After transcribing my video interview with Tuff City founder Aaron Fuchs recently, I came across this intriguing quote:
Aaron Fuchs: The Bronx and Harlem were worlds apart cultural by the time the 70’s happened, because Harlem’s a community and The Bronx was burnt-out, but they were geographically very close to each other. You had hip-hop evolve like a weed, like top seed and bang! The Harlem record guys take over. You had Spoonie Gee, who was really an R&B guy who was rapping instead of singing. You had this truncating of what hip-hop was into the constraints of the Harlem record business. These couple of [Cold Crush Brothers] records actually reflect what hip-hop was before it was a record business. This crazy, formless, sprawling kind of music. You wonder sometimes would would have happened to hip-hop had The Bronx had not been so close to Harlem and was so quickly engulfed by the vastly deeper traditions of Harlem.
As a member of The Chosen Few, Trio Connection and Black By Demand, CJ Moore did his thing as a rapper in the 80’s while honing his skills as an engineer and mixer. Here are some examples of CJ in action on the mic and behind the boards.
DJ Cash Money: Wow my man Too Tuff just sent me this…I haven’t heard this in years…The Cash Money Echo Scratch on Lady B’s Show…..Talk about taking me back? I remember the day after this was on the radio..I would hear everyone blasting this out of their cars…”Jerome is the King”…JJJJJerome is the jigajigajiga King….Hahahahahaha….I have to show what i did that scratch on….Classic Times!!!!
I used this machine to do this scratch…I turned this sideways and put masking tape on the delay fader so i couldn’t go up on the volume….Those were the days when you had to really think on being creative…The technology wasn’t there yet..So hearing this will always have a special place in my heart because this was the beginning of me starting to get recognized for what i do today….This was late 80’s….
While I was staying in New Jersey mid 2013, I attempted to shoot some footage of the original Flavor Unit crew. As it happened, I only managed to get Chill Rob G on film, and after watching the video back I’ve decided that this plays better as a written piece. While some of the same stuff from our 2006 conversation is covered, Rob also went into a lot more detail on some topics, making it a worthwhile piece on it’s own. Not to mention that Ride The Rhythm still stands as one of the strongest and most original releases of 1989.
Robbie: You mentioned that you went through a few different names when you were younger?
Chill Rob G: When I first started I had an identity crisis, I had a bunch of different names. It was Jazzy B, it was Bobby G, it was Killer B – cos my name was Robert. I was down with a couple of different crews too. I was down with The World Rap Crew and I was down with the Dignified Almighty Magnificent MC’s – Those D.A.M. MC’s. When all of that fell apart I just kept rapping on my own. I used to practice with my man Michael Ali, be up at his house every single day, making tapes. When I said that on the record it was true!
Were these beats that he’d made?
He tried to make beats but they was [blows raspberry]. I would just rap over popular rap records. He would try to cut the break. He wasn’t really that good a DJ either – but that was my man back then. [laughs] We would make tapes and try to get it out to the drug dealers, cos they’d be out all night. They would play that music and people would get a chance to hear me rap. (more…)
If, by some tragic turn of fate, all rap released prior to the year 2000 was somehow obliterated from the face of the earth and you were given the opportunity to take twenty CD’s to pass the time while I wasted away in exile on some deserted island (stay with me here), then what would you take? I considered the options this afternoon and devised the following list of hip-hop platters to bring along. (more…)
Beat machine wonder kid Kurtis Mantronik had a nice little run over at Sleeping Bag Records, where he split his time between hard hitting electro hip-hop beats for T La Rock and Just-Ice and Freestyle/dance music for artists such as Joyce Simms. After three Mantronix albums with MC Tee on the mic, Tee decided to join the airforce and Kurtis recruited Bryce Luvah from Queens Brooklyn Connection to fill his shoes for the next two LP’s before moving onto to dance music for good. Shout out to Chep Nunez and Omar Santana on some of those razor blade edits.
Despite being one of the greatest rappers to ever enter a recording studio, Rakim‘s four albums with Eric B. were pretty patchy, mainly due to the abundance of filler and sub par scratch showcases. This wasn’t such a big deal on Paid In Full, since every with vocals was amazing and 1987 rap LP’s usually consisted of a few strong singles and plenty of filler, but this formula really didn’t cut it by the time Follow The Leader dropped in ’88. I’m not sure if anyone noticed at the time though, because the first three tracks are so powerful that you’ve already been won over before you even get to the second side of the album, much like NWA’s Straight Outta Compton. (more…)
This one has been cooking up for long time now, but it’s finally out of the oven and ready to throw on your plate with a side of mash – the history of the Ultimate Breaks and Beats series told by the people who put them together and some of the DJ’s and producers they went on to influence:
Phill Most Chill came up drawing flyers for local crews before dropping his own independent record in 1988, moving into some production work and eventually landing a regular spot at Rap Sheet. From there he became a record dealer and collector, released over 100 mixtapes and eventually returned to the microphone in 2005, and has since released a number of new projects. I caught up with Soulman to talk records, journalism and more records…
Robbie: How did you first get exposed to hip-hop?
Phill Most Chill: I go back as a little kid, cos I grew up right outside of New York, like a half an hour away from the Bronx in Connecticut. I go back to before when hip-hop was even on record yet, it was just parties. I’d see all the classic crews from back in the days – the Furious Five, Cold Crush Brothers – all of ‘em, they would rock at the community center or roller skating rink or high schools in my neighborhood. I started out as a fan but also I used to do flyers for some of the hip-hop pioneers back in those days. From there I went to making records myself – little, small indy records – and that led to the thing with Rap Sheet. During that time I also got into production and I went all out with collecting breaks and digging for records to the point where I would consider myself one of the leading people as far as digging in the crates. I used to also sell breaks and records to all the top producers in New York City. They used to have the Roosevelt Hotel record conventions. That came from me doing the ‘World of Beats’ column – at that point I felt I needed to really up my game and go all-out with the records. That led to me becoming a dealer as well, because a lot of the breaks people were looking for? I had ‘em and I knew how to get ‘em. Pretty much every great producer in the New York area back then? I sold records to. The only dude I didn’t see at the shows was Preemo. (more…)
Four of Jazzy Jay‘s Strong City groups released an album during the Uni Records distribution deal – Ice Cream Tee, Busy Bee, Don Baron and Nu Sounds. I vaguely remember owning the Mackin’ album at some stage but not really enjoying anything off it, and listening back now it’s clear that these guys were totally run-of-the-mill. Still, considering their modest talents they did well to have two videos shot, get Afrika Bambaataa to chant the hook, rent some colorful suits and still have enough left over to hire some hawt cheerleaders and video skeezers. ‘Condition Red’ is a slightly better track if you enjoy distorted phone crank callers, otherwise notable for being Skeff Anslem‘s first production credit. (more…)
The prospect of getting a guided audio tour through Afrika Bambaataa‘s record collection by two lifelong music geeks is appealing to even the most cursory of music fans, if the jam-packed crowd that squeezed into Melbourne’s Forum Theater on Friday night is anything to go by. It certainly didn’t hurt that it was helmed by music festival darlings Shadow and Cut Chemist, which made the whole thing easier to digest for those in the audience who haven’t memorised Bam’s original Blues and Soul list of his favorite breaks. (more…)
Back in 2006 I wondered why Schoolly-D never responded to Spoonie Gee’s ‘That’s My Style‘, included lines such as ‘Come in here from where ever you came/tryin’ to steal my style and plus my name.’ As was pointed out in the comments section, Schoolly fired back with a couple of lines at the beginning of ‘Housin’ The Joint‘ (‘You say I tried to diss you and I stole your style/but the days you was rockin’ I was still a lil’ child’), but I’ve always found this to be a weird piece of rap history, as I’d never noticed any similarities between the two. Looking back now, I can kind of see how the similarity in their names and the fact that the opening story in ‘P.S.K.’ involves trying to pick up women from a car in a similar vein to the start of ‘Love Rap’, but it still seems like a stretch.
In recent years I was able to speak to both parties involved and get their sides of the story, as well as a third party perspective: (more…)
Thanks to Drew Huge for spotting this classic clip of Rock Around The Clock, a hip-hop event broadcast on UK TV in 1986 featuring performances from Word of Mouth and DJ Cheese, Mantronix, T La Rock and local lads Phaze One, with commentary from Morgan Khan, Dave Pierce and John Peel (who was able to squeeze in a quick appearance in-between bedding underage school girls). There’s also some break dancing and graffiti action going on, but I pity the fool who would rather watch someone doing a headspin on a chair than witness the microphone techniques of the great Terry La Rock backed-up by Kurtis on the decks!
Prior to his reign as The Rap Bandit, Danny Ozark went by the pen name Pistol Pete. For this column in the January 1991 issue of The Source, Pete invents ten rap rumors as an excuse to drop some hip-hop punchlines. Just think, before Twitter rappers had to listen to dumb myths about themselves for months and months! Progress.
File under ‘Attempted Club Bangers That May Never Have Actually Been Played In A Club’, much like Rockwilder‘s remix of ‘Thick’ for D.I.T.C. It appears that Puba wasn’t trying to hear that rapping-on-top-of-a-building shit and filmed his part in a bar, although it’s more likely that he just slept-in on the day of the shoot. One can only imagine that Loon was contractually obliged to provide the hook due to the Arista connection, since I’m pretty sure he literally phoned in his contribution from a payphone. (more…)
Just saw this advertised on Facebook. Does anybody know what the final track titled ‘Unexplained’ is? I’ve read elsewhere that this was the alternative name for ‘Swordsman,’ but since that’s listed as well it must be a totally different song…
Quite possibly the highlight of my brief print magazine career was when Hip Hop Connection ran my interviews with DJ Johnny Juice/Son of Bazerk and Keith Shocklee side by side in issue #221. As you can read above, the Bomb Squad co-founder didn’t appreciate the presentation. The best thing about the incident was the fact that it helped bring the ‘Bite Back’ page out of retirement after years in the wilderness. Salad days, indeed.
The original 5ive-0 Posse, not to be confused with the weak 5ive-0 crew from 1994, dropped an entertaining LP in 1989 on Sue Records which dealt with the concerns of a rapper and a DJ who just happened to work for the New York City Police Department. Making it clear that they weren’t soft just because they were the fuzz (cutting in the Jungle Brothers ‘Shot and killed by an off duty jake’ line as a warning to anyone who stepped to them), while boasting of being able to ‘carry all the guns that I want and be legal.’ In case you were concerned that the duo were walking around like a couple of cowboys, we’re reminded that they never ever got a civilian complaint. Prince Rashaad and DJ Brother Lee-Luv broke down their statement of intent on the back cover:
“During the day to protect and serve, during the night to create and project an image that Police Officers are human and can be down to earth like anybody else.”
This week marked the eleventh year of this website/weblog/blog/web page/national treasure/institution/boom-bap graveyard. As is our want, rather than celebrate the achievements that Unkut Dot Com and the mighty Conservative Rap Coalition have achieved, I’d like to focus on pouring out a little liquor for all the great things that are no longer with us: (more…)
There once was a time when the human beatbox was an entertaining addition to 80’s rap songs, rather than something that you could do on into an iPad on your late night talk show. One of the unsung practitioners of this humble talent was Greg Nice, who lent his vocal percussive skills to no less than three crews before he teamed-up with Smooth B to make history. As revealed in my interview with CJ Moore, Greg Nice was down with the Nasty Comedians crew, which was originally Greg and Cool Nate-T. Their first single was released on Home Boys Only Records in 1985, the same label that CJ’s Small’s Chosen Few 12″ appeared on. As it turns out, the guy who owned HBO Records was Larry Davis, who would later rise to worldwide fame after he shot six cops in self-defense when they raided his sisters apartment in the Bronx. (more…)
If you were a rap fan outside of the USA in 1987, it was in your best interest to collect the Street SoundsElectro/Hip-Hop albums, which were compilations of an often eclectic mix of current singles, mixed together by a selection of UK DJ’s. The one that really stood out for me was Hip Hop 18, which was mixed by a fellow named R.J. Scratch [Roger Johnson] and was a particularly mixed bag of great, obscure and just plain weird rap tracks from New York. I was eventually able to find copies of ‘You Know How To Reach Us’ and ‘We Have Risin”, but the two Marley Marl produced tunes on this volume remained out of reach. As it turns out, what would have been Frick ‘N Frack’s second single was never actually released, only existing on a couple of acetates. This was annoying since it means there was no way to hear the complete, unmixed versions of these tracks – until now. Turns out that Frick ‘N Frack have uploaded some of their old songs to iTunes for those of us who have waited for 28 years to hear the last minute of ‘Who’s On Mine.’ From the preview it sounds like they’ve been dubbed off cassette from when they were played on WBLS, but for 99 cents each I guess it’s worth taking a gamble.
UPDATE: The iTunes version is just a recording of the version on the Street Sounds compilation that cuts off when the Kings Of Pressure comes in. Guess we’ll be waiting another 28 years until Marley presses it up on Hot Chillin’… (more…)
Another rap mystery case file can be closed, as we finally have photographic proof of what Puffy Dee looked like, courtesy of Fat Lace. In case you missed it, here’s her infamous Pumpkin produced b-side:
Beeper’s seemed pretty great – although I never had cause to own one – what with the whole not having to speak to people until you can be bothered finding a phone booth thing. While there are dozens of songs that name check these trusty telecommunications devices, only a handful were savvy enough to actually utilize the distinctive sounds of the pager itself. Feel free to let us know if any other examples have been overlooked…
Update: Twelve new entries thanks to Rap Twitter and the comments section.