Filed under: Bronx Bombers,Ced Gee Special,Features,Great Moments In Rap,No Country For Old (Rap) Men,The 80's Files,Web Work
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
The penny finally dropped as to why I couldn’t pick between my two favorite rap albums…
The penny finally dropped as to why I couldn’t pick between my two favorite rap albums…
Thanks to Will and Aaron from Tuff City records, I had the chance to speak to pioneering Harlem rapper Spoonie Gee last week, who set the standard for street tales and slick talk on his earlier work for Enjoy and Sugarhill before he enjoyed a late 80′s comeback with Marley Marl and Teddy Riley providing the cutting edge beats. After enduring some rocky times for most of the 90′s, he’s currently in the process of recording one last project before he retires from music for good.
Robbie: Being from Harlem, in the early days before records, did you have to travel to see shows?
Spoonie Gee: I went to The Bronx, that’s the first place I saw Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. First time I seen him, I think it was P.A.L on Webster Avenue. I used to go see the Funky 4 + 1, Fantastic Five.
How had you heard about them?
I heard a tape of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Four MC’s at the time, this was before Raheim joined them.
The good folks at PBS-FM in Melbourne gave me a Saturday night graveyard shift to spread the CRC gospel. You can hear the results below:
Having returned to the music game five years ago after an extended hiatus, DJ King Shameek is back rocking clubs on a regular basis in New Jersey and beyond, but you most likely first saw him do his thing with Twin Hype for their dance floor classic “Do It To The Crowd.” Shameek took some time out of his schedule to talk about his roots as a DJ and early production techniques, King Sun vs. Ice Cube and his involvement with the mysterious diss record “The Truth” in 1999, which may have inspired 50 Cent‘s “How To Rob.”
Robbie: What made you want to take deejaying seriously?
DJ King Shameek: I was living in California at the time – I’m originally from New Jersey – but my uncle was at a legendary club in Newark, NJ called The Zanibar, so every time he used to come to California he would always bring a couple of records and give me some stuff, and I would see photographs of him deejaying. That’s when I really started trying to persue it a little more, get turntables and stuff like that. This is when they didn’t even have a mixer with a cross-fader yet. I was getting these microphone mixers that just had the faders up and down, so I would just sit there with a left and a right, putting one up and then putting the other one down! It was hilarious if you think about it now. I was always collecting records and I inherited records from my parents – they brought me up on a lotta Motown stuff and some Spanish stuff here and there. I was preparing myself in my adolescent years, toying around with my father’s record player, trying to scratch on them! [laughs] I would try to do that when he wasn’t watching. I ended up leaving California in ’87. Before that I was just doing a few gigs by being featured here and there, it wasn’t until I came here that I started producing and deejaying professionally.
Mikey D and Devastating Tito [Fearless Four] have just teamed-up over a catchy Large Pro production for some of that good old back-and-forth rhyme routine action.
Mikey D and Tito also kicked some rhymes for 45 King‘s Making The Beat show the other week:
Missed this when it dropped last month, but nevertheless this is an essential mix of obscure 80′s and 90′s rap courtesy of Drew Huge and Dan Large.
Tommy Boy Records founder Tom Silverman started the New Music Seminar in 1980 as a music industry networking event, and in 1985 introduced the MC and Beatbox Battle for World Supremacy (the beatboxing was replaced by DJ’s the following year), which would provide a fertile showcase for both new and established rappers and DJ’s to make a name for themselves. The following is a selection of memories from some of the rapper dudes who either competed or were in attendance.
Ever wondered what this Blondie classic would sound like with an 80′s synth feel? Salutes to the first white dame to ever have a rap record.
Phade, Gizmo and Milk at the Latin Quarters, 1987
During the formative days of the mid 80’s, when Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow and the Fat Boys were the biggest names in rap, the New York club scene was a vital part of the hip-hop food chain, providing both essential networking opportunities and the chance for new acts to get on, provided they could win over the often unforgiving crowds. Let’s take a step back into time as some 80’s hip-hop artists recount the good, the bad and the ugly of the club scene back then.
Limited-edition 7″ dropping through Black Pegasus Music of the unreleased Paul C. edit of “Ain’t It Good To You” for all you Ultramagnetic MC’s fanatics.
From slinging dust to banging Australian soap stars, this is the ultimate American success story. The vintage stories start around the 30 minute mark.
Now that my entire vinyl collection has been reunited at the CRC HQ, I can get back to the time-honored tradition of ripping vinyl again. To set it off, here’s a live recording of the “La Di Da Di” from the Polo Grounds at some time in the 80′s. It cuts off before the big payoff but it’s worth a spin just to hear the reaction of the crowd, who proceed to loose their shit at various points.
The wolves are out. Irate rap fans everyone are calling for Aaron Fuchs‘ head on a pike following with the recent news that his publishing company Tuf America was suing singer Frank Ocean for unauthorized use of Mary J. Blige‘s “Real Love,” which he sung a portion of in the track “Super Rich Kids.” Predictably, this resulted in responses such as ?uestlove‘s tweet: “when i speak and reference the bloodsuckers of hip hop only ONE person comes to mind” despite the fact that Frank Ocean is technically an R&B singer. Aaron Fuchs seems to have provided a convenient scapegoat as the stereotypical “evil Jewish record label owner” who’s only purpose in life is to exploit black musicians in order to fill his own coffers. Based on the testimonies of some former Tuff City artists and a peanut gallery of online writers, this may seem to be the case. But things are never that cut and dried, so I thought it was time to investigate a little deeper than the first page of results from a Google search.
Every now and then, one of these rap websites puts together a list along the lines of “The 30 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of 1993″ and such, which in theory isn’t something I should have an issue with. The reason I mention it is that a decent proportion of these albums – most of which are widely regarded as “classic” and important records – don’t exactly inspire me to dig them out of the shelves and throw them onto the turntable (or, if I’m feeling lazy, navigate to the folder on my hard drive). Is this simply due to the fact that I played that shit to death back when it was released? Or is it more of a case that some music outlives its usefulness?
Take De La Soul’s much discussed 3 Feet High And Rising, for example. While there’s no doubting the impact and originality that Prince Paul and Plugs 1, 2 and 3 brought to the table, I can confidently state that I have no intention to ever listen to that record in it’s entirety in the foreseeable future. That’s likely more of a reflection of my preference for anti-social rap with loud drums than anything else, but it’s an issue worth considering. Let’s take a look at the 1989′s greatest hip-hop albums according to ego trip‘s Book of Rap Lists for example:
One of Philly’s favorite sons unleashing four minutes of fury on Lady B‘s The Street Beat radio show. Stuff like this reminds me of why I became hopelessly addicted to this here rap music.
Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant/Crown Heights, Sir Ibu cemented a place in rap folklore with a record called “Holy War (Live)”, which still stands as one of the rawest examples of beats and rhymes ever recorded, so much so that Ghostface recreated a portion of it on his own modern-day remake named “Mighty Healthy”. Beyond being an influential microphone god, it turns out that Ibu may also have been the first ever Conservative Rap Coalition member, as well as having an obscure connection to Australian culture. Salutes to BK Thoroughbred for connecting me with Brooklyn rap royalty and helping this interview happen…
Robbie: What sparked your interest in rhyming initially?
Sir Ibu: It was my cousin – I think it was back in ‘79. I heard him rapping, and I was like, “Wow! What is that?” So he told me what it was and then let me hear this record. I think it was by Spoonie Gee? I kinda liked that, so ever since then I just started writing. I just used to write about girls – all my raps were about girls. Girls this, girls that, just bragging about how I am with the girls. So then when I ran into Supreme – I would say was about ‘83, ‘84 – he told me, “Listen, you’re good. But you could be better if you changed your subject matter. Instead of talking about how good you are with girls, talk about how good you are on the microphone. How good you are with your lyrics and your music and your rhymes and your vocabulary. Just anything but girls!” I’m like, “Alright.” So I did it and I came back to him and I said, “How ‘bout this?” And he said, “That’s perfect! Do you wanna be part of my group?” I’m like, “Alright, let’s do it.” And that’s how I got with him and his sister. It’s interesting, ‘cos his sister – her name was Ice-T originally when we started – but Ice-T from the west coast started making a name for himself, so it was like, “Listen, you’ve gotta change your name.” So she changed it to Nefertiti.
Remember how you used to hang out with your pals, wondering outloud when somebody would make a rap record where the MC would promise, “I’m going to come Australian, then I’m going to come Reggae, and then I’m going to come Hip Hop”? Turns out that Sir Ibu did that in 1987 on the b-side to Divine Force‘s “Holy War (Live)”. Admittedly, it sounds more like Dick Van Dyke‘s portrayal of a cockney chimney sweep in Mary Poppins, but as he says, it’s definitely “very unusual”. Come to think of it, his “reggae” style isn’t that hot either.
This has been floating around for a few years but I only just caught it now. Sir IBU is currently on my Top 5 most-wanted interviews list.
dirty waters sez:
“This is pretty rare material here, a freestyle session featuring Big Daddy Kane, Sir Ibu (of the Divine Force), and the Kings of Swing (a group featuring Suga K, Mike Master and DJ Cocoa Chanelle). They all go verse for verse while DJ Kevvy Kev is cutting up the instrumental for Ultramagnetic MC’s ‘Give the Drummer Some’ and Marley Marl calls the shots. Not sure what radio show this was originally from, I pulled this off a Stretch Armstrong Show. Bobbito thanks Madame Superior, a long time WKCR listener, for sending the freestyle to play over the air.”
Troy Ave and Styles P rock over a horn break originally used on Superlover Cee and Casanova Rudd‘s “Girls I Got ‘Em Locked”.
“Girls I Got ‘Em Locked” video:
Aaron Fuchs discusses working with Pumpkin, addresses the Ultramagnetic Basement Tapes controvery, names his three favorite Tuff City records and reflects and how the music histroy books will view his legacy.