Category Archives: Pioneers

Mr Magic birthday party [1984]

Another week, another clip from way way back from peoples that were there along-side the greats. This time we have conversations with the late great Mr Magic, Sweet G from the Fever, Kool Kyle, DLB from the Fearless4 and live performances from Fearless, Divine Sounds and the Force MCs.  Magic discusses Graffiti writers and the ‘generations’ of Rappers while DLB is prophetic in his observation that there are ‘so many creative writers when it comes to Rap, that there is no way it could really end’…

There’s also an instrumental with a Malcolm X speech towards the end, not unlike the 1983 Keith Le Blanc produced cut on Tommy Boy. Its probably exactly that, just a World Famous Supreme Team instrumental with a sheet of Malcolm over the top, but its cohesive, and sick…

Mr Magic funeral [2009]

In an anthropological sense, this clip is at the very least, engaging. Its also a very uncomfortable clip to watch, not just because it features Kurtis Blow reading Mr Magics obituary, also cos Marley Marl clowns it up during a service at the open casket funeral…

Marley Marl – In Control Volume 2 [Unreleased demos]

Unreleased and unaccessible Hip-Hop gems have been as much a part of the aural history of Hip-Hop as the scratch itself. We had the Live Convention releases of T-Connection and Celebrity Club parties on Disco Wax Records way back in 1982, Music of Life in the UK released a few volumes of Zulu Nation jams like Cold Crush vs The Fantastic 5 in the early 90s, but these were jams, these were live parties. The world of collecting & dredging for these is next level.

In this post, I want to discuss unearthing previously unavailable jewels that have been buried away on dust covered tapes in shoe-boxes in attics, and lounging behind radiators for decades like the K-Def produced and long sought after Year of the Hip-Hop by LL Cool J. I want to talk about our collective adolescence and the hidden treasures we used to hear on the radio in weekly rotation as we fine-tuned the boxes, I want to talk about the Rap that never made it to the shelves of the record stores.

In 2001, DWGs Rare Dave created a mixtape compilation of hard-to-find Rap, and accurately titled it ‘Rare Frequencies’. The tracks were original full versions, demos and unreleased cuts that had been broadcast on Tim Westwoods Capital Rap Show for promotional purposes, rarely making their way to retail for one reason or another. Sometimes it was due to sample clearance, other times they just didnt make the grade cos they had unsuitable subject matter et cetera. For me, hearing Rare Frequencies was a tipping point, Hip-Hop and Rap radio already had a huge effect on me, affecting the way I listened to, enjoyed and collected Hip-Hop over the years. This was probably because the first time I EVER HEARD Hip-Hop was back in 81, when as kid across the street from where my Aunt lived had just come back from a holiday in NY, he was playing a tape on a ghettoblaster, on his doorstep, recorded from the radio. Since then Ive held on to all of my ferrics and chromes, sifting through my own archives in the attic at the family home, and as I continue to collect and trade, the over-all sound of a radio show, the compression, the strange hissy quality still provokes an indescribable energy in me, as well as a seemingly never-ending discovery of random rare Rap gems.

Anyone that can recall the spine-tingling sound of a Mr Magic WORLD PREMIERE, the sound of a DUB PLATE PRESSURE radio spot, or the sound of a CAPITAL RAP SHOW EXCLUSIVE knows exactly what I mean. Amongst dozens of other station IDs, these were the sounds that announced to the listener that they were about to witness something  special, something truly captivating, something that hadnt been heard before. Its these exclusives that I continue to fiend for today, I’ll be 43 in a fortnight, I have no shame.

Marley Marls In Control Volume 1 was such an iconic release, but when Volume 2 was released in 1991, there was something amiss. I clearly remember hearing it in my mates car for the 1st time that year, and thinking back to the Westwood plays from 1989; what had happened to this cut, to that cut, where was this that and the other. Where was the cut with Marley rhyming over that ‘Puppet’ beat? It seems that a few things had been omitted from the finished tape, things that I knew I’d heard, things that we knew we had on a D90 in the glove compartment, and knew that Westwood had been rockin…

Since then, it seems that there were at least three cuts that didnt make the grade for In Control Volume 2:

Unit3 – Here It Is [From an In Control with Clark Kent from 89]

Marley Marl –  No Bullshit [Original Version above, lifted from a Capital Rap Show cassette from 7th October 1989]

and Marley Marl featuring Rapataire – They Cant Get With Me [a Straight head-noddin banger that got unceremoniously dumped in favour of usage on Marleys remix of the 3rd Bass classic Product of the Environment], btw, who exactly are Rapataire and the ‘def coalition’ Unit3?

The track No Bullshit is a hidden highlight cos its Marley rhymin on the mic, somethin he didnt do that often. The demo version that Westwood played was being dropped with those ‘exclusive’ IDs back in October 1989, nearly 2 years ahead of the retail release. The questions remain, how many more are there sittin behind radiators, gathering dust in shoe-boxes with other cassettes and DATs etc? The odd thing about No Bullshit is that, in comparison to the version that ended up on the alblum, the original unreleased mix murders the finished version, IMO. As Marlon says himself, the ‘beat thats smooth’ makes it an entirely different song, even if the lyrics are the same, but maybe it was the amount of tracks that ended up on the 1991 release that dissuaded the ‘All-Star Engineer’ to go with the plodding and head-nodding pace of the slower paced cut.

There were 10 cuts on Vol1, and 20 cuts on Vol2 [including a few skit bits]. Maybe there was an issue with the ‘Im Your Puppet’ sample from the 1966 classic, who knows. Marley even teases us with a shard of that James & Bobby Purify track before switching up the pace to around 115 bpm, cos it’d been ‘jacked already’. Weird thing is, I dont recall it being used until after 1991 [The Hi-C track is a personal favourite but its been ‘jacked’ many times since].

Fingers crossed the good people at Diggers With Gratitude, Slice of Spice or one of the other ‘vinyl goodness’ labels will get their mucky paws on these exclusives, until then, im happy to take the dolby off and press play. As with alotta these things, the more knowledge is shared, the more we fiend, it transpires  that Rapataire had more than one cut, according to Chris [HDIC at DWG], as well as They Cant Get With Me, Rapa’ had another cut called Hip-Hop Science, was this another long lost Marley production? Is Marley worried that if he goes behind that radiator he’ll have another heart-attack? Will this Hip-Hop fiend ever be satisfied ? The questions remain…

Shouts to Palma, Beatlover and the rest of the DWG fiends…

Disco Fever 10th Anniversary party footage from 1986

Documentation of the early days of Hip-Hop and Rap is difficult enough to acquire, lets face it, obtaining the rawest form of Rap on 30 year old cassette recordings of community centre battles are difficult enough to procure. The moving picture footage of Hip-Hop pioneers is even harder to come by than the aural form, whether it’s footage of a park jam with Jazzy Jay, Flash at The Armory or insider scoops from the WKCR days of Stretch & Bobbito. From the TVone photo-play of the Unsung series and the VH1 rockDocs like NY77, to Eli Gessners footage of Stretch & Bobb hard at work in the studios of Columbia University, TV channels and production houses continue to demonstrate the validity of the days of wayback with previously unseen visual documentation. Having the ability to watch a 50minute video with a bunch of Rap superstars of the future, that hasnt seen the light of day in 25 years, is nothing short of miraculous IMO.

This latest drop from the golden olden days features the ‘greatest street club in the world’ as owner Sal Abatiello described it on its 10th Anniversary in 1986. If you truly know Hip-Hop in its embryonic form, youll already know that the first Rap radio show was presented by Sir Juice himself Mr Magic, and of course youll know that Magic co-presented one of the most popular Rap radio shows with Marley Marl, known as the leader of the Juice Crew. Did you know that Mr Magic was originally known as Lucky the Magician when he started his career on PAYG station WHBI [They sold airtime for $75 an hour]. Or did you know that the original JUICE CREW consisted of Sweet G, June Bug, Mr Magic, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Mandingo, Bam-Bam and owner Sal Abatiello?

According to Dan Charnas, who interviewed Mr Magic for his publication The Big Payback in October 2007, the OG Juice Crew All-Stars were the ‘Guys who hung out until dawn, breaking balls, playing cards, drinking and sniffing. They called themselves the “Juice Crew.” Sal even made them special “Juice Rings” to commemorate their degenerate bond’. In the clip above you’ll witness these bonds, these kinships and the connection Sal created at the Fever. Did you know that the Disco Fever was the ‘first club in the country’ to have metal detectors and a gun-check at the door? It’s interesting to note that the Disco Fever was THE first disco to charge for people to get in with sneakers on, it was a dollar to get in if you wore shoes, but it was 5 dollars if you wore sneaks.

In this prime piece of old school proceedings its all about the faces, the dance moves, the leather bombers, the mock necks as well as performances from artists like Run DMC dropping unreleased verses of Peter Piper. Youll see the Kangols and the Cazals, the Def Jam and Cutting Records promo jackets as well as the nauseous sway of the disco lights. It’s about artists like Love Bug Starski performing ‘Live At The Disco Fever’ erm, live at the Disco Fever. Melle Mels ‘energy’ as he describes the ‘old school’ of 1976 during 1986 gives me shudders, as does the shower-cap wearing, ‘green’ dealing Grandmaster Flash in the Style video also contained in this clip.

You wont witness any of the illicit goings on from the ‘back room’ at the Fever in this clip, but you can hear the avuncular way in which Sal [via Sweet G] describes the artists, that even in 1986 had progressed to successes on platforms such as ‘stage, screen & TV’, offering the viewer further evidence of how much of a family affair the Fever really was. The celebratory, kindred nature of the event is high-lighted in Whodinis closing and congregational ‘We Are The World’ type performance of Friends. Live-Aid aint got shit on this ! Run DMC share the stage along-side the Furious 5, Jimmy Spicer, Vandy C, Mr Magic and the Fat Boys as well as every other recording artist in the building that night, while a fresh-faced DJ Red Alert hangs his arm round Sal as they sing the chorus of Friends alongside the two Whodini head-liners. As Rap and Hip-Hop continue to find progression into 2012, its important to remember the innocence of these earlier times, throwbacks are a beautiful thing. More fever here, not forgetting Dante Ross’ interview with Sal for Mass Appeal magazine

From Friday, October 31, 2008 and from the same Vimeo account holder, an incredible Jeff Chang hosted panel discussion with a consummate group of pioneers from the cornerstones of the culture; Joe Conzo, Roxanne Shanté, Popmaster Fabel, Disco Wiz, Pebblee-Poo, Tony Tone, Grandwizard Theodore, Grandmaster Caz & Afrika Bambaataa alongside Born In The Bronx author Johan Kugelberg. As Chang explains during the intro, this is history.

London Posse Live in Dublin [1986] & more Deejay Mek treats…

Irelands 5 times DJ Championship winner Deejay Mek needs no intro to those that knows, he’s a monster behind the decks and relentless in his ability to nod heads on the regular. As well as being one of the finest scratch DJs still doin it live, he has 2 brand new mixes available to download, and as you can see, has the vintage Hip-Hop video collection on lock

As a close associate of the London Posse, Mek has the footage to make any UK Hip-Hop fanatic loose the plot/ their Burlington socks. The video above is a 5 minute clip of a lascivious Bionic [Jeff] and Sipho from London Posse on an old Dublin based magazine show called Megamix

As well as a brief interview with the presenter where they discuss the difference between Jamaican and American rap-singin , they drop a few tasty rhymes, Sipho rocks the Dallas theme a la ‘My Beatbox Reggae Style’ and the keener ones amongst you will notice that stand-up comedian Sean Hughes makes an appearance towards the end…

Deejay Mek – Hip-Hop Mix –  http://www.megaupload.com/?d=LFO0HX4R

Deejay Mek – Funk & Boogie Mix – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=12O5VD9K

Tracklisting for the mixes over at Meks Mixcloud page, and more info on London Posse here

and the winner of the 1983 Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance is…

I hadnt heard or seen such a crisp version of this live performance until recently, and despite being foolishly omitted from the Complex Magazine list of 50 Greatest Vocoder Songs last year, it’s a classic. I was sick to the back teeth of it until I rediscovered this last week. Herbie Hancock with DST behind the wheels at the 1983 Grammy awards, a truly iconic piece of vintage Hip-Hop.

The Overlord of Fresh Live in 1989 AKA Three Times Dope on Arsenio

Hilltop Hustlers Chuck Nice, Woody [Duerwood Beale] Wood and The Overlord of Fresh EST, collectively known as 3D, perform Funky Dividends on The Arsenio Hall Show back in 89. If you axe us, Michelle, the lead in this tale of fiscal woe, was ‘everything but a sleazebag slut’. First she was with Steady B, then when pressed during this live performance, she attests to spendin time with Kool Moe Dee as well, allegedly he ‘had it all’ [sans the Liz Claiborne]. He had some silly eyewear we know that much

NB. If I wanted to sport the EST hair-style, what would I need to axe for?

Bonus Version Excursion…