DJ M-Walk, who you may remember as Tone Loc’s DJ, produced a song for Romeo & Master Rhyme in 1987 which sampled ‘To Be Real.’ It was picked up by Delicious Vinyl and remixed by the Dust Brothers, and contained some lines which were seemingly aimed at another local LA crew:
M-Walk don’t dig dirty dudes dealing dope/so stop saying sess ’til the suckers say soap
Rhymes raps and riddles of rhymes he’s real raw/said seven sorry suckers saw [O’] Shay on the Shaw
And that’s no lie, and if you want to try/you can come and try and I won’t even ask you
Here’s the complete transcript of my talk with Tom Silverman, who created the Dance Music Report and Tommy Boy Records in addition to co-founding the New Music Seminar, home of the MC and DJ Battle for World Supremacy. There’s a lot that I couldn’t fit into the NMS oral history piece from last month, so I thought it was worth printing in full seeing as though it paints an interesting picture of the
Robbie: What was your first exposure to hip-hop?
Tom Silverman: I went to the T-Connection to hear Bambaataa thing after learning about breakbeats in 1980, healing about this whole breakbeat phenomenon/b-boy concept in 1980 and wanted to find out about it. I called up Bambaataa and went to see him at T-Connection in the Bronx, and that’s how I first heard him and Red Alert and Jazzy Jay spinning the most amazing variety of music in a way that I’d never heard before. I just asked him if he wanted to make a record and that was kind of the beginning of Tommy Boy, when he said yes. To hear Kraftwerk and Billy Squier and Bob James and Cerone and The Monkees mixed in with normal James Brown and Sly Stone and all of this funk music was the thing that was the real revelation. And then to see how they cut it up and extended beats and found breaks and turned them into something more was just crazy at the time. Imagine seeing that in 1980 when no one had ever experienced it before? It’s like fire! ‘We’ve never seen fire before. What is that?’
When did the NMS begin?
The commencement was 1980, it was a one day event that year. In 1981 we did it in a club venue and it became a two-day event. The place was called Privates, and for the first time we did an event, it was called ‘a DJ spinning exhibition’ where we showed people what was happening in 1981 with spinning. We had a guy called Jeff Broitman, who was a disco DJ, showing how DJ’s mix records in a normal club situation. Then we had a guy called Whiz Kid – who later made records for us at Tommy Boy – who was a quick-cut DJ from the Afrika Bambaataa school of the Zulu Nation. He was from the Bronx and he was one of the greatest masters of fast spinning. It was a DJ’s exhibition to show how they did it, and people were just blown away. Nobody had seen people cutting two bars back and forth between records before. Everybody started talking about it, the room was packed to the gills and people were so excited about seeing it. (more…)
I always wondered why Detroit’s Awesome Dre had a song going at Kool Moe Dee on his highly enjoyable 1989 album, You Can’t Hold Me Back. Now that I’ve heard his second single, it makes a little more sense. It appears that Dre took it upon himself to fire shots at both LL Cool J and Moe Dee on separate songs. This mystery was finally solved when Werner interviewed Dre in 2009: (more…)
Some of you may aware that Doug E. Fresh has been a member of the Church of Scientology for the last twenty years or so. Thanks to John Safron‘s Music Jamboree series from a few years back, I can now bring you footage of ‘the world’s greatest entertainer’ using his talents to celebrate the power of dianetics and hopefully wiping out a few disembodied theatans in the process. If you want to hear more, you can enjoy his two tracks recorded especially for The Golden Era Musicians and Friends The Joy of Creating album in 2001, which also featured exclusive L. Ron bangers from Issac Hayes and Chick Corea. (more…)
Time and time again I read claims that the reason why the producers who cut their teeth in the 12-bit sampling era aren’t bringing the same level of beat-making wizardry to the table is because they’ve moved on from their dusty old SP-1200’s, MPC 60’s and EPS’. I’m claiming bullshit. Sure, there’s no denying that a certain range of drum machines and samplers have a distinct sound and character, but at the end of the day they’re still a means to an end. All the Fender Rhodes, S-950’s and SSL 4000 desks in the world aren’t going to magically bring your favorites back to their prime.
Here’s a quick cross-section of quotes regarding equipment: (more…)
Do you ever sit around and wonder ‘What the hell happened to that marginally talented rap crew who released an album in the early nineties?’ If so, I’m here to help. It turns out that some of your old favorites didn’t all go back to working ‘civilian’ jobs after the roller coaster ride that is a recording contract. Some of them kept keeping on for another shot at fame, and a few are still releasing music this decade, believe it or not. I’ve previously posted modern efforts from The Legion and Freestyle Professors, but after donning my grey trenchcoat and developing a Columbo style wonky eye I was able to dig up the following: (more…)
There’s going to be a Sean Price album produced entirely by Lil’ Fame, which is a true reason for the CRC to celebrate since it means that we don’t have to hear Termanology waste any more Fizzy Womack beats for a little while, but also because they both continue to put in some fine work. That being said, some of these rap team-ups are inevitably better on paper than the finished result. I’m sure DJ Premier and Nas will get around to recording an album in 2050 to a captive audience of fifteen people, but in the meantime I’m still campaigning for an group featuring Grand Daddy I.U., Roc Maciano and Parrish Smith called Strong Island Styling, with Prince Paul on the beats. Since the build your own supergroup topic has already been done here, let’s stick to producer and MC combos.
Here are album five team-ups that I would pay money for: (more…)
Hitman Howie Tee got his start as part of CD III, before laying down the demo version of ‘Roxanne Roxanne’ for UTFO and helping out Full Force with some material, before lending his talents to Whistle, Chubb Rock, Special Ed, the Real Roxanne and Little Shawn. Later in his career he branched out into reggae (Vicious, Patra) and created pop (Color Me Badd, Madonna, EMF). Here are some of his more memorable moments when he was in hardcore rap mode.
Forgive me if this is common knowledge, but I only just realized that the group Whistle, best known for their 1985 hit ‘(Nothing Serious) Just Buggin,’ released four albums on the Select label. Jazzy Jazz, Kool Doobie and DJ Silver Spinner were the original line-up, with Kraze and Terk joining in ’90 after Jazzy Jazz Doobie broke north. At this point they abandoned rapping altogether and got on some Boyz II Men type shit for their third album Always and Forever. By the time 1992 rolled around, the crew was riding the Bel Biv Devoe wave and broke out the mustard hooded t-shirts to join the New Jack Swing movement bfore they rode off into the sunset.
So Doc Brown shows up and says you can borrow the modified DeLoran to go back in time. Where do you go? Here are a few rap related suggestions once you’ve tired of trips to ancient Egypt, seen the dinosaurs and punched Hitler in the throat:
1. Checking out Kool Herc DJing his sister’s rent party at 1520 Sedgewick Avenue, Bronx, New York in 1973.
2. Attending the Run-DMC show at Madison Square Garden when Run told the crowd to put their Adidas in the air.
3. Watching KRS-One battle Grandmaster Melle Mel at the Latin Quarter in 1987.
4. Witnessing Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five performing at the Audubon Ballroom on Broadway and 165th Street, Harlem, on September 2nd, 1976. (more…)
Hurby ‘Lug Bug’ Azor played a big part in exposing a different style of Queens rap to the world as his Idol Makers crew concentrated on dressing fly, club hopping and bagging the opposite sex, largely favoring story-telling over the classic brag and boast technique. Hurby’s appreciation of go-go beats, DMX shakers and classic breakbeats produced some dance floor classics before he broke through to the pop charts with Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Push It’ and into the movies via Kid ‘N Play‘s Houseparty franchise. After producing a couple of records for MC Shan‘s white reggae artist Snow in 1995, Hurby vanished from the music scene altogether. Here are what I consider to be his sixteen finest moments behind the boards.
As a major fan of Behind the Iron Curtain, the previously CD/tape-only 1996 album by the 4 man NY/Atlanta crew Sleestack’z, GRR is excited to be releasing the long overdue 2LP vinyl version of this cult classic. Featuring all 18 tracks from the original album PLUS 3 bonus joints recorded around the same time, this is a must-have for any fans of 90s hip hop. The vinyl is limited to 300 copies (100 on clear vinyl, 200 on black vinyl) and comes in a white jacket with oversize sticker, as well as printed liner notes on the history of the group and making of the album.
Stumbled onto this piece of gold the other night thanks to TR Love – Angus Batey’s interview with Kool Keith and Ced-Gee for the liner notes of the Roadrunner edition of Critical Beatdown! Of particular interest was Ced’s breaking down his involvement with Criminal Minded:
Ced-Gee: Me and Scott [La Rock] grew up together. I knew Scott’s whole family. With BDP’s Criminal Minded, my input was more of showing Scott how to use the sampler. When the SP-12 came out, a lot of engineers just looped. But I would take sounds and chop ’em up – even if it wasn’t a full sound I’d make it sound full. I was the first person to chop samples on the SP-12. Soon everyone was doing it. [KRS-ONE] would bring the record, I would take it, chop it, rearrange it. I did the whole album, apart from four songs. I didn’t do ‘Criminal Minded,’ ‘South Bronx,’ ‘My 9mm’ and ‘Elementary,’ but I did the rest. But I got jerked on the credit. Scott kept telling me to stay on the back of the guy who ran the label. ‘I’m telling you,’ he said, ‘he’s sheisty’. I’m like, ‘Nah, he said he got me’. And when it came out, it didn’t say ‘Produced by Ced-Gee and Boogie Down’, it said ‘Produced by Boogie Down, special thanks to Ced-Gee’. Me and Scott didn’t fall out, but it cost me money.
If you don’t enjoy the bombastic nonsense that is Greg Nice combined with the ultra relaxed musings of Smooth B then there isn’t much hope for you in life. I recommend drinking bleach, playing chicken with freight trains or challenging Just-Ice to a fist fight in order to hasten your ascent to the pearly gates/pits of hell/endless grey void that awaits you. For all the rest of you, please enjoy my favorite Nice & Smooth songs – in particular the unreleased ‘Turn It Out,’ which features the best use of Babe Ruth‘s ‘Keep Your Distance’ in some time and was re-recorded with a different beat for the Blazin’ Hot LP.
I realized something deeply troubling today. After checking out the latest releases from Ghostface and Statik Selektah I’m convinced that we have now officially entered the Elevator Muzak era of rap music. While The Roots have been churning out tunes seemingly designed for coffee shops and cafes for the better part of the last decade, we’re now at a stage where previously reliable CRC stalwarts such as Lil’ Fame, Sean Price and Ghostface Killah are often rapping over music that lacks any sort of urgency, excitement or abrasiveness. Does this signal a change in the dynamics of the rap game where everyone over the age of thirty is rapping over stuff that Kenny G would consider vanilla and the so-called ‘underground’ fans want a soundtrack to sip pumpkin ales and chai lattes? (more…)