Tag Archives: Marley Marl

Rockin’ On The Radio – DJ Eclipse / Marley Marl / Pete Rock etc.

Marley Marl, DJ Kevy Kev, Pete Rock and DJ Premier on DJ Eclipse’s Rap Is Outta Control show discussing classic golden-era radio memories.

New Joint – Redman

Redman – “Rockin Wit Marley Marl” (@TheRealRedman / 2014)

The Funk Doc gets busy at Marley’s legendary House Of Hits over a generous slice of Doug E. Fresh’s 1985 classic “The Show”.

WBLS In Control Reunion Show Radio Stream – Marley Marl / Kevy Kev / Clark Kent / Pete Rock

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Massive shout-out to Kool Scooby G for uploading the audio of this weekend’s historic In Control Reunion show on NYC’s WBLS featuring Marley Marl, Kevy Kev, Clark Kent and Pete Rock dropping golden-era classics like it was still 1989 – listen here.

New Joint – Lords Of The Underground

Lords Of The Underground – “Magic” (@LOTUG1 / 2014)

New Marley Marl-produced track from the 90s East Coast favourites.

Cold Chillin’ Records Megamix – Tizwarz The Real

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Edinburgh-based Hip-Hop junkie Tizwarz pays homage to the legendary Juice Crew and Cold Chillin’ Records cramming almost one hundred tracks from the likes of Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan and Biz Markie into this dope mix – check it here.

New Joint – JW Hype

JW Hype – “My Dedication (The Juice Crew)” (JWHype.BandCamp.Com / 2013)

The Chicago producer-on-the-mic pays homage to Marley Marl’s legendary crew of lyricists on this lead single from his forthcoming album “Prince Of The Hype Era” – fresh like it was still 88, you suckers!!!

40 Years Of Hip-Hop – Kool Herc / Rakim / Big Daddy Kane / Marley Marl etc.

With today marking the 40th anniversary of Clive ‘Kool Herc’ Campbell kick-starting the culture of Hip-Hop by throwing his first party at 1520 Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx, here’s some footage of yesterday’s huge event in NYC’s Central Park which featured Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Roxanne Shante and more all paying tribute to Herc  – respect the pioneers!

Rakim – “Eric B. Is President”

Rakim – “I Ain’t No Joke”

Rakim – “My Melody”

Rakim – “Paid In Full”

Big Daddy Kane, Rakim & Lil’ Rodney C

Big Daddy Kane – “Raw” / “Set It Off” / “Smooth Operator”

Craig G & Marley Marl – “Droppin’ Science” / “The Symphony”

The Soulsonic Force – “Planet Rock”

Roxanne Shante & Kangol Kid – “Roxanne, Roxanne” / “Roxanne’s Revenge” / “Have A Nice Day”

Fonda Rae & Marley Marl – “Over Like A Fat Rat”

King Of The Beats – Looking For The Perfect Beat Trailer – Pritt Kalsi / Lord Finesse / Showbiz etc.

The UK’s very own Hip-Hop renaissance man Pritt Kalsi returns with the latest in his “King Of The Beats” series – recently filmed in NYC, the new instalment features such legendary producers as Lord Finesse, Showbiz, Marley Marl, Minnesota and more.

Old To The New Q&A – Captain Rock

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Although his career on wax may have been relatively brief  (spanning just four short years from 1982 to 1986), a young Ronnie Green definitely captured the imaginations of Hip-Hop fans from all corners of Planet Rock, blasting-off from NYC in his silver Dip Ship as he transformed into the larger-than-life Captain Rock.

Although the Captain Rock character was originally the creation of New York dance music producers The Aleems, former deejay Green went on to embody the persona following his early-80s audition for the position. Combining the feel-good party-based rhymes of the time with space-age subject matter and futuristic production, NIA-released singles such as “The Return Of Capt. Rock” and “Cosmic Blast” went on to become regarded as classics, not least by Hip-Hop heads here in the UK thanks to the regular inclusion of the Captain on the groundbreaking StreetSounds “Electro” compilation series.

In this interview, the man who came from Pluto and aimed to make you dance talks about coming up with Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, working with the Aleem brothers and performing at London’s huge UK Fresh ’86 event.

Calling Captain Rock….

What part of New York did you grow-up in?

“I grew-up in the borough of Manhattan, Harlem to be exact. Back in the 70s and the 80s it was really rough in New York City. The economy wasn’t up to par and there were a lot of abandoned buildings, crime and everything else. I mean, it’s totally gone in the opposite direction since and it’s a great city now, but back then, the economy wasn’t what it is today. It was tough. But before there was Captain Rock there was DJ Ronnie Green. I started out as a deejay with Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde and before that I had Mr. Barnes and MC Starchild who were my first emcees with the Get High Crew. I remember we did a show over on the East Side on First Avenue, I bumped into Mr. Hyde and he was deejay-ing with another guy Louie Lou. We gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse and he came and joined us. Then after that it was DJ Ronnie Green and Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde.”

Before they were signed to Profile Records, Jeckyll & Hyde were featured on the 1980 Harlem World Crew single “Rappers Convention”. Did you have any involvement in that particular record?

“No, I wasn’t recording with them at that point. I came out a little after those Harlem World Crew records. But I used to be up in Harlem World all the time. Matter of fact, I lived just three blocks from Harlem World when I was coming up. I lived on 114th and Harlem World was on 116th Street. They had a deejay there called DJ Randy who passed away a few years ago while he was deejay-ing in the park. He had a massive heart attack doing what he did best, being on those turntables. But I used to go up to Harlem World back in the day to support DJ Randy, Jeckyll & Hyde and those guys, deejay-ing for them, but we weren’t recording together at that time.”

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What do you remember of your time spent at the Harlem World club?

“There was just so much going on at Harlem World, man. Every weekend it was a party. I mean, if I wasn’t there every weekend, then I was there every other weekend. I used to like it when they’d have the boxing fights up there. They wouldn’t actually hold the fights there, but they’d record them and then show them at Harlem World. That was really big back then. But there were just so many shows that happened at Harlem World. I remember seeing Kurtis Blow, Sugarhill Gang and so many local groups as well who would perform there. I really believe that Harlem World helped take rap to another level back then, because the crowds that used to turn-up every week would be enormous. It was great at the time.”

What do you think differentiated the artists that were coming up in Harlem’s Hip-Hop scene from what was happening elsewhere in NYC back then?

“Obviously, Hip-Hop began in the Bronx with Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and all those guys who really set the tone. Now the artists in the Bronx, they were really hardcore, whereas in Manhattan we were a little more laidback. The Bronx was tough and rough, whereas in Harlem we had the cool rappers. The Bronx had the hard rappers and Harlem had the cool rappers. But the way we were back then also had a lot to do with the history of Harlem. Harlem had always been known as a money-making town. Unfortunately some of the biggest drug dealers of the day like Nicky Barnes were also based in Harlem. But back then, if people wanted to make some money, they came to Harlem. People from all the different boroughs would come to 125th Street. We had The Apollo which was always a big attraction for people and it still is today. So that sense of style and flair that Harlem already had influenced the Hip-Hop that came from there.”

How much of an impact did that Nicky Barnes / Frank Lucas drug kingpin era have on the community of Harlem?

“It had a massive impact on Harlem. But for all the negative side of that situation, there were also some positives that came out of it. They opened up a lot of businesses in Harlem. During the holidays and on Thanksgiving they’d give out turkeys and food to underprivileged families and stuff like that. They would put on a lot of basketball tournaments in the neighbourhood to give the kids something to do. They’d also put on shows with different artists for the older people. I mean, I was very young at the time when this was happening, but I saw the impact it had on the environment around me. So although there was a lot of negativity around what people like Nicky Barnes and Frank Lucas were doing, when they got their money they tried to do the right thing with it and give something back to the community. A lot of what you saw in that Frank Lucas film “American Gangster” with him giving back to the community, that actually happened. But I have a lot of great memories of growing-up in Harlem, man. Really great memories. Harlem was the centre of New York City back then and it still is.”

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Did you have regular venues that you would deejay at?

“Before Harlem World I used to run a place on the East Side on First Avenue called the Chuck Center. I used to do parties over there and I also used to do parties in Harlem’s King Towers. This was around 1980. I was like, thirteen or fourteen-years-old running my own disco. We used to charge a dollar to get in. Now the guy who owned the Chuck Center, he was supposed to be getting funding from the state or something, but he wasn’t getting his funding, although he still had the building. So we used to help with the upkeep and bills from the money we made charging to get into the parties. We would keep half and he would take half.”

What equipment were you using?

“I was using Technics turntables. I’ll never forget those turntables. I can’t remember the exact number or model I had, but I’ll never forget how those turntables felt. I must have had about fifteen or twenty crates of albums. I had a couple of mixers and the big speakers and stuff. But I definitely remember those Technics turntables. I didn’t mess with any other turntables except for Technics (laughs).”

What sort of music were you playing?

“Now, let me think what really used to get the crowd going. “Apache” by the Incredible Bongo Band and Bob James “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” always used to get a great response. I still have copies of those party tapes on my computer (laughs). We’d be cutting up songs like that back-to-back and would rock for two or three hours straight. It was all about those breakbeats and cutting-up the R&B records of the time.”

When you started performing with Jeckyll & Hyde were you making appearances in other areas of New York outside of Harlem?

“We had our own spots so we didn’t have to go to places like the Bronx to perform. People from the Bronx came to us. People from all the other boroughs came to Harlem.  I mean, they had their spots up in the Bronx like Disco Fever, but we had our spots like the Chuck Center, King Towers and then Harlem World. So we didn’t really have to go anywhere. Our thing was, come to Harlem if you want to party (laughs). So we didn’t really move around too much as we had our own places to perform. I remember, we used to get a lot of Bronx people at our parties, but not too many people from Brooklyn or Queens. But that had a lot to do with the fact that the Bronx and Manhattan are really close to each other. I mean if you’re in uptown Manhattan on 145th Street you’re two minutes away from being right in the Bronx. We used to have artists and deejays from the Bronx come to Harlem to perform as well. Grand Wizard Theodore used to come from the Bronx and he was such an awesome deejay. Flash and them came down a couple of times on 125th Street. Lovebug Starski used to be up at Harlem World. We were like one big family. You got up there, rocked the house and kept it moving. Of course there was competition and everybody wanted to put on the best show to rock the crowd, but everybody just came to have a good time. We just wanted to party, have a good time and then go on home.”

Did you have a particular stage-show with Jeckyll & Hyde that you’d perform?

“I remember, you’d have other deejays and acts who would come on and do their sets. Then we’d get on about 11pm. There was no dancing or anything like that, they would just get the mic and come onstage and rap. I remember they had a song they used to sing before the music had even come on, that started off ‘We’re Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde and DJ Ronnie Green…’ then towards the end of it they would sing ‘One, two, three, four, five, Ronnie Green if you’re ready make the crowd come alive…’ Then I’d starting cutting, zigga-zigga-zigga-zigga (laughs).”

Were you surprised when people like the Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five started making records in the very late-70s?

“It just came out of nowhere, like ‘Wow! Here it is!’ When the Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five started putting records out I remember everyone was sorta shocked. Kurtis Blow was a big inspiration to me back then as well. But people were surprised that the music was taking off like it did. We had no idea at the time that it was going to go to the level that it went to.”

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So was there a particular reason why you weren’t involved with Jeckyll & Hyde in that first Harlem World Crew release?

“They really just considered me to be a deejay. Which is why I still to this day don’t really know why they took me up to the Aleems to do the Captain Rock audition. I mean, they knew I could rap a little bit, but my primary thing was always being the deejay. I definitely thank them for the opportunity and for taking me up there because if they hadn’t, there would have still been a Captain Rock, but it wouldn’t have been me (laughs).”

Considering you were known as a deejay, were you hesitant about the audition knowing you’d be behind a mic rather than behind the turntables?

“I always had the feel to rap from watching Jeckyll & Hyde onstage. The last show I did for them, we were down in Virginia which is about six hours away from New York City. I was watching them onstage and I said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I even prayed on it. Then a couple of weeks later they took me up to the Aleems to do the audition. But it was definitely something that I’d already thought about wanting to do. I’d started to see how the deejays were being pushed into the background and I wanted to be in the forefront. I mean, I grew-up singing in the church and playing the organ, so I already knew I had musical talent and could perform.”

So how did the audition work? Were you the only one there to audition or were there other people trying out for the Captain Rock role as well?

“It was just the two Aleem brothers, Mr. Hyde and myself. Now, there was already another guy who the Aleems had in mind for Captain Rock. This other guy they were thinking of using, they had his vocals for “Cosmic Glide” down already. But Alonzo Brown, Mr. Hyde, kept telling the Aleems ‘I’ve got the guy for this, man. This other guy can go.’ Hyde had already given me the lyrics to what became my first single, ‘Well I’m here to spread pure funk y’know, Put the beat in ya feet and the chill in ya bones, I’m stronger than steel, Impossible to stop, That’s why they call me Captain Rock…’ When I did the audition the Aleems just liked my groove and the way I presented myself. Then once we started recording “Cosmic Glide” they loved my voice and the enthusiasm I had for what I was doing. I actually listened to the version of the song the other guy recorded and his vocals were real dull to be quite honest with you. But I brought some life to it and I got it.”

Were you aware of the whole space-age concept behind the Captain Rock persona before you did the audition?

“Well, when I first got in there, I just had the lyrics and they just told me to perform them. I had no idea at that point what the idea behind Captain Rock consisted of. They didn’t even tell me about the Captain Rock angle, the Aleems were just like, ‘Okay, you’ve got the lyrics, step up to the mic and let’s hear you.’ Then afterwards on the way home Alonzo told me the whole thing, how Captain Rock was going to be this character who was supposed to be a space-man from another galaxy who would come down to Earth to rap about space, having fun and things like that. I was just like ‘Wow!'”

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So how did it feel when you finally released your first single in 1982, “Cosmic Glide”?

“I was a bit discouraged by how the first single did when it was released. It did okay, but it didn’t do what it was supposed to. I mean, NIA Records was a real small independent at the time and it was the label’s first single, so the Aleems really didn’t have the money behind them that was needed to really get that single into circulation. But once the second single “The Return Of Capt. Rock” came out in 1983, that was really the record that put NIA on the map.”

As as a young fan of Hip-Hop back then the music seemed so spontaneous and organic, but people behind the scenes like the Aleems and Sylvia Robinson were definitely making some shrewd business decisions…

“Yeah, my only regret from back then is not knowing more about the business aspect. I was travelling all over and making money that I had no idea I could make before. I was young. I mean, I was about sixteen-years-old when “Cosmic Glide” came out. What was happening was unbelievable to me. But I didn’t really know much about the business aspect of what was happening behind the scenes in terms of record sales and things of that nature. I really got kicked in the butt as far as the business side of things was concerned. But I still thank God for the experience.”

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Compared to the funk influences heard on “Cosmic Glide”, “The Return Of Capt. Rock” definitely had a much sparser, harder sound to it…

“I think one of the major things behind that record was that we really needed something more up-tempo. “Cosmic Glide” was good, but we really needed something with a little more punch. That was thanks to the Aleems because they took care of all of the production on those early singles and they were definitely two very talented men. They were very talented as far as putting music together was concerned. So they decided we needed to hear something a little more up-tempo from Captain Rock and that single was definitely received well.”

Considering Captain Rock was the Aleems’ creation, how much input did you have on those early singles?

“I had no input on “Cosmic Glide” whatsoever. The Aleems and Mr. Hyde took care of that with both the production and the lyrics. “The Return Of Capt. Rock”, Mr. Hyde wrote that by himself and the Aleems did the music. After those first two singles I started having a lot of input. I wrote “Cosmic Blast” and also helped produce that. Mr. Hyde was out of the picture then and was off doing other things. So after “The Return Of Capt. Rock” I took over writing for myself and was also doing the production with the Aleems.”

What was the response to “The Return Of Capt. Rock” in New York considering you felt the first single hadn’t done as well as it should have?

“New York didn’t play “The Return Of Capt. Rock” like it should have done. I remember I did a show downtown in New York City back then and one of the biggest radio jocks at the time, Chuck Leonard from Kiss FM, actually apologised to me for the station sleeping on that single. I don’t really know why that was, whether it was to do with politics with the Aleems, but as far as other places like Virginia and Philly, the response was fantastic. The record did well in New York but it didn’t get the airplay that it should have got. I mean, everyone knew that Ronnie Green was behind the Captain Rock persona, particularly in Harlem, and my name was pretty big back then. So we definitely had the support from the people. I think it was more to do with politics with the Aleems  and how they were getting along with the programme directors at certain radio stations and things like that. I mean, back then the music industry was rough and if you had money then you’d hit the deejays off and the programme directors and you’d get some airtime. Like I said, NIA was a small label at the time so they really couldn’t compete like that. Plus, the Aleems had issues with a lot of people, man. Back then, we used to get these flyers done and we’d put them around Harlem and the Bronx. On the flyers it would say to call the radio stations, which were WBLS and Kiss, and request Captain Rock. There would be one thousand to two thousand people calling the radio stations requesting to hear Captain Rock every day and we still didn’t get the airtime. So that’s how I know it had to be down to politics. The Aleems weren’t the most likable people in the world, y’know. Looking back on it now, when that radio deejay apologised for not playing my record I should have asked why they didn’t support it and got more involved in the situation. But I was just so young back then and I was really just happy to be making music, making some money and flying all around the place performing.”

Where else were you travelling to perform?

“We were going all along the East Coast with that record. But my biggest market was always Philadelphia. I still go out to do shows in Philly today. Virginia was another big market for me. I was travelling all along the East Coast doing shows every weekend. It was unbelievable  Like I said, I wish I’d known more about the business aspect at the time, but that’s all water under the bridge now. I had a great time.”

Who was actually in the Cosmic Crew who were mentioned heavily on 1984’s classic “Cosmic Blast”?

“Well, DJ Darryl D had been with me since the start. After “Capt. Rock To The Futureshock” we brought on Richie Rich who was our human beatbox. I met Richie Rich in a park in Harlem. Every week I used to do this thing at King Towers called Wednesday Talent Night where people from the community could come and sing, dance and whatever else. To open up I always used to do a show with DJ Darryl D. Someone had come to me and told me they knew this kid who could really beatbox. At the time Doug E. Fresh, who was also from Harlem, he’d just released a beatbox joint. So I was like, ‘You know what? I want to do a beatbox thing.’ I listened to Richie Rich do his thing and then the next day I sat down and wrote “Cosmic Blast” and put a part on the record for him to be on. “Cosmic Blast” was huge in New York. It was such a big record. I think “Cosmic Blast” had a little more funk to it, whereas “The Return…” was more electro. I just think “Cosmic Blast” was more appealing to New York. But going back to your question, I still talk to Darryl D a lot and occassionally I see Richie Rich. Everyone’s working now and has their own things to take care of, but they’re still my guys. We still hook-up. I don’t take them out on the road with me now, though. I go by myself to be quite honest with you. I’m not making that much money from the shows where I can have a budget to pay for the two of them to come along as well. But I’m talking to some old-school promoters across Europe and we’re trying to put some things together.”

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How much interaction did you have in the studio with Marley Marl who is credited with mixing “Cosmic Blast”?

“I had very little interaction with Marley. It was the Aleems who brought Marley on board as he was a studio intern for them at the time. So when he came in to do the mixing, I wasn’t in the studio. I had one or two sessions when he was there and we were laying down vocals, but usually Marley would come in after the vocals had been put down. But I do remember he was a great guy and it was clear even back then that Marley was very talented and really had a good ear for music.”

Marley Marl also credits “The Pure” which was included on the “Cosmic Blast” single as one of the first times he used a sampler in the studio…

“Right. See what the Aleems did when we recorded “Cosmic Blast” was they had Richie Rich go in the studio and put down a whole bunch of tracks of just him doing the beatbox. Then off the back of that they had the idea of doing “The Pure” on the flipside and just let Marley put all those bits and pieces together. It was a great idea.”

I’ve seen people mention on the internet that they thought it was Biz Markie beat-boxing on that track because of the Marley Marl connection…

“Nah, that was definitely Richie Rich who did all of the beat-boxing on “The Pure”. Biz didn’t have anything to do with that record whatsoever. That was strictly Richie Rich.”

After the success of “Capt. Rock To The Future Shock” and “Cosmic Blast” in 1984 a couple of years would pass before you released any new material. Was there a reason for that gap?

“To be honest, I was kinda burned out. The years of touring and all the excitement, I just really needed a break. I was going through some personal issues as well at the time and I just really needed to focus on getting me together.”

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Spyder-D produced “You Stink” on the b-side of your 1986 single “House Of Rock”. Was it your idea to bring Sypder in for that track?

“No, that was the Aleems who brought him in to work on that record. I’d written “You Stink” myself but then the Aleems brought Spyder-D in to handle production on that track. I had limited interaction with him during that process.”

Given the amount of singles you released was the possibility of a full-length album ever discussed?

“It was, but it had gotten to the point towards the end where I just wasn’t comfortable with the Aleems. There were a lot of money issues, a lot of things going on and I just wasn’t being compensated properly for my work. I went and got an attorney and stuff like that and I really wasn’t comfortable with doing too much more recording with the Aleems unless I was going to be properly compensated. Those guys went from working out of their apartment with NIA Records to having a big office downtown, and part of that was down to the success of Captain Rock. I mean, they had their own material they were releasing as Aleem, but it wasn’t doing as well as the Captain Rock singles. I was very instrumental in helping them climb the ladder, so I felt I should be compensated. So I got a lawyer and we worked out some stuff. In fact, my lawyer was so good that after we finished they actually hired her to work for them (laughs).”

Your music was heavily featured on the early “Electro” compilation albums that came out in England on the Streetsounds label. Were you aware that your music was being so well received over here in the UK at the time?

“You know what kills me? I had no idea at all until we came out to London to do UK Fresh ’86. I had no idea how many units we were selling out there in the UK. I didn’t even know our music was available out in England. I remember when we went out for UK Fresh and I was saying to DJ Darryl D, ‘They know about us out here? Can you believe this?’ Y’know, when they first asked us to come out to England, I was like, ‘England?! For what?! Who the hell knows about us out there?!’ I had no idea whatsoever.”

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What do you remember of your appearance at UK Fresh?

“What an experience that was. We got off the plane and the steering wheel was on the opposite side of the car as we’re being driven to the hotel (laughs). We didn’t know anything about pounds or pence and the difference in the currency. We were so young back then. But basically, they didn’t have us billed to be on the first UK Fresh show which was earlier in the day. We were only supposed to be performing at the evening show. So after we ate breakfast, I said to Darryl D ‘Let’s go to the first show.’ So the people in the hotel showed us how to get to Wembley Arena and we took the train there. As soon as we get there we got whisked into a locker room by the organisers and they’re telling us that they need us to perform at the first show as well because Roxanne Shante or someone hadn’t turned up. But of course all of our stuff, our outfits, records and everything were still back at the hotel. So they somehow managed to get our records from somewhere and we performed at the earlier show just in our regular street clothes. Then we came back in the evening again and did our full show. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Great memories.”

Your 1986 single “Bongo Beat” was the last release we heard from Captain Rock. Was there a reason why you stepped away from the music scene?

“My personal life was a little bit screwed-up. I was having too much fun out there and not focusing. I needed to take some time to get myself back online and I had some personal issues I had to deal with.”

There was definitely a changing of the guard in Hip-Hop around 86 / 87 with new artists coming out like BDP, Stetsasonic, Public Enemy. Were you still listening to the music that was being released back then?

“Yeah, I was listening to the other artists that were coming out and that had a lot to do with my decision to step away also. The whole scene was starting to go in a different direction to what I’d been doing with the electro-funk stuff. My last single “Bongo Beat” was me trying to move with what was happening at the time and I regret that. I should have stayed the course with the electro stuff. I mean, it’s crazy because electro is back out there now and it’s hot again. It’s hot! But also back then, I was really burnt out. There was a time when I just wanted to be like an average, normal person again. I just wanted to go back to living a normal life. Everything was moving so fast, the money, the flying around, I was living out of a suitcase and didn’t know where I was going to be from one day to the next. I just wanted to be normal again for awhile. I wish I hadn’t been thinking that now, but y’know, s**t happens. But I had a great time back then and thank God for the opportunity.”

Ryan Proctor

Captain Rock – “Cosmic Blast” (NIA Records / 1984)

Classic Recipes – Marley Marl

Marley Marl remember producing the Biz Markie classic “Make The Music With Your Mouth, Biz” in the latest episode of DubSpot.Com’s “Classic Recipes” series.

Old To The New Q&A – Prime Minister Pete Nice (Part Three)

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In this third part of my in-depth interview with Pete Nice, the former 3rd Bass member discusses recording the group’s two classic albums, beef with MC Hammer and almost starring in one of Spike Lee’s most iconic movies – check Part One and Part Two.

How did it feel to see “The Cactus Album” go gold approximately just six months after it was released in 1989?

“It definitely felt like we’d accomplished everything we wanted to when we went into the studio and even way beyond that. We were just hoping that someone would pay us to let us make music, so to go gold was a massive achievement. I mean, to put it in perspective, when Slick Rick’s first album came out in 1988 there would be promo copies up at Def Jam, and Serch and I used to steal those and sell them on the corner for ten bucks so we could buy pizza from this place that used to be right next to the label offices. So you couldn’t even compare where we were at then to where we ended-up. It was just ridiculous.”

One of my favourite tracks off the album was “Product Of The Environment” but the Marley Marl remix that was released just took that record to a completely different place in terms of its sound and mood…

“Of all the remixes that were done off that album, that was actually my favourite. I remember when we had different producers who were presenting us with ideas and then we heard that one. I mean, we were cool with Marley Marl as it was, so to have grown-up listening to his radio shows and then have him want to remix our music, that was just a no-brainer. I think he dropped us off a tape with the beat first and then once we heard it we were just like, ‘Let’s go with that one.’ I mean, the album version was really just like an album track, but that remix really turned it into a single musically. I mean, that record in a club….”

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The album will always be remembered for the beef between 3rd Bass and MC Hammer which culminated with a hit being put out on the group when you were touring on the West Coast. How seriously did you take that particular situation at the time?

“From everything that we were told it was serious and was apparently real because we had to go through some channels with Russell with some people that he knew like Mike Concepcion who was like a kingpin out on the West Coast. We definitely met with him out there and talked to him at the time. We had security who had worked with N.W.A. following us everywhere. So it was definitely something the record company weren’t taking lightly. Apparently it all got squashed. It really all came from the song “The Cactus” where I had thrown out the line, ‘The Cactus turned Hammer’s mutha out…’ Obviously I wasn’t talking specifically about Hammer’s mother it was just a play on words based on the title of his single. But Hammer’s brother took that and just went nuts with it. I know it was his brother Louis who was the one who called-up Def Jam just flipping out when the record came out. Then to top it off they said that Serch said it, so Serch ended-up taking more of the heat for that when I was actually the one who said it. But our beef with Hammer, aside from when Serch had that little altercation with him at the celebrity basketball game dance contest, was that Hammer had actually come in and totally dissed Run DMC at one point. Now, this was very close to the time when we were recording the “Gas Face” video, so Russell had told us that all of them were going to come to the video, but actually only DMC and Jam Master Jay got out there. We told Lionel Martin to get us a big hammer and that we were going to have Run DMC kick the hammer down (laughs). So that really came out of our respect for Run DMC and was our way of saying that you couldn’t just come out and talk  s**t about your founding fathers and be in the position that Hammer was in. I mean, there weren’t too many people who looked at Hammer as being a legitimate artist at the time anyway.”

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What was 3rd Bass’s connection with KMD at the time you were recording “The Cactus Album”?

“Well, our dancers Ahmed and Otis, who were also known as Thing 1 and Thing 2, they were from Long Beach, New York and were all down together in the Get Yours Posse with KMD. Doom (Zev Love X) and Subroc were very young at the time when we first started out, and then they were doing their own material and writing. Subroc at the time wasn’t even rhyming, he just had his drum machine and was programming beats. Serch actually knew them before I did and then through the affiliation with our dancers we just started hanging out with them. If you look at the photos that are on the inside of “The Cactus Album” that look like we’re all at a house party, those were taken in the basement of Ahmed’s house. We were very close with them at that time. I remember, we were taking the Long Island Railroad out to see Prince Paul to work with him on “The Cactus Album” and Doom was coming out with us. Doom had been using the term ‘Gas Face’ relentlessly at the time and Serch said, ‘Let’s do a record called “The Gas Face”.’ So we literally wrote that record on the train to the studio and while we were actually in the studio. It was all just totally spontaneous. That’s why, even saying the stuff about Hammer on there, it was just all totally off the top of the head.”

“Brooklyn-Queens” was another big single off the album…

“”Brooklyn-Queens” was a song that I’d had as a concept back from the days of being with Lord Scotch. So that was us expanding on an original idea. The same thing with “Product Of The Environment”, which was us expanding on one of Serch’s original demos. He’d done “Product Of The Environment” with Sam Sever before we ever got together and I had “Brooklyn Queens” before Serch was with me.”

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Another favourite track of mine was “Monte Hall” although it sounded totally different to anything else on “The Cactus Album” – where did the idea for that track come from?

“The music that was used on “Monte Hall” with the Grover Washington Jr. loops was something  I’d actually planned to use for the “Soul In The Hole” song. But when we looped it up we just decided it would work better on “Monte Hall”. When you looked at Hip-Hop at the time, everyone had their love jam or whatever, like Whodini or UTFO, there was that tradition of having that type of record. So we wanted to have that type of record on the album but not be corny about it. We didn’t want it to come off as being something that wasn’t real. But “Monte Hall” was another record that just totally came together in the studio. I think I had thrown out the name and Serch was just like, ‘Yeah, we’ll f**kin’ call it “Monte Hall”‘ and then we just wrote s**t right there with Sam Sever hooking up the beats. So that song was totally something that wasn’t planned that just got created in the studio”

So there was definitely a lot of spontaneity involved in the recording of “The Cactus Album”?

“Yeah. I mean, we definitely had a lot of things planned out in terms of how many songs we wanted on the album and what the overall concept of the album was going to be. I mean, I’ve told people before how I had conversations with Chuck D about how your A-side should be the same length as your B-side on a cassette because if someone’s listening to it in their car you don’t want there to be any dead-space on your tape because then they might just put in someone else’s tape. So we definitely put a lot of thought into some things, but there was also a lot of spontaneous creativity involved.”

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Moving forward, what was the concept behind the imagery used on 1991’s “Derelicts Of Dialect” album cover with the group being shown as ageing men?

“I mean, we had the idea for the title of the album and the concept for the cover came from us tying it into the idea that we kinda came into the business as almost like bums off the street and we figured we’d go out the same way. Actually, I think the people who did the make-up for the album cover were the same people who did the make up for the “Saturday Night Live” TV show. It was something that really we just planned for the album cover, but then it turned into a whole concept for the “Portrait Of The Artist As A Hood” video. I guess overall that was more of a darker album, but it was definitely a progression and reflected our personalities at the time.”

1991 was definitely a pivotal year in Hip-Hop in terms of the friction that was happening between the commercial rap that was starting to be embraced by the mainstream and the true-school artists who were still trying to be heard and recognised. It seemed like “Derelicts Of Dialect” really fell right alongside other albums that year like De La’s “De La Soul Is Dead” and Tribe’s “The Low End Theory” as a response to the commercial music that was being championed by the industry…

“That is true and the album was probably a reflection of the time too which is something I didn’t even think about, so you’re right on point there. Back in that time period we would get offered endorsement deals for Sprite, different soft drinks and other stuff and we would regularly turn them down as it was something that was kind of unheard of back then. We were all about our credibility. Nowadays people wouldn’t even think twice about an artist taking a deal like that, but back at that time it was foreign to us and didn’t really fit into the way we had patterned our career. Even to the point where Spike Lee had Serch and I come in and read for his “Malcolm X” movie. We read for it and he liked us. I remember Laurence Fishburne was in there reading for one of the other parts when we were coming into Spike’s office. He wanted us to play two of the prison guards who roughed Malcolm X up and we were just like, ‘Spike, can you picture people going into a movie theatre and seeing 3rd Bass rough up Malcolm X?’ In retrospect I can see what he was trying to do, but we actually turned it down. As much as we might have wanted to do it, we just couldn’t see ourselves in that role. Who knows how it would have been accepted if we’d done it, but the fact we turned it down because of how it could have been accepted just shows what a different time it was back then in the early-90s…”

I’m sure James Bernard would have written a column in The Source at the time if you had taken those roles…

“Yeah, exactly (laughs). We just didn’t think that it was appropriate so we stayed away. I mean, Spike really wanted us to do it and he might have had better judgement on it than we did, but we decided it’d be best to pass on that one.”

In the same way the MC Hammer beef was attached to “The Cactus Album”, 3rd Bass’s beef with Vanilla Ice was linked to “Derelicts Of Dialect” with the infamous “Pop Goes The Weasel” video beatdown. Were you going at Vanilla Ice primarily because he was one of the most successful commercial rap artists of the time or beccause he was a white successful commercial rap artist who you felt was damaging what Serch and yourself had achieved as white emcees?

“It just seemed to be the music in general at that time. You had Hammer. You had Vanilla Ice. I mean, to a lesser degree, you had Delicious Vinyl with Tone Loc and Young MC. There was a whole commercial side of the music that was going out to the whole country. Radio was really playing that stuff and still ignoring real Hip-Hop. So “Pop Goes The Weasel” was really our answer to that. I mean, that record was successful based on the strength of the familiarity of the Peter Gabriel “Sledgehammer” loop, which got it into certain places that otherwise probably wouldn’t have been paying attention to our music. It was almost like a joke between us. I mean, we figured we’d do the record but didn’t really think it would be a single. But we kinda duped everyone into playing our little game because the next thing you know you had all these pop radio stations playing the record which was actually mocking the same people who were playing it. We’d even get sent out to be interviewed on some of these radio shows and then have to explain the concept behind the record (laughs)”.

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Did you get any strange reactions once some of those pop deejays realised what the group’s intentions were with “Pop Goes The Weasel”?

“I mean, all the traditional morning jocks and people like that probably still didn’t get it (laughs). I think at that point, we’d turn up at these stations like, ‘Word to your mother’s grandmother’s aunt’s third cousin..’ and all kinds of other stupid s**t (laughs). I mean, I think our core audience at the time understood what we were doing with “Pop Goes The Weasel” and that we were using it as a way to get the message out there but at the same time still keep our own integrity. But that single definitely helped us sell more records. I mean, if we hadn’t broken up at the time I think “Derelicts Of Dialect” would have even sold more than it actually did. We were still out on tour when the group actually split up, so there were definitely more tours and singles planned in connection with that album. So overall, “Dereliects Of Dialect” could have been a much bigger record if we hadn’t split at the time.”

KMD and Chubb Rock were both featured on the album, but “Microphone Techniques” with Nice & Smooth is still one of my favourite collaborations of the 90s to this day…

“That was fun to make. I always loved Nice & Smooth. Greg Nice is just such a character. Being in the studio with those guys was just nuts and something that I’ll always remember. The same thing with being in the studio with Chubb Rock when we did “Kick ‘Em In The Grill”. The verse that Chubb kicked on there just killed me. But with both Greg’s verse on “Microphone Techniques” and Chubb’s on “Kick ‘Em In The Grill”, when they each actually got in the booth to record and dropped their rhymes, everyone just lost it (laughs).”

What memories do you gave of working with Prince Paul on “Derelicts Of Dialect”?

“I mean, when we worked with Prince Paul on “The Cactus Album” it was very spontaneous and just came together. But when it came to the second album, we definitely had more time in the studio with Paul. We recorded most of those songs at this studio called Calliope, which is where KMD did a lot of their stuff to. But we spent a lot of time in there working with Paul and he was working on other stuff at the same time, like a lot of the De La stuff. So it was a cool time creatively to be spending time working with Prince Paul. We were collaborating with him quite a bit, throwing ideas that we had at him, then he’d pick up on something and throw an idea back at us. It was a great process because Paul was never tied to pre-conceived ideas of what he wanted to do as a producer going into the studio. I mean, sometimes we’d go in the studio and he might just have one loop set-up and we’d be like, ‘Man, what is that? We gotta have that one.’ The song “Come In” is something that came together like that. I mean, the actual song “Derelicts Of Dialect” was another big collaboration between us. We already had the concept of what we wanted and then Paul came up with the 9th Creation loop that was used on that record. I think that was actually the first record that we did for the album and really established where we wanted to go with the “Derelicts Of Dialect” project in terms of it being a darker album compared to the first album.”

You mentioned earlier about the group splitting-up – was there a particular moment when you realised that 3rd Bass was over or was it a gradual process?

“I mean, Serch and I had personal problems on the tour we did to support “Derelicts Of Dialect”. We probably didn’t speak to each other for a long stretch of that tour. We’d perform and people probably went to the show and didn’t think there was anything wrong whatsoever. But we had beef together and it probably started a lot earlier than we even thought. I remember there was one point where we did a show for Hot 97 in New York and I think they wanted Marky Mark to open up for us. We told Lyor that we weren’t going to perform and he basically had to beg us to get us to do it. So he basically knew there were some problems in the group and he tried to give us a little talk which probably prolonged things for another couple of weeks, but we just couldn’t move forward together at that point.”

Was it a mutual decision between you and Serch to end the group or were either of you pushing for it to happen more than the other?

“Actually, because we were so succesful at that time I don’t think we really thought that Def Jam was going to let us split-up. We had a lot of things that we were tied into contractually as well. So I think that was a bad move on the label’s part and also with our management. I think a lot of people could have done things differently. But it’s not like we were hammering it home like, ‘We’ve gotta do our solo s**t! We’ve gotta do our solo s**t!’ So things just progressed into that. I mean, at some point I think Serch did some demos and spoke to Russell. I don’t even know if Russell just thought that we could do some solo stuff and then still be 3rd Bass. Who knows what he thought? I mean, if there’s anything that describes where me and Serch were at back then, I guess my “Rat Bastard” video kind of answered any thoughts anyone had about ‘Do these guys have problems together?’ Yes, we did…”

That video definitely didn’t leave much to the imagination…

“Yeah, I guess it kinda said it all right there…”

Ryan Proctor

Check out the final part of this interview here.

Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich – “Rap Prime Minister & Daddy Rich (Rat Bastard)” (Def Jam / 1992)

Classic Recipes – Marley Marl

In the third episode of Dubspot.Com’s “Classic Recipes” series with Marley Marl, the legendary producer recalls meeting MC Shan back in the 80s and recreates their timeless QB anthem “The Bridge”.

Classic Recipes – Marley Marl

In the second episode of DubSpot’s “Classic Recipes” series, legendary producer Marley Marl breaks down the science behind how he produced the classic 1986 single “Eric B. Is President” for Eric B & Rakim.

Classic Recipes – Marley Marl

Footage of the legendary Marley Marl on DubSpot.Com discussing his early-90s work with LL Cool J with the iconic producer also recreating the “Mama Said Knock You Out” beat with some invaluable insight.

DVD Review – Big Fun In The Big Town

“Big Fun In The Big Town”

(Five Day Weekend)

In the autumn of 1986, Dutch film-maker Bram Van Splunteren undertook what, at the time, many of his peers no doubt deemed to be a foolhardy quest, travelling to the drug-ridden, poverty-stricken inner-city streets of New York to gain a better understanding of the Hip-Hop artists who had caught his imagination and begun to rival his passion for rock artists of the day.

Entering the Rotten Apple with a small camera crew, a list of contacts and a wide-eyed fascination with this new style of cutting-edge music that had seemingly appeared on the world stage almost from nowhere, Splunteren unknowingly captured footage of artists who would go on to become some of Hip-Hop’s most iconic figures during the early days of their recording careers. At the same time the film also shows the close connection between Hip-Hop and the streets the culture was born from by including a handful of rap-obsessed youngsters attempting to look towards a brighter future in a social environment battered by Reaganomics, the 80s crack epidemic and failing school systems.

As the documentary begins, Splunteren is seen in his hotel room flicking through a copy of David Toop’s seminal 1984 book “Rap Attack”, doing some last minute research accompanied by the radio sounds of the late Mr. Magic and a youthful Marley Marl before fully immersing himself in a week of interviews, live performances and tours around some of NYC’s roughest areas of the time.

First visiting turntable pioneer Grandmaster Flash in his South Bronx stomping grounds, the journalist is shown the already defunct Dixie Club (as seen in classic Hip-Hop flick “Wild Style”) before returning to Flash’s nearby apartment where the legend shows-off both a typically garish 80s-style personalised leather jacket and also his natural ability to “take (a record) apart and put it back together again”, cutting up the timeless “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” breakbeat whilst explaining how his first attempts to showcase his talents back in the 70s were disappointingly met with public bemusement.

Before leaving the BX, Splunteren pays a visit to the Harry S Truman High School, capturing teenage students dropping old-school rhymes in the playground, whilst an astute teacher explains how Hip-Hop had provided a creative outlet for the kids seen adopting b-boy poses for the camera at a time when lack of funds meant that music classes had been stripped out of many inner-city schools.

A young Doug E. Fresh is found standing on a Harlem street-corner, running through his beatbox repertoire whilst also predicting Hip-Hop’s rise to global prominence, before Bram makes his way to the crack-infested blocks of Manhattan’s Lower East Side to interview events promoter Vito Bruno about the supposed connection between Hip-Hop and violence.

Perhaps suprisingly, two of the forty-minute film’s most memorable scenes don’t involve any well-known names or soon-to-be legendary figures, but instead capture the hopes, dreams and fears of unknowns caught up in the excitement of being part of a cultural movement the world-at-large was still attempting to understand.

First comes a sobering moment during a one-on-one interview with a member of Manhattan’s CBS Crew, where, away from the boisterous teenage energy of his homeboys, the young Hip-Hop junkie expresses his desire to see his friends succeed in life by making positive choices, but resigns himself to the fact that, living in ghetto circumstances, there’s a strong chance some of those close to him may find themselves caught up in gangs and crime.

Then, upon arriving at Def Jam’s headquarters to meet with Russell Simmons, Splunteren encounters Chicago duo The Mystery Crew, who have travelled all the way from the Windy City to rhyme outside the label’s offices in the hope they might attract the right sort of attention and land a record deal. Delivering lyrics in a brash, back-and-forth Run-DMC style, the pair power their way through inspiring verses speaking out against social ills with a sense of purpose that hints at the fact that, even if the rest of the world hadn’t yet worked it out, these Chi-town emcees knew that Hip-Hop had the potential to change both their lives and the lives of those around them.


It’s difficult to watch “Big Fun In The Big Town” and not find yourself wondering what happened to both the members of NY’s CBS Crew and the Mystery boys. The stories of other artists featured such as Run DMC, Roxanne Shante and Schoolly D have been well-documented, but the inclusion of these moments with relative unknowns only goes to illustrate how much of a lifeline and powerful force Hip-Hop was (and still is) to anyone who felt the cultural ripples of the creative blast that exploded out of the Bronx during the 1970s and early-80s.

Another highlight is seeing a teenage LL Cool J naively discussing how he doesn’t feel Hip-Hop artists should contain messages in their music as such subject matter might alienate listeners, with Mr. Smith’s interview being juxtaposed against footage of Suliaman El Hadi of The Last Poets criticising Hip-Hop artists for not doing enough to make their audience think about the world around them, choosing instead to use their lyrics to, as he sees it, simply boost their own egos.

Call it foresight or just pure luck, but Splunteren seems to display a knack throughout “Big Fun In The Big Town” for touching on topics that would become huge issues for the Hip-Hop community in the years to follow, from the lack of female emcees in the rap world, to the relationship between rap and violence, on to the subject of artistic authenticity and the place of rappers as role models.

Although enthusiastic and obviously keen to find out more about the artists whose records he’d been buying and listening to, Bram’s interview technique and approach to his subjects goes far beyond simple fandom. The Dutch journalist treats the artists he speaks to with a respect and overall awareness of the culture’s roots that wouldn’t come from the mainstream music media for some time.

An undiluted snapshot of a burgeoning artform trying to find its place in the world, “Big Fun In The Big Town” is a timeless piece of film-making that captures everything that was exciting and fresh about Hip-Hop during the culture’s unreplicable golden-age, without ignoring some of the more serious social issues that surrounded the music.

Essential viewing for both old and new Hip-Hop fans alike.

Ryan Proctor

“Big Fun In The Big Town” DVD Trailer

New Joint – Domingo / Kool G Rap / Action Bronson / Necro etc.

Domingo ft. Marley Marl, Kool G Rap, Nutso, Rugged Intellect, F.T., Ras Kass, Action Bronson & Necro – “Men At Work 2020 – Remix” (Domingo Beats / 2012)

Immense reworking of the 80s G Rap classic produced by NY’s Domingo and featuring a huge array of lyrical firepower.

In Control – Marley Marl

Brooklyn Bodega’s Wes Jackson speaks to legendary producer / deejay Marley Marl about his lengthy career from his beginnings in Queensbridge to meeting Mr. Magic and working with the Juice Crew.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Album Review – Kool G Rap

Kool G Rap

“Riches, Royalty & Respect”

(Fat Beats)

If there’s one thing guaranteed to get the Hip-Hop internet message boards worked up into a frenzy, it’s a new release from a golden-era rap icon. For every fan eager to hear new material from one of their favourite back-in-the-day emcees, there’s five others spitting venom about that same dude hanging up the mic. Rakim, Chuck D and KRS-One have all faced similar reactions over the years, and the latest long-player from former Juice Crew member Kool G. Rap has also had the message board mafia up in arms in recent weeks.

As longstanding fans of Hip-Hop we have complicated relationships with our rap heroes. For artists who literally laid the foundations of modern day lyricism such as Rakim, KRS, and G Rap, it’s not enough for some for such artists to still be releasing good music in the present day, it has to be classic like the early work that defined them and, in some cases, us as listeners. But does that put unfair expectations on such artists? Because no matter how hard they might try to please their core fanbase by attempting to capture that 80s / 90s golden-age essence, we’re all older now and nothing will ever be able to transport us back to that time and place. When an emcee sticks to their blueprint we criticise them for retreading old-ground or sounding outdated. Then when an emcee attempts to sound more contemporary, we say they’re trying too hard to keep up with rap’s new generation and should stick to what made them great in the first instance. Talk about being stuck between a mic and a hard place.

Don’t get me wrong, if something is wack then it’s wack, regardless of who has recorded it. As much respect and admiration as I have for the great Rakim, even I couldn’t defend the poor production choices on his last album “The Seventh Seal”. Yet equally, I’m not expecting to hear Rakim change the rap world twice either. He already did that back in the 80s. I just want to hear the God emcee make good music.

The same with Kool G. Rap. True, albums such as 1998’s “Roots Of Evil” and 2002’s  Koch /Rawkus release “The Giancana Story” added little to the East Coast rhyme giant’s legacy due in-part to sub-par production and poor collaboration choices. Yet, as with Rakim,  I’m not waiting for G. Rap to revolutionise the rap game as he did in the 80s and early 90s with his crisp lisp flow heard on 1989’s “Road To The Riches” album and the Rotten Apple crime rhymes of 1990’s “Wanted: Dead Or Alive”. I just want to hear G. Rap make good music.

I’ve sat on “Riches, Royalty & Respect” for a couple of weeks now before sitting down to write this review and, after repeated listens, it has to be said that it is a good album. Is it a classic album? Of course not. Does it have the immediate impact of KGR’s earlier work? No. But it does showcase an emcee who can still write detailed gangsta narratives with both flair and charisma at a time when most thugged-out rappers are still happy to rhyme “glock” with “block”.

Granted, the album doesn’t start in a particularly promising fashion, with the opening “Ya Chic Chose Me” suffering from underwhelming beats and an annoying stuttering hook. Yet after this lacklustre opening, “Riches, Royalty & Respect” steps up a gear with G. Rap delivering his trademark gangsta rhymes over production that mixes East Coast boom-bap with blaxploitation soundtrack samples and pimped-out instrumentation.

The Supa Dave-produced “In Too Deep” is a tense tour of the streets that finds G. Rap taking on the persona of a Goldie or Superfly as he navigates the pitfalls of the hustler life, whilst “70s Gangsta” perhaps best sums up the feel of this album, as the Queens emcee pays homage to the era that influenced him as a youngster over dramatic strings and rolling drums.

“$ Ova B*tches” reunites G. Rap with the legendary Marley Marl for a cut that, despite its played out title, is one of the album’s standouts, with Mr. Bad To The Bone spitting raw bars over ominous organ-led production. “G On” finds the living legend putting pretenders to his throne in check over the sample used on BDP’s “Word From Our Sponsor” back in ’87, whilst “Goin’ In” is a dark, brooding track with a menacing performance from KGR (“Save your wack verses, I don’t feel your raps, And you don’t know me boy, Don’t try to get familiar cat, Orangutans trying to tangle with the Silverbacks, Couple of things from out the bing’ll leave ’em real relaxed…”).

Although G Rap has always possessed an impressive talent for capturing small details in his street stories that help bring his tales to life, he’s never been an emcee eager to let listeners into his own personal space. Yet on “Pages Of My Life” G Rap pulls back the curtain a little and rhymes about his homelife as a child and the death of his sister (“Memory lane, Pain, Deep as a razor slash, Had a baby sister that died young, Her name was Robin, She went to sleep when the Grim Reaper was cradle rockin’, Over my right shoulder here I got an angel watchin’…”).

G Rap has been criticised in recent years for regurgitating familiar themes as far as his fictional mafioso gangsta tales are concerned, seemingly rhyming on auto-pilot in some instances just for the sake of putting a release out or fulfilling a contractual obligation. Yet as evidenced on earlier Kool classics such as “On The Run” or “Live And Let Die”, Hip-Hop’s Donald Goines is more than capable of penning engaging, entertaining stories rooted in the cracks of NYC’s sidewalks, and on “Riches, Royalty & Respect” the emcee whose influence has been heard in verses from the likes of Biggie, Nas and Big Pun proves that he can still deliver.

He may no longer be the youthful, brash Queens rapper dropping quick-fire bars that he was in the late-80s / early-90s, but G Rap does still possess a formidable pen game which runs throughout this album.

Like many of his golden-age peers, the Kool Genius of Rap will never please everybody with his present-day releases, yet “Riches, Royalty & Respect” is easily his best offering since 1995’s “4,5,6”. A solid effort from the East Coast crime rhyme kingpin that, despite what the message boards may say, is well worth checking out. And that’s word to DJ Polo.

Ryan Proctor

Paying Homage – Funkmaster Flex

GrandGood.Com footage of NYC’s Funkmaster Flex giving props to Hip-Hop legends Kool Herc and Marley Marl at B.B. King’s.

The Kingpin – Craig G

Former Juice Crew member Craig G on RecordkingzTV spitting some bars and talking about New York Hip-Hop.

Part One

Part Two