and play in the parks and make a name for yourself. Once you get to the park and you can really hold it down then people will book you in the clubs. Then I went from the club to the radio.
Where did you grow up?
The home of hip-hop, brother. The Boogie-Down Bronx.
That must have been a crazy time in The Bronx in the early days of hip-hop.
The Bronx is the home of hip-hop, my brother. That’s where I met DJ Breakout and Bambatta and Kool Herc and Pete “DJ” Jones and DJ Dot La Rock and all those guys. They were in my neighborhood so I used to always see those guys. I used to run around with Breakout, so I knew all the breakbeats from him. Dot La Rock told me a lot of breakbeats too, so that’s how I got to know a lot of them. A lot of DJ’s would play shit out and put it in a different album cover, ‘cos they didn’t want you to know what it was.
When did you start releasing records?
The first thing I did was on Vintertainment Records, which was “2, 3 Break”, “Hip-Hop On Wax”. I was basically the first artist on that label. Then me and Vincent wanted to start a group. We had a group called The B-Boys, which was me, Donald D and Brother B. Then we went out and got Joeski Love, then we went and got Keith Sweat, and the rest is history.
What can you tell me about Deuces Wild?
Ricochet and Centipede lived next door to me. That’s how I got to meet [Funkmaster] Flex, from them two guys.
What about The Dismasters?
There was a label called Urban Rock Records, with a guy named Ira Cousins. He passed away a couple of years ago. I was bringing stuff to him and working on stuff, so he goes, “Yo, I’ve got a group I want you to work with”. I didn’t like none of their tracks. So we booked time at INS Studios downtown, so me and this kid Eric Owls did the song together. The Dismasters went in the bathroom, wrote their lyrics in 25 minutes, then came out and did it!
Was that “Small Time Hustler”?
That was the only song we did. After that, Raven went to jail for twenty something years and then Mike passed away, so that was it for them.
What about the song they had dissing Red Alert and the Jungle Brothers?
They only made one song! Unless they did something before they got with me? After “Small Time Hustler” a couple of major labels wanted to sign those guys, but that was it for them.
Raven T actually emailed me about doing an interview in 2006, but when I tried to call him the number was dead.
Wow! I haven’t seen or heard from that dude since 1989.
How hard was it to get that first radio spot?
Back then, everybody was playing in the parks. Before it got on the radio, hip-hop was in the streets with the tapes and played in the parks. I met this one cat in The Roxy nightclub – Barry Mayo, and he introduced me to Tony Q. Tony Q told me to make a tape, he liked what he heard and he put me on the radio. I had Friday night, Nine to midnight. Yessir! Chuck Chillout Show was the number one rap show in New York City! ‘BLS had Magic and Marley on, so KISS-FM hired me and Red [Alert] to go up against those two guys.
Did you ever work with the Skinny Boys? You played a lot of their stuff on the tapes of your show that I have.
I did a couple of cuts on them, but they was having label issues with Jive Records. I did a couple of remixes for them and a couple of promos, but that album never came out.
How did you know Kool Chip?
He lived around the corner from me. He lived in Soundview. My thing was from The Bronx and people I knew and grew-up with. Our album came out in 1989.
What are some of your best memories of the show?
One time I did an in-store in Brooklyn. It was me and MC Serch, he wanted me to come out there with him. I knew people were listening, but I didn’t know it was to the point of that! So what I did was sign autographs, man, and it turned into a riot! About 3,000 people bum-rushed the store! The man in the store went, “Oh my god!” He called the cops and the next thing you know, Channel 4 popped-up, it got on the news and everything. So my boss calls me, “What are you doing? Where you at?” I said, “I’m out here signing autographs and it turned into the chaos!” That was one fond memory of it. Police had to come get me outta there. It got really crazy. That was 1987.
Once you realized how popular the show was, did that help get the big name guests?
Until I went to BLS. It was just me playing the music. I was a little kid, so I didn’t interview too many people. When I left KISS and went to BLS and came back? Then I was interviewing people. I know everybody, man, and everybody knows me.
I used to enjoy the special promos you’d get people to do for you.
Yeah, with different acts. Deuces Wild, Dismasters, Kool Chip, Black Moon did a couple of ‘em. I found them too, I brought Black Moon to Nervous Records. I lose track, there’s so many of them.
Were you putting on many parties?
Yeah, I had a big birthday party at the Tunnel nightclub. I had Run-DMC, LL Cool J, 3rd Bass, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Mark, Nice & Smooth. 4,000 people showed up, it was crazy,
Did you used to mess with Magic and Marley a lot?
Yeah, they was messing with everybody, man. But it was all fun. It was not really disrespecting, it was like, “OK, I know you’re all against me so I gotta do something for people to see”. It was all friendship down the line, ‘cos once we got to knew each other it was all, “Fuck you! Fuck you!” And then we were all cool after that. A lotta people didn’t understand Magic, but once you got to know Magic he was a good dude. He ate, drank, slept this shit, but if you didn’t know him you would think he was an asshole. But he wasn’t.
Why did you go to WBLS?
Frankie Crocker came over to BLS and he was like, “Yo, I want you to come over here”. At that time, the album was out, I was running around a lot, in and out of town a lot and my boss didn’t really like that. So I went over and did an interview with him and then my other boss got mad. He was like, “What are you doing over there?” “I’m sitting here with one of my idols, Frankie Crocker!” He got highly upset about that, so he put me on suspension. Then Frankie was like, “The hell with him! Come over to BLS!”
How long were you over there?
About two years, then they changed format – they stopped playing rap records. That’s when Hot 97 popped-up. I didn’t get over there, there was a lotta hatin’ over there. They thought we was too big to come there. Then I went back to KISS in 2001 until last year when they sold the shit.
A big part of your job would have been finding the records to play, right?
There wasn’t that many rap songs out there when we first started doing it. Now that you’ve got a rap show, now everybody’s making a rap record. You’ve got me, Marley and Magic playing shit, then you’ve got the Awesome Two and DNA and all those guys playing stuff too. So now you have an outlet, so now everyone started making rap records, and everybody started coming to us. Some of the stuff was good, and some of it was garbage. So that’s where you see a Dismasters or you see a X-Clan – a lotta groups started coming out of those ashes because they had an outlet to get their music heard. Once you got on our show, then they know we was the real deal, so a lotta guys got deals because their stuff got on our shows. That had a lot to do with it.
Did you have to turn down a lot of stuff?
I tried to play as much stuff as I could, I only had three hours. At one point, were getting 150 records a week! I was getting mail sent to my house and sent to the station. It was crazy. There was a lotta good material. This is where the different artists came up – like a Schoolly-D or a KRS-One, an MC Shan, a Kool Chip, a Dismasters, a Deuces Wild. This is how all the other guys got to get into the mainstream was through the mix shows. Once we played it and the rest of the world heard it? The rest is history. My show was straight hip-hop, hardcore to the essence – what hip-hop’s supposed to be. My show was straight harcore, that’s where you heard Run-DMC, Public Enemy, KRS-One, Nice & Smooth. I kept it to the essence of what hip-hop is.
What can you tell me about “Hip-Hop On Wax”?
That was on Vintertainment Records. First we did “Two,Three, Break” and then we did “Hip-Hop On Wax”. DJ Born Supreme Allah is me too, I just changed the name.
How did you put those together?
Vince lives down the block from me, so he goes, “Yo man, let’s go in the studio, take a bunch of breakbeats and scratch them up and put it out as a record”. So I said, “Get the fuck outta here!” He goes, “Let’s go do it! Let’s go do it!” One thing led to another and we was fooling around in studio, just scratching up records. “Yo man, let’s put this with this, and this with this, and this with this!” I thought he was joking around! We did “Two,Three, Break” first, then we did “Hip-Hop On Wax”. By then I had two or three songs out and he was like, “Yo man, we can’t use your name again, ‘cos you’ve got three records out already”. SO I said, “Fuck it – DJ Born Supreme Allah!” He started laughing. I tell people that and they don’t believe me! I tell ‘em, “Dude, he only did one record!”
What was your favorite record that you made?
The stuff that me and Chip did, that was good stuff. When I did that mix of “Night of the Living Baseheads” for Public Enemy, that was an honor doing that. I did that and “How To Kill A Radio Consultant”. The Deuces Wild stuff, and the Dismasters stuff was a plus too.
Have you got many tapes of your old shows?
I have all the records. I’ve got some things, but you know how it is when you move house a lot. I’ve kept all the records. What’s that big-ass beer you have in Australia? Fosters? My uncle was drinking that shit in the 80’s, B! I said, “What the fuck is that big-ass can you got there?” “It’s the new shit!” I said, “Get the fuck outta here!” Then I saw “Australia” and said, “How the fuck you get that shit?” He’s like, “Yo, down the block!” That shit was a big-ass can! They wanted $5 for the can, ‘cos it was an import beer. “Yo, go get me some Fosters! Don’t bring me back that other shit!” Still to this day he drinks that shit.
DJ Born Supreme Allah – “Two, Three, Break (Part 2)”
DJ Chuck Chillout – “Hip-Hop On Wax, Volume 1”
Deuces Wild – “Deuces Is Def”
The Dismasters – “Small Time Hustler”
Kool Chip & Chuck Chillout – “Rhythm Is The Master”
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