Filed under: BK All Day,Brag Rap,Crates,Features,Interviews,The 80's Files
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
After he read my interview with Dante Ross, former Tommy Boy artist Uptown reached out to tell his side of the story: “A lot of people don’t know the reason why I was a one-hit wonder, so I just wanted to share that”. Turns out there was a lot more to his story than a great single from 1989 – Uptown grew-up with Maseo from De La Soul and used to kick rhymes with a young Christopher Wallace back in the days, and featured on both of the Buckshot LeFonque albums which DJ Premier recorded with Branford Marsalis.
Robbie: What age were you when you got the bug to start rhyming?
Uptown: I was about 10, 11 years old. I grew up in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, New York – about three blocks from where Biggie Smalls lived. Me and a whole bunch of friends would go around in the neighborhood and do these little block parties. They would stop the street off, put a DJ out there and we would grab the mic. Biggie, Half-A-Mil, there’s a couple of us that was out there together in the neighborhood, used to go ‘round to all kind of block parties and do the shows. How I got my deal was, Mase from De La Soul actually grew-up in my neighborhood too, but in his early teens he moved to Amityvillle. I used to go out there and visit, even before they made their first record. He used to DJ their backyard parties and I used to battle everybody in the neighborhood. A couple of months go by and Mase comes to my house and he says, “Yo! I finally got it! I got a hit! My song is on the radio!” He gave me his first demo, it was not ready for sale yet, and it was “Plug Tunin”. I was like, “Oh my god! You can’t be serious! This is you?” Because “Plug Tunin’” was the number one jam at the time. He said, “Yeah. We’re doing a show in Virginia, we want you to come with us.” So I packed up my stuff immediately and go to the show with them in Virginia. While they’re doing their show, I met Dante Ross backstage ‘cos he was the A&R for Tommy Boy at the time. He heard me rhyme one time, and he was like, “Hey, I want you to come to our office, I like the way that you sound.” So I got signed to Tommy Boy with just a one-shot rhyme to Dante Ross!