You might know the name but there’s a lot more to Dr. Butcher‘s story than I ever imagined when I first tracked him down for a talk. This first part focuses on his production and DJ work with Kool G Rap, Akinyele, MF Grimm and more.
Robbie: What was the difference between what you and DJ Polo did with G Rap?
Dr. Butcher: Polo was a few years older than me – probably a significant amount. When I was growing-up he was the neighborhood DJ – the known guy. He was never known as no superior DJ or anything like that, he was just a very ‘popular’ guy. When Marley Marl came about, he had approached me, telling me that he had a situation for a record deal. I mentioned G Rap to him – he was looking for a rapper – and at the same time Eric B. mentioned G Rap to him, so they got together and did ‘It’s A Demo’. There was another guy that G Rap wanted to be ‘Dr. Butcher’, but the guy had some issues and had to leave town or do something. Then he found out I could DJ so I just took the position. It was more of a studio thing. G would go record I would pretty much in go in and really do the scratches. Polo really wasn’t someone who was getting that technical with scratches and stuff, and that’s the kind that G wanted at the time. I would do a few shows, Polo would go on the road with him more-so. We would just put together show tapes where I would do scratching on the tapes, and they just kinda go out on the road with DAT tapes or things like that and just pretty much pretend to DJ. Just have things organized, he wasn’t wasn’t doing too many live scratches or anything.
He’d actually play a DAT of your scratching? [laughing]
Yeah, a lotta times. At the shows, if they had a portable DAT player they would go off the DAT player. He would do a little scratching over the top of stuff that I would do, but that was pretty much it. He wasn’t anyone who…he never pretended to be. On the Road To Riches album, I think Marley did most of the scratching on that album, then the second album I came in and did all the scratching ever since. I mean he’s not like somebody who walked around pretending to be this great DJ. It was more-so he had the connection and he hooked G Rap up with Marley and brought him to Cold Chillin’, and that’s how that whole situation went down. (more…)
Another snippet from the Dr. Butcher sessions, detailing what could be argued is the greatest “unofficial” rap song ever recorded.
Robbie: It seems like even G Rap and Kane had a friendly rivalry.
Dr. Butcher: Absolutely! I’m sure you’ve heard the version of ‘Raw’ with G Rap and Kane freestylin’ on it. The story behind that record is – G Rap, right after he did the record he came and got me and said ‘Yo Drew, listen to the this’. What it was is that Kane had a girl in the studio, and G was like ‘Yo, I think Kane was tryin’ to impress the girl. He was workin’ on ‘Raw’ and G was just hangin’ out in the studio, and he was like ‘Yo, you wanna do something real quick?’ and G was like ‘Sure’. I think Kane had just wrote his verse, so he had a fresh, hot little verse that he wanted to spit – I think to impress the girl that was in the studio – so he did his verse, and he didn’t know that G had this monsterous verse sittin’ there waitin’ for him! [laughs] So he finished his verse, then G walked in the booth and did his verse and Kane just sat there like…he just couldn’t believe what G had just did. I know Marley was happy, ‘cos right after it hit the radio waves! [laughs] He wants the new hotness! It was funny, G was just like ‘Yo, I just had to show him. He thought he was gonna catch me off guard, but I was ready for him. I had a crazy, crazy verse in the stash.’ Like you said, it was a friendly rivalry. Kane’s a really, really good dude. They always got along. G never had a bad word to say about Kane. It’s no different than Jay-Z‘s and Biggie Smalls‘ rivalry. People think them two dudes was just the best of friends, but traveling with Jay I’ve heard many conversations of like when they were doing the ‘Brooklyn’ song, how they was like ‘Yo Jay, you better tear Biggie up!’ It was a serious rivalry! It wasn’t all about ‘Yo, that’s me dude’ – them dudes were goin’ at each other! But it was in a friendly way. God rest Biggie and all, but when he was gone, Jay just went and took that spot. They was waitin’ for the spot.
Big Daddy Kane & Kool G Rap - “Raw (original demo version)”
Last December I was lucky enough to speak to Dr. Butcher for a couple hours, and he blessed me with some amazing stories about everything from his work to Kool G Rap, Akinyele and MF Grimm, plus a whole lot of shit I didn’t even know he was involved in. I’m not quite ready to drop the whole session on you just this minute, but I couldn’t resist leaking this section where he shares his feelings about Run-DMC, which are not unlike some of the things I mentioned in this post.
Robbie: Being a Queens dude, did you see the backlash against Run-DMC?
Dr. Butcher: The funny thing – me coming from Queens – I was never a Run-DMC fan. I was probably the most anti Run-DMC fan anybody had known. I just did not like Run-DMC. Mainly, I think a lot of it had to do with that I was such a fan of Grandmaster Flash and the Fearless Four – Tito and DLB – those dudes were like my idols and stuff. Run-DMC kinda took a lot of their spotlight, and I think I took it personal. [laughs] It was a funny thing. They kinda crushed the careers of a lot of those old school dudes. I wasn’t really too crazy about Run’s lyrics or nothin’ like that – he just seemed too cocky to me – so I just never liked him. I just felt ‘Oh man, the Fearless Four should be where y’all guys are. Y’all suck!’ But LL was always a huge Run-DMC fan, because he was from the neighborhood – he could frequently see Run riding around. But I didn’t care. He actually wrote some songs for them that he didn’t get credit for. I’m not gonna say which ones they were, but if you listen to around the Raising Hell material you may be able to pick it out. If you go back and listen to LL’s songs I think you’ll be able to notice the similarities in the flows and the writing. But he was so excited to be around those guys and be with Def Jam and Russell Simmons and them, I think he was helping them write and stuff. (more…)
A couple of tracks from the new double album from J-Love and Meyhem. The line-up of guests is crazy – basically all of NY’s finest drop by to kick it on this shit. Look out for my interview with J in the next week or so. As a bonus, I’ve thrown in a Raekwon cut produced by Lil’ Fame from the final tape in the Street Savior series.
A few recent G Rap cuts, a couple of which are due to feature on the new album. Plus a nice feature with M.O.P and Mobb Deep from the old Frankie Cutlass LP and one of the better songs from the Click Of Respect project.
Flavor Unit fanatics – stay tuned for my interview with Ali Ba-Ski (aka Lord Alibaski) later this week. (more…)
It’s not all “classic rap” around the Unkut Dot Com offices. Between reviewing CD’s for magazines and getting sent free shit, I have to listen to pretty much everything that comes out, and it’s no picnic. let me tell you. I only really bothered putting Rugged Intellect‘s album on to hear the G Rap feature, but it turns out this Canadian actually has more than a nice guest list to offer.
Robbie: When I first saw the track listing to the album, I thought to myself “Either this guy’s forked-out a lotta cake to these dude’s to get ‘em on his album, or he’s actually dope enough for these dude’s to do tracks with.” I was glad that it was the latter.
Rugged Intellect: [laughs] Yeah, definitely man.
So how did you connect with all these legends?
When I was first putting together this album, I hooked-up with Domingo, who I’m sure you’re familiar with. After the situation with the label that I was signed with kinda disintegrated, me and Domingo hooked-up. He really believed in my talents and we came to a decision that we were gonna work on this album, and him being in the industry for so many years, he had a lotta relationships with a lotta of these artists. He facilitated some of these artists getting on the records, like Kool G Rap for example. That’s why he was co-Executive Producer of the album, coz he was instrumental in helping me do a lotta things.
Being from Montreal, how did you get your foot in the door in the US?
Even before I started rhyming, I told myself “If I was ever to rap, I would definitely want to make it in New York”, because if you can’t make it New York, then there’s no purpose in you even rhyming. That was always my focus. Even when I was over here and didn’t know anybody, that was always my motivation. So when that dude got at me with the deal up in California, that’s why I took it so quickly. I was like “Bam! This is my shot! I’mma take it. Boom!” Shit didn’t work out the way it was supposed to, but it definitely led to a lot of those opportunities, like working with Domingo and a lotta other people. (more…)
Unkut Dot Com regular silent minority sent this piece through for all you video junkies:
From the age of nine till I was about seventeen I always had a blank VHS handy to record any music videos that unexpectedly popped up on whatever channel I was watching. Not just hip-hop videos, any genre where I liked the song or the artist. My collection kept growing and growing. The best moments were catching that rare shit at 3 am, knowing the network would never ever show that particular clip again.
When I got the broadband hook up, I started searching for music videos. Luckily people and groups like Dread In NY, Jediz, DJ Nero, HHV and others had catered to heads like me, taking the time and effort to capture and share classic videos. With the advent of YouTube a lot of videos are available for easy viewing without having to do a mad search for them. However, if you are anything like me you will want them on your hard-drive or maybe to burn them to DVD. Hopefully MTV will eventually release Yo! MTV Raps on DVD, but I’m not holding my breath. I hope Ralph McDaniels sorts out some licensing and teaches MTV a lesson. There’s a market for the videos, I would pay good money for DVD’s with classic hip-hop clips, as long as there are more than 10-15 on each disc and they get the right artists involved. (more…)
It’s times like this I can’t but wonder “What would EST do?”
Gone are the days of wondering “What ever happened to…?” or shelling out a week’s pay on some test-press vinyl action. Chances are, the folks over at Traffic are putting it out on CD right now. By the time you’ve read this, five more albums from the vaults will have been re-issued, and by days end, a further twenty. But for now, I’ll attempt to tackle three recent re-releases: (more…)
The final chapter…of course I’ve saved the best ’till last. T-Ray covers working with Big L, Nas, Cypress Hill and Milano, and fires back at Mike Heron.
Robbie: Then you did “Yes, You May (Remix)” and all that stuff with Finesse.
T-Ray: Yep, and that was Big L‘s first time in the studio you know. What happened is that I had another beat that Finesse wanted me to loop up for him. I didn’t like the way the beat he wanted sounded. I had brought a bunch of records with me, and I said “Yo Finesse, I got somethin’ right here man. I’m actually thinking about hookin’ it up, it’s supposed to be for Biz but if you want it I’ll give it to you for this, ’cause it would work perfectly for this”. So basically, I hooked-up the beat right there in the studio. That final is not even a final, what people hear on that record – that was just a rough mix! I made that beat in about 30 minutes in the studio. Finesse went through his book of rhymes to figure out what rhyme he was droppin’, and Big L came in and I said “Yo, kick me what rhyme you wanna do”, and it was his first time in the studio so he was really green, he was new, and he kicked me his rhyme and it was like “Oh, this is great!” Percee was actually supposed to come down and be on that, but he didn’t end-up makin’ it. (more…)
It ain’t no mystery that keyboard beats are pretty much the worst development in rap music in recent times, and even the great KGR has found some of his verbal gems wasted on inferior productions. Here’s a look at the worst six offenders:
Taken from this recent post that Stretch dropped, I’ve grabbed the section where the Kool Genius drops by the station with MF Grimm at 3 in the morning. What follows is 45 minutes of lives raps, snaps and the funniest call-in sessions ever. No shit – I almost drove off the road I was laughing so hard at some of Sear‘s put-downs. I’m still trying to comprehend what would possess someone to try and rap over the phone using his or Nas’ style when G’s siting there?
Pudgee is better known for being one of the prime suspects in the “Gay Rapper” hoopla of the mid-90’s and for doing a white label with Biggie than anything else, but his first album was notable for the simple fact that it featured pre-Pop Life production from the Trackmasterz – filtered basslines, echo-heavy horns and hard snares all over the shop. Pudgee was also capable of delivering some decent punchline rap, but when paired up with G Rap he sounds pretty average. It doesn’t help that G is on fire for this feature either – his rapid-fire display is capped off nicely with a timely nod to Columbo. (more…)
All due respect to the gals of the world, but even more respect to Kool G Rap‘s ability to make ignorant records about dames. As great as “Talk Like Sex” (and, to a lesser extent, “Fuck You Man”) may have been, there’s little doubt that G’s finest post-“Men At Work” output was his Bitch Haters Club period. As any serious student of KGR is aware, duke was making a nice chunk of bread from the skin trade in his younger days, so the content of these songs is hardly science fiction. How many rappers from New York were talking this grimy in the nineties? “Break A Bitch Neck” is some ill test-pressing only material that showcases G and Akinyele dumbing-out in a manner that would have made JT Money and DJ Drugz proud-as punch. “I Ain’t Trickin'” covers the standard anti-gold digger message, but in the hands of the Kool Genius it goes far beyond the call of duty, while “Check The Bitch” addresses important issues of the day, such as so-called “sophisticated women” and “bitches from the other races”. (more…)
This deserves inclusion simply because it was the only thing from G’s ill-fated Rawkus album that really made some noise. It’s not like G ever needed to justify his status, but this is still one of the stronger songs from his post 2000 discography.1 (more…)
1.Although I doubt dude really gave a fuck considering they gave him a million dollar advance.[back]
Once Kool G Rap moved on from his contract with Cold Chillin’, they employed their standard “squeeze the Juice” tactics and released a flawed greatest hits (Killer Kuts) LP and then the Rated XXX album, which was a collection of twelve inches, sex raps and some remixes of old demos. One of the highlights was “Enter The Dragon”, which had previously been leaked on radio years earlier and now appeared with a new beat. While I recall the original track being a lot better, the verbal display found here is classic Kool Genius wordplay. (more…)
It’s no secret that G Rap isn’t shy to drop a guest spot here and there, but even at his prime, it seems that Giancana wasted some bars on records with jerk-off’s like Ali Dee and Pudgee The “Fudge Packing” Phat Bastard. On those occasions when he’s selected a worthy tag-team partner though, the results have been top notch. (more…)
Several weeks after the start of “G Rap Week” (which should really be “Month” but who’s counting) I’ve been able to dig up what I still consider to be the definitive Kool G Rap interview, thanks to Cheo H. Coker, B+ and RapPages. Pretty much everything you’d want to know about the early years is covered here, as well as the precise sequence of “competitive” joints where G and Big Daddy Kane tussled for the spot of top dog at the House that Marley built. Based on the poll from the last G Rap post, 52% of you think that Kane might’ve been a little shark-like in terms of imitating G‘s style from the radio session they did over the “Raw” beat. 16% declared BDK a straight-up biter, while 32% of Big Daddy loyalists refused to hear any talk of a rip-off.
But the real question is – based on the songs G Rap mentions in the interview, who was the supreme lyricists of the J-U Ice?
Forget all that talk about Kane and Rakim going at each other, this was the real war for rap supremacy right here. While they may have been connected through the Juice Crew, there was no shortage of “friendly competition” between G and BDK, as they tried to outdo one another with each new record. The official version of “Raw” set the tone “Set It Off” kicked proceedings into gear, but G Rap hit back hard with “Men At Work”, which forced Kane to bring it twice as hard on “Wrath of Kane”…which in turn resulted in Kool G striking back with “Poison”. Some straight “striving for perfection” shit.
G Rap later explained that he felt Kane pretty much chomped his whole “creature, feature, rapture, reacher” technique, which you can hear him unleashing on this alternative recording of “Raw”. Whether or not this is the case, this track is undoubtably one of the finest demonstrations of vocal prowess ever recorded. This ain’t “fast rap”, “Random” or “Golden Era throwback” – just hardcore “Project Sounds” shit at it’s finest.
Another Bbatson Shazam hook-up – the Kool Genius shreads the PA with a live spot from 1992, featuring the “Herman Munster” of UK Rap Radio – Timmy Westwood. After doing some Live & Let Die material over “Peter Piper”, he jets for a minute while some other kid (one of G’s TCF dancers?) attempts to get on and freestyle – the crowds response is priceless. Eventually, G returns over “Do The James” for some classic anti-social vocals. There’s also an entertaining (although predictably renamed) remake of “Men At Work” with Cormega, snatched off J-Love‘s Mega mix which I think he lifted from a Future Flavas broadcast anyway… I might have to fuck around and make this “G Rap Week” at Unkut.com just for the hell of it.
Meanwhile, it seems that the “Beat Biter” post from October is still going strong, as El Da Sensai and Just Blaze have recently chimed-in on the debate, while the original NYOIL post recently cracked the 400 comments mark (which is around 380 more than average!). Only a hundred to go to get that Gold certification I guess.