Bobby Simmons [Stetsasonic] – The Unkut Interview, Part Two
Continuing my discussion with Stetsasonic drummer Bobby Simmons, we discuss touring, Flavor Flav ethering Prince, the rivalry with EPMD, beef with WreckX N Effect and vaulted tracks.
Robbie: Touring must have been essential back then.
Bobby Simmons: The best tour I’ve ever done was that Run-DMC Run’s House tour. Every night I would sit on the side of the stage and I couldn’t wait to watch Run and them’s show. Run and them were just amazing to watch. When you watch Krush Groove and you saw Jam-Master Jay cut that “Run! Run!” You were like, “Oh shoot! They getting ready to do something!” It was really that kind of intensity in the air, waiting for Run to come on, and DMC just standing there with his arm’s folded. You just couldn’t wait to see Run walk out! Then when he came out, Run really controlled you with what he said. You didn’t see that in the movie. You didn’t get to see people take their Adidas sneakers off and put it in the air. When I saw that, I said, “This is it. It’s finished.” Who in the world can get everyone in Madison Square Garden to take off their sneakers and put them in the air? All you saw was different colored Adidas in the air. It was amazing to see that command. It was beautiful.
Bobby Simmons [Stetsasonic] – The Unkut Interview, Part One
Bobby Simmons is best known as a member of Stetsasonic, the original “Hip-Hop Band,” but during an extensive conversation with him last week he also shared some classic memories about Melle Mel trolling new rappers in the late 80’s, a two-year stint as a DJ at the Latin Quarters and the escapades of Eric B. and Rakim‘s main muscle, the original 50 Cent. This is part one of a three part interview, so get comfortable…
Robbie: Did you study drumming at school?
Bobby Simmons: I self-taught myself drums, I was six years-old. My brother was in the music business too, he was a session guitarist for groups like Sister Sledge and Dan Hartman in the mid-70’s, so I kinda self-taught myself listening to a lotta the records that he would play and trying to figure out the drum – what does what. The first record that I actually learned how to play – that took me from when I was six to when I was seven – was the Ohio Players. The drummer, Diamond, I was so fascinated how he played drums on ‘Skin Tight’ and ‘Fire,’ I wanted to learn to play how he played. The drum sounds were heavy, the snare was fat, the kick was fat, and Diamond used to do all this fast foot [work] on the pedal.
From there I played in my brothers local band and just kept myself active doing that. Deejaying also helped me how to play drums too, cos in the early 80’s it helped me how to blend timings and beats, with the disco records and the Chuck Brown records and the James Brown records helped me keep great timing. Knowing how to keep timing and knowing what the kick and snare and the hi-hat do, I self-taught myself. I kinda wish I was taught and went to schooling to read for it, but my father took me to drumming school and I never went back. It was taking too long! “I wanna get to this part!” [laughs]
Video: M.O.P – 187
This could be the line of the year in reference to popping pills:
“The whole place emotional/wake up, find out somebody Frank Ocean’d you”
Domingo – The Unkut Interview
Domingo‘s latest album, Same Game, New Rules dropped this week, featuring a mixture of veteran MC’s (AZ, Kool G Rap, KRS-One) and new jacks (Chris Rivers, Kon Boogie, Joey Fattz), so I took some time out to discuss some of the highs and lows of his long career in the music game, and found out some amusing trivia about some LL Cool J and G Rap songs in the process.
Robbie: What sparked you off to start making beats?
Domingo: My uncle used to go to radio personality college and he started deejaying for a radio station in Chicago as an intern and then became a radio personality there. He would send me cassettes back of him deejaying and I was always fascinated. When he finally came back home to Brooklyn, he threw his equipment in the basement of my grandma’s house where I was living and he would DJ down there and play the drums. My uncle was very multi-talented, I would just sit there and watch him. I always remember him playing “King Tim” and then he played “Rapper’s Delight” and Kurtis Blow. When “Rapper’s Delight” came out, that’s when I was hooked. One day I started deejaying and then it transcended into me wanting to do demos and write my little raps and do battles in the street. I did my demos with two tape decks, back and forth how it used to get done, then I went on to four tracks.
What was it like growing up in East New York back then?
East New York was homicide central, like Jeru said. I grew up with Jeru, Lil’ Dap – childhood friends. A good friend of mine, his nickname is Froggy, and he’s like family to me. We always say that we “graduated.” We were lucky to live to 21. I could take you to the cemetery and show you a row of all my friends who are dead. East New York was a very rough neighborhood, man. Early childhood memories is gunshots, trains running past my house – the L train, cos my house is right near the corner on Sheppard Avenue. Growing up with my friends – my friends are still my friends to this day! And the fact that one of my good friends named Edison, who I grew up with, if it wasn’t for him putting me in his father’s Chevy Caprice Classic and telling me, “Domingo – this is you all the way! Let’s go see Marley at ‘BLS, he’s looking for people.” If he didn’t drag me there, I would’ve never met Marley.
Video: Domingo Feat. M.O.P and GP100 – We Put It Down
Domingo‘s new album, Same Game, Different Rules is out on Tuesday. Be on the look-out for my extensive interview with the man to drop then.
M.O.P – 187
Fame loops up Cash Money and Marvelous‘ “Ugly People Be Quiet” for a new cut from the next EP.
Video: Ka & Preservation – Still Heir
First video from the 1200 BC EP is business as usual from the rapping fireman – b&w visuals and low-key rap hands.
Illa Ghee – The Unkut Interview
Illa Ghee was known as a Mobb Deep affiliate in the early days of his career, having appeared on Hell On Earth as General G, but his latest LP, Social Graffiti, has allowed him to free himself of any constraints and push his rhymes beyond well-worn street themes. While he was riding the subway the other night, we chopped it up about his early days and how Super Lover Cee inadvertently ended his cousin’s rap career.
What were you doing before you worked with Mobb Deep and Alchemist?
I was still rhyming, but I was more into the street life at the time. I went to school with Prodigy, they got cool with Alchemist and by the time I came home from jail Alchemist was hanging with them all the time so I started linking up with Alchemist too. My first actual CD I put together was called Body Music and most of the production on that was done by me. That was 2003.
Were you taking rhyming seriously at that stage?
I just wanted to rhyme on the radio! There was a show – Pete Rock and Marley Marl – at the time that was on the radio. That’s where most of the things I wrote were pretty much aimed at, just getting on the radio and lose my mind.
AZ – Red Magic
“Been a beast since the Octopus breakbeats.” AZ continues to maintain his CRC-approved status – he’s been rapping exactly the same way for twenty years, just the way we like it. He really needs to bless this UK 80’s R&B banger one of these days though…
Illa Ghee feat. Sean Price – Speak To ‘Em
Another cut from Illa Ghee‘s Social Graffiti LP, which drops 8 July. Look out for my interview with Ghee next week.
Domingo feat. M.O.P and GP100 – We Put It Down
No idea who GP100 is but there’s never a bad time for a new Mash Out Posse appearance. Taken from Domingo‘s forthcoming Same Game, Different Rules LP.
Ka feat. Roc Marciano – Fall Of The Bronze [New Iron]
Ka just dropped a new EP with Preservation titled 1200 B.C., which you can cop for $5 here. It previews a new Metal Clergy track with Roc Marciano, which fades out halfway so we can assume that the full version is being saved for the next project.
Illa Ghee – 90
World premier of the stand-out cut from BK trooper Illa Ghee‘s third LP, Social Graffiti, which is due 8 July. Driven by a breezy Large Professor head nodder, Ghee drops slang technology buttery enough to cover a jumbo bucket of popcorn, slyly informing us that, “Life’s a bitch – better yet a Kardashian.”
Video: Innocent? – Aggravated
BK resident Innocent? has been blessed with a superb Fantom of the Beat (aka Haas G) beat and a suitably low-budget video in preparation for the Love it or Hate it LP.
You Must Learn, Episode 1: Jeru The Damaja – The Sun Rises In The East
New series of specialized podcasts, produced and edited by Peter Oasis, written by Dharmic X, and executive produced by Evan Auerbach (UpNorthTrips), with narration from Soul Khan.
Video: Mic Handz feat. Lil’ Fame – Don’t Get Stomped
Some of that good old Punch Your Moms In The Face Rap, with the obligatory Fizzy Womack feature. Produced by Aaron “Freedom” Lyles.
Shabaam Sahdeeq feat. Tragedy Khadafi – OG Certified
Sahdeeq and Khadafi unleash that gutter speech over a sublime Lewis Parker track and some cuts from DJ Ready Cee. Taken from the Keepers of the Lost Art LP, available now through Below System.
Shabaam Sahdeeq feat. Wais P and Sha Stimuli – That Dope
Something new from Shabaam Sahdeeq and DJ Skizz, from Shabaam’s Keepers of the Lost Art LP.
Sean Price & Illa Ghee – Dave Winfield
New Sean P and Illa Ghee, from the MM. Rick Sorry I’m Late mixtape, hosted by Redman and available here.
Is This The Lowest Point In Dipset History?
Miss Info (aka Queen of the Rap Internets) reported on this basketball game between members of The Diplomats and some of the roster of Fool’s Gold Records. This isn’t exactly surprising considering that Cam’Ron and A-Trak are recording a project together (not to mention that A-Trak’s song with JR Writer, Hell Rell, & 40 Cal in 2007 wasn’t too shabby at all), but the idea of the former Kufi Slapper Jim Jones sharing the court with the likes of Nick Catchdubs is the rap equivalent of finding out that there’s no Easter Bunny or that Kanye didn’t write “Jesus Walks.”