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. (more…)
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. (more…)
Check the complete video of the Stretch and Bobbito‘s appearance with ego trip’s Sacha Jenkins at the New Museum last Friday, which followed their special 1993 broadcast on WCKR. Shout-out to Mr. Armstrong for being the only other rap dude other than myself to rep sports coats and boat shoes on the regular.
New Museum: In conjunction with the New Museum exhibition “NYC 1993,” Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia discussed New York City circa 1993 through the lens of rap music. Events like the election of Rudolph Giuliani and the World Trade Center bombing changed the city’s landscape, as debut releases by the Wu-Tang Clan and Black Moon established a new tone for New York rap.
Here’s the latest episode of the Star and Buc Wild Show, which is live streamed on YouTube at 12pm every weekday and then rebroadcast on Shot 97. Basically it consists of Star shitting on people, dudes calling-up to make sure that Star got their donation to play their song and various other fuckery. Star might be showing his age by the fact that he still owns a Blackberry and has a Yahoo email address, but he’s lost none of that hate in his heart, which is something that Unkut Dot Com has to respect. You can also cop his book for free ninety nine if you still believe that reading is fundamental.
Continuing the session with Video Music Box legend Uncle Ralph McDaniels, he discusses his Classic Concept Productions music video company, dealing with the competition, working on the movie Juice, his Lifer’s Group documentary and why $amhill is ahead of his time.
Robbie: When did it get to the stage where Video Music Box became your full-time job?
Ralph McDaniels: Eventually the station was like, “You’ve got to make a choice. You’re either going to be an engineer or you’re going to do Video Music Box”. From that point on, that was my full-time thing. On the show it was Ralph McDaniels and The Vid Kid – Lionel Martin – he was a guy I grew-up with, who went on to direct some of the best hip-hop and R&B videos in the 80’s and 90’s. I produced and directed, but he directed more than me because I was doing Video Music Box more at the time. We formed a company called Classic Concept Productions. Some of the first videos that we did were MC Shan “Left Me Lonely”, Roxanne Shante “Roxanne’s Revenge”. We worked a lot with Cold Chillin’ Records, so all of Biz Markie’s first videos, all of Big Daddy Kane’s first videos, Kool G Rap and Polo. If it wasn’t for Cold Chillin’, I don’t know if we’d have been as successful in the video business. Before the Genius was the GZA, we did his early videos, Masta Ace, “The Symphony” for Marley Marl. We started to move into some R&B stuff, all of the Bel Biv Devoe stuff. I did all the X-Clan videos, I did Wu-Tang Clan “C.R.E.A.M”, Raekwon “Ice Cream”. (more…)
“Uncle” Ralph McDaniels is an institution in New York hip-hop. Creating the city’s first music video show – Video Music Box – in 1983, he delivered rap videos, concert footage and interviews years before Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City hit the airwaves. He was also involved on the other side of the camera, producing and directing music videos for the Juice Crew, Nas and Wu-Tang Clan amongst others. Celebrating thirty years on the air this month, Uncle Ralph took some time out to discuss how he started off his career as a DJ, the birth of music videos and the impact of filming Fresh Fest 2 in the first part of our interview.
Robbie: Where did you grow-up?
Ralph McDaniels: I grew-up in Brooklyn and then I moved to Queens as a teenager, and that’s where my music really took off. In Brooklyn I was young, but I was influenced by my family, they’re Caribbean and American, so we listened to all types of music in the house. We listened to soca, we listened to reggae, we listened to R&B, we listened to soul music. By the time I got to Queens and started getting some type of DJ set-up in my house, then I could play new music that I listened to and that’s how that whole thing jumped off. When I went to college, I moved back to Brooklyn.
How did you get your start in music?
It was me and my partner, Lionel Martin. Back then, he was called DJ Trip. We had a crew we used to call The Brothership – don’t ask, it’s a crazy name. We started doing clubs, and my first gig in a club was a place called The Blue Ice. People used to pack it in, 300-400 people. That was a lot to me. Back in the days when DJ’s would play, there would be a band, and the band would be the headliner. The DJ was secondary, and then after a while the DJ became the headliner because the promoters didn’t want to pay for a band. Around that time I met Russell Simmons, he lived in our neighborhood and he was a party promoter. They were called Rush parties. Somehow he started working with these record companies and he started becoming a record promoter. (more…)
Legendary New York live rap promoter Peter Oasis, who founded LiveNDirect with Zvi Edelman, shares some of his memories of his long career as a party supplier…
Robbie: What was the first show you ever promoted?
Peter Oasis: Fifteen years ago, the first rap shows that I ever promoted were Dutchmin, who were on Dolo Records. My first show was Dutchmin and another crew called Kukoo and Da Baga Bonez, who ran with Mista Sinista. After that I hooked-up with Joe at Fat Beats and we put together a showcase for the record shop. At the time there were underground shows, but there weren’t mega underground shows, and this one show that we did featured all the Fat Beats artists that they were distributing and selling at the store on 9th street at the time. Company Flow, The X-Men, J-Live – he’s awesome, he’s one of my favourites – The Cracker Jax, Rob Swift‘s group. That was the first 12″ that Fat Beats ever put out on their label. From that show I made relationships with a lot of those acts, and as I moved-up and started booking bigger names I took a lot of those acts and had them open up for bigger shows. For instance, Non-Phixion came back and they rocked at Tramps with Run-DMC and Large Professor. I still have an allegiance and a real loyalty to a lot of those acts – those were the first acts I knew, way before anything. We all started out together. (more…)
The second half of my conversation with Mario, who speaks on some of the more technical aspects of engineering and mixing, as well as working on Ready To Die and winning a Latin Grammy.
Robbie: How many songs that were left off Hell On Earth?
Mario Rodriguez: There were a lot of song that weren’t used n the album that we did. We worked on that album for a long time – we must have taken eight months to a year, and it wasn’t like, ‘Let’s lock ourselves up in a room and work on it non-stop’. There was 22, maybe 23 songs that were recorded, and not all of them made it to the album, but a lot of that stuff they released on mixtapes. I think most of it, if not all of it, made it to the streets somehow.
Were you hanging out with the crew outside of the studio?
No. Never. My nature as a human being is not one of being somebody that likes to hang-out a lot. However, when you’re in the studio the process of being in the studio is hanging out. When your doing a session you’re basically getting together with a bunch of guys and exchanging ideas. During some sessions it’s a party, during some sessions it’s serious business. People that are not in the industry go to clubs to hang out and be surrounded by music – I didn’t have to go to the clubs
because my business was being in the place where club music is created. But in order to work with an artist I never felt the need to socialize and do anything outside of the studio. The music does the talking when it comes to that. (more…)
With a career in the music industry spanning over 30 years, Mario ‘Not Rude’ Rodriguez has worked on a lot of records as an engineer and mixer. Amongst his hip-hop projects, he’s been involved with records from Mobb Deep, LL Cool J, Biggie Smalls and Public Enemy to name a few. For the first part of our discussion, Mario gives a little background to how he got started and his thoughts about music.
Robbie: You’ve lead quite a varied career so far, in terms of who you’ve worked with.
Mario Rodriguez: I’ve been around for a long time, so I’ve survived by being a little bit of a chameleon.
Do you prefer any particular style of music though?
If I can be really candid – I’m a bit of a whore, and I will turn wherever I can feed myself. In a business like this, if you do one thing you get stereo-typed very easily, and I don’t particularly like that. I like to have a variety of types of work. My musical taste is incredible eclectic – if you looked at my record collection you would probably call a shrink or have me committed. The gammut of music that’s in my collection is so extensive, so expansive, that you think that, ‘He must be out of his mind!’ If I’m working a project, I will not to listen to any other music. I don’t like to be thinking about somebody else while I do work. (more…)
The best thing about getting an interview or feature published in print is having my words paired-up with original photography. Google image search is fine for your everyday blog post type of thing, but nothing beats having a crisp shot of the artist that nobody has. Enter Alexander Richter, who has provided shots for a number of my print pieces, including Uncle Murda, Roc Marciano, Killa Sha and Kyron. He also took those great shots of the some of faces of the internets, which you might have seen used in my previous Non-Rapper Dude pieces on eskay and Dallas Penn. I got him on the phone a while back to discuss some of the ups-and-downs of the photo game.
Robbie: How did get your start?
Alexander Richter: I got into the whole photo game here a bit late, so I was blessed to be able to connect with publications like Hip Hop Connection and XXL and other magazines. A lot of books that I used to do work for now no longer exist. I think for those established photographers who had their name and niche carved-out are still getting work here and there because they’ve established enough of a clientele and a brand for themselves, but for someone like myself who only started making photos in 2004… (more…)
Here’s the first part of a new series talking to non-rapper dudes who still have a story to tell.
After cutting his teeth as a radio personality and DJ in Washington, DC for years, Peter Rosenberg has spent the past two years in New York City, and stays busy with three separate radio shows, including the morning show on Hot 97. Most notable, however, have been his Noisemakers sessions – extended live sit-downs with hip-hop greats.
Robbie: So you do the Juan Epstein show as well as your morning show with Cipha Sounds on Hot 97, right?
Peter Rosenberg: Ciph and I do the weekday morning show, which is a mainstream – but funny – morning show, and then I do real late on Sunday nights from midnight to two, and I don’t really have anyone to answer to as far as what I’m playing. I just play whatever underground shit I want. Then Juan Epstein is sorta separate – we talk about underground shit but we don’t really play music. Each show sort of has it’s different lane.
Hosting that session with DJ Premier recently must’ve been crazy.
Doing the Noisemakers series is crazy. We’ve had Premier, Q-Tip and ?uestlove so far. I’ve got a couple more planned for the summer, but they’re not finalized yet. When you grow up obsessed with hip-hop and then you get to really sit-down and talk to cats that you idolized…that shit never really gets boring! That shit’s always fun. (more…)