Non-Rapper Dudes Series: Freddy Fresh Interview
This morning I had a quick chat with DJ, producer and record collector Freddy Fresh about B-Boy Records, Breakbeat Lenny, The Rap Records book and the correct storage of 45’s. Freddy’s latest album, Play The Music, is out this March.
Robbie: How did you get involved in remixing a track for BDP’s Man and His Music album?
Freddy Fresh: That was ‘88. My first recorded work was that remix with one button pause switching and broken turntables. That was me hanging out at the offices in the South Bronx of B-Boy Records. The plaque on the Criminal Minded album – there’s a plaque between Kris and Scott – I made that plaque. If you look at the back of the album it says, ‘Freddy Fresh, thanks for the plaque.’ I got name-checked on a lot of those albums – Public Enemy thanked me, MC Lyte, Audio Two – all those guys said ‘thanks Freddy Fresh’ on their album, because I was engraving name plates and sending them out to my favorite hip-hop artists in the Bronx and Brooklyn and stuff in 1985, 6 and 7.
KRS-One – Late Night [Unreleased 1993 Practice Session]
DJ Kenny Parker sez:
Off the Practice Tapes album. Krs-One free styling & practicing an early draft of a song meant for the Return Of The Boom Bap LP.
The Return of HHC’s Connections Page
Click for full-size
Are you an ill homeboy looking to find a funky fresh fly girl to chill with after school? Then step on up the Hip Hop Connection‘s cleverly titled ‘Connections’ page and find a pen pal today! Sure, these ads were placed on the late 80’s but there’s a decent chance that some of these fellas are still living with mum if you care to try sending them some snail mail, ladies!
O.C. – The Unkut Interview
Working through my list of D.I.T.C. members to interview (only Fat Joe, Buckwild and O.Gee remaining), I got to talk shop with O.C. recently to ask the question that’s been burning my soul slow since 1994 – why didn’t he use that Rakim sample on ‘Time’s Up’!?
O.C. – The Unkut Interview
Ten Examples of Kid Rap That Aren’t Embarrassing
Kid Rap became a fad in the early 90’s, but youngsters rapping has been going on since the beginning of hip-hop. Matter of fact, some of them had more to offer than shaved heads and shouted choruses. Tragedy and LL were sonning their peers back when they were 14 and 16, respectively. Meanwhile, Jeff from the De La Soul skits never made an album while those Quo clowns got Redman and Aaron Hall features on their album. Where’s the justice?
Ten Rap Remixes That Are Barely Remixes But Still Win
The following are a collection of remixes that where perhaps only an extra horn, new drums or a rearrangement of the samples differentiates them from the original version, but they’re still significantly better. You could add most of the 80’s Cold Chillin’ 12: mixes to this list, natch.
Brand Nubian - Slow Down [Pete Rock Remix]
Pete Rock & CL Smooth - ‘Straighten It Out’ [remix]
EPMD - ‘Crossover’ [Test Pressing Remix]
Stezo - ‘Freak The Funk’ [12″ Version]
Tarrie B Had Great Taste In Rap
Tarrie B, who’s the missing link between Blondie‘s shirt-lived rap career, a Madonna impersonator and Iggy Azalia, wasn’t much of a rapper. She did, on the other hand, film an amusing segment with her boss Eazy-E for the Slammin’ Rap video series, got a beat from Schoolly-D and clearly listened to some great great rap records before she abandoned rap for ‘grindcore’ band Tura Satana in 1997. Sadly, she makes no mention of the late Eric Wright in this Metal Hammer interview either, which only adds fuel to my theory that she was somehow responsible for E getting ‘the bug.’ Maybe she introduced him to some of her scumbag metal buddies who tempted Compton’s little big man to try a shot of horse with a dirty needle?
Bowing Out On Top
If Ice Cube had been able to stand by his claim in this August 1990 interview with Andy Cowan of Hip-Hop Connection, he would have been able to retire with a perfect battling average.
Straight Outta Compton, AmeiKKKa’s Most Wanted, Kill At Will and Death Certificate.
Ten Soundtrack Exclusives That Deserved To Be Singles
Many quality non album cuts have found themselves buried on movie soundtracks over the years. Here are just ten of them.
The Awful Truth About Rap Shelf Life
The limited shelf life of most rap groups is a an unfortunate reality. For some MC’s, the window of opportunity is so small that getting stuck in record label limbo for two or three years can spell career ruin, while even some of the genre’s greatest groups such as Run-DMC and Public Enemy suffered album release delays which saw them slip from cutting-edge to being eclipsed by the new kids on the block (with the exception of Donny Walberg’s ‘posse’).
Download: The Unkut 40 Oz. 2014
These are the best 40 rap songs of 2014, according to the Conservative Rap Coalition. Please mail all complaints to the usual address.
Download: The Unkut 40 Oz. 2014
CJ Moore [Black By Demand] – The Unkut Interview, Part Three
Concluding the three part interview with Black By Demand front man CJ Moore, he covers working with Paul C, Ultramagnetic MC’s and Super Lover Cee, the importance of engineering and chopping, getting ripped off on the ‘Rump Shaker’ single and his deep crates of unreleased material.
Robbie: What was your involvement with Super Lover Cee and Cassanova Rudd?
Super Lover Cee lived in the building behind mine. He has a group called Future Four MC’s, which was Super Lover Cee, myself, DJ Rudd and there was another DJ named Tiny Tim. We did shows around the neighbourhoods and then we disbanded. I was the guy doing the beats and the choruses and putting the track together. When I did ‘All Rapper’s Give Up,’ I had not gotten a deal just yet. He was hanging out of his window, cos he lived on the first floor, he was playing some stuff and he said, ‘Yo C, listen to this!’ I’m standing by his window and I said, ‘Let’s put it together.’ He wound up putting it together and I wound up tightening it up. When I brought him to the studio to do the session and introduced him to Paul and Mick, Paul C. didn’t want to do the session. He couldn’t hear it, he didn’t see anything pleasurable about it. He wound up doing it. As far as the entirety of the project, when he did their album Girls I Got ‘Em Locked, I did not do any of those records. But a lotta those routines we had in the Future Four? He wound up using them.
A Salute To Larry Smith
Larry Smith passed away on the night of Thursday 18 December 2014, seven years after suffering a stroke that left him incapacitated. His son, Larry Smith Jnr. apparently read Larry the article I wrote about him for Cuepoint in October and he is said to have enjoyed it, so at least he knew that there were a lot of people who still appreciated his contributions before he left us.
While his the tributes are flowing on Twitter, there seems to be no mention of the fact that Larry was a ward of the state since his stroke, receiving the minimal attention from the staff for the final years of his life. Where were all these hot shot celebrity friends of Larry when he really needed their support and financial assistance? People such as Talib Haqq, Akili Walker and Spyder-D took the time to visit Mr. Smith in his time of need. I wonder when was the last time that Russell Simmons or Reverend Run took the time out to check up on the guy who helped to get them where they are today?
Russell Simmons actually sold-off Larry Smith’s half of the publishing from their Rush-Groove company to fund the deposit that Columbia Records required to give Def Jam their distribution deal, effectively selling him up the river so he could hand Rick Rubin the keys to the rock/rap blueprint. I can’t help but feel like the hip-hop world let Larry down when he needed them most.
The RZA – The Unkut Interview
The mastermind responsible for the mighty Wu-Tang has finally reunited with the original crew to celebrate their 20th anniversary with a new album and a new approach. The RZA has been more focused on the film world in recent years, but it seemed like the perfect time to talk about his founding days and what lead up to him creating the infamous Wu-Tang sound, which reminded the rap world of it’s humble beginnings in the basement during a time when everything was getting a little too polished.
Robbie: What sparked you off to want to start making music?
RZA: My cousin, the GZA, had took me to a block party. I probably was 8 years-old, and the DJ was deejaying and somebody had grabbed the microphone and was saying some lyrics like, ‘Dip, dip, dive. so-socialize/Clean out your ears and you open your eyes.’ I started repeatin’ that, and a year later the GZA – he’s three or four years older than me – he started making his little rhymes, him and his homeboys were trying to make their little DJ set, and I would watch them. At the age of nine, the first rap record comes on the radio – Sugarhill Gang. When that happened I knew that’s what I was gonna do, I knew that I’m gonna have my voice on the radio, because they proved to me that it was possible.
CJ Moore [Black By Demand] – The Unkut Interview, Part Two
Engineer all-star CJ Moore delves into the behind the scenes events of Kool G Rap‘s Roots of Evil and the infamous Rawkus album, heading out west, working with the Live Squad and much more in the second part of this interview trilogy.
Robbie: What happened after the Akinyele sessions finished?
CJ Moore: When money started coming into play between Dr. Butcher and myself, things started getting funny. I went out to California and I teamed-up with Ed Strickland again and we was with a guy doing a project called The Reality Check – a guy named Michael Harris – Harry O. He’s the guy who funded Death Row Records. Ice Cube, Ice-T, Dub C, all those guys were involved. I produced a couple of records with Ice-T with me and him rapping back and forth. I was doing the east coast stuff, Battlecat was doing the west coast stuff. I went to Big Daddy Kane, talked to him on the phone, I said, ‘I need you to be out in California. I’m doing this project, it’s kinda merging the east coast with the west coast. Let’s talk about what it’s gonna take to get you on the project.’ He asked me who was on the project, and I explained to him. There was guy named Black Ceasar on the project, he was from Pittsburgh, real talented guy, but Kane had a problem because his name was Black Ceasar. I said, ‘But your name is Big Daddy Kane!’ ‘Yeah, aka Black Ceasar.’ I said, ‘What kind of bullshit is that?’ He couldn’t do the project because of that. I stepped to Method Man and I was trying to get to Redman and everyone was kinda busy, so the east coast/west coast thing never did the proper merge. There was so much money on the table, more than these guys have ever made. For some reason it just backed-out. I guess the whole Harry O thing might have scared people to a degree, if you know the homework on the whole Death Row situation. But we can’t get into that.
Stream: Boogie Down Productions – Live In London 
DJ Kenny Parker has shared this recording of a Boogie Down Productions show at Brixton Academy, 1990. Highlights include the freestyle session where KRS kicks some rhymes that would appear on later albums. Also, it’s my birthday today so I’m off to drink some RAER whiskey and whatnot.
CJ Moore [Black By Demand] – The Unkut Interview, Part One
CJ Moore has been at ground zero for more classic hip-hop records that most of us can either count, through his work as an engineer at 1212 during the Paul C. era, with his group Black By Demand and with his work for Akinyele and Kool G Rap to name a few. After chopping it with CJ for three hours, there’s a lot of material to get through and a lot of behind the scenes stories to drop, so let’s begin with how it all got started.
Robbie: When did you first get involved with music?
CJ Moore: About 83, 84. My brothers had a DJ group, and I was just a guy around the group. They were into the deejaying aspect of it and I was into the rapping aspect of it. I started getting into the technical side of it around 84, 85. My mom had bought me a little portable piano and I started making my little compositions from that point. That stemmed into me being the guy who understood a lot of the technical ins and outs as far as equipment was concerned, and I took it from there.
You didn’t study engineering formally?
I just picked it up as I went along. It was a studio called 1212 that I worked at, I was 14, going on 15. I had made a record called ‘We’re Gettin’ Paid.’ My aunt had bought me a drum machine, called a Casio RZ-1. One of the first sampling drum machines, it had like a 2.5 seconds of sample time on it, so I started making my beats from that and using my little piano. I took it into 1212, and the guy who owned the studio – his name is Mick Corey – he took a liking to the fact that I had never been in the studio before, how I kinda knew my way around to where I recognised what I was looking at. I knew how to get in and out.I used to go over to Sam Ash and Manny’s on 48th Street after school and play around with the equipment until they kicked me out. I would watch people and at some point I would overhear conversations about studios. I was trying to get in these places, but I didn’t have the money nor the backing, as far as you get into the buildings and they see this little kid trying to come into a music building. They looking at me like I’m crazy, with no supervision. 1212, I saved up my little money and went and did the sessions. I asked him, ‘I would love to work in a place like this!’ And he said, ‘Why not?’ I liked at him like he was crazy. He was asking me what did I know about this and what did I know about that and I was answering all of the questions right. He was talking about ratio and threshold and attack and things of that nature. I understood that because I used to read a lot and picked it up from that point until I really got my hands on it. I had some sort of a tutorial head-start due to literature.
Al’ Tariq aka Fashion – The Unkut Interview, Part Two
Continuing my interview with Kool-Ass Fash, we discuss him leaving The Beatnuts, meeting Kanye West, forming Missin’ Linx, getting beat-jacked by Dr. Dre and his ill-fated experience signing with Dante Ross.
Robbie: At what stage did you decide to do a solo album?
Al’ Tariq: While we were out on tour doing The Beatnuts joint, we were doing a show close to home at a school, maybe in Long Island or some shit, being on stage and then somebody started heckling us. Talking shit, ‘Yo, you fuckin’ aargh!’ I finally look and it’s Juju. Then he comes and hops on stage and joins in on one of our songs and shit. I was so mad, and I could never understand why Les and Peter Kang didn’t get mad with this dude. I had a few serious run-ins with him.
Al’ Tariq aka Fashion – The Unkut Interview, Part One
The artist formerly known as Fashion aka Kool-Ass Fash took some time out to discuss the ups and downs of his career as both a soloist and as a member of The Beatnuts. This first part focuses on his early days, revealing that the Intoxicated Demons EP could have been completely different had fate not intervened, his thorny relationship with Juju, subliminal rhyme jabs between the Native Tongues and how recording the Street Level album was absolute hell.
Robbie: What made you want to rap?
Al’ Tariq: I wanted to rap at an early age, growing up in The Bronx. The first time I heard Spoonie Gee [starts reciting ‘Spoonin’ Rap’] I wanted to do it bad. I always sang and act and wrote plays and movies at a young age, but what made me think it could be real was I went to school with a young gentleman named James Todd Smith. We attended this school called Christopher Robbins Academy, we were both in ninth grade together. I had gone down to North Carolina to live for two years with my family and sister. I was down there in the fall, my brother came to see me, he was like, ‘Look at this record that Jay made.’ I couldn’t believe it. That was the moment. ‘He did it? I could do it!’ When I heard ‘I Need A Beat’ it was the fall of 1984. At them times, I was rhyming but I wasn’t out there rhyming with everybody. It was something I did on the low. Basketball and girls was all I thought about. I wanted to be an entertainer anyway, but rhyming was probably the fourth or fifth thing on that list. I had other pictures for what I thought I was gonna be at the end of the day.
Sugar Bear & Stezo – Capital Rap Sessions 
Sugar Bear The Powerful Powerlord was responsible for the highly enjoyable 1988 single, ‘Don’t Scandalize Mine’ / ‘Ready To Penetrate’, and was also no slouch when it came to freestyling, as he demonstrated with this amusing Tim Westwood guest spot.
The Mighty V.I.C. – The Unkut Interview
Photo: Alexander Richter
Not sure how my extended interview with The Mighty V.I.C. from 2008 slipped through the cracks, but after using a couple of parts of it I never got around to transcribing the entire three hours that we spoke over a couple of days while Vic ran errands. As before, the full version will be in the Unkut book, but here’s an edited version which covers the major points in his career. V.I.C. discusses how he began interning as a recording engineer at Power Play in the late 80’s, before joining The Beatnuts and working with Godfather Don under the Groove Merchantz banner and later recruiting Mike Heron to create the Ghetto Pros.
Robbie: How did you get started in music?
V.I.C: I started deejaying when I was fifteen years old. I was at the local bagel shop and one of the local kids who worked at the bagel shop showed me a mixer. I was in the tenth grade and I remember being home, sick at the time, and the guy came over after school – and after he was done at the bagel shop – and showed me how to DJ. From there, I found out you can actually go to school for engineering. I was like, ‘You can go to school to edit?’ So I did that a short time after. I went to an engineering school in the city, which I learned zero from, and I started interning at Power Play. That’s where I met Ivan ‘Doc’ Rodriguez, I met Norty Cotto, Patrick Adams – the guy that used to play on all those Eric B. & Rakim albums. At that time there were guys like Just-Ice recording there, you had KRS-One, you had EPMD. Hurby Luvbug used to record there too, Salt ‘N Pepa, Dana Dane, Kid ‘N Play.
Great Moments In Cracka-Ass Cracka Rap: Paleface
Click for full-size version.
After being reminded of this misguided attempt at Saltine Rap pride from 1993, it’s only right to give Paleface his second 15 seconds in the spotlight. It’s safe to assume that this guy was ignored by Ice Cube and therefore nobody outside of the Vibe magazine office ever heard this ‘industrial rock/rap’ track aimed at O’Shea. Shout-outs to Caesar for finding the scan and saving me having to dig through the torn-up magazine crates.
The Source Scans: The Great White Hoax
Classic material from The Source as Reginald C. Dennis breaks down the 1991 White Rap Invasion. Please note that Lavar kid is a Conservative Rap Coalition pioneer with his sensible haircut and crisp polo shirt.