What with Brad Jordan releasing his biography, Diary of a Madman recently (which he discusses with ego trip’s Gabriel Alvarez here), it seemed like a good time to take another listen his first single, released on Lil’ Troy‘s Short Stop Records back when he was still calling himself DJ Akshun. The a-side would later be slightly reworked for the Grip It! On That Other Level album when Scarface became a Ghetto Boy, while ‘Put Another Head To rest’ was relegated to the crates of Houston locals and ebay borks until Lil’ Troy pissed off ‘Face by including the song on his Sittin’ Fat Down South CD and things degenerated from there. (more…)
Concluding my discussion with Tuff City Records founder Aaron Fuchs, he talks about working with The 45 King, Lakim Shabazz and the Flavor Unit, the ‘Crack It Up’ single, the Ultramagnetic compilations and the highlights of his discography.
Robbie: The 45 King had a big impact on the Tuff City discography. How did that relationship begin?
Aaron Fuchs: He was R&B driven, which I loved. Red Alert was a DJ of rare honesty, he played a record if he liked it. You didn’t have to pay him. He was partial to The 45 King so making records with The 45 King wasn’t rocket science. Where I made my contribution was my role in the creation of the Lakim Shabazz persona. Listening to hip-hop shows, so many dedications came from prison – people with Islamic names – so it was like, ‘Let’s get a rapper like this.’ So MC La Kim became Lakim Shabazz, with all due respect to his legitimate involvement with his Islamic faith. But we played it up.
How successful was Lakim Shabazz’s Pure Righteousness album?
I think that that was the first hip-hop album that ever came out without a hit single. At that time, the wall of a record store called Music Factory in Times Square was an international communications medium. I had first seen that wall’s responsibility for the transition of west coast hip-hop, from being years behind the east coast, to catching up. In ’84 they came to the New Music Seminar and they were just ripping records off that wall, and it caught them up with the east stylistically. I knew that was happening and that European tourists shopped there too, so I made the Lakim Shabazz album just so I could put him in a picture with a kufi and a dashiki. It broke the album internationally. (more…)
Aaron Fuchs‘ Tuff City label was the David to Def Jam‘s Goliath in the early 80’s. The label would go on to deliver important records from the Cold Crush Brothers, Spoonie Gee, The 45 King and Lakim Shabazz, to name but a few. Aaron talked extensively about how to keep your head above water in the record game and offered some interesting opinions about where hip-hop might have ended up if Harlem hadn’t gotten involved.
Robbie: What’s the longest that you’ve been in one location?
Aaron Fuchs: Five, six years. In New York City, no matter what business you’re in, you also have to be in the real estate business. It’s just chaotic keeping an office address for more than a few years at a time.
What are your proudest achievements as a record label so far?
I was very proud to be on the scene around ’82, when the electronic drum machines came on the scene. I described it as ‘a thousand flowers bloomed.’ You previously had all your DJ’s just looping or sampling beats from the same body of records, and when the electronic drum machines came in, all of a sudden it seemed like the unique sub rhythms of the DJ’s ethnic backgrounds – because hip-hop is a very Pan-Caribbean music-came to the forefront – it was wonderful to be working with Charlie Chase and Master OC, who were Puerto Rican; Pumpkin, who was Costa Rican;and Davey-D who was American black. It was really reflected in their different approaches to rhythms. What a wonderful time to be making music.
How had you met all these guys?
Hip-hop was incredibly small when I got into hip-hop, circa ’78. The communications medium for hip-hop was a 7 x 5 sheet of paper called The Phillip Edwards Report. He was the guy who had the bright idea to list all the stores in the metropolitan area and create a list of records that they were selling and distribute them around the boroughs. When I told Bambaataa, I wanted to sign an MC crew, I didn’t know he’d bring me the greatest of all-time, the Cold Crush Brothers. When I befriended Barry Michael Cooper, because we were both music critics for the Village Voice, I had no idea that he had cultivated a friendship with Spoonie Gee, who was the most influential of hip-hop artist of the old school era.
What can you tell me about your experiences as a music critic?
Criticism started because of Dylan and John Lennon. All of a sudden, lit. majors had something to write about with rock & roll. I always had a niche because I was one of the very few guys writing about black music, so while the review of the new Beatles or Dylan album was always taken, the review of the Wilson Pickett album or the Aretha Franklin album was always available. (more…)
Newest latest for the good people at Cuepoint is an in-depth look at the story behind Snap! and ‘The Power,’ covering Chill Rob G‘s response, how Penny Ford was recruited to add new vocals and an unfortunate incident involving Turbo B and some drag queens in Boston.
Ice-T’s Rhyme Syndicate was one of the more unusual extended rap crews, with a core membership that included everyone from old school veteran Donald D, ‘Caucasian Sensation’ Everlast, rapper/crooner dude Bronx Style Bob and acid casualty Divine Styler. According to the Syndicate Facebook page, which looks like it’s run by Donald D, the official role call is as follows:
Ice-T, Donald-D, Everlast, Afrika Islam, Darlene the Syndicate Queen, Bronx Style Bob, Divine Styler & the Scheme Team, Bilal Bashir, Low Profile (W.C. & Aladdin), Spinmasters (Hen-Gee & Evil-E), Hijack, Randy Mac, DJ Chilly Dee, MC Taste, Shaquel Shabazz, Nat the Cat, Domination, T.D.F., Mixmaster Quick, F.B.I. Crew, Lord Finesse, Nile Kings, Rhamel, Tre Kan, Bang-O, Toddy Tee, Monie Love, MC Trouble and Body Count.
Here’s a collection of my favorite Syndicate songs from that era, a reminder of when LA rappers were still trying to impress New York by rapping properly and when important issues such as how great it would be to have a sweet new Rolex watch were addressed with the seriousness they deserved. Sadly, despite having some great production from Aladdin and SLJ, Ice’s rapping had begun to fall into steep decline by the time he made Home Invasion, where he introduced some teenage chick rapper named Grip. I blame Body Count, obviously.
Toney Rome and Large Professor go way back, and share a lot more history than simply a production credit on the b-side of ‘Mad Scientist.’ Toney talks about growing up in Flushing, Queens, facing music industry hurdles and memories of having the hottest tape in school.
Robbie: How did you first get involved in hip-hop?
I grew-up in New York in the 70s and the 80s, when hip-hop was just getting started. I can remember before there were records, used to be chasing tapes, trying to find the hottest tapes and also trying to get to the Bronx to hear the music.
You were in Flushing at the time?
From Flushing, Queens. It was a really organic thing. I was hearing the music out here on the streets, then they started doing jams out here and eventually I started deejaying.
Where were you getting your records? From the city or locally?
It was the era where DJ’s was really secretive about the breaks that they had. Some of the stuff you would know, but you would have to be a sleuth like Sherlock Holmes to figure out what breaks. First you raided your father’s record collection, and you found the old funk and soul records from there. Of course I didn’t have a lotta money back then, so I used to go to stores in Jamaica, Queens and places that I knew out there that had record shops. (more…)
You Toober Eddie Frank has pieced together the original footage which MF Doom used to create the memorable Operation: Doomsday and MM Food skits. Comic nerds and fans of poorly drawn animation, unite! (more…)
DJ 7L, Esoteric and Inspektah Deck really stepped it up this time, as both this bundle package and the track listing of the second Czarface album demonstrates. A full length comic book, t-shirt, tape, stickers, coloured vinyl are all included if you want to go all-in. The good news is the comic is included with the regular CD and vinyl versions too.
New track from the latest Large Pro solo album, Re: Living, which is out 9 June. Fat Beats are doing a bundle including the CD, tape, vinyl and sticker, which is limited to 100 packs and available here.
Editor’s note: The following interview was conducted by Bill Zimmerman in 2007 for the now defunct print edition of Modern Fix magazine prior to the release of Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip Hop Jazz Messenger. This Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of Guru’s passing.
The self-proclaimed “king of monotone,” Guru possessed one of the most unmistakable voices in hip-hop. Honest and authoritative, he delivered music over three decades, most notably in Gang Starr with DJ Premier as well as through genre-bending Jazzmatazz solo efforts. What follows are excerpts from an unpublished interview with Guru and Solar in 2007. It’s a snapshot of Guru’s late 2000s, post-Gang Starr career. It shows two men focused on making their own lane and taking creative chances in the leadup to what would be Guru’s final Jazzmatazz project. Despite all the drama and confusion that would ensue, Guru made a mark on hip-hop. That’s indisputable.
Bill: Guru, one the previous Jazzmatazz projects you were working with multiple producers. What was it like just sticking with Solar on this one?
Guru: Actually, the only one with multiple producers was the third one (Street Soul). The first one (Vol. 1) I produced, the second one (Vol. 2: The New Reality) I produced and then the third one multiple (producers). Actually, after the third one I said I wanted to go back to working with just one producer because I left like the third one – even though I had like a lot of big name producers – it came out more like a compilation than it did an organic work. It’s still one of my favorites joints, but it was something about the cohesiveness of one producer bringing everything together. After teaming up with Solar – first of all when I first started hearing his music that was after we were friends already for two years. Then we decided to do the label. We were introduced six years ago – he took me to his lab so I could hear some tracks, and it was crazy because it was almost like he read my mind because I was looking for a future sound, a new sound for myself. All my favorite artists are able to do that – to recreate and renew and then reinvent. So, when I heard his tracks, I was like, “Oh, man.” I was blown away and actually took some stuff home right then. Our first release came out in 2005 on 7 Grand. That was called Guru Version 7.0 The Street Scriptures, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. That was just the introduction to this new chemistry. Now, at this point, the chemistry is just more intense, so this album is definitely proof of that. (more…)
Back in 2013, I got to chat to Black Rob for ten minutes as he was on his way to the studio. This time around I tried not to repeat the same questions, but unfortunately I caught him as he was trying to catch some food. Guess some things just aren’t meant to work out, huh? Regardless, you can catch Black Rob’s new LP, Genuine Article, is out 21 April.
Robbie: Were Spoonie Gee and Doug E. Fresh a big influence on you when you were a kid?
Black Rob: Hell yeah! Parties, break-outs – the whole shit! Doug E. Fresh was definitely slamming, man. I already wanted to my thing, but it gave me some inspiration to tbe best that I could be.
What was it like growing in Harlem?
It was different, man. A lotta kids was doing what they had to do, playing around and not doing music, so I came in there doing music. I used to have the parties jumping, little freestyles and all that stuff. Hear that shit out the window. I used to be the number one guy, but I was too young to really comprehend what I was going through, cos I was just stretching out. But I was nice though! [laughs] (more…)
Here’s something from my drafts folder that I forgot to post from a couple of years ago…
For many people, Twitter is nothing more than a self-indulgent stream of fuckybergs telling the world how many pieces of French toast they consumed at brunch. Last Monday, that all changed, after some struggle “comedian” lady finally got “sanger” Chris Brown to shut down his Twitter account following a heated exchange revolving around his previous treatment of Rihanna (of “Rihanna Plane” fame, natch). Turns out this Jenny Johnson character has been trolling C. Brown for years, and the main flaw in her argument had nothing to do with what happened to Rihanna’s face and everything to do with her misguided attempt to correct Chris’ spelling:
@chrisbrown: take them teeth out when u Sucking my dick HOE.
@JennyJohnsonHi5 It’s “HO” not “HOE” you ignorant fuck.
I found compelled to point out that there is in fact an “E” in “Hoe,” which resulted in an in-depth academic debate between myself, rapper/producer/author/drummer J-Zone and musical maestro/Ralph Lauren chandelier owner Just Blaze as to the correct spelling of the term according to old rap songs. While I was strongly in the “E” camp, J-Zone produced compelling evidence that it was only when used as a plural that the “E” was required, according to most Miami and mid western records (Geto Boys’ “Let A Ho Be A Ho”, Willie Dee‘s “Bald Head Hoes”). Not to be discouraged, I continued to produce examples of “hoe” in the singular, while Just Blaze played tennis umpire. It was a stalemate once we established that the East Coast favoured the “E” and the West dropped it, with the fact that Too $hort used to “Pimp The Ho” until 2011, when he suddenly adapted the “E.” (more…)
First single from the second Czarface album, Every Hero Needs A Villain, due this summer.
DJ 7L sez:
First leak from the new Czarface record is “Deadly Class” featuring Meyhem Lauren. Been a fan of his for a minute, we linked up a few years back at the BAU release party which was around when we were working on the new Czar album. I think Eso and Deck have never sounded better I really can’t wait for the fans to hear it. This song was recorded at the mid point of the album and remembering hearing it and was like “man this keeps getting better”. Eso added that chop at the end with iphone battery line that to me is just genius with the sample. This is just the leak, more info music, art on the way!
Unlike Cold Crush Brother‘s ‘Punk Rock Rap,’ this vaulted Cosmic Force entry into the ‘punk rap’ canon is redeemed by a lack of fake cockney accents, the always reliable vocoder and the fact that it interpolates Michael McDonalds’ ‘I Keep Forgetting‘ 13 years before Dr. Dre’s stepbrother Warren G enlisted Nate Dogg to give it that extra ‘G’ quality.
Young Zee of the Outsidaz is finally getting an official release of his shelved 1996 album on cassette and CD through Gentleman’s Relief Records on 28 April (with liner notes from dedicated Outsidaz disciple Werner), having previously been issued over a couple of EP’s by Dope Folks Records.