DJ Johnny Juice – Any Last Words?
Tuesday November 20th 2012,
Filed under: Bomb Squad Stay Winning,Newest Latest,Steady Bootleggin',Strong Island
Written by:

The One-Man Band himself gets busy on the wheels, drums and keys for his latest musical installment. You know how to reach us!

Keith Shocklee – The Unkut Interview Pt 2

Continuing my conversation with The Bomb Squad‘s Keith Shocklee, we discuss the early days of Public Enemy, park jams and some of their outside projects.

DJ Johnny Juice told me about how you guys made-up a bunch of group names and then filled the spots?

Keith Shocklee: What we was doing was a low-scale Motown for rap music. We just made demo tapes, but we had an outlet – our radio station. That kept everybody close together. Everybody had their own crews, sometimes we put certain people in the crews. We had the Classy Crew – these three girls from Hempstead – nice little hot girls. They rhymed, we took the ‘Hey Mickey’ beat and they did a crazy song to it. We used to put together our own little shows, man. Had like a little tour! Back at that time it was real easy – people had never seen stuff like that. We couldn’t get the big guys to come out to us all the time. We wanted the Treacherous Three – they won’t show, they were like ‘Long Island? Ehhh!’ We did a party and Spoonie G was ‘sposed to come through. We paid him half his money in advance – he ain’t never show! Everybody used to think Long Island was ‘Ehhh!’ until they come out here and find out there was a huge hip-hop community, because everybody from Long Island – they keep forgetting – they migrated from the city! My moms was the only one that lived out on Long Island, she had nine brothers and sisters, so we always had to go to Manhattan. That’s how we knew about Flash and Bambatta and all of them. It wasn’t because we heard about them, we had to hear from my cousins and ‘em, then we had to go see them! Then we got to the point we just go and hang out at the spots. Chuck’s family’s from out there, Flav had some family out there. Most of the kids that lived out in Long Island had some relatives in Manhattan or The Bronx or Brooklyn. The real city cats, like the rappers, didn’t understand that. We were like a third-world [country] to them.

We was our street team. We just said ‘Yo man, we gotta go hang-up some flyers!’ It was illegal to hang-up flyers, cops used to watch us hang-up all the flyers and wait for us until they thought we was finished and make us go back and take ‘em all down! [laughs] They used to bust our chops! We had a strategy for when we threw parties. It became an unwritten hip-hop rule – if you were a street promoter you always tried to throw a party on the 1st or the 15th. That was either pay week or people got their welfare checks. You gonna throw a party? Make sure the people have money! ‘Cos sometimes you throw a party in between, like at the end of the month when everybody’s money is spent-up, nobody will show!

Keith Shocklee – The Unkut Interview Pt 1


Long Island was the proverbial underdog in the mid-80s. While The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens all wrestled for rap dominance, Strong Island residents would journey into the city to check out shows before returning home to deliver their own twist on what they’d witnessed. It turns out that, somewhat removed from whatever trends were dominating the music that particular month, L.I. would prove to produce some of the most original hip-hop of all time. Boasting EPMD, De La Soul and Rakim amongst it’s residents, it was also the birthplace for the unstoppable force that the world would come to know as Public Enemy. Keith Shocklee from The Bomb Squad breaks down their founding days for part one of a two part feature.

Robbie: Was Spectrum City a mobile sound system in the early days?

Keith Shocklee: We started out as Spectrum City DJ’s. We used to DJ all the parties where we were from – which is Roosevelt, Long Island. We used to DJ the high school parties, people used to have us do thier house parties. This is mid-70s, goin’ all up to the later part of the 70s. We just started playing regular club music – at that time it was more like soul music. The hip-hop scene was still in it’s incubator stage, where the hip-hop scene became more MC-oriented, so you’re talking about coming in from around ’73, ’74, when we started out at a spot called Roosevelt Youth Center. Roosevelt Youth Center was kinda crazy! Now I’m going way back to where we originally started. Roosevelt Youth Center, what we did was the community thing, everybody come there, hang out. They had karate classes, dojo classes, arts and crafts – different things just to keep us off the streets, from just whylin’ out. One of my neighbors – Krandle Newton – put together inside of this youth center, along with my brother and this other guy Ujima, just a little radio station. Because at the time, cats used to come to the park and set-up their column speakers with a turntable and just play music for people in the park. They took that concept, ‘cos I was real young, and turned it into a little make-shift radio station in the youth center. We played music and was teaching the kids in there how to be a broadcast DJ. My man Krandle had some communication skills, because he went to a engineering school, Ujima knew some things, my brother wanted to get into the music thing. From then, we just played the music within the station and we had people come and talk over the mic, just like a real radio jock. So the kids coming to the station thought we was a real station. We had our own little call letters just like a regular radio station. Back then we had WBLS and WWRL, which was the call letters for real commercial radio stations, so we called ourself – within the youth center – was WRYC. The ‘W’ is the call letter for all the radio stations and the ‘RYC’ was Roosevelt Youth Center. We just imitated what the major radio stations was doing.