Black Thought continues his conversation with Combat Jack (aka Ben Grimm Esq.) and and Dallas Penn (aka Advanced Scarf Technologies) and talks about battling, hearing Illmatic and meeting Supernatural.
The Greatest Man Alive, Da Wizzard of Odds and V-Born kicking rhymes over finger snaps for the Krush Rap show. Larry Larr gets a quick jab in at Cool C, while EST buries his old crew and his former manager in typically acknickulous fashion. Hopefuly footage of the time that one of the Hilltop threw a quarter at EST at the basketball court and the resulting brawl will turn up one day.
Check this hour-long 2010 documentary about Freshco & Miz, the winners of the MC and DJ divisions of the 1990 NMS Battle For World Supremacy. Featuring appearances by Ice T, Ice Cube, DJ Enuff, MC Lyte, Treach, Kool DJ Red Alert, Monie Love, Dres, Phife, Yo-Yo, D Nice, MC Serch, Ed Lover & Dr. Dre, Guru, and DJ Wiz of Kid N Play.
Jedi Mind Tricks front man Vinnie Paz drops his second solo LP, God of the Serengeti, on 22 October, featuring production from DJ Premier, Marco Polo, Havoc, Psycho Les and more. I caught-up with him recently to discuss growing-up in Philly, his early days as an MC and his involvement in one of the best selling independent rap albums of all time.
Robbie: Is it true your brother used to work on Cool C’s car in Philly?
Vinnie Paz: Yeah, he used to detail his car. He was always real cool to my brother. My business partner to this day, Yan, worked at the sneaker store where all the Hilltop dudes would buy all their sneakers. He would tell me they would come through and each drop a couple of thousand in cash on Jordans and Air Max and shit like that.
What are some of your memories of growing-up in Philly?
Hilltop Hustlers and Tuff Crew – my perception of it – those guys were as big as it gets to me. Now that I’m grown, I realize how regional they were. They weren’t household names, but to me they were superstars. Maybe I should be more aware of it when it comes to the fans of mine today… (more…)
I caught a proper screening of the Big Fun In The Big Town documentary the other week (which you might remember I posted back in 2009), and got to chop it up with the director, Bram Van Splunteren, who shot the film in a week in 1986 and was able to capture an impressive selection of big names of the era. He’s currently planning a follow-up now that this joint now that it’s finally available on DVD. Schoolly School is right on the money, as always.
This is verging dangerously close to ‘new’ rap but I have to admit I don’t hate it at all. It might have been those echoing horn stabs that got me… taken from the album Plateau Vision, which has some good stuff on it despite featuring song title such as ‘She’s a Buddhist, I’m A Cubist’ and a horrible Styles P track.
One of the reasons you persevere with this rap shit just might be those increasingly rare moments when the flow, cadence and wordplay combine into a moment of pure rap supremacy. Back in Feb 2010, Black Thought had one of these moments when he unleashed two non-stop verbal tidal waves as he proceeded to demonstrate what might commonly be referred to as ‘blacking out’. Even though he was suffering from strep throat or whatever happens from too much cot-damn rappin’, it served as a refresher to – those of us who have become too accustomed to associating him with ‘sophisticated’ Roots songs – just how raw he can get.
It also got me thinking – what is your favorite moment of an MC absolutely slaughtering a beat or ‘blacking out’?
Schoolly-D cannot be fucked with. His first three albums (and parts of his fourth) are timeless B-Boy documents. Anyone who can play a drum machine while rapping off the top of his head with his DJ scratching constantly beside him can do no wrong on my book. Here are some of the highlights of his Schoolly-D Records label before he signed his deal with Jive/RCA. (more…)
Nobody is messing with Philly when it comes to DJ’s…well at least they weren’t in the late 80′s. Here are nine examples of exactly why I’m obsessed with this here rap shit. It wasn’t the rhymes or the beats that first got me hooked – it was the cuts!
MC Breeze aka Joey B Ellis, Sage (Stallones son), Sylvester Stallone and Tynetta Hare at the premiere of Rocky V
If only every local legend 80′s rapper was considerate enough to have a website with a decent bio, I’d never have to do more than recording some vinyl and cut ‘n paste some text…
“How can you talk about Philadelphia (rap music) without talking about M.C. Breeze? How are you going to go from Schooly D to Jazzy Jeff? You can’t. He’s the link in the chain.” – Philly Rap Pioneer Schooly D.
“Of all the Old School Philly Rappers, Breeze most represents this city,” says filmmaker Mike D on why Breeze was chosen to be the subject of the first Bring The Beat Back production. “While other rappers were busy talking about how fly their sneakers, cars and gold chains were, from his very first record, Breeze was reppin’ Philly.” That first record, an EP released in the winter of 1985, featured “It Aint’New York,” “Discombobulatorbubulator” and a ballad, “Another Sad Song,”and was entirely produced by Breeze. He wrote and performed all the music (keyboards, guitar and Dr. Rhythm drum machine) live in a four track studio and did the lead vocals. He even drew the artwork for the label and (later) album cover. Handmaster Flash, a member of his original crew, The Mighty B-Force, did turntable scratches and additional raps. The record was released on Breeze’s own label and funded with money he saved delivering pizza for Dominos. (more…)
Original Stylin’ stands as one of the great forgotten albums of it’s era…actually forget that – it’s not forgotten, but it’s fair to say that EST was one of the most original and under-appreciated MC’s of his day. Remember how they had a falling out with Steady B and Cool C after the first album? Turns it it was a very similar situation to what happened with Ice Cube and NWA – they figured out they were getting ripped-off by their manager and bounced whilst the rest of the Hilltop was turned against them. While Steady and the rest of ‘em would later realize that 3-D were right all along, there was at least one report of a brawl between the crews at a local basketball court at the height of the feud. (more…)
To begin the Hilltop Hustlers story, you need to go back to Steady B. After his uncle Lawrence “LG” Goodman lost his New York talent thanks to most of the Juice Crew signing with Cold Chillin’, he set out to form his own local all-star team to keep his Pop Art label buzzing, and MC Boob was the obvious choice to set the ball rolling. Jesse Serwer got the story behind the early singles when he interviewed DJ Tat Money, who went on to become Steady’s main DJ:
JS: On “Bring the Beat Back,” the DJ was someone else, right?
Tat Money: Grand Dragon K.D.
JS: Right. That was the first time the transformer scratch was on wax, right? Was he known for that?
Tat Money: Not at all.
JS: So who is the real originator of the transform?
Tat Money: I’ve been digging up some of my old tapes I had archived. And I’m like damn, I was really focused on this transformer stuff at the time. I totally forgot. The transformer was like this: We were all doing it, and he got the break and put it on wax. K.D. wasn’t a well-known DJ or anything. He was okay. We were all really competitive so at that time, it was like, “Damn I could have been on the record.” You had that mentality. It was like, “Who the hell is he?” In your mind you think, “I’m better than him.” He happened to be in the right place at the right time probably on some, “Yo I need a DJ, you want to do it? Come on” shit. Cause that’s Steady. I know him like the back of my hand. That’s just how he is. He’s a real kindhearted cat, and I think K.D. was hanging around the area and they just became a duo. The thing was Boob already had two other DJs at the time. He was kind of notorious for switching DJs. This big fat dude named Tank, who was his first DJ, actually came with him when he came to Funk-O-Mart looking for me. (more…)