Video: Mantronix, T La Rock and Word of Mouth Live In The UK [1986]
Wednesday February 25th 2015,
Filed under: Great Moments In Rap,London Blokes,The 80's Files,Video Vault
Written by:

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!



Tape-Only Treats: 5ive-0 Posse – To The Max
Tuesday February 17th 2015,
Filed under: BK All Day,Features,Steady Bootleggin',Tape Vaults,The 80's Files
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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.”

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The Unkut Guide To Greg Nice’s Human Beatbox Career
Thursday February 12th 2015,
Filed under: Bronx Bombers,Features,The 80's Files,The Unkut Guide
Written by:

R-122630-1292013493.jpeg

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.
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Def Dames: Frick ‘N Frack
Tuesday February 10th 2015,
Filed under: Def Dames,Features,In Search Of...,Steady Bootleggin',The 80's Files
Written by:

frick n frack

If you were a rap fan outside of the USA in 1987, it was in your best interest to collect the Street Sounds Electro/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’
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Puffy Dee Revealed?
Thursday February 05th 2015,
Filed under: Art of Facts,Def Dames,The 80's Files
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Puffy Dee

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:



The Return of HHC’s Connections Page
Tuesday January 27th 2015,
Filed under: I Need Luh,London Blokes,Magazine Vaults,The 80's Files
Written by:

hhc-c5
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!

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Ten Rap Remixes That Are Barely Remixes But Still Win

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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]
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Tarrie B Had Great Taste In Rap
Tuesday January 13th 2015,
Filed under: Def Dames,Magazine Vaults,The 80's Files
Written by:

tarrieb

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?

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The Awful Truth About Rap Shelf Life
Thursday January 08th 2015,
Filed under: Features,Rap Veterans,The 80's Files,The 90's Files,The Unkut Opinion
Written by:

cereal boxes on shelf LA SM_0

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’).
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CJ Moore [Black By Demand] – The Unkut Interview, Part Three
Wednesday December 24th 2014,
Filed under: Features,Interviews,Killa Queens,Not Your Average,The 80's Files
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Black By Demand -– Can't Get Enough-All Rappers Give Up

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.
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CJ Moore [Black By Demand] – The Unkut Interview, Part One
Tuesday December 09th 2014,
Filed under: Features,Interviews,The 80's Files,The 90's Files
Written by:

cjmoore

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.
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Sugar Bear & Stezo – Capital Rap Sessions [1989]

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.



Cold Crush 4 and Treacherous 3 at Harlem World, 1981
Thursday November 06th 2014,
Filed under: Crates,Harlem Nights,Is It Live Or Is It Memorex?,Tape Vaults,The 80's Files
Written by:

Cold Crush 4

Every now and then it’s good to throw on a tape of rap of old school rap at it’s finest, and without a doubt two of the sharpest crews to ever do it where those led by Grandmaster Caz and Kool Moe Dee. These four snippets from Troy L. Smith‘s crates are a fine reminder of just how advanced KMD was in his prime (check for shots fired at Melle Mel) and the amusing banter of weary performers after a long night celebrating Easy-AD‘s birthday.
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Angie Stone aka Angie B [The Sequence] – The Unkut Interview
Wednesday October 22nd 2014,
Filed under: Def Dames,Interviews,Not Your Average,The 80's Files,Web Work
Written by:

the-sequence_thelavalizard

It’s taken me ten years to interview a female rapper on these pages, which either means this marks the onset of ‘progressive’ thinking in my old age or I’m a natural born rap misogynist. Either way, during the limited window of time I had to talk with Angie we kicked it about her days in The Sequence and she shared an eye-opening story about her involvement with The Roxy.

Angie Stone – The Unkut Interview

Video of The Sequence performing ‘Simon Says’ on the Job Man Caravan show:
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The Triumphs and Tragedies of Larry Smith

Larry Smith

Please head over to Medium where you can read my first piece for Cue Point, a collection of long-form music features curated by Jonathon Shecter aka Shecky Green.

The Triumphs and Tragedies of Larry Smith

‘Best of Larry Smith’ playlist:
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Great Moments In Rap: LL Cool J Sons Run At The Roxy
Wednesday October 15th 2014,
Filed under: Features,Great Moments In Rap,Hollis Crew,Rap Veterans,The 80's Files
Written by:

A great moment in rap – the time that LL Cool J went at Run at The Roxy:

Dr. Butcher: That was not Jam-Master Jay, that was [Jay] Philpot [the second Cut Creator] his DJ on the turntables when he was rhyming. Run-DMC was performing after him, so when he’s freestyling he’s talking about Run in that rhyme. They were walking in and that’s why he wouldn’t let go the mic – he had something to say to Run because they weren’t getting along. Then they took the mic from him and pushed him off stage so Run-DMC could perform.



Stream: Conservative Rap Coalition Radio – Monday 13 October, 2014

JVC-RC-M90_boombox_LL-Cool_J_Radio_Album_cover

The third episode of CRC Radio focused on 80’s and 90’s album cuts that deserved some shine.

Stream: Conservative Rap Coalition Radio – Monday 13 October, 2014



Master Ace – Howard Park [1987 Demo]
Thursday October 02nd 2014,
Filed under: Demo Week,Marley Marl Special,Tape Vaults,The 80's Files
Written by:

masta-ace-inc-graffiti-brooklyn

After that ‘My Melody’ remix sent me down the radio rip rabbit hole, I also stumbled onto this 1987 demo from Masta Ace from the same episode. Great work as always, Will C.



Eric B & Rakim – My Melody [Unreleased Marley Marl Remix]

RAKIM

Once again proving my theory that 1986 was the best year for rap, the good folks at ego trip just uncovered this rap relic over at Mark McDonald’s Soundcloud page.

Will C. also posted this mix back in 2011, although I can’t tell if the ‘Art of Love’ sample that comes in at the 0:54 second mark is blended in or part of the track.



Non-Rapper Dudes Series – Akili Walker Interview
Thursday October 02nd 2014,
Filed under: Features,Interviews,Non-Rapper Dudes,Not Your Average,The 80's Files
Written by:

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The always under-appreciated role of the engineer, both in the studio and on tour, is always a fascinating one. Akili Walker, who has worked with everyone from hip-hop production legend Larry Smith to James Brown, Eddie Kendricks, Kurtis Blow, Prince, George Clinton and LL Cool J, took some time out after the release of his new book, Turn The Horns On, to recall some of his best memories behind the boards.

Robbie: Where about did you grow up?

Akili Walker: I grew up in Freeport, Long Island, right next to Chuck D and Flavor Flav. We were like a mile from each other, they grew up in Roosevelt, but they’re a little younger than I was.

Are you a recording engineer by trade?

I’m an audio engineer, I switch between the studio and on the road. I was a musician at an early age – I was a drummer when I was thirteen. I won the ‘Battle of the Bands’ with my band and we was in the Musicians Union of New York at the age of thirteen. My father was an audiophile, he loved music and he had a large jazz collection and an expensive stereo. My drumming career ended when I was sixteen. I stopped drumming to join the hippy generation and do drugs.
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