In terms of lyrical masterpieces, that is masterfully and undisputedly achieved with “Bust These Lyrics”. A very strong argument could be made for this being the most lyrical song of T La Rock’s career. Before I defend that theory I have to recognize the rugged production. The drums are like a jackhammer at half-speed. The sampled pieces from the intro of “It’s Yours” and the repeated vocal sample infused into the beat can be symbolic of the screams and yelps of the competition as T La Rock verbal assaults relentlessly. All of these theories are adequately explained in the hook, “Hard Rapping, Funky Beats, Def Scratching, No Gimmicks/Put your ears to the speakers and bust these lyrics!” (more…)
Continuing my talk with “Super Rapper” T La Rock, we discuss the origins of his name, working with Mantronik, bootleggers and unreleased recordings. T is currently developing a biopic called ‘The T La Rock Story’ with “a very powerful producer from Hollywood” named Bonnie Timmerman (who was the Casting Director on Man On Fire, Carlito’s Way and State of Grace to name a few) as well as working on new music.
What’s the story behind your name?
T La Rock: That’s the thing, I was asking my brother about that. I’ve been ‘T La Rock’ for so long that it escapes me. I try to think real hard, ‘What made me say La Rock?’ I was ‘T La Rock’ when there was only three MC’s that was with Flash, put it that way. [laughs] There was only two ‘La Rocks’. People ask me was I the first ‘La Rock’ and I say, ‘It’s a toss-up’, because there was one other ‘La Rock’ – and this is way before Scott La Rock, ‘cos you know Scott La Rock actually got his name from me. We knew each other – in other words, I knew Scott, I know Scott’s brother, I know Scott’s mother, I know Scott’s cousin – so I knew him. He just was hanging around me all the time and one day he just added the ‘La Rock’ and said, ‘You got a problem with that, do you?’ I said, ‘Nah! Ga’ head’. Not many people know about that.
Who was the other ‘La Rock’?
There was another one who was with Kool Herc, and his name was Coka La Rock. But the thing that was funny about it is his name was pronounced two different ways – ‘Coke La Rock’ and ‘Coka La Rock’. We didn’t know each other. The way I came up with the ‘La Rock’ had nothin’ to do with emceeing. That was from breakdancing…well, dancing, rather. We didn’t call it breakdancing back then. (more…)
T La Rock is so entrenched into the history of hip-hop that he actually attended Kool Herc‘s first parties. After nine years of deejaying, breaking and emceeing locally in The Bronx, as well as introducing his brother Special K of the Treacherous Three to rap, T finally decided to take the next step and begin his recording career. The result was a song that would prove to be one of the most influential b-boy records of all time.
Robbie: When did you get the bug to have a piece of wax out there with your name on it?
T La Rock: Around 1983 is when I decided to go professional, when I hooked-up with Rick Rubin. My brother Special K was the one that actually introduced me to Rick. He was supposed to record a record with Rick Rubin but he couldn’t, because he was signed with Sugarhill Records and Treacherous Three. So my brother told me about this guy Rick Rubin, says he wants to put out a record, he wants to start-up a label, so I was like, ‘OK’. I met Rick Rubin, he was in NYU. He hadn’t gotten with Russell [Simmons] yet. When we first did ‘It’s Yours’, Def Jam wasn’t even a label yet. I think he was actually runnin’ ’em out of his dorm room. It was ‘Def Jam Recordings’ – almost like a production company. It was still a record company but it wasn’t that official yet.
It was on Streetwise first, right?
That was later on. After we recorded it we hooked-up with Arthur Baker. I think we initially started-out with Streetwise to try to get distribution, and wind-up actually putting the record on there. Everybody gets confused and they say, ‘How come everybody keeps saying LL Cool J was the first record on Def Jam when I bought ‘It’s Yours’. That was on Def Jam!’ It’s just that Def Jam wasn’t a full label yet. If you have an original copy of ‘It’s Yours’, you will see ‘Def Jam Recordings’ on it.
Is it true that you had a falling-out with Def Jam and they tried to get LL to take your spot?
No. What happened was – here’s a record I made, ‘It’s Yours’…huge! One of the biggest records ever. I’m doing two or three shows a week, making anywhere from $800 to $1000 a show – which was a whole lotta money back then. I still kept my job working at the pharmacy when ‘It’s Yours’ was on the radio, getting’ airplay. Now after a while ‘It’s Yours’ finally dies down, I knew nothing about royalties or anything like that. I’m new to the music business. So everybody’s sayin’ to me, “Wow, T. I know you made a lot of money’ and I say ‘Yeah’. I’m thinking they’re talking about from the shows, but they were talking about from record sales! So I went to Streetwise and said, ‘I want a royalty statement’. They gave me a statement – you’re gonna love this – saying that we owed them money! [laughs] In other words, tryin’ to say the record didn’t make sell enough to recoup to make back the money! So that was like a complete, total turn-off, and I had gotten a little mad with Rick because at the beginning I never knew what deal went down. Keep in mind, this is my very first record deal. I knew nothing about the business. (more…)
Deshawn killed shit on Showbiz & AG‘s “Represent” way back when. Remember this?
“Cuttin bitch-niggaz down with a hundred pound axe, like I was raised by psycho-crazed lumberjacks/
So in a battle I be stabbin, choppin MC’s like trees, piece-by-piece buildin cabins!”
He changed his name to Sunkiss and was rolling with the Terror Squad for a minute, now he’s resurfaced with a new Premier track. T La Rock also used to roll with dude as he revealed when I spoke to him last week:
After getting screwed over by Def Jam, who attempted to replace him with young upstart LL Cool J, T La Rock bounced back with a new record and a new deal. “Breakdown” and “He’s Incredible” are featured on the recent CD release of Lyrical King, so I’ll instead focus on the third cut from the single. “T La Rock Rockin The Party”. (more…)
There’s no doubt that Mantronik‘s production work on many of T La Rock‘s records is part of their legendary status, but T and DJ Louie Lou still produced some great cuts together, one of which is the b-side to “This Beat Kicks” called “Scratch Monopoly”. (more…)
The Club Mix of T La Rock‘s “Breaking Bells” manages to improve on an already incredible track by adding a new verse from Terry and letting cut ‘n paste masters Omar Santana and Chep Nunez get busy with Mantronik and Louie-Lou’s killer beat foundation. This results in the final two minutes of the song consisting of frantic drum fills, “sounds of the safari” percussion and cow bell solos that makes this record one of the finest moments in electro hip-hop’s brief reign at the top. (more…)
The title track from T La Rock‘s first album was also one of it’s strongest. Many of the other songs had extended versions released as single’s with extra verses and edits (“Breakin’ Bells”, “Back To Burn” and “This Beat Kicks”), but “Lyrical King” never made it beyond LP status. For some reason, “Live Drummin’ With The Country Boy”, “Havin’ Fun” and “Three Minutes of Beat Box” were included on the album instead of some of his better b-sides. (more…)
Here’s one you might have missed – a T La Rock exclusive for the first volume of Fresh Records‘ The Rap Pack compilation (you’ve gotta love those dope Gnome characters on the cover). While it sounds like a typical Mantronik production, it is in fact the handywork of a young Quincy Jones III (aka QDIII), who also produced Special K’s “Special K Is Good”. (more…)
The obvious thing to do when focusing on the work of T La Rock is to wheel out his trusty classic “It’s Yours”, which is not only a great song but is also widely regarded as the first Bass song ever. (more…)
Everyone knows that Special K is T La Rock‘s brother, but many of you may have missed their little-heard collaboration from 1994’s ill-fated Treacherous 3 album. With a title like Old School Flava, I wasn’t exactly expecting miracles from Moe, LA and K, but songs like “The Mic Wreckers” and “We Come Phat” were blatant attempts at imitating the trendy sounds of the time, resulting in some really bad songs from one of rap’s most lyrical groups. (more…)
Throwing big words around has become a trend in recent years, as new jack rappers – lacking in flow, breath control and any kind of style in general – attempt to distract listeners. It wasn’t always that way though. There was a time when T La Rock and the Treacherous Three made a name for themselves as dope MC’s with the most advanced vocabularies in the game. (more…)