Around the same time I talked to DJ Moe Love in 2010, I also did a follow-up interview with TR Love, aka The Funk Ignitor, covering the early days of Ultramagnetic MC’s, his knowledge of the break beat game, connection with the Zulu DJ’s and how they used to put it down for live shows back in the 80′s.
Robbie: What was your first crew?
TR Love: Moe’s DJ crew was the People’s Choice Crew, and mine was the Hardcore Brothers. They made a couple of records but it didn’t pan-out the way we felt that it should.
How did you first meet the rest of the crew?
They went to the same school together, and I went to the rival school. Cedric and I used to play ball together, we were on opposing teams, so we used to play each other four times a year. Other than that, we would see each other in passing in the street, at parties, or we knew certain individuals that knew the same people as we knew, so we would bump into each other a lot. (more…)
Back in 2010 I received a recording of a TJ Swan demo recorded from Tim Westwood‘s show in 1988 titled “Mellow Love”, although someone claiming to be affiliated with Swan then contacted me and demand that I remove the track on the grounds that: “This was a practice session. Swan wrote and sang the song to get a feel for it”. He also claimed that a bunch of TJ Swan music was about to drop, but three years later we’re still waiting.
In the meantime, Rap Blog Godd noz recently blessed me with a few more cuts which may have been intended for Have No Fear Swan Is Here. or are simply more “practice sessions”. The first track, “Sensitive Love” features Swan flexing his microphone techniques and busting some rhymes, while “Love Is Blind” is more of an uptempo number on the Al. B Sure tip. Was Marley Marl involved with these tracks? Are they finished LP cuts or just demos? Sadly, there’s also no sign of the lost Big Daddy Kane/MC Shan cameos that I hoped for…
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
If you haven’t been keeping up with the limited-edition rap vinyl market, here’s your chance to catch what you’ve been missing out on from the Chopped Herring label, mixed by 2001 ITF Champion DJ Woody.
Since he was the topic of much of the Uptown interview posted yesterday, it’s only right that Dante Ross should be able to give us his version of events. This is what he just left in the comment section for those of you who already read the piece:
Ok now there’s a lot of inaccuracies here. First off me and CJ got none of Uptowns publishing me and CJ each got 12.5% which equaled 25% of the pub for writing the music. Tommy Boy got the rest minus samples. Also CJ and me split 500 bucks for the record making a whooping 250 a piece. As for programming the drums CJ and me both did a bit of the programming shit CJ taught me how to use the SP1200 and was nicer than I was on the SP (He was very skilled I might add) so I would say he definitely helped tighten it up. we started the beat either in CJ’s house or my pad I can’t remember but I think it was at CJ’s in the Astoria Project then we went to 12 12 and fixed it up and laid it down with Uptown in the studio with us. (more…)
After he read my interview with Dante Ross, former Tommy Boy artist Uptown reached out to tell his side of the story: “A lot of people don’t know the reason why I was a one-hit wonder, so I just wanted to share that”. Turns out there was a lot more to his story than a great single from 1989 – Uptown grew-up with Maseo from De La Soul and used to kick rhymes with a young Christopher Wallace back in the days, and featured on both of the Buckshot LeFonque albums which DJ Premier recorded with Branford Marsalis.
Robbie: What age were you when you got the bug to start rhyming?
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. How I got my deal was, Mase from De La Soul actually grew-up in my neighborhood too, but in his early teens he moved to Amityvillle. I used to go out there and visit, even before they made their first record. He used to DJ their backyard parties and I used to battle everybody in the neighborhood. A couple of months go by and Mase comes to my house and he says, “Yo! I finally got it! I got a hit! My song is on the radio!” He gave me his first demo, it was not ready for sale yet, and it was “Plug Tunin”. I was like, “Oh my god! You can’t be serious! This is you?” Because “Plug Tunin’” was the number one jam at the time. He said, “Yeah. We’re doing a show in Virginia, we want you to come with us.” So I packed up my stuff immediately and go to the show with them in Virginia. While they’re doing their show, I met Dante Ross backstage ‘cos he was the A&R for Tommy Boy at the time. He heard me rhyme one time, and he was like, “Hey, I want you to come to our office, I like the way that you sound.” So I got signed to Tommy Boy with just a one-shot rhyme to Dante Ross! (more…)
There was once an unwritten law that said that all rap albums must contain at least one “slow jam” to attract the “female demographic”. Despite some rare exceptions (MC Shan’s “Left Me Lonely”, Kool G Rap’s “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not” and Kid Capri’s “This Is What You Came Here For”), these love raps were shameful blights on the discographies of otherwise respectable MCs. Here are ten particularly painful examples: (more…)