Category Archives: Vintage Rap radio

Westwood VHS archives: Rakim, Ultra, PE, LL Cool J Live from London….

Tim Westwood has been going in heavy on the archival action recently. He’s been uploading unreleased and never seen before footage from iconic performances  like Rakim at Hammersmith, Ultramagnetic in Camden, Derek B live at the Hammersmith Palais and more…

Tims clips capture the raw excitement of the embryonic stages of the London Hip Hop youth culture in clips that feature body-popping on corners of Trafalgar Square, and under the watchful eye of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square.  And as well as these, he has also added outtakes from the N-Sign Rap show. We all know about the Bizmarkie handshake debacle but what about a young Will Smith dropping more bloopers than Dennis Norden !

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…

World’s Best Looking Sound – WBLS TV ad

 

Rap radio is an odd beast, there is a huge community of people like myself that fiend for those dusty tapes of hissy broadcasts from the days of way-back. Along with the park jams and community centre parties with now well known names like Herc and Flash, and the uncelebrated and often overlooked talents of early Rappers like Grandmaster Caz and Johnny Wah, the early days of Hip-Hop are some of the purist to those that lived through them, so those old tapes arent simply a throwback to better times for the elders, they are capsules of the golden era, the silver era, and all eras in-between. An historic cache for future generations to enjoy too.

The radio shows that initiated Hip-Hop listeners on a path to pure righteousness are paved with gold school nuggets that only they can ponder with their peers, without sounding like some old fool archeologists. Thankfully, younger generations are catching up too, but the aural capital of those dusty old ferric, chrome and even metal cassettes can generate the oddest reactions in those that understand little of the culture.

The history of Hip-Hop wouldnt be the same without New York radio station WBLS [the BLS an abbreviation of Black Listening Station or Best Looking Sound]. The frequency of 107.5 MHz was a regular for NY listeners that listened in for what is now considered the ‘urban contemporary sound’, fine tuning to hear that panning station ident voiced by station director the legendary Frankie Crocker. Whether people wanted music from club DJs Timmy Regisford and David Morales on the famous Saturday Night Dance Party, or later with Reggae visionary Bobby Konders, people tuned in in their thousands.

I first knew of WBLS when I was 16, answering pen-pal ads in Blues and Soul to feed my Hip-Hop habit. I’d been educated in the ways of Kool DJ Fred Alert and the WRKS shows and then I rediscovered an archive of classic Rap radio presented by legends in the game; Mr Magic, Chuck Chillout, Marley Marl & Pete Rock [not forgetting Chilly Q and Kevy Kev], Silver D and of course, Superman DJ Clark Kent.

Outside of the 5 boroughs, who knew they were advertising on TV back in 78?

Stretch & Bobbito footage from November 29, 1990 [Post #1000]

Co-Founder of Zoo York Eli Morgan Gessner, has started upping some interesting clips on a YT channel.

The 1st one features a very early piece of footage from the WKCR days of the Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito Show feat the god Bonz Malone in the studio along with the late NYC skate-great Beasley in front of the mic stand.

The 2nd, from 1987 includes Bones Brigade clothing and the soundtrack from a ghetto-blaster playing a tape of Mr Magic dropping Juice Crew All-Stars/ World premiere of Nobody Beats the Biz [around the 5 minute mark]…

Shouts to Eli for his vision in capturing these candid and intimate moments…

Westwood – Capital Rap Show Saturday 19 January 1991

‘Live from the science lab, were schooling ruling and a cooling’ allegedly…

Here’s a Westwood show from 20 years ago this weekend…

Timmy had obviously just received his copy of Breaking Atoms as he drops a heap of ‘specials’ including a world premiere of Snake Eyes and Think. It’s the Saturday night show, so there are a few popcorn cuts as well as tracks from Stets Blood, Sweat & No Tears, the KRS produced H.E.A.L. project and of course the Break to the Beat comp. There’s a segment of a Guy interview from another night at the end of Side B too, cant remember if thats from the night before or not. Any info appreciated. If anyone is holdin the Main Source interview from the night before, hit us up. Dont forget to call in for those Cool J tickets.

Big shouts to anyone that ever attended The Slammer in Gravesend [pause]

Westwood – Capital Rap Show Saturday 19 January 1991 Side A

Westwood – Capital Rap Show Saturday 19 January 1991 Side B