When 4,5,6 collaborator T-Ray declared that, “G Rap is the realest. Nas, Pun, Raekwon – all of them owe their styles to him. He’s like the Muddy Waters of hip-hop” – he summarized exactly why the Kool Genius of Rap continues to influence the style and technique of today’s finest rappers. By combining a wicked sense of humor (‘Operation CB’) with flawless brag rap credentials (‘Kool Is Back’) and a gift for engrossing narrative (‘Streets of New York’), G Rap proved to be far more versatile than his contemporaries during the eighties and light-years ahead of other gun-talk rappers through-out the early nineties. (more…)
Wondering what Eric B. has been up to since Don’t Sweat The Technique? After he released his self-titled solo album in 1995, Eric focused his energies on a number of lucrative business ventures (including a chain of restaurants), which in turn offered him the opportunity to set-up a community center to help local kids stay out of trouble. He’s recently established the Eric B. Music Group, and has teamed-up with Brooklyn native Avion for his return to the rap game with for their first single, ‘Hit The Floor’.
Robbie: What’s the story with this new MC your working with?
Eric B: Name’s Avion – 25 years old, good kid. Has a different kinda style – fresh and innovative. It’s like the stuff I did with Eric B. and Rakim, it’s Eric B. and Avion. I overseen the whole thing, put the whole thing together, did production with a whole bunch of new producers.
How did you discover him?
I’ve been looking for a while for somebody unique, something different, somebody sayin’ something than the regular stuff that everybody says all day. One of these guys – name’s Tim – he bought to me and said, ‘Eric, I’ve found a guy, man. He’s from Brooklyn…has a unique style’. Then we got in the studio and met and just started working.
Can you discuss your community center work?
I have a community center in Newark, New Jersey where we have boxing – boxing is run by Larry Hazzard, the New Jersey State Boxing Commissioner. We have karate over here that’s run by the Assistant Police Chief – Eddie ‘Fruitkwan’ Brown. We have a computer lab here, and I run the studio. So the kids come in and get their homework and stuff done, then they go to the various programs from there. It’s a joint venture we did with the Housing Authority.
Just to give the kids something to do and keep them out of trouble?
Exactly. They had a lotta violence in Newark, New Jersey. Just to keep the kids straight, keep in school, keep them out of trouble. (more…)
Sometimes there’s more to being a legendary rapper than classic records. You might have heard Silver Fox on one of the three 12” singles he released as part of the Fantasy Three, but his legacy runs a lot deeper than a mere mid-80’s footnote. Having established a reputation as formidable MC through battling at parties and clubs all over New York, this Grant Houses resident from Harlem would soon go on to mentor two of hip-hop’s greatest lyricists – LL Cool J and Kool G Rap. Considering that the lyrical techniques Fox passed onto Kool G Rap were adopted by everyone from Big Daddy Kane, Big L to Nas, it’s clear that his influence is still being felt to this day.
Robbie: How old were you when you started writing rhymes?
Silver Fox: I was an old head – I was 21 years-old. When I started, the only people older than me were Melle Mel and them. I had went to Alaska in ’75, when hip-hop had already started – but I wasn’t really into it then. I was into the Funk era – Brass Construction, BT Express. When I came back, I went back to the projects where I grew-up at. Then I see these guys out here with these turntables and this music and stuff, and they were swiping the electricity from the lamp posts. I was like, ‘Man, what are these guys doing?’ It was amazing to me. So I came out there and I listened to ‘em, then I went to the crib, wrote a rhyme down and I came down the next day like, ‘Yeah! I got it!’ And it was butt! I mean my rap was pure garbage! I made some ol’ Mickey Mouse rhyme – and I mean that literally! My brother snatched me off the stage like he was saving my life – like somebody was throwing a bomb at me or something. He grabbed me, ‘Nooooooo!’ He literally took me off of there. My brother Wes, he took me in the staircase and he’s like, ‘Man, I don’t know what you was doin’, man – but that’s not it! That was garbage.’ I was like, ‘Well, OK. How is it done then? What you think I should be doing?’ One of them type of numbers, right? So then he started bangin’ on the staircase, going, ‘Boom-bap! Ba-boom, boom-bap!’ And he started going, ‘The W-E the S-S-U and when I be on the mic I play it real cool/They call me Wessu, so I’m tellin’ the tale – the bad, bad brother that likes to throw down!’ I was like, ‘I’m the R-E double G-I-E…’ At first I was calling myself Reggie Reg, but then I found out that somebody else name was Reggie Reg. There was three of ‘em. So now I had to think of another thing. There was a thing for the Audi ‘Fox’, and it was the silver edition, and they called it the Silver Fox! I said, ‘Oh man! That is bad! I like that, man’. So now I was Silver Fox. Now I’m writing, I’m spending all my time writing and writing and memorizing. I got this crazy memory, man – things just stay up in my head, like books and stuff – so all these rhymes, I just started memorizing. (more…)
Attention all G Rap stans – straight from Marley Marl‘s master reels – and via DWG‘s incredible Juice Crew EP – I present to you a never-before heard slice of KGR brilliance from the Road To Riches sessions. In case you needed a reminder of who the GOAT of rap is….
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - ‘I Declare War’
The vinyl’s already sold out, but you can still catch the Lungbutters CD, mixed by DJ Format, from DWG for £12 GBP (OR £17 GBP with the Main Source 7″) by emailing here.
A couple of KGR burners to finish off the week, as Freddie Foxxx‘s vaulted LP from ’93 finally gets a release courtesy of Fat Beats. Not only does this include the version largely produced by S.I.D., but a bonus CD of the original demo versions produced by the D.I.T.C. crew as well! Included on this disc is a lost track with G Rap entitled ‘Cook A Niggaz Ass’. G ended-up using this verse on his 4,5,6 album since this got shelved, but shit’s crazy regardless. On the current side of things, the Kool Genius also gets busy with Sha Lumi for ‘NY Freestyle’.
Freddie Foxxx feat. Kool G Rap - ‘Cook A Niggaz Ass’
For the final part of our interview, Dr. Butcher offers a behind-the-scenes look in the creation of the first Main Source album and Large Pro’s The LP. Now based in Texas, Butcher just released new music with an artist called Understanding on the vocals, and is working on an album of instrumentals for the Vintage Vaults series for Domination Recordings. He also works with Rob Swift on jingles, TV commercials and video games such as NFL Street.
Robbie: So you just did a new 12 inch?
Dr. Butcher: They just did a digital release while I’m putting together my instrumental album. I don’t want to do just a straight-forward, ‘One beat, two beat, three beats’ – just instrumentals, and I think every producer does that and that’s boring. I’mma try to do something a little different and piece it all together. It’s vintage old tracks, and I want to find a way to introduce that to the world where it’s not sounding like I’m some 90′s producer living off the nineties sound. I’mma mix it in with 2008 Dr. Butcher, kinda like telling a story using old tracks and stuff. It should be interesting.
Is that you rapping at the end of [G Rap's] ‘Jive Talk’?
[bursts out laughing] Yep. That was us clowning around in the studio one day. We were sitting in the vocal room – Large had just put the beat down, G started rhyming and Large was sitting on a chair with a pair of drumsticks, and then he started tapping the drumsticks and we were just acting stupid, acting like old school rappers, making all these grunts in the background. We were just joking around and I was like, ‘Alright, let me just say some old rhymes and stuff’ and then I just started rhyming. And they kept it on the song! I rhymed a lot longer, but they kept the first maybe eight bars or something and faded the song out. It was the funniest thing ‘cos Stretch Armstrong would hold these contests, ‘Can anyone guess who that is? The ghost rapper at the end of the G Rap song?’ G told me that one day Biz Mark said, ‘Who’s that dude on the end of the song? I wanna sign that guy!’ Everybody was asking G who I was…even Eric B! But at the time I was more into the deejaying and then the producing, so it never went anywhere. (more…)
Continuing my talk with Dr. Butcher, we discuss Rakim, LL Cool J and the legendary Silver Fox.
Robbie: Have you got any DAT’s of G Rap, Ak or Grimm songs that were never heard?
Dr. Butcher: I think Grimm has released a lot of the material on his indy label. G Rap, a lot of the things he would do he would release. We did the song for the AIDS compilation that I think was bootlegged, with Grimm, G, Ak – there was a bunch of dudes. We were kinda annoyed because ewe went in and did the song for free as a benefit and then they turned the song down. Somehow it got leaked to the public and everybody was goin’ crazy over the song. Most of the things I have copies of was a lot of Akinyele’s material, but even that stuff, a lot of it he’s since released.
What can you tell me about Queens?
KRS-One used to say a lotta slick little wording in his songs about Queens and G Rap would always approach him about it and say stuff right back at him, but for some reason KRS would never answer G Rap. He always avoided him. Even in ‘My Philosophy’ he said something about, ‘The DJ behind me’ or something, and G Rap thought he was talking about him and Polo. So he went and approached him and he denied it. KRS was like, ‘No, no, I wasn’t talking about you’. G Rap wanted to battle him so bad. He just wanted to go at KRS-One so bad but KRS wouldn’t bite! He wouldn’t touch him, because he knew that G was the new young dude that was not to be touched. He had that fire, and a lotta people avoided him for a long time, they just wouldn’t touch him.
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.