In response to Mr. Magic‘s Rap Attack show on WBLS, New York’s KISS-FM mounted a counter-attack by recruiting DJ Chuck Chillout and Kool DJ Red Alert. The resulting competition meant that Tri-Borough residents were spoiled for choice in the mid to late 80′s when it came to hip-hop on the radio. Chuck was also a member of The B-Boys, released several DJ records and produced for crews like The Dismasters, Deuces Wild and put out an album with Kool Chip in between breaking new music on his Friday night show. Here’s what he had to say about the most exciting era of hip-hop on wax, getting mobbed by fans and his uncle’s love of Australian beer.
Robbie: When did you start deejaying?
DJ Chuck Chillout: I started playing when I was thirteen, fourteen. You’re trying to make a name for yourself, so you practice in the basement, get a little house party. The next thing you know, you’re making your little tapes. Your tape starts circulating and you start making a name for yourself, but no one really knows who you are so now you’ve gotta come out and play in the parks and make a name for yourself. Once you get to the park and you can really hold it down then people will book you in the clubs. Then I went from the club to the radio. (more…)
With the exception of Queen Latifah, Lakim Shabazz proved to be the most prolific of the original Flavor Unit line-up, releasing two albums and a long list of guest spots on 45 King projects during his time at Tuff City. Despite his diminutive frame, Lakim wielded “the voice of power” with authority, as he combined the teaching of the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths with Brag Rap with a previously unseen finesse over some of the best beats of the era.
Robbie: Where did it all start for you?
Lakim Shabazz: I was always interested in music since I was a little kid. I used to always listen to my mother’s albums and things of that nature. I’m from Newark, New Jersey, and out here spinning club music was a big thing as I was growing up. I started out deejaying, spinning club music, and that’s how I got introduced to hip hop. I met a couple a few DJ’s, and when I first saw somebody spinning the wax back and forth, scratching records, that intrigued me.
When did you start writing rhymes?
I met my DJ, Cee Just, when I was in ninth grade. I was still deejaying, and he convinced me to write my first rhyme. There were a couple of other guys that used to come over to his house and they’d be rhyming. I never even thought about picking up a mic, and he asked me to write a rhyme. I credit my man Cee Just and my brother Lamel Born for that. They inspired me to write my first rhyme and I’ve been rhyming ever since. (more…)
Concluding my talk with Freshco, he details what went down in the New Music Seminar in 1990, teaming up with DJ Miz, the mutual respect he shared with other top-tier lyricists and why his career as an MC didn’t turn out the way he’d hoped.
Robbie: How did you get involved with the NMS?
Freshco: DJ Clark Kent said, “Fresh, you need to join the New Music Seminar”, and that sent chills down my spine. Everyone that knew me knew how good I was, but the world didn’t know. I think Clark Kent was trying to say, “There’s a way to do this. Go into the Seminar and show everybody”. And that’s what I did. In July, 1989 I won the New Music Seminar, and people were like, “Oh my god, we didn’t know!”. Everybody was there, it was the perfect platform. Diddy, Just-Ice, Ice-T. It ended up being a really nice thing for me. (more…)
Freshco is best remembered as the being the winner of the 1990 New Music SeminarBattle For World Supremacy MC Battle who teamed up with the winner of the DJ Battle from that same year, DJ Miz. That story was covered in detail in the documentary World Supreme Hip-Hop, but there is a lot more to his story, as I discovered when I caught up with him recently. In the first part of this interview, we discuss his early days as an accomplished train bomber, skater and popper.
Robbie: What made you want to rhyme?
Freshco: Back in high school, in the lunchroom, people would bang beats on the table and dudes would just start rhyming, so I’d join in. A friend of mine told me about his rhyme book, which I thought was brilliant. I didn’t have a rhyme book, and his rhyme book was full. That was one of my initial goals, to have a rhyme book that was that was more than five pages. After that, a cousin of mine gave me one of his tapes with somebody rhyming, and I learned that rhyme and started saying it in my neighborhood, and people were like, “Hey, you’re good!”. So that was the beginning. (more…)
Got a major Flavor Unit interview ready to drop soon, so I’m going in extra deep (pause) on their extensive catalog. Here are ten of sure shots from the greatest collection of MC’s that New Jersey ever produced.
One of the lesser-known albums released through Aaron Fuch‘s Tuff City label was Priority One‘s Total Chaos, which featured Bronx-born MC Ron Delite and Louie Louie doing their thing with claim “Featuring Mixes By The 45 King” scrawled across the cover. As a result of internal conflicts and label pressures, the project was’t everything Ron hoped it would be, as he explained when I talked to him back in 2007.
Robbie: How did you first get into rhyming?
Ron Delite: I have this immense love for hip-hop. I grew-up in the South Bronx, so I’m here at the Mecca of it. I’m here at the beginning, before there’s rap records. I’m in the park jams. The first park jam I went to, I’m watching this guy grab a microphone and he’s putting poetry to music. At the time, I’m nine years old, and I’m at home writing poetry. Being an only child, that was my outlet. Looking at this guy, I said, “I’m doing the same thing he’s doing, only he’s doing it to music”. Went home, and needless to say I broke my mother’s record player, ‘cos now I’m trying to emulate what this guy is doing, scratching records and stuff. My mother was pissed-off of course, but she encouraged me later on. She was always my biggest critic, but I knew if I brought something home and she liked it? I’ve gotta do something else! My mother likes it, so this ain’t gonna pop off! (more…)
Seems like the perfect time to revisit Uptown‘s memories of his friendship with Biggie Smalls…
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. Me and Biggie Smalls, we would bump heads a lot. He lived three blocks away from me – I was on Nostrand Ave and he lived closer to Clinton. My people knew his people and they were always trying to get us together, ‘cos they knew it would be a great fuckin’ show. Big was a cool dude. I have a homeboy right now, if he could find some of the cassette tapes that me, him and Big did in the crib, rhyming while we smoked a blunt and shit like that, he would probably be a millionaire.
Even though he was big-time, he was known to come back in the neighborhood, sit down and chat with us when he didn’t have to. He used to make jokes at me, ‘cos he had first took a ear to the Buckshot LeFonque project. “Let me find out you a jazz rapper now? So now you don’t do parties? You do fuckin’ jazz?” We grew-up respecting each other – he knew the skills I had, I knew the skills he had. We just used to make fun of it. He was like, “Well I’m glad you took that route, now I can get all my money!” Just to know that he was still paying attention to the stuff that I did was an honor to me. (more…)
Two fatties at the height of their respective powers were taken from this small planet in the month of March – one, a waffle-guzzling comedian with an appetite for destruction. The other – the brother of the guy from K-9. Sixteen and thirty-one years ago, respectively, these two hedonistic maniacs checked-out, leaving gigantic shoes that have yet to be filled. But who was the most brolic of these two foodaholics? Here’s a super-scientifical breakdown:
Continuing my talk with Spyder-D, we discuss his relationship with Sparky-D, the saga of Kool Moe Dee ripping-off his song, record label headaches and why Run won’t talk to him anymore.
Robbie: Was the Tuff City compilation of your early work an authorized release?
Spyder-D: I wouldn’t be surprised if Tuff City didn’t have something to do with the bootlegging of “Big Apple Rappin’”, ‘cos I didn’t technically give the right to do “Big Apple Rappin’”, before I found out they were already planning on doing it, so I believe they’d been in contact with the dude. It was somewhat authorized. Aaron Fuchs – ha and I have had a love/hate relationship for a long time. Aaron is a guy who’s love for hip-hop and his understanding of it, I recognized early on. He was a pioneer in that sense. He understood where hip-hop was going and that it was here to stay a long time before a lot of other people did, and I always loved that about him. But he’s as crooked as lightening bolt! (more…)
Time for another Complex list, this time around on a topic that’s close to my cold, cold heart – record label history. With 2013 marking 30 years in the business, I wrote about the best fifteen years of the iconic label, based on my highly-scientific formula of Sales x Influence x Artistic Merit x Coin Flip.
Spyder-D has quite the forgotten legacy. He was the first MC to release a record on his own label (“Big Apple Rappin’”, 1980), was sporting the pork-pie hat that inspired Run-DMC, helped “The Smurf” dance spread across America and stalked Vaughn Mason, all before 1985. He later had a song ripped-off by Kool Moe Dee, discovered Sparky-D and eventually became the manager of Power Play Studios in the 90′s.
Robbie: How did you first get introduced to rhyming?
Spyder-D: In Queens, we were kinda following what the guys in The Bronx and Manhattan were doing. A couple of people I knew had become DJ’s, one being Davey DMX – at the time was David Reeves, Jnr. We went to school together and I was playing trumpet in his band. This was the mid-70’s, but by ‘76, ‘77 the DJ scene was starting to knock bands off the scene. These guys started hijacking power from the light poles and throwing instant parties in parks and whatnot. The area of Queens I lived in, they had Liberty Park, Jamaica Park and then the park I lived closest at was Henderson Park. Once a DJ crew would roll-up and tap into the light pole to get their power, word would spread like wildfire. People would come, literally, from miles around to be at that park jam. That was my introduction to it, and I wasn’t into it at the time, but it was very intriguing. It attracted all of the ladies, so I was like, “Wow! There’s a lotta chicks rolling up here!” The DJ or the rappers, that was where all the chicks was flocking to, so that part of it appealed to me. Then when Sugarhill broke out with “Rapper’s Delight” they took it to another level. That’s when I said, “OK, I’ve got to get into this”. Being a recording artist of any kind was always appealing to me from growing-up and listening to the Jacksons and Parliament-Funkadelic. I’ll never forget, 60 Minutes did a piece on Peter Brown, showing how they did the multi-layer recording. That was it for me. Rapping was now a recorded music, and the combination of those two became a very powerful ingredient that made me say, “I’m going to do this”. I wrote my first rhymes in 1978. (more…)