TR Love [Ultramagnetic MC's] – The Unkut Interview, Volume 2
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.
DJ Moe Love [Ultramagnetic MC's] – The Unkut Interview
When I caught-up with DJ Moe Love in 2010, he sounded as if he was two-sheets to the wind as he explained why he and TR Love hadn’t been involved in the Best Kept Secret LP, and why they decided to release their own Ultramagnetic Foundation project. We also talked about the early days of the legendary crew, the story behind “Ego Trippin’” and the Ultra Lab, and their mixed experiences with different record labels over the years.
Robbie: What age did you get into music?
DJ Moe Love: As far as deejaying and all that stuff? I started at a young age. Probably around ten years-old. I was brought up into music, my father had mad records. Music was in my blood. Before I started with Ultramagnetic I was in a group called People’s Choice Crew. We were from Brooklyn, Fort Greene. I’m originally from Brooklyn. Dana Dane was a part of that crew. People’s Choice Crew was just friends, neighborhood DJ’s and MC’s. We used to do it for the fun. Just-Ice is from my neighborhood also.
Milano Constantine – The Unkut Interview
Having cut his teeth working with the Diggin’ In The Crates crew at the beginning of his career, Milano Constantine went on to sign a deal with Warner Bros. but was let go before the project was released. Thanks to a handful of independent singles, four mixtapes and notable guest spots with The Beatnuts and the P Brothers, Milano has continued to rep that classic Uptown style with his witty wordplay and vocabulary spill. Following an extended leave of absence, ‘Lano is set to return the rap game with three new projects. He took a little time out to speak about how he came up, working with Big Pun, Showbiz and T-Ray and how the late Party Arty taught him his most valuable lesson as an MC.
Robbie: What are you working on at the moment?
Milano Constantine: I’ve got the Alfa Romeo mixtape. It’s a vintage feel, I’ve got some unreleased, uncut raw stuff from the lab on there, and some new stuff that I’ve been working on. I had to take time off, but I feel very blessed, and now is time for me to go back into it with full force. Now I’m just feeling more comfortable with everything, you can’t put forth any good material if you have to get your life situated, everything has to go in line correctly. This is a great time in my life, I just had a daughter. My mother is in good health – she was really sick. You’ve gotta take care of your family first and music will come secondary. I wanted to reach out to y’all guys for always keeping that platform for me. God bless you guys always keeping me alive. I thank you guys for that.
R.A. The Rugged Man – The Unkut Interview
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.
Pudgee The Phat Bastard – The Unkut Interview, Part 2
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.
Pudgee The Phat Bastard – The Unkut Interview, Part 1
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!
Unsigned Skype: M. Will
Marlon Williams, Jr. is the son of the greatest hip-hop producer of all time, Engineer All-Star Marley Marl. That’s a lot of pressure to deal with. Nevertheless, this classically-trained musician eventually found himself drawn into the world of beats and rhymes. His last couple of instrumental projects – dedications to Dexter Wansel and Alan Parsons demonstrate that he’s been able to develop his own individual sound. We discuss Future Flavas, his relationship with his dad and of course that elusive TJ Swan album!
Robbie: What part of New York did you grow-up in?
M. Will: When I was 5 or 6, we moved to Flushing, Queens. I lived in The Bronx for a little bit and went to school in Manhattan forever.
What made you want to make music?
I was into classical music as a child, and I was around my dad a lot when he was making a lot of stuff – late 90’s, early 2000’s – when Future Flavas was wrapping up, at the height of that. There was a lot of beats going on. I would be in a few sessions, just staying at my dad’s for weekends. They would record Future Flavas there live, every weekend when it was broadcasted on Hot 97. I wouldn’t necessarily be in the studio but I would be in the house. Those experiences steered me in the direction I’m going in now.
DJ Chuck Chillout – The Unkut Interview
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.
Lakim Shabazz – The Unkut Interview, Part 2
Concluding my discussion with Lakim Shabazz, he talks about leaving Tuff City, remembering his friend Apache, Queen Latifah incorporating the Flavor Unit name and plans for his final album.
Robbie: So how long after the second album did you get off Tuff City?
Lakim Shabazz: I was being managed by Dave Funkenklein. At one point in time, if you wasn’t managed by Red Alert or somebody like that, then you was under Dave Funkenklein. He had me, he had Ultramagnetic – he took us to Paris. I went to Japan through Funkenklein – me, Latifah, Chill Rob G and Latee. Other companies were interested in me, they had tried to buy my contract from Tuff City. The first offer that was presented to Aaron Fuchs was $150,000. You’re talking 1990, ‘91. I think Epic Records had offered him $300,000 to let me up outta my contract, and he just would not do it. So part of me recording all of those extra little songs on those breakbeat albums 45 King was putting out was to fulfill obligatory responsibilities I had on the contract. I did that for two or three years and eventually got smart and got my own entertainment lawyer and managed to get off Tuff City without having to pay no funds or anything, and at this point we’re fighting to get back money from them, so actually it worked in my favor. I don’t have any sour taste in my mouth toward Aaron Fuchs. I was a young guy, I wanted to hear myself on the radio and I was able to achieve that.
A-Trak – The Modern Fix Interview 
Just found this interview from Modern Fix magazine, which was my first published cover feature, that I never put on the site. Ironically, A-Trak would prove to be heavily involved with the dreaded Hipster Rap invasion which Unkut was so instrumental in shutting down…
While most of us were trying to score a six-pack and steal a copy of Hustler, Alain Macklovitch was in his parent’s Montreal basement at the tender age of thirteen, mastering the art of scratching and mixing on the turntable he bought with his Bar Mitzvah money (not to say that he wasn’t spending his down-time staring at nude chicks, but most likely a little less than some of us). Only two years later, he had developed his skills to such a supreme level that he was able to compete in the DMC’s with dudes twice his age – and beat all of those fuckers! After winning the deejay’s equivalent of the World Series (with the main difference being that you actually are competing against the entire planet), he was asked to join the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, which featured heavyweights such as Mixmaster Mike and DJ Q-Bert, before eventually teaming-up with a new crew called The Allies, who went on to win just about every DJ title out in both group and solo categories. By the time Alain (aka A-Trak aka Young Trizzle) retired from the competitive scene at 18, he had five world championships under his belt, and was ready to expand his range into other areas of the music game.
Back in 1997, he had started a hip-hop label with older brother Dave, primarily to release vinyl from Obscure Disorder (their group back in Canada who released several well-received 12’s, including a popular record with Non-Phixion). These days, he’s got a new label (Fool’s Gold), has toured the world as Kanye West’s DJ and has all kinds of spin-off’s from his autobiographical DVD released in 2006 called “Sunglasses Is A Must”. Having just wrapped-up a three week European tour with DJ Craze and Dominant, I spoke to A-Trak at his friend’s house in London.
Lakim Shabazz – The Unkut Interview, Part 1
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.
Freshco – The Unkut Interview, Part 2
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.
Freshco – The Unkut Interview, Part 1
Freshco is best remembered as the being the winner of the 1990 New Music Seminar Battle 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.
Ron Delite [Priority One] – The Unkut Interview
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!
Unsigned Skype: Cole James Cash
Although I ignore pretty much everything that turns up randomly in my email, the notes for this album caught my eye:
“Shoutout to New York for giving me my entire style of production that I essentially ripped off from producers much better than myself. Shoutout to my worthless deadbeat of a father for abandoning my mother but leaving me well over 2000 records to sample from because you had no means to take them.”
Turns out the album was a good listen, so I reached out to it’s producer and had a quick talk to him to find out his story.