Released just a week after the one year anniversary of Nas’ Illmatic, Mobb Deep’s Loud debut, The Infamous, is nothing short of a masterpiece. Although historically, Illmatic has been held to the standard as the best rap album of all time, it’s fair to consider The Infamous as the equivalent of Da Vinci’s Virgin and Child with St. Anne, to his former Mona Lisa.. Illmatic. Imagine younger, mischievous twin brothers to your high school’s star quarterback/prom king.. that’s them Mobb Deep boys Hav and P, compared to Esco (yes, even though Nas was wavin’ automatic guns at Nuns). Well enough of the analogies, we’ll leave that to our words and their raps, as featured in today’s special edition of Rewind Wednesdays.
Trying to interview R.A. The Rugged Man without treading over the well-worn ground of his expulsion from Jive Records and working with Biggie Smalls was challenge I was more than willing to meet. Having experienced the major label glory days, the independent vinyl boom and having managed to not only survive but actually thrive in the YouTube era, R.A. is a perfect example of how to adapt to the ever-changing landscape that is the Rap Game. As usual, Rugged Man was able to combine hilarious stories with serious rap trivia obsessiveness and actual facts, which is a good combination, as Pos K once told us. His new album, Legends Never Die, is out now through Nature Sounds.
Robbie: What made you start rapping?
R.A. Rugged The Man: I met my boy Bub, who was a neighborhood beat boxer – Human Beatbox Bub. He was like fifteen, sixteen and I was like eleven. He was in a shopping center and I seen this kid blowing-up a shopping center window with an M-80. He was like, “C’mere kid, watch this!”. He blew off the window and we were friends ever since. He’d say, “Yo, check out this tape! It’s Whodini ‘Escape’, it’s the best album ever!” Then there’d be firehouse dances and he’d start beatboxing and those bitches would be on his dick, and I’d be like, “Yo, I can rap and you beatbox!” I was terrible, but by the time I was thirteen, I got really good and started battling a lotta kids in the neighborhood. (more…)
Following on from Part 1, Pudgee explains his involvement with Main Source‘s “Live At The BBQ”, his shelved second solo LP, the importance of The Bronx and dealing with the deaths of Tupac, Biggie and Left Eye.
Robbie: On the intro to your album, the Trackmasterz seemed to include a larger crew than just Poke and Tone. What happened there?
Pudgee The Phat Bastard: In all these years, no one’s ever asked that question. That’s dope. Alex Richberg kinda handles all of the business. It was Alex, Poke and Tone, and Frank Nitty. Musically, they were connected, but as people? There was always a separation. Alex Richberg was more of a family man, he had his wife and kids, he wasn’t really a hang out in the club kinda person. Frankie was really into making his tracks and being in the lab and not running around doing too much of anything else. Poke and Tone were more of the playboy/front men. I don’t think they ended up hating each other. Oddly enough, Frank Nitty, who did my album, his cousin is now my mailman! Tone was responsible for finding Foxy Brown, she lived right next to him, she was like a little sister to all of us. She was in the studio sessions for the Give ‘Em The Finger album as a 12 year-old girl.
Did they introduce you to Kool G Rap?
No. At a party for Salt ‘N Pepa that they had downtown at this billiard room, Tragedy was there and his DJ. I became real close with Tragedy and his DJ. (more…)
Pudgee The Phat Bastard was on the forefront of punchline rap in the early 90′s. As part of the Trackmasterz crew, he delivered a strong debut album called Give ‘Em The Finger, which featured appearances from Kool G Rap, MC Lyte and Snaggapuss. His future was looking bright, but problems with his second record label and the deaths of many with whom he’s formed close friendships with through music (Stretch from Live Squad, Tupac, Biggie Smalls and finally Left Eye from TLC) resulted in him withdrawing from the spotlight for over a decade. Here, in the first part of our interview, Pudgee explains how it all began.
Robbie: Where did you grow up?
Pudgee The Phat Bastard: I grew-up in Harlem, and then we moved to The Bronx when I was in the fifth grade. We lived right across from Yankee Stadium.
What was the first live hip-hop show you ever saw?
I think the Fat Boys was the first time my brother could get me out at the house. It was at Latin Quarters. Maybe two times I got snuck in because of a bodyguard hook-up. With the breakers, the energy in the clubs was so much different. You had something going on which is more like the reggae clubs now, where people are on the floor, dancing upside down on their heads. The clubs kinda segued into people standing on the wall. Once the dancers left the club, it was over! Everybody came in trying to look fly, hanging by the bar. Nobody was battling. The thing I really loved about those days, there was no holding back! People were flipping and lifting each other up and jumping over each other on the floor and all kinda stuff! It was action! You came to see a show. My homeboy broke his neck trying to spin on his head. Everything centering around that time was just inventive. We are some creative motherfuckers when we wanna be! (more…)
Like many of you, the first time I heard Nasty Nas was through his stirring performance on Main Source’s seminal “Live At The BBQ”, but it was initial exposure to “Halftime” on a local radio show that really got me amped. I was so impressed with the track that I eventually went on to describe it as “The Best Brag Rap Song of The 90’s”: “The lyrics are a ‘Good Combination’ of declarations of poetic superiority, explanations of his daily operations, product name checks, witty punchlines, casual blasphemy and a healthy dose of Eff The Police sentiment. What more could a rap fan ask for?” (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…)
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…)
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.
When I caught Black Rob on a patchy phone line this evening, he was in the studio recording new material for Life Story 2, and as a result was only able to spare ten minutes. Nevertheless, I was able to fill in a couple of the blanks in regards to his history in the rap game and future plans.
Robbie: How old were you when you started rhyming?
Black Rob: About eleven? Twelve? Around that time. What inspired me was what was going on around me – the music! When I heard that, I wanted to be in.
Did you have a group back then or were you always a soloist?
I was in a rap group when I was like 22, 23. We was called Schizophrenics. It was me, my man Alto and my man Godzilla. (more…)
The clear highlight of the reunion show was this timeless interaction between Bobbito Garcia and Rickey Powell during a 1993 episode of The Stretch Armstrong Show. I couldn’t resist but upload it to YouTube for prosperity posterity.
Bronx-bred MC Snaggapuss got his start with the Trackmasterz before joining DJ Doo Wop’s Bounce Squad and landing a solo deal with Virgin. After some false starts, Snaggapuss has returned with Black Rob and Doo Wop for a second go-round, this time balancing his Snaggapuss character with Snaggadon.
Robbie: Why are you calling yourself Snaggadon now?
Snaggapuss: There are certain topics where if I touched it and I was doing the Snaggapuss character, it would take away from it. If I wanted to talk about a serious topic it would make it comical, so I created this other persona which is more regular me so I could deal with other topics. Snaggadon is more serious, everything is not a joke to him.
What age did you begin rhyming?
I was nine or ten years old when I first started reciting my own lines. My cousin Lamount and I had this thing where we would have 30-second rap battles. There was only enough time for two or three lines real quick, just like snappin’ on each other. At twelve years old, I recorded in my first professional studio, which was K-Rock Studio on Wicks Avenue in The Bronx. It was owned by a guy named Kenny Scott, who passed away unfortunately. They robbed him or something. At the time I was recording there, you had Diamond D, Lord Finesse, Fat Joe – this is early, all before their deals – all recording outta there. Red Alert worked outta there, I met Jam-Master Jay down there. Being that it was in my neighborhood and they took a liking to me, I was able to just come to the studio and be around all these dudes from when I was little, and it was real inspiring. The first time I heard Main Source was from Lord Finesse. He was just minding his business in the studio and I just walked-up, like “Yo, what you listening to?”. He just gave me his headphones – at this time it was a Walkman – and I ended-up listening to the whole thing. (more…)
Feel like catching a flashback to 1997? Thanks to Slam Magazine and BAU, you can with this new mix.
Inspired by the release of Adidas‘ “Real Deal” retro basketball shoe, featuring exclusive freestyles from Freeway, Maffew Ragazino, The Kid Daytona, Krondon (of Strong Arm Steady) Meyhem Lauren & Paul Mighty
Here’s the video that Public Enemy made to fire back at some negative coverage in The Source, as mentioned by Shecky Green in the second part of his interview. File this with the Cypress Hill songs about The Source and Rodney O‘s Fuck New York album.